The List of cities we stayed at and things we did at each could be done as a list, with links to entries for each item in detail. That would be pretty damned organized, though, and would definitely lose some of the themes that permeated the thing.
We did 5000 miles in all, about 2000 to get there, and 3000 getting back, though the latter included quite a few more diversions. The Eurovan performed wonderfully, getting about 20-22 miles to the gallon nearer sea level even when fully and totally loaded to the gills. It may have gotten only 18 or 19 up at altitude because we were going nearly 85 most of the time, too. Speed limits are very different here in the wild, wild west than in the civilized East, or at least parts of it. And I now have complete sympathy for Sammy Hagar. 55 is very slow, indeed, but mid-city driving sometimes really did demand it.
Jet didn't go crazy. We didn't go insane.
We even got something of a routine going on the Car Days, when we'd have breakfast, drive all morning while Jet and his incredible attention span would find something to play with. At noon we'd find lunch or eat at the table in the van while we drove, and then Jet would get a movie or two, and then he'd take a nap, and by then we'd be another 300 to 400 miles further along. There were a lot fewer playground breaks than on the trip we took two years ago, there was one break we made because Jet had to have one. We obliged. Jet also blew off a lot of steam by swimming. We made sure he had a pool more often than not, and he swam so much that at the very last pool, somewhere in Kansas, Jet was actually swimming by himself in the pool while we could just watch from the deck. And all of these pools were well taller than he was. He earned the nickname "fish" that so many people called him during the trip.
Jet did great. He never had an accident in his car seat. He always found something to play with, and he only got tired of the seat when he was tired, cranky, and hungry anyway. He did, however, start asking about when we were going to go home after the Strausberg steam railway. Once we were done with that and he had his Sodor coal station, he really wanted to be heading home. Enough so that just mentioning that if he wanted to go home, he had to do XYZ brought instant compliance.
We did see a lot more of the country than I otherwise could, but not to the kind of depth that I would have appreciated. I hated that part of it. I like going to a place and Being There for a week and discovering as much as I possibly can in that time, and really, really figuring out what's good to eat, to do, to see, and then enjoy it in depth rather than this skimming along the surface like a rock skipping along, barely touching the surface before lifting again. But it would take a lot more money than we have, at the moment, to just drive to a city, live there for a week, then go to the next city and do it for several months.
Geography means so much more when one is driving across it.
Physically I started a wreck, battered myself for no good reasons, and ended up at peace with it all, and then got better. I started with the super sore throat, and on the day we left, I started a menstrual cycle that stuck with me until the day I got back, partially due to skipping a period at the beginning of June due to sheer stress. Why is it, in novels, that nearly NO heroine has to deal with being a bloody mess or hormonally depressed half the time? The contact lens thing had just happened, and my eye finally felt better right in time for the trip. Then I had to swap to new lenses, which I did with some trepidation, but they worked out great, so I had no eye problems for the trip! I was happy with that.
The stress, strange food, heat, and everything else upset my major colon from about day four into the trip on. Imodium helped the worst of it, and kept it from being a problem on drive days, but now that I'm home I'm finally off the medication and gradually recovering.
I compounded my physical problems with an odd longing to split rounds of wood when I got to the Inn in Vermont. They let me use a maul and I got two and a half rounds done before I had blisters and a left hand I couldn't close for the next week. Dave R. finished the last round for me, and I thanked him. I am not very good at it, but it was fun to swing a maul again. It would have been nice to have my work gloves and fewer people watching.
Then I chose to climb Bromley, a ski area/mountain. 3 miles up and less than that down, but at a steeper angle. So steep that my shoes, which were just enough too small for me, smashed my left big toe and my right second toe to the point where they're still a bit swollen and purple. Didn't help that my right knee wasn't entirely happy with me, and my left foot hurt. Jet would later, very, very gently squeeze my big toe when he didn't like what I was doing, but not enough to really hurt me, just enough to get my attention, fast. The great good things were that Cathie stayed with me the whole way up the mountain, even after John took Jet up in the backpack after my short turn; and David stuck with me the whole way down. Jet happily scrambled the whole way down himself, with some help from his cousins.
Jet loved his cousins, all older and bigger than him, but he didn't care, and he did his level best to keep up with them as much as possible. He didn't turn down being carried by them, though, and that was fun for them as well as for him, I think.
Mosquitoes haunted me the whole trip to Vermont and in Vermont, and didn't bother me at all on the way back. We were in cities more and far more concrete and only camped once at a rest stop on the way back. On the way out we camped half the nights, and on those days I got bit so many times in so many places that I actually had to put Band-Aids on some of the ones that chaffed more under shorts and tank top. Ugh. I even used DEET at every campsite, religiously, and STILL got bit so hard and so often I don't even want to think about my chances at West Nile.
Jet suffered a few bites, but nothing like me, and I was a good barometer for when they were out. I was happy, though, that by the end of the trip nearly all my bites were gone.
On the whole things improved as the vacation went on. It took the first week for me to finally unwind from being a very tight ball of grumpiness, but by the third week I was ready to be home. Sadly, now that I am home, I halfway wonder what I'm doing here... but that's a different thing.