A few months ago, we got word of an upcoming family wedding in Pennsylvania. We were stoked because (1) we love Matt’s cousin (the groom) and (2) the wedding happened to be in Lancaster County which = Amish country which = so much fun.
So my busy little brain got to work. And decided to make a trip out of it.
Now, I know families who travel all the time with their young kids. Their children can navigate an airport like pros. They trek through foreign lands like it’s not even a thing. They are practically birthed bi/tri/quadruple-lingual from their international escapades.
Me? The thought of spending the bulk of a week working our way through a few nearby states with three kids felt like a Really Big Deal. A Really Fun Deal too because it would involve planning! itineraries! museums and all kinds of really nerdy things that I love! But I wasn’t convinced it would go over smoothly.
And Matt? He was a little more wary. His ideal vacation would never (ever) involve anything even remotely resembling an itinerary, so I’m pretty sure my ever-evolving Google Doc outlining our every stop along our very-mini-tour of the east coast gave him hives. And the number of times I heard, “Catherine, this is not a vacation. It’s a TRIP”? Too many to count. Regardless, he played along like a champ.
So, the kids and I went ahead of him for Stop #1. The great city of Richmond, Virginia. AKA The Motherland. Okay, so we spent a few days with my family which was not quite exotic, unfamiliar terrain. BUT. I did insist that we hit up some of the Richmond Greats.
Like Belle Isle…
where Carson totally geeked out, having recently completed this book by a local Richmond author.
We then made an obligatory stop by another epic Richmond favorite, Pony Pasture…
with Slurpees. Which filled me with more nostalgia than I could even handle.
After a few days of RVA excitement, we hit the road. Hershey, PA was up next. We bypassed the amusement park while managing to sell our kids on the excitement of the free “tour” of the Hershey factory. They were thrilled. It was free. WIN.
Our hotel was a quick hour down the road in the heart of Amish country. (Technically, it was in the heart of Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Yep. However, I am FAR too immature to continue to type that one out over and over again. Deal.) Anyway, it should surprise ZERO PEOPLE that, within an hour of landing in Lancaster County, my sweet daughter somehow obtained this police set from a local shop. They were trying to get it off their hands for a quarter, and she jumped on the opportunity. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching my handcuffed children chasing each other around the quaint horse-and-buggy-filled streets of Intercourse.
It was precious.
Next on my itinerary was dinner.
Because, in all of my Type A, Google-happy planning, I discovered the best place ever. A dairy cow/peacock/BULLDOG farm. I know. And they serve amazing homemade icecream to boot. Which clearly = dinner.
The next morning found us at Josh’s wedding. In the middle of this amazing scenery. It was enough to make me announce to Matt that I was on the verge of becoming Amish if it meant I could be surrounded by that kind of beauty. He then reminded me of the whole electricity thing, and I had a prompt change of heart.
While I was taking in the scenery, my eldest was taking in the awesomeness of feeling like a superstar at a Carson-side-of-the-family wedding.
After saying goodbye to the peace of Amish country, we hit the road for its antithesis- D.C.
We only had two nights in D.C., so we hit the ground running.
I tried SO DANG HARD to convey to the kids the magnitude of all they were seeing and experiencing.
But at the end of the day (and after many, many miles of walking), some were more enthused than others. Ahem.
After a late night of monuments, we headed out for the museums the following morning. Where I apparently only took pictures of a giant African map. And a giant bug.
For the record, we managed to do three museums (Natural History, Air and Space, and American Indian) as well as a brief stop by the Capital before we (i.e. the kids) called it quits. (And for the record, I consider that a huge success.)
Because no trip to D.C. is complete without a stop by the National Zoo, we did just that on our last day. Just a brief (cough, five+ hour) visit (in the rain) with Lucy The Orangutan & Company. Y’all. I grew up wanting to be Jane Goodall. No shame.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip. Sure, so there were some minor meltdowns and tantrums and marital disagreements over the itinerary. (Hint: I maaaay have underestimated Matt’s desire to, oh you know, eat REAL MEALS on our trip. Because, remember? Dairy farms! Buggies! Monuments! Lucy the Orangutan! Priorities.) But I was (and am) floored by how well they (and we) did with the miles we logged on foot and in car.
And so now we rest. While I covertly begin to scheme and plan our next family adventure.
(I promise I’ll plan some real meals in our itinerary next time.)
(As long as there aren’t livestock and primates competing with our time.)