Pictured: Jack and Ethan enjoying a pre-bedtime chat at Oasis State Park in New Mexico.
We aren’t ones to travel 900 miles in Wander Bus over the course of only a few days, so when it came time to set out from Kansas City for New Mexico I braced myself for the unexpected.
This was going to be the first time we’d be traveling 8 plus hours a day for multiple days. How would the kids handle the long drives? Would Jason be utterly exhausted after the first day? Would we get one of the first-come-first-serve sites mapped out as a potential stop, or would we be kicking it in a Wal-Mart parking lot? Would I be able to manage multiple days of working on the road and keeping up with all four websites alone?
Obviously, just from the above paragraph, you can tell I tend to internalize my worries. I do my best to present a solid exterior because our children are hyper-aware of any emotional shift from their parents and then they too take on that anxiety or concern. This isn’t always a bad thing, but when you are in a potentially stressful situation that requires your focus, when your kids become fearful or anxious, your attention shifts from the trigger to managing the child and that sometimes increases the all-around stress level. I am not perfect at this, often I falter, and then all you-know-what breaks loose, but for the most part Jason and I have gotten pretty good at communicating through eye contact or just waiting until the kids are out of the room (because when you live in a Bus you are so often alone and able to have those private conversations…).
But, despite all my worries, here we are, the last 50 miles of the trip before we put down roots for a week and I am feeling all kinds of relief and excitement. The kids were great. Jason was great, and I only blew up once, so I was great too!
It’s never easy for Jack to transition from one place to another, especially when the transition includes leaving his Nana and Papa’s house, so our first night was tough for him. He missed Kansas City, he was worried that maybe he wasn’t cut out for Bus life, and he just felt displaced. I understand that feeling all too well. I think for some of us when we have been stationary and not traveling for a long period of time there is a certain level of uncertainty that comes with acclimating ourselves again. It’s exciting, and we are all happy to be on the road, but a few of us need a couple of days to settle. Jack, as I knew he would, by day three has settled nicely. He slept great last night. Snuggled down warm in his bunk with his new curtain. This kid who struggles with sleep issues due to his ADHD fell asleep within 5 minutes of climbing up into his bed. A gift for him, and a gift for his mama who often worries about his lack of quality sleep and how that impacts his days.
Our first night was spent at a city campground just West of Oklahoma City, and despite the lack of access to power, we were able to stay warm and enjoy a good night’s rest (in fact we slept until almost 8:30 am, something we did not plan to do). From Oklahoma, we began the second half of the trip that would take us through the Texas Panhandle Plains and just inside New Mexico where we would spend a night at Oasis State Park. What a gorgeous, clean and perfectly laid out park! Every site was a pull-through, which made departure quick and easy the next morning. We arrived at dusk and we crossed a time zone. We were tired, as this was another long day, clocking about 8 hours of driving time in the Bus, but again, it was fairly smooth sailing and the changing terrain kept things fresh, so settling in for the night came with very little stress or kid meltdowns.
And now, we are just miles away from Roswell, NM where we will spend a week searching for signs that Area 51 exists (no, not really, but we do plan on hitting up the spacecraft McDonald’s for some wi-fi and playspace time). Our campground looks lovely, the hiking should be impressive, and the weather, while still cool, will stay in the 60’s and dip into the 20’s at night. I’m looking forward to getting back into my daily run (I can’t believe I just wrote that) and exploring the area with Jason and the kids.
There is nothing mind altering to report about our last three days, but I couldn’t be happier. We were due for some of those boring days I wrote about in Reflections and Resolutions, and I’m glad we all found ourselves a little bored on the drive. I enjoy looking over at my kids and seeing them staring at nothing with no device in hand, no toy or book. They’re just staring. I wonder what they’re thinking about? I’d ask them, but then the magic would break and they’d probably tell me they are hungry or bored or “how much longer?”
Think I’ll just sit over here, stare out the window myself, and sip my cup of coffee…Roswell, here we come.