You know how I love a good road trip! Last year’s trip to the Black Hills was a blast, but my consensus after the trip was we rushed too much and didn’t leave time for the fun roadside attractions, local diners, photo ops, and that sort of stuff. I have a habit of getting on the road, notice we’re making good time, and not want to stop. Also, once I pass a bunch of cars, I hate to pull off somewhere and let them all get back ahead of me! So we sorta just hauled ass the whole way.

Well, it seems I will have the opportunity to redeem myself one month from today!

Johnny starts kindergarten August 15, and his daycare is closed the week of August 12-16 anyway. So why bother paying full price for a half-month of daycare which would only actually be 7 days? Foolishness, I say! We decided July 31 will be his final day.

And as it happens, my awesome place of employment has an unlimited PTO policy. Not only that, the handbook clearly states they expect each full-time employee to take two 1-week vacations per year. So far in 2019, I have taken none. Not only that, they pay up to 2% of your annual salary when you take your first approved one-week vacation. They sincerely want people to use it and refresh themselves so they can do their best work. Don’t have to twist my arm too much, though there is a ton of work to do and every moment I’m gone is just more work when I get back.

Also, Lauren’s family is having a mini-reunion of sorts in a small northwestern Illinois town Aug 8-11, so there is a reason to be on the road during early August.

All of these items—John’s school schedule, my PTO, and this reunion—aligned perfectly, and we decided that I will take the boy on the road trip of his young lifetime August 1-12! Lauren does not have unlimited PTO, unfortunately, and has already taken a few days off at the end of the trip since daycare is closed that week; plus, we do not think Edie would enjoy being confined to her carseat for several thousand miles, so the girls will stay home for the most part, but we will meet up with them in Minneapolis around the 8th to drive down to Illinois for the family gathering, and we’ll dump them in St Louis or Kansas City to fly home after. That leaves us a week to galavant around central USA. I’ve got a lot in the hopper.

I am spending lots of time searching for interesting things to see and local places to eat along the way, but either there just isn’t much in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, or I can’t figure out how to research very well. Some ideas I’ve run across so far include stopping for lunch in Dallas at a popular Canadian themed restaurant, perhaps a visit to the World Video Game Museum in Frisco, the Soda Pop Museum in Arcadia, Oklahoma, Kansas’s version of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead, and more things along those lines. But those are more actual attractions—I wanted more of the kitchy “world’s biggest elk statue” or some small-town diner known for its chili.

Our agenda should include overnight stops in Tulsa, Nebraska City, Vermillion, Watertown, Minneapolis, Galena IL (site of the Poulter gathering), and somewhere on the way home between Galena and Austin. If time permits (and it certainly won’t) I had a fairly doable detour in mind that would make things a bit more interesting and take us through eastern Kentucky and Tennessee before hitting the extreme tip of Mississippi and then northern Louisiana, two of the 13 states I have yet to set foot in (AL, AK, HI, ID, LA, ME, MS, MT, NH, OR, SC, VT, WV). Plus it would just be a more interesting drive than going back through central Missouri and hitting the interstate south from Wichita. I think for my own sanity I need to do this alternate route, even if it means more time on the road. We’d still get home with a couple days to spare before kindergarten.