OK: lets do a quick summary. We are now on day 4, (slept away from home for 3 nights: one in Morgantown, WV and two in Stowe, OH) and we are headed to Buffalo, NY for some BUFFALO WINGS (!!!) and then north to Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, at the time of this trip, Ruby did NOT have her passport, so we could only do the American side of the falls. More on that later.
So it is Friday, June 2, and we start the 4 hour drive to NY. It was actually a pretty drive, and went by fast. It helped that Ruby took a good hour long nap on the way, and it was the bumpy roads of the NY State Thruway that woke her. We stopped in Buffalo, and had lunch at the Anchor Bar. It was good, but expensive, and nothing terribly special. If we were to do it again, I'd want to go somewhere else cheaper, but it did have a lot of local culture.
Then we went north to Niagara, about another 35 minutes drive or so. Ruby was ready to get out and explore, thats for sure! It cost $10 to park in the lot, but to see the falls was free. We opted not to do any of the other touristy stuff, because we didn't need that, and Ruby would be too young to remember. We walked around, and admired the falls, and enjoyed the day. (Our weather ended up PERFECT for this trip: comfortable sunny days and cool nights: we even tried out the furnace a night or two because it was so chilly!)
Was it worth the trip? YES! Would I go back? Yes, I actually would! I would love to walk across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada, and see that side of the falls, and I think it would be neat to explore Toronto a bit. I'd also love to see the falls in the winter, and could definitely explore Buffalo too! Maybe I'll take a road trip with Auntie Belle one day: she's always wanted to visit the falls!
At this point, we found a local Target. Brock suggested that a chair for Ruby to eat (and be contained in) would help us all with meal times, so we stopped and found Ruby her very own camping chair. Worth EVERY PENNY, let me tell you. Now we could ALL eat in peace, and sitting down, while it was hot.
Then we headed due south, toward PA. We had big plans the next day, but wanted to make some headway so it wasn't such a long drive for Ruby (or us). We made it to Allegany State Park, NY after a rough ride. Ruby can really only handle 4-5 hours per DAY in a car, and we probably did closer to 6. She gets super upset, especially if she has to poop, which she totally needed to. For whatever reason, she can't poop in her carseat...she likes to squat. So her tummy gets hurting. and the poor girl needs to get out and get her bowels moving. We had that issue pulling into the park, and I didn't care which campsite, or how much money: I just wanted out of the truck to let Ruby feel better. It ended up being $30 for the night, but was a beautiful facility with FREE HOT SHOWERS. Let me say that one more time: FREE. HOT. SHOWERS. Brock and I hadn't showered in over 3 days, so it was welcome relief. That night dinner was burgers, complete with avocado, cheese, and tomato, and chips. Simple, but good!
We showered Ruby, who was not having it, and pretty upset the whole time. Whenever she is in a situation she's unhappy with, she always tells us she wants to "play play" and it is sort of funny, in a heart breaking kind of way (like most of parenthood seems to be). After a successful night last night sleeping on her couch in her tent, we tried again... and Brock went to shower first. She was fine, while I was up in our bed, but when I went to shower, she SCREAMED. I almost didn't make it to the shower, hearing her little cries for mama. But she slept in her bed again down on her couch, and we were successful sleeping the whole night. She leaked through her diaper and onesie, so we had some clean up to do, but it wasn't a bad leak. Time for size 5 diapers?? Here is she is the next morning, reading in our bed.
After play and breakfast and more play, we packed up and headed south through western PA to one of the most unique towns in the country... Punxsutawney, PA, home of Phil, the groundhog who predicts our winter length every February 2. It actually has a curious history behind the ceremony, which surprisingly enough, we had cell service to google on our drive. After a picnic lunch and some play, we hit the road again, hoping to make it to a campground near Breezewood, PA, and then our drive home the next day would be about 3 hours or so.
Well... after about 2 hours in the car, close to our destination, the urge to poop came over Ruby. She was SO UNCOMFORTABLE, and hadn't napped much, so super cranky. We went to the campground, to find it no longer existed. We found another one, with screaming child in the back, and stopped to wait for the owner to show up. We let Ruby run around, and by now, it was about 5pm, so we planned on getting some sandwiches for dinner. The owner showed up, and Brock didn't love the situation: run down campground, shaggy owner asking for $40 for the site ($20 with no hook ups) and it just made us feel a bit funny. ALWAYS listen to your gut. We decided to feed Ruby, let her play for a little, and hit the road. By the time we arrived at a campground in western MD, we were only 2 hrs from home. Ruby was already exhausted and well past bedtime, so we decided to push it and make it home that day. It was about 8:30 when we made it home, and Ruby had her bath and books and went RIGHT TO SLEEP. Not even a scream. She must have been thrilled to be back in her own crib! What an awesome adventure... a new sticker on the map, something crossed off the bucket list, and a few more stickers to add to the camper. It made us SUPER excited for our trip to OBX in two weeks!