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American Road Trip Adventure: Day 1

September 3rd, 2013 (01:55 pm)

I've just returned from a long road trip. I was traveling to a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we made it a family vacation, to show our son more of this big, amazing country. I blogged from the road, but I didn't want to advertise to every burglar on the internet that our house was empty, so I've waited until now to start posting the entries.

Alexandria, Virginia, to New Paris, Ohio
525 Miles

I'm traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah, to attend the annual conference of the National Federation of Press Women, and we've decided to make it into a Family Road Trip Adventure. I look forward to showing my son this big, crazy, interesting country of ours, and to see some parts of it I haven't seen, as well.

We left a lot later than we'd hoped this morning. We had decided our little Prius, while great on gas, was not large enough for three people to share with a whole lot of luggage for nearly three weeks. So we had chosen to rent a car. We were supposed to pick up the rental car anytime after 9:00 this morning, but then we found out that registration for Alexandria Parks & Recreation fall programs was starting at 9 a.m. The popular classes fill up right away, so Bob wanted to get online just at 9:00 a.m. to sign Jon Morgan up for a swimming program and a computer class he and his friend Charles want to take on Saturdays.

minecraft_blox 50%The computer class is their consolation prize because both were given Art as a sixth-grade elective instead of the Computer Technology class they wanted at school. Too many sixth-graders wanted the technology class; the school just couldn't fit them all.

So Charles's mom Reba and I decided to sign them up for the Parks & Recs class instead. It teaches programming skills by showing them how to do extra-cool things in Minecraft (for those without children in the age range, this is a wildly popular computer game in which kids mine for resources, build themselves houses, interact with their friends, and fend off exploding monsters.) Jon Morgan and Charles will be the envy of all their friends.

We delayed picking up the rental car so Bob could get online at 9 a.m. But the city's servers went down, and when he called he was told that the city was having computer problems but he should keep trying. When he finally reached the site, picked the classes, and was about to hit "SEND," our power went out! A guy from the power company was outside the house changing us over to a new meter. He hadn't bothered to let us know that the power would be out briefly while he did so. Eventually our power was restored, Bob was successful, and JM got his classes. I've decided to blame the city's computer problems on that freaky reverse-polarity thing the sun is doing this week.

We finally got to the rental-car place, filled out the paperwork, and went out to the car. That's when the sales rep noticed a problem with one of the tires of our Chevy Impala. There was nothing else available in the same vehicle class, so she gave us a free upgrade to a luxury car. So we are cruising the country in style in our brand new 2014 Cadillac! We still haven't figured out what half the buttons and screen icons are for. I believe one of them launches nuclear missiles at Iran. This car does everything but drive itself.
P1110677 JM, Bob & the Cadillac, De Smet, SD 40% CROP
It was a long day of driving, but the weather was great, traffic was reasonable, and the eleven-year-old was a trooper. We're planning to drive long hours each day while we're in the Eastern half of the country. Once we reach South Dakota, we'll slow down and travel a lot less each day so we have time to sightsee in a part of the country that's too far away to travel back to often.

So, here we are at a Fairfield Inn in New Paris, Ohio, west of Dayton. We got a low Marriott family rate, thanks to my sister Sue and her husband the Marriott employee. Apparently we were lucky to get it; there are no vacancies here now.

Tomorrow we won't drive quite as long as today. We'll be in Madison tomorrow night with Bob's family, where we'll get a REAL family rate (free).