How fun are road trips? Seriously. I’m not even kidding. As much as I love the fairly instant gratification of grabbing a plane and arriving somewhere a few hours later, I love me some road tripping. I heart the idea of going at our own pace, stopping when and where we want, and actually seeing the country. Also, the boys acted like wild animals at the last airport we flew out of so there was that. And, I had just bought a new car that was supposed to be amazing on mileage and I wanted to give it a run. So one fine April morning, we loaded up the new car and took off from Ontario to South Carolina.
I’ve done the trip to South Carolina twice before, once by car and once by plane, but this trip was special because it was during the spring. Because I live in “cold Canada” as my boys call it, it was like traveling through the seasons. The trees were bare in Ontario and it was still freezing cold when we left but once we got to Southern Ohio the trees were starting to show signs of buds. By the time we hit South Carolina, it was full blown summer. Love that.
We tend to start early on road trips because I like to get as much driving in as possible on the first day when we’re still fresh and enthusiastic. On that Wednesday morning, however, we didn’t get on the road until well after 11 AM. I had this half wit idea that if Aiden went to his OT (Occupational Therapy) appointment in the morning, he would be tired enough to nap in the car. I was wrong. Neither kid napped and both talked or shouted non-stop until we stopped at 10 PM in West Virginia.
About that. I had intended to stop around 7 PM at a hotel with a pool and let the boys swim and burn off steam and maybe I could sip a glass of wine while they had at it. No idea what I did wrong but it probably had something to do with I-77 and the fact that there are very few hotels out there in West Virginia.
Y’all…West Virginia is something else. Beautiful, breathtaking, and scary as all hell if you’re driving in the dark and it happens to be raining. The highway is carved out of the Appalachians and you can’t see anything but black on either side and there’s all these sharp curves and corners. And also, the transport trucks drive really fast, honk their horns, and scare the crap out of you on route. From the time we got on the toll highway ($8 from one end to the other) we had nowhere to stop until we got off in Beckley, WV. Which meant we stopped too late to do much of anything but crash. Thankfully, not literally.
I took the first hotel I found. Which happened to be completely by accident since I got off one exit too soon and was completely lost. In the dark. In the mountains. When the Country Inn and Suites loomed up in front of me, I ran in and grabbed a room. To the tune of $90 a night (which turned into $125 CAD. Ouch.) Regardless, I was so super happy to find a hotel, I didn’t much care. Take our chances on the interstate or take the readily available room? No brainer. Exhausted and freaked out by the scary interstate in the rain at night, I took the room.
Which actually turned out to be really lovely with a complimentary breakfast. And not just stale bagels and a banana, either. Hot food, loads of kid friendly choices, and a really pretty view of the indoor pool. I wish I was the kind of person who could lollygag and poke around because both the indoor and outdoor pools looked lovely and West Virginia is really gorgeous. But when I’m on route to a destination, particularly a beach destination, I’m determined to get there. And with two mostly potty trained boys that’s never as quick as I’m hoping it will be.
When I stepped outside and looked around in the daylight, I could see why I was so freaked out the night before. Beckley is gorgeous but hell to drive through during the night.
From Beckley, it took us another 6 1/2 hours until we arrived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Once we got there however, it took almost 2 hours to make it a couple of miles down the road to Surfside Beach to pick up our keys. The traffic in Myrtle Beach is insane regardless of the time of day but on Thursday at rush hour, it pretty much sent me over the edge. I don’t think it helped that Toopy and Binoo was playing on the portable DVD player (we have and love this one!) right behind my head. I have no idea who gave the boys that video but if I ever remember we will no longer be friends.
Our condo was technically in Myrtle Beach but in actual fact was located in Surfside Beach which is on the south end of the whole Myrtle Beach area. We had a (mostly) terrific time and you can read about the entire adventure in the next couple of weeks when I share more in upcoming posts. We spent a couple of days in Charleston and on the Isle of Palms as well so check back in for all the details!
Our drive home was a little more leisurely since I knew we’d be heading back to the cold again. We took our time and stopped early in Marietta, Ohio.
The boys weren’t at their best (Caution-understatement alert) so we grabbed a pizza and ate in our room before hitting the pool. This was one of the nicer indoor pools I’ve been to on the road and the boys paddled about in their “floaties” while I soaked in the hot tub. And, yes, I brought some wine to sip this time. Liam tried to join me but I scared him off with tales of how hot the water was. #parentingwin
We took our time getting on the road in the morning, stopping for the free breakfast (loved the waffles!) at the hotel before doing some shopping. Once the boys started licking each other, I figured it was time to get back on the road. The trip from Ohio to Ontario was uneventful except for the part where the boys screamed and yelled for the last 3 hours of the journey. Nothing I said or threatened seemed to settle them and it was so bad that by the time crossed the boarder, I was pretty distressed. Aiden, in particular, took great delight in sending out a series of high pitched screams. For an hour. It was so loud that the boarder crossing officer took pity on me and when I declared the moonshine in my trunk, she said “Good for you, honey. Best get home and open that tonight.” and waved us on through. Bless her.
Is a road trip as a single parent with two little kids doable? You bet. Was it all rainbows and unicorns? Hell, no. It’s been a few weeks since we got home and promptly announced to the boys I’d never take them anywhere again. Lies, all lies. if you ask the boys, they have nothing but happy memories, even of the long road trip. I’ve burned the Toopy and Binoo DVD. And, because South Carolina is so incredibly gorgeous, we’ll probably do it again. 🙂
RESOURCES: (Affiliate links included. Read our full disclosure policy here.)
- Comfort Inn and Suites– Beckley, West Virginia
- Quality Inn– Marietta, Ohio
- Myrtle Beach Resort– Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Wild Dunes Resort– Isle of Palms, South Carolina
- Portable DVD Player– So you can hear yourself think while driving. In theory.
- Water Armband Floats– To buy yourself some hot tub time
- Packing Cubes– We each have our own, color coordinated set. Love them.
- Kids Backpacks– And, I make the boys carry them, too.