Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We Went to Nationals!

Remember this post? Well, here is the follow up. Instead of leaving the Tuesday it was posted, and as it stated, we actually left for Nationals Monday, due to a change in game scheduling. Getting there was quite an adventure, but we had a wonderful time!

The original plan was for Ellie and I to leave Tuesday, from Knoxville, and drive up to Springfield, Mo. However, as the days were approaching, everyone around us seemed to think Ellie and I traveling alone was not a good idea. I still think we would have been just fine, but I do appreciate people's concern. So after several different plan proposals and changes, we landed on this: Ellie and I would drive to Nashville early in the am, pick up my mom, who would stay behind a day or so from the rest of the family, and head on to Springfield as a threesome.

This meant we needed the ability to carry more luggage, something our small vehicle doesn't provide for very well. So the weekend before we left, Jared spent many hours in the sun and heat putting together an attachable luggage rack and luggage bag type apparatus to go on top of our car.

We packed most of our stuff up Sunday evening, minus a bag of stuff Ellie and I would need in the am. It was going to be longest time Jared had spent away from both Ellie and me, something the three of us were very sad about.

Ellie clearly upset about leaving her Daddy!

So Jared and his little girl spent the evening like this.

melt my heart! 
And this.

As luck would have it, Jared got an emergency work call after midnight Sunday night, and the situation didn't semi-resolze itself until after 1am.  Our original plan was to get up around 4:30-5ish, eat, and hit the road.  Yeah, that wasn't going to happen on that little sleep!

7:30 ended up being our departure time - not too shabby if you ask me, which you didn't. :) As I headed to the interstate, I noticed a horrible vibrating noise coming from the front passenger side of the roof. It sounded like the stroller we had placed in the luggage carrier was vibrating on rack it was resting on. It would come and go. About 20 minutes down the interstate, with Ellie already sound asleep in the back, the noise got nearly unbearable. Jared called me to check in just as I had made the decision to pull off at the next exit to try to pad the stroller. A mile before my chosen exit, I hear a faint thump on the roof, and the noise goes away. Our first thought was that the carrier had completely come off, which would have been bad news bears! But as I could still see the attachment straps of the carrier, and none of  the vehicles on the road around me seemed concerned, I knew the carrier was still in place. So what the heck was that noise?

I pulled into a parking lot right off the exit to take a look. Long story short, part of the rack had flow off,  the driver's side strap come undone, allowing the entire set up to slide towards the passenger side and back. Much further down the road, at interstate speeds, the entire thing would probably have come crashing through the back windshield, covering Ellie in shattered glass! We were definitely surrounded by guardian angels!

Not exactly the way you want to start off a 10+ hour road trip! Luckily Divinely, Jared had been at a meeting in Knoxville that am, and was about 15 minutes behind us on the interstate. He helped me take the rack off and attempt to repack the car. Our original goal was to keep very little luggage in the back seat with Ellie, for safety reasons, in case of a wreck. Well, if I wanted to bring the stroller, that wasn't an option! After some pretty creative packing, we were able to get everything packed into our car, with, what we hoped, would be enough room for my mom's luggage too.

Jared threw the entire luggage get-up into the back of his truck to take back to the place we purchased it, and demand a full refund (which he was immediately given!)

So off Ellie and I headed again. We made it to Nashville without further incident, where we stopped at my brother and sister-in-laws apartment to meet my mom and nurse Ellie.

Before I left, I had purchased a mirror to place by Ellie's car seat so I could see her on our trip. Both of us were fans of getting to look at the pretty girl in the mirror... even it was a bit distracting!:)

It was great having my mom with us, even if I didn't think it was unnecessary initially. As the oldest of five kids, I have had to share my mom a lot with my siblings. It was really nice to have her all myself for a change! We talked the entire way there, and back. I am so blessed to have such an amazing relationship with my mom, that allows us these times, and the ability to enjoy them. Not a lot of mothers and daughters can stand being around each other, in such close quarters, for that period of time.

Who knew that the way to Springfield was through the middle of nowhere!?!? I certainly did not. After stopping in Paducah, Ky at a Chick.Fil.A to feed ourselves and Ellie, we never saw an interstate again until Springfield. It was nothing but fields, desolation, 2-4 lane highways, teensy towns, deserted settlements, and scary cool crazy bridges over the Mississippi River! We would go miles without seeing any sort of establishment for gas, bathrooms, telephones, pull-over, etc...

Ellie did beyond great! We got creative with places to feed her. My "favorite" spot was a log-cabin establishment that offered gas, bathrooms, convenience store varieties, and, apparently, was the "town" hang out.

The place was essentially deserted when we showed up, minus the van of convicts (I kid you not - hand and ankle cuffed convicts) who stopped for a bathroom break while making their way across the state. It was about 5 pm. As I as nursing Ellie in the car, every dump truck, pick up truck, and semi-truck started pulling into the place for a gas top off, and evening snack and beverage. A nursing mama in the front seat of a car, was not what they were expecting! Ha! We got some pretty funny looks to say the least.

Ellie didn't seem phased at all, and was soon back sleep in her car seat, as we finished the last leg of the trip. She didn't start crying until about 15 minutes away from our destination. By this time, Ellie and I had been on the road 12+ hours! What a little road warrior!

We stayed at the Ramada Oasis Convention Center, where Ellie and I had our own room, adjoining with my family. It was the perfect room set up for us, and hotel set up for the the basketball teams that stayed there with us. The place was overrun with kids, teams, parents, etc... I feel really bad for anyone who wasn't part of the tournament who was staying in any local area hotel or tried to eat at any restaurant in the area. Basketball teams and their families were everywhere!

Here are some pictures of the hotel, from their website, because I forgot to take my own pictures of the premises.

 Common area, where breakfast was served, and general hang out took place
Saltwater  pool
 Nice spacious rooms

The rooms were great! They had a small 'fridge and microwave. Because of this, the foods I had packed, and the continental breakfasts, I only ended up eating out one time! Not bad! My meals were not exactly varied or full of complete nutrition, but I still stayed pretty darn healthy thanks to some of my staples:

P90x Protein Bars

This is what our kitchen bathroom looked like on any given day:)

I also brought Almond milk (for my shakeology... as lots of dairy seems to constipate the Elle-girl) all natural canned pineapple, whole grain bread, all natural peanut butter, jelly (so lots of PB&J's!), almonds, granola, and for a splurge snack, some pop corn. I also snagged some yogurt and fruit from the continental breakfast every morning, for snacks later on. And of course, my mom had an abundance of snacks in their, conveniently, adjoining room!

If you ever visit Springfield, Mo you have to visit Andy's Frozen Custard and get one of their concretes!!

My family forced me to join them here twice that week!:)

Ellie did great the entire week, and I was able to keep her on her schedule, for the most part. She actually started sleeping almost completely through the night while we were there! I was usually able to let her have one of her naps in the hotel room, and not in the gym or car.

I have another post coming up about the basketball side of things, complete with lots of picture collages, but I will end here for now. We have been back for nearly two weeks now, and Ellie and I are adjusting back to life quite nicely, although I am sure she is missing all the attention she got while we were there! And I know my parents are definitely missing the time they got to spend with their daughter grand-daugther for 8 un-interupted days!:)

 Ellie with my parents - her Lolli and Pop :)

Until next time!

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