Prepping for the Eclipse

We'll have to drive around 9-10 hours to see the total eclipse. We've decided to leave early on Friday in hopes of beating the major traffic rush that will likely occur from Saturday through Monday. Naturally, I have a pretty big checklist of things we're gonna need for this trip. I tend to stress myself out over planning for as many different situations as I can figure, especially now that we have children in tow. Back when it was only my wife and me, it wasn't such a big deal.

The kids alone have their own set of things that must be prepared:

  • iPads/Fire tablets/laptops/miscellaneous digital devices
  • Travel Bingo cards
  • Books
  • Snacks. Lots and lots of snacks.
  • No less than 30 charging cables and bricks
  • Many sets of headphones/ear buds (for my sanity and theirs)
Since we'll be traveling through areas with no cell coverage I have to download some of the kids' favorite YouTube videos to keep them happy. I don't like them burying their heads constantly in a device, so the travel bingo and iSpy type games come in real handy. My kids will play these games for about an hour, so that's a pretty good way to pass the time. Minecraft across my phone's hotspot LAN is also a popular activity. For this road trip I'm also trying to think of a way to turn the trip into an RPG game. I'm thinking of giving each kid a few note cards with 'missions' on them where they have to spot something and write down some descriptions of the item so that we can all solve a bigger mystery or quest. 

As for the Eclipse Van, I have a more generalized list:
  • Cooler stocked with ice, drinks and food
  • Toilet paper (always a must) or baby wipes, of which we still have an ample supply
  • A road atlas
  • Toolbox with wrenches, screwdrivers and a socket set
  • Folding chairs
  • Stroller for Fi (still comes in handy even though she's 3)
  • Binoculars
  • Solar viewers (don't worry, they are the NASA approved brand)
  • Phone chargers
  • Flashlight
  • Last but not least, our pillows.
A good stout is essential to the packing process.
You find yourself wondering, "Your pillows? Don't hotels usually have pillows?" You're correct, most do, especially the kind that aren't leased by the hour, but it doesn't matter how comfortable a bed is. If I don't have my pillow I can't sleep well. Tiff and I started this trend a few years back and it's rare that we don't take our pillows along, especially on trips where we'll be away from home for a few days. Heaven forbid I lose my pillow or it finally disintegrates.

I've downloaded all the Google Maps along the route onto my phone because I anticipate that the cell networks will be overloaded as early as Sunday and for sure on Monday during the eclipse. I'm really hoping that as people start heading back for home after the eclipse finishes that I can get on the my phone and see the traffic congestion maps. I'm still on the fence about whether we should wait for a few hours before heading North or if we should try taking back roads North for a while before hitting the interstate. I'm sure on the day of the choice will be fairly clear. 

Since there will be so many people crammed into areas that normally don't accommodate said number of people, I'll have to make sure the van is topped off with fuel. I may even bring a small gas can along just in case, though that seems a bit extreme, right? 

Until we actually need the damn thing!

I'll be honest with you: I'm very conflicted about this trip. I'm so excited to see a total eclipse, yet I'm nervous about the traffic and the huge amounts of people. I live in the far north of Wisconsin for a reason after all. I'm just not accustomed to being around massive numbers of people at once. Of course, the scenarios are always far worse in my head. We're probably better off planning to make our own meals instead of eating out, especially Sunday into Monday.

Apparently the traffic wasn't going to be challenging enough so we decided to turn up the pressure by scheduling an orthodontist appointment for one of the kids on Tuesday at 3:15 back home. At least we're not crossing time zones, I guess. Hooray for small victories?

On second thought, I better add some 5-hour energy to the list. Eclipse by day. stars by night. 

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