Writing this as we careen down the A1 (I should say up the A1, since we’re heading north) towards Edinburgh. Successful day so far with “2:11” left to travel according to the Garmin, which would have us in around 10:30pm. That’s in quotation marks because sometimes we drive faster than the posted speed, and then sometimes it’s calculating time based on 60mph on a road where you either have a roundabout every mile or one so curvy you can’t go over 30mph. Also we have at least one more impending stop, as the fuel needle is quickly (at our current high rate of speed) slanting down towards empty.
This morning started early, with John getting up at 5am to shower and leaving at 5:45am in the Audi. When he got to the Brandon Vehicle Processing Center, right near RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall (both US Air Force bases close to Cambridge), they power washed the under carriage of the car and the wheel wells and then started the check-in process. Apparently he failed the interior inspection at first (even though he had spent a few hours cleaning it out and vacuuming) due to the fact that they dismantled the trunk area, taking out the spare tire and jack and such things and finding pine needles here and there. They allowed him time to clean it again, marked all the scuffs and scrapes and viola! it was off to Charleston! They said it should arrive right around the time we do in September which is awesome! 🙂
Meanwhile, Daniel woke me up at 6:20am, having given me about 3 1/2 hours of sleep after his 2am feeding (before which I had gotten almost 2 hours of sleep), so I felt quite rested. He was good enough to nap again for me so I could get ready to go and pack up the last few things including our snacks and such. I also needed to clean up a few areas as the landlord will be showing the place while we’re gone. Here’s a picture of our empty bedroom:
Last night Daniel was being super cute before bed, so he deserves a place in the blog as well…
The children started waking around 8am and slowly shuffling out of the room where they all slept last night, and by 9am we were dressed, buckled in, and on the road! This was my first time leaving the house with all six children by myself, and I must say, it was easier than I thought it would be 🙂 First we drove through a nearby McDonalds for breakfast and my first cup of caffeinated tea that I’ve had since maybe November. If ever there was a day for caffeine, it would be today! We had to stop around 10:15am to nurse Daniel and were thankful to find a Starbucks thanks to the Garmin. There are very few places off the motorways to stop in England — service stops can be 40 miles apart at times. And if it’s not the “services” sign (you know, the places with a food court, gas station, maybe a hotel), there is no other sign telling you there’s food or fuel. You can’t see most of them from the road either, and if you can, it’s only as you’re driving past them. Plus, the exits in general are far apart so if you miss the chance to get off at one you may wait another 5-10 miles for the next. Turns out it was the same Starbucks in a grocery store at which we’ve stopped before – after my Half Marathon and 10K races at Dorney Lake, Eton College (where the Olympic rowing has been taking place.
We were back on the road in an hour (nursed the baby, pottied the kids, got a Starbucks) We made it all the way to RAF Mildenhall without stopping again and met a newly shorn John there around 1pm (he had lots of time to kill so he got a haircut and watched the Olympic Sprint Trialthalon :)) I nursed Daniel while the children looked at toys in their “BX” (Base Exchange? I know the Army calls it a PX, and that’s Post Exchange I believe. In the Navy it’s just the Navy Exchange – NEX.) Here’s a picture of their fun toy area:
(That’s Gabriel and Liesl browsing.) This particular BX has a couple cool shops — the ones in Hawaii had little Hawaiian booths always good for local crafts and good buys on tourist items. Here’ it was a Celtic store, and a British store for buying your trinkets and things from the UK at a lower price than in town.
We also picked up a few new Archie comics that the kids love and the National Geographic 2013 Kids Almanac (our 2012 one is falling apart because the children have read it to death!) Here’s Greer, later on in the car, engrossed with an Archie comic:
We were going to have Taco Bell in the Food Court for lunch, but just as John was ordering, the lady fixing the food HAD AN EPILEPTIC SEIZURE, and the guy at the till had to go back there and see what was going on — suddenly, he’s crying out for help (somebody, please!!) — he was really sounding desperate, and it was quite scary!! It was his second day on the job apparently. We didn’t know at the time exactly what was going on, but John ran into the BX to get an employee to call 999 (like 911) because no one could do it from their cell phones because we were on base, and they don’t respond to those calls on base — in other words, the employee was necessary (someone in management) to use a land line to call the base’s emergency services. They arrived pretty quickly and had things under control it seemed, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Needless to say, we ended up with personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut. I, however, got to have a cheesy crunchy Gordita because when I came back from browsing the shops, Taco Bell was serving people again. (I also got a Cappucino Blast from the Baskin Robbins because I’m the mom. The kids didn’t get any ice cream 🙂 ) You may wonder why lunch deserved any mention, but normally we have no access to a Baskin Robbins and a Taco Bell 🙂
After lunch we headed over to the Post Office where we shipped off 5 Large Flat Rate boxes to my parents in Texas and one to my friend in Massachusetts – one of our first stops. That one had my pump in it so I can pump for the baby before going out to run in the mornings on our trip – there was no way that big heavy thing was fitting in a suitcase!! Next we returned four of our empty water bottles to their gas station (that’s where you get them here because they ship in Culligan bottled water but don’t deliver it to homes.) Remember that bottle with the pump on it? Well it now has a place of prominence so we can continue to drink it all up on the trip. Keeping it safe in the front seat next to me, and comfy with it’s own “Undercover Bear” pillow:
One last stop – this time the Commissary for some apples and rice cakes (on which to spread the three jars of peanut butter I brought that we need to use up) and also paper bowls and spoons for our cereal and milk – and then we were off around 4:15pm. I drove again after Mildenhall because Daniel was going to sleep for two hours (nursed him again right before we left while John ran all those little errands) so things were sure to be quiet. Greer napped as well (second nap of the day), and the children were engrossed in their new Archie comics for quite some time. We stopped around 6pm for me to nurse Daniel again, at a McDonalds for a bit of sustenance (fries all around!) This time while John drove, I had some time to chill out, and for a bit I used this:
My awesome electronic bagpipe that John got me last fall 🙂 Getting back in the groove and hope to be piping as of next week! Time to feed Daniel again, as we just stopped for fuel…
Passed this along the way – in the spring we stopped out here: Lindisfarne, The Holy Island. You have to drive over a causeway at a certain time when the tide is out to get there. The sun was just going down as we drove past, and I managed to shoot this out John’s window:
After the last gas station stop we only had about an hour and a half left – and with 35 minutes left, Gabriel threw up from being carsick 😦 Thankfully we had the little baby potty around for such a thing, and there was no mess. We saw the fireworks – probably from the end of the Tattoo that we are here to see – on our way in to the city and are happily installed in our adjoining rooms now 🙂 No internet because the wifi is 16 pounds per day! We have our cellphones, though, and they can broadcast a mobile hotspot so that is sweet! The nice thing about being in a hotel all week now is that we’ll actually get to watch some of the Olympics! Yippee!!