It's typical in our area that the 8th grade class is offered a special class trip to go to the D.C. area. Sometimes they take a big charter bus, sometimes they fly. Either way it costs a lot of money. For our particular school it's somewhere around $800-$1,000 and that is just to go. You also have to account for spending money and some meals. While we are all for creating memories for our kids and giving them those opportunities it's just not feasible to spend that much money on a trip. Of course, we always give our kids the option to pay for things themselves, but they don't usually want the trip that bad! Being seasoned travelers we've also learned a lot of tips & tricks along the way to get the most out of a trip on a lot less money. Anyway, 4 years ago when our oldest really wanted to go, but couldn't save enough money in time, we proposed to her that we ourselves would give her a D.C. trip. Aside from not being with all her friends we could give her the same sightseeing and traveling opportunities, only cheaper AND we would foot the bill. To give credit, where credit is due, this was the idea of my husband. As it turns out he traveled with our oldest while I stayed home with the other kids. As a last minute amendment he took our other daughter who would need an 8th grade trip not long after. They had a great trip and of course took the opportunity to stay with my family while out in the area.
Fast forward to now. I have an 8th grader and a 7th grader. Instead of taking 2 trips back to back we combined them together. And, as it worked out, I traveled with these 2 and my husband stayed home. However a few things changed. My aunt & uncle no longer lived in the D.C. area. They had since moved 2 hours out into the mountains of Virginia. However, my cousin had since grown up, finished college and lived in the area. So a little different set up, but I still had a place to stay and no hotel. I'll take whatever I can get!!
Of course, you know by now that I ran the Galesburg half marathon on Sunday morning and then hopped in the car to drive to Virginia. The plan was to visit my aunt & uncle first. This Aunt is my favorite aunt ever! We have the same middle name, she's always been super cool to me & I've always looked up to her! When it comes to family, she's one that I've just always clicked with the best. The plan was to get to her place even if it was the middle of the night. However the later it got the more I traveled into mountainous areas. I was advised that it would be tough driving and not that I didn't believe her, but I thought I could handle it. I wised up and decided to not risk it and pulled over for the night. Not wanting to spend money on a hotel I simply parked the car & we slept in there. First time I've ever done that. It was kinda weird, but when you're tired it doesn't matter. At the crack of dawn we hit the road again and what should have taken me 2 hours took me 4 to get to their house. Mostly because the route I had to take was not a main highway, but 2 lanes topsy, curvy, up and down mountain driving. And twice I missed my turn and had to back track. It was beautiful to drive through and we definitely got to take the scenic route and that made it worth the experience. We may do things the cheap way, but it's always still a great experience.
My Aunt & Uncle live literally on top of a mountain on a ridge. It was so beautiful and peaceful, removed from the craziness of life. I could live up there & be very happy! The first thing I did (my aunt knew I'd want to do this) was go for a run.
We spent the day visiting and sightseeing their area.
The next day we packed up & headed toward my cousin's place which was right outside D.C. Of course I squeezed in another run that morning before we left and took the time to just sit on the deck to have a few quiet moments to myself and stretch out. It's not that often that I get to enjoy the mountains like this so I was taking every chance I could get.
It was less than a 24 hour visit with my Aunt & Uncle, but absolutely wonderful none the less.
Just a sample of what we did. I don't want to give you a step by step account and really drag this post out. It's already long enough. Of course, we were there for their 8th grade trip, but I couldn't resist keeping my running streak alive & getting a run in each day. I also couldn't resist making each run count and be memorable. One day when we went into D.C. I was dressed in running clothes. Right before we were done for the day I went for my run along The Mall. I ran from the Lincoln Memorial all the way down to the Capital building.
My other memorable run I wasn't really planned. We had gone into D.C. early so we could get tickets to go up into the Washington Monument. I figured I'd just run a simple mile later that evening when we got back to my cousins. We ended up having to kill about 30 minutes while we waiting for our tour time. Not really enough time to actually do anything. So I ran. I only needed 1 mile to make the day count. I wasn't really dressed for it. Khaki shorts & a tshirt. But I had running shoes on, even though they were old retired ones. What else do you need? Well, I ran much slower than usual. I had enough time to get it done, there was no real rush and I also had to account for the lack of, um, usual running clothing. I ran 2.5 big loops around the Washington Monument and I was good for the day!!
Overall this was a really great trip! It was really weird & different, but so memorable and fun. I've never traveled this extensively without another adult with me, but I managed to survive (albeit with a lot of wrong turns & missed exits.....I could do a whole post on that alone). I was able to create life long memories with my 2 kids, give them an 8th grade trip that was far cheaper than if they went with the school and sprinkle in some running memories as well.
A big shout out to my cousin Miles who was a great host as well. He put up with us and crammed us into his itty bitty apartment that he's used to having all by himself. Our time & visit with him was definitely the icing on the cake!!