Solar Eclipse Road Trip – Day 2

The night was interesting. The window in our room was above the ice and vending area. People were out there late partying and a couple got in a loud argument. Unsurprisingly, my kids slept through most of it. We got up early and hit the road to drive to Sweetwater, TN. We were happy to leave those accommodations behinds. We stopped for donuts and juice for breakfast. We chose to eat in the car so we could get there faster. We had heard that finding a parking spot was going to be difficult. We had a bit of a drive so we didn’t want to waste anytime.

We made good time and got there early. We drove around a little bit and decided to park in a field next to a hardware store that was away from the big festival that was going on in downtown. We were there to see the eclipse and spend the day together. We were not there to spend the day surrounded by tons of people at a big festival. They parked us at the very edge because they were thinking that there were going to be a lot more people coming. A few other people did park there but not many. It turned out to be an amazingly intimate moment with a handful of like-minded strangers.

We explored our little area to help pass the time. There was an A&W within easy walking distance. The little girls had never been to A&W and Ivy doesn’t remember going when she was little. Octavia enjoyed sharing her first root beer float with Ivy. We checked out the hardware store we were next to. They had some really cute suckers. The big girls each got one.

We went back to the field by our car. The kids played around outside in the grass for a while. We went for another walk. They had horseback rides in the hardware store parking lot. Isabella rode the horse. We decided to have lunch at Sonic before heading back to our car. We shared a large order of chicken tenders and cheese sticks. It was miserably hot so we each got large slush to go, except Octavia who got an ice water to fill up her sippy cup.

We met the nicest people who happened to be parked next to us. They were from Connecticut. We waited for the eclipse with them. We were not able to find enough glasses and they graciously gifted us with a couple extra pairs that they had. They also shared some experiments with my girls. This is one of the reasons I travel with my children. I want to show them that there are some really good people out there in the world.

I have no photographs of the eclipse but I do have a memory that I will cherish forever. Sitting there with my girls as the day became night was a treasure. Isabella’s awe of the moment as what we had been telling her all finally made sense. It was well worth the drive. Road trips are some of my favorite times. This one was so different because Michael couldn’t make it. We made some amazing memories and had some hilarious conversations that you can only have while there are miles of road ahead of you. There is pure magic in road tripping with kids. You suddenly have time for all those conversations that you simply don’t have time to properly engage in at home when everything needs to get done. I’m not talking about the big important talks but that sometimes happens too. I’m talking about hearing about favorite new games, the last book they read, what their school friends are like, and their favorite thing about their new teachers. In the end, all these little things are all that really matter. These little things are shaping our children into the people they will be.

The trip back home was none eventful. There was loads of traffic which we all expected considering how many people came to watch the eclipse. It started to clear out eventually as we got farther away from Sweetwater. I’m going to leave you with this final photograph taken somewhere on the road out of my dirty windshield. It’s beautiful but a little messy which is just like taking a road trip alone with three kids.

 

Solar Eclipse Road Trip – Day 1

We were lucky enough to be less than 8 hours from viewing a total solar eclipse. I managed to get a couple days off work and the big girls were able to take a day off school. Michael was unable to get a day off so we ended up making it a girls trip. I looked into our options and we decided to view the eclipse from Sweetwater, TN. The only issue was that I only got the day off on a last minute trade and finding a hotel in the vicinity was not going to happen. It was too far to drive the day of the eclipse so I had to find a place closer than where we are. I finally found a place outside of Chattanooga, TN and booked it online.

We packed our overnight bag the night before. We got up early to have a quick, healthy breakfast at home before hitting the road. The goal was to make it as far as possible before having to stop. The little girls did amazing and we didn’t have to stop until lunch time. We found a McDonald’s with a play center. The girls had a chance to get out of the car to play and eat for 45 minutes. After lunch, we stopped at a Walmart and picked up some snacks to get us through the rest of the trip to Chattanooga. I filled up the gas tank before getting back on the road.

One of our snacks for the road!

We made decent time and got to our hotel just before dinner time. We checked in, picked up our key, and found our room before heading to dinner. Remember me saying that hotels were in high demand and I took what I could find. This was not a nice place to stay. It was questionable. It was a non-smoking room but there were burns on the blankets and furniture. There was black hair in the bottom of the bathtub. It did seem safe enough and there were no bugs. Every trip can’t be fancy. I’m not complaining. I’m just stating the truth. Sometimes it’s enough to not have to sleep in the car.

 

 

We drove into downtown Chattanooga and ate at City Café Diner. This is our favorite diner and we were so excited to be able to eat here! This is the cutest little place with amazing food and great service! I would eat there again and again. We stop there every time we drive through Chattanooga or near enough that we can easily detour.

Ivy and I got gyros and fries. The little girls got mac and cheese. We have never had a bad meal here. The dessert really is the star of the show at this place. They have huge cases of cakes, cheesecakes, and other desserts at the front. They all looked amazing! It was hard to decide. We each picked something different.

So many choices! Their dessert menu is really something!

I had the cheesecake in the bottom right photo. It was truly delicious. Their desserts are huge and incredibly well priced. Isabella couldn’t finish her chocolate cake and decided to take it with her. We left the restaurant and went back to our hotel to sleep for the night.

 

Photoshoot on the Beach

I wanted to do a photoshoot of the girls on the beach while we were staying in Ormond Beach. We got up early to try to get a couple pretty shots in before the beach got busier. Trying to get nice pictures of a baby in a fancy dress on the beach while also trying to get nice pictures of the older two girls at the same time was interesting.

Here are my favorites

 

 

 

 

I am so happy that my kids put up with me so I could get these. I honestly got way more bloopers than decent pictures but that’s how things go with kids sometimes. I am glad we took the time and effort. They will be great to look back on someday.

Beach & Pool Day

We decided to have an easygoing day at the beach and hotel pool. We needed some time to just relax and hang out together. Our children don’t stay children forever. We will all look back on these days and reminisce someday. I put Octavia in her baby carrier when we went to the beach. Ivy and I walked up and down the sand looking for tiny seashells while we chatted about life. Michael played with Isabella in the water until she made some buddies to play with instead. Isabella easily makes friends everywhere we go and ended up having lots of playmates throughout the day.

Michael decided to let the girls bury him in the sand. They greatly enjoyed this. Isabella couldn’t stop laughing. It was quite a sight by the time they were done. I sat in the sand letting the waves come up to meet me with Octavia napping on my chest.

We spent the evening hanging out at the pool. The girls had fun swimming. Isabella made more friends. She literally does that everywhere. Our hotel had shaded chairs that Octavia and I greatly enjoyed. Michael spent some time cuddling Octavia poolside. I hung out in the pool with the big girls.

We went out for Mexican for dinner. It was dark before we got back to the hotel. We took the girls for a beach walk. We watched the little crabs running into their holes. Isabella simultaneously excitedly chased them and then screamed when they would run. This is one of my favorite memories of our trip. We eventually were all so tired that we turned in for the night. It was another amazing day.

Driving on the Beach in Daytona Beach Florida

We woke up early to watch the sunrise over the ocean from outside our hotel room while the girls slept in. We enjoyed our coffee and chatted while the world woke up. The girls slowly woke up one by one. We ran downstairs to grab muffins and juice from the continental breakfast. We brought it up to our room and had breakfast together. It was lovely.

We got dressed and ready for the day. We had big plans and I was super excited. I visited Daytona Beach when I was 14 years old. It was the first time I laid eyes on the ocean. We drove down and parked on the sand. That was the day I fell in love with the beach and the moment my wanderlust began. That trip changed my life. I was too young to drive on the beach and I really wanted to. Thus my bucket list was born. Today was the day that I would finally get to drive on the beach!

We paid the attendant and got our ticket. You get to use it to enter twice. This was my moment. I had been waiting to do this for almost 20 years. It was incredible. I couldn’t stop smiling. Crossing off the very first item on my bucket list was deeply satisfying.

I love the idea of being able to park your car on the beach so you can easily bring your cooler, boogie boards, shade tents, and anything else you need for the family to spend the day on the beach. This day we were really just there to drive down the beach and spend the day exploring the pier and boardwalk area. We did park on the beach and stroll a little before moving on.

We parked near the pier and did a little browsing. The view from the pier was beautiful. We stopped to share a large order of fries and a couple sprites on the pier while watching the waves come in. People were sitting out in the sun on the beach below. The pier seating area was really quiet. We were sitting in a shaded area. It was a good place to feed Octavia.

We walked along the boardwalk and browsed for a couple hours. There are so many fun things to see in Daytona Beach. Octavia loved staring at all the pretty colors of the many clothing items we walked by. We all thought the clock tower by the beach was really pretty. Isabella said that it looked like a giant sand castle.

We continued browsing the shops until we ended up at a mall. It was very hot outside so we really enjoyed popping in and out of the blasting air conditioning in the stores. Honestly, we didn’t buy much. Ivy and Isabella each got a shell ring. We got three small bottles with Daytona Beach written on them so we could fill them with small shells and sand before going home.

We stopped at The Starlite Diner for a late lunch. We decided to share a couple things instead of individually ordering meals. We got a Mucho Taco Salad with jalapenos on the side, fried mushrooms, and chicken strips with ranch dressing on the side. The food was amazing and fresh! The atmosphere is super fun. It’s a great place for kids. The staff was really nice. It was a great lunch for around $30 plus tip. We went during a downtime so it wasn’t too busy. I understand that this place is crazy busy for breakfast and traditional dinner time especially on the weekends and during local events.

After lunch, we stopped at a discount shop to get Isabella a pair of flip-flops to wear to the beach. We found this cute mural on the way back to our car. It was a bit of a walk back. We had a great day in Daytona Beach, Florida!