If you follow me on social media, namely Instagram, @mandimitchellphoto or my personal account @mandimae84, you saw last week that Levi and I went on what I called our #leviandmamaultimateroadtrip (you should check out the hashtag to see some of it!) For the next week, I will be sharing each day what Levi and I did on our ultimate road trip. People called me crazy and brave for taking a 3 year old on a road trip for that long, but y’all, he’s SO good in the car that I knew he wouldn’t be a problem- and he wasn’t. He was so flexible and great the whole trip! We had two really late nights of getting to bed around midnight and not once did he fuss or get mad. I seriously had the best time with him! I might even make this an annual thing with him!
So why this ultimate road trip to the midwest? It started with an idea to go visit my best friend from high school, Jess, and her family. Her husband owns the Chick-Fil-A in Branson, Missouri. If you don’t know anything about Branson, it is basically the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge of the midwest. They are a tourist town for sure!! I have been wanting to go see her for a year or so now and have looked at flights once a month for the last 10 months to get out there. Flights to Branson, Missouri (Springfield) where she lives would cost Levi and me $1,000 to fly out there (what?!), so I kept looking, hoping the flights would come down. They never did, so that left me with three options: 1) pay the money and fly out there 2) drive the 10.5 hour trip with Levi or 3) not go. I didn’t like option 3. And with baby girl coming in November, I knew the time was now or wait a while until she could do a road trip like that.
I started to look at the route I would take to drive out there and realized that I knew people along the way. Along with Jess living in south-western Missouri, I have another good friend (who also happened to be a bridesmaid in my wedding) who lives in Louisville. Natalie and her family have been out there for 7 or 8 years now (I can’t remember exactly) and I got to go visit them once when I shot a wedding there years ago. While Louisville is almost 8 hours from Branson, I looked at the overall travel time it would add to go out there and discovered that it would only add an extra 3 hours to my trip. I decided then that it would be worth going up and around to see both of these friends.
So last week, Levi and I packed up the car and headed out on our road trip. I didn’t want to spend all day in the car driving by myself, so I planned to take at least 2 days to get out there and 2 days to get back. It was a perfect plan! We drove A LOT, but never did we drive more than 6 hours in one day, so breaking it up like that didn’t seem so bad. Levi napped every time we were in the car, so that was great. I talked on the phone with family and friends, listened to new music I downloaded before the trip, and listened to a lot of Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger podcast (you photographers probably know what I’m talking about!).
Here’s how our trip went:
-Wednesday, July 19: leave for Nashville. Visit with Beth and her son Levi for dinner in Nashville. Drive onto Calvert City, KY to stay in hotel over night
-Thursday, July 20: drive to Alley Spring and Mill for lunch break and hike and then to Branson to see Jess
-Friday-Sunday: stay at Jess’
-Sunday, July 23: leave for St. Louis and go to Six Flags that evening
-Monday, July 24: leave for Louisville and get to Natalie’s
-Tuesday, July 25: hang out with Natalie and tour Louisville. Leave Louisville around nap time to make it Bowling Green, KY to visit the railway museum. Travel to Nashville to stay with Nicole and her family.
-Wednesday, July 26: hang out with Nicole in the morning and head home for Atlanta
Here are a few statistics from the trip:
-over 1,700 miles driven
-nearly 27 hours driven in the car (this does not include stops- literal drive time)
-9 to 10 hours of Levi napping in the car
-7 hours of talking on the phone for Mandi
-5 friends and their families visited
-3 different homes visited
-2 hotels slept in
-5 hours of podcasts listened to by Mandi
-2.5 hours of movies watched by Levi
-2 times cross over the Ohio River (once in southern Illinois and then again on the trip in Kentucky)
-1st time driving over the Mississippi River
-2 theme parks visited
-lots of hours of Levi coloring and reading in the car
In total, we visited 6 states. All were first time for Levi, most were first time for me:
-Missouri (first time)
-Arkansas (on boat and first time)
-Illinois (first time)
-Indiana (first time)
Come back later this week and check out our daily trip pictures to see where we were and what we did! I cannot wait to share them all with you!
Picture right as we are leaving for our trip! All smiles and Dora stickers!