John had done some ingenious upgrades to the Eurovan while preparing for this trip. He'd added a cargo net that floated above the main platform for the bed, and we put all our clothing and soft bags with soft, light, or bulky stuff into it. There was a cargo pod attached to the roof (which made it imperative that we NOT park the van in the garage) that held the big, bulky, light stuff like the bedding and Jet's scooter. There was storage under the seats for camping equipment and repair equipment and even a little more for what we might buy. There were three plastic bins that fit under the net, which could be moved outside or into the front of the car easily when we stopped for a night.
All of that had to be filled with Stuff We Needed.
I always think a lot about George Carlan's rant about Stuff whenever I pack for a trip and the agony of having to do with LESS stuff... though my mindset is a little bit weirder than that. I have a bathroom pack and a clothes packing setup that's exactly right for when I'm on a three day business trip. I have it all setup to just throw into a bag and go. So for a few days, even a week, it's easy, as most of our week long vacations are at one or the other set of grandparents' house, so we just bring exactly the same stuff and do laundry halfway through.
It was amazingly hard, for me at least, to condense my stuff but STILL have "enough" for three weeks! It's just been so very, very long since I had to decide what to bring and what not to bring, though John took care of the majority of stuff.
Jet did a great job of entertaining himself all morning. He even helped us make his lunch and he sat by himself in the backyard and ate it while we stuffed more things in. It helped, somewhat, that the painters have arrived and were masking off everything in order to get started with painting. They were good entertainment for him. But we also had to take care of all the potential stuff if they were done before we left, if there were things that had to be done for them before we left, etc. One more mental dimension to reach on. Then, right at 1:30, Jet asked if he could go to the pool with Mikayla and Tanner and Macy. Oops. Tanner came over and made it even harder, as we were about ready to go.
He slept soon after we were on the road, from tiredness, from crying a little, and from it being pretty hot. We took advantage of that, and I slept and John drove. Next thing I know we're a good ways into Nebraska and Jet is *still* asleep and it's been about three hours. Oops.
The AAA books have a campground marked on the side of the town of North Platte, Nebraska. It's called the Buffalo Bill Camp, and as we get closer, we see a huge stadium with lots and lots of people lining up to get in! A lane is open to the right, so we take it and follow the signs that say "This way to Campground." And we find the campground not too far beyond that. It's a herringbone setup for the power outlets for the RV's. The "regular" camping area is a grassy area with nearly no parking by it. There are a set of pit toilets. Obviously no running water, but we have a really nice camping jug for our water, which should work for washing, etc. At $10 a night for the parking pad an power, we decide on that, and then drive back into town to get our dinner. The site's only a quarter full and there seems to be no rush to claim a site.
On the way through town we saw a BBQ joint that looked interesting, but when we pulled up there was a sign in the window saying that they were gone for the weekend, to serve the Rodeo and Fair. Oops.
We ended up near the freeway at an Italian Buffet that looked pretty sad at first, but I got a good chunk of lasagna and found that the noodles were firmly cooked, not mushy, the sauce was tasty and meaty, and they were very generous with a good quality cheese. I upgraded my thoughts on the matter, and really enjoyed their pastas and breads. There was a killer garlic and cheddar biscuit. *giggles* Biscuits must be Italian. :-) But it was tasty.
Jet ate three slices of cheese pizza, so I wasn't going to argue. That's more than he's eaten in a long time.
We dropped by a supermarket on the way back, a local market that seemed to be languishing a little with a Wal-Mart right across the road, but we bought all our stuff for breakfast at the local place, and headed back to the campsite. On the way back, in the dark, we could see the lights of the carnival at the fair. Jet pleaded to go, but we were too tired.
Jet was excited about camping, too excited. We got ready for bed, and just as we were mostly there, a thunderstorm hit us hard. Wind, whipping torrential rain, thunder, lightning, and everything. John ran out to get all our stuff under cover, and we got it all in. Jet wanted to help, but I'm not sure he would have. So we ended up with a little boy who had had a three hour nap stuck in the confines of a van. Oops.
One cool thing was that even in the rain and lightning show John and Jet were able to see fireflies in the tall grass around the campsite. They were fascinated by the blinking lights hovering in the darkness. Oooo...
Jet was still for his books, found his tiger flashlight and climbed up down and up and down and up and down from his second floor sleeping area until nearly 2 a.m. and ended up down between John and I "'Cause there's BUGS!", and I slept with two little feet digging into my ribs. My. What a start.
Never again, with the three hour nap AND no physical outlet for Jet before bedtime. NEVER again, we vowed.