After a few weeks on the road, we've established some ground rules for planning the rest of our trip. More than likely we'll bend a few of them along the way, but it's always good to start with some guidelines:
- No drives longer than 500 miles.
- We don't want to make any extended stops with the cats in the car, so we need to drive straight from one destination to the next. 500 miles translates to roughly 8 hours of driving, which is a long time, even with two drivers trading shifts and a good audio book to listen to.
- No stays shorter than 4 days.
- We've found that it takes a day or two for the cats to adjust to a new hotel room and get comfortable enough to stop hiding under the bed all the time. Note: the first day we count is the day we drive from the previous location, and we don't count the day we leave, so this actually means 4 nights and 3 full days in a location.
Exception: single 1-night stopover allowed to break up a longer drive. There are a few places we need to visit on specific dates: Illinois on May 17, Florida on May 31, North Carolina on June 6, Colorado on August 6, Washington state on August 28. We started with a prioritized list of must-see and want-to-see places, and we don't want to add intermediate locations with multi-night stays just to break up the drives.See "Okay, New Plan" for reasons not to do this.
- No more Motel 6.
- We planned short stops (2 days) in Carlsbad and Houston, since there was only one thing we really wanted to see in each place (Carlsbad Caverns and Johnson Space Center, respectively), and we booked Motel 6 because it was cheaper and closer than any Marriott properties. I wouldn't say it was a mistake, but we have learned our lesson. In Carlsbad, the toilet backed up the first night and we had to call the front desk for a plunger; in Houston, they didn't have Wi-Fi (despite a huge banner advertising it) and our room keys kept de-magnetizing themselves. And in both places, the cats were able to crawl inside the box springs under the bed, making themselves sticky and making it very difficult for us to extract them when it came time to leave.
- The first full day in any location includes some chores.
- We call this "putter day," and it's when we go shopping and do laundry. We're not out for the whole day, so it also helps the cats adjust to the new place. Basically we recharge and resupply. And usually go see a movie.
We just made the decision to go down to Orlando at the end of the month to watch a Space Shuttle launch (STS-124, currently scheduled to lift off May 31st), so tonight we're rejiggering our route and changing some hotel reservations. Everything's in Google Maps and Spreadsheets, so we'll publish the updated info soon.
Dinner tonight: We ate out at Smilie's.
D had the Stuffed Eggplant "Courtenay" (Fresh Eggplant stuffed with Crabmeat & Shrimp, topped with a Creamy White Lump Crabmeat Sauce, served with Potatoes and Vegetable Medley).
I had the Catfish Pecan (Fried Farm Raised Catfish topped with Roasted Pecans and a Light Brown Sauce, served with Potatoes & Vegetable Medley).
It's going to be a good week.