The Paulsens head Stateside – Part 4 – New Hampshire to Colorado

Leaving New Hampshire was hard.  We’d been there long enough that we had begun to feel at home.  We knew what aisle to look for the milk in the supermarket and I’d established my ‘regular’ run.  We’d started routines.  We were also leaving family, again.  Lucky we were headed to more family.  We were all a bit nervous about getting on the road but definitely anxious to get moving towards our end goal.  Our first stop was to be just outside Washington DC because I really wanted to see the capital.

Eliot had been keen to drive through the night and then nap in the car while I walked the kids around DC.  I wasn’t up for starting this leg of our journey exhausted so we agreed to push until we were close to DC and stop overnight.  We arrived in Rockville, MD late at night and it took a fair while for us to get the kids settled after waking them to get them into the hotel.  We wouldn’t be doing that again!  Lesson learned.

The next day we ate breakfast at the hotel.  I made sure that all our bookings included breakfast , remembering this from my backpacking days.  We filled up as much as possible and took some extra fruit and pastries for car snacks. We drove in to Washington DC and wandered around the big monuments and the White House.  It was good to get out and stretch our legs, however the kiddos were more interested in chasing squirrels. We piled back into the car and headed to Charlotte, NC.

Seven hours later we arrived at Eliot’s brother’s place in Charlotte.  We spent the next week there.  The kids loved playing with their cousins, seeing Grandma and Grandpa and Aunts and Uncles.  Uncle Pete took us all to the Discovery Center and I think we had just as much fun as the kids.  It made me remember just how good it is to have family nearby.  We barely saw Grace, she spent most of her time playing with ‘the big boy’ (her cousin Jacob) and Jasmine.

With our shipment from Australia due to arrive in Colorado any day, we needed to get back on the road. Jack decided to join us for our next long road trip from North Carolina to Colorado (1970 miles, 3170 kms, 31 hours) in 3 days, taking a southern route to avoid any snow storms that might be in our path.  I was not looking forward to it.

Those three days have melded in to a blur of Chick Fil-A restaurants (they’re the only ones that seem to have playgrounds these days), billboards for lawyers, disgusting hotel coffee and the Lion King and the Bee Movie on repeat.  The only reprieve was our stop in Waco TX and fulfilling my dream to visit the Magnolia Silos.  If you aren’t aware of Magnolia, or Chip and Joanna Gaines, do yourself a favour and look up these two beautiful souls and their show Fixer Upper. There are not two sweeter home renovators on TV.

After visiting Magnolia, we decided to push for home.  It was going to be 14 hours + of driving through the night.  We were scheduled to arrive in Gunnison at 6am in time for Walmart to open and allow us to buy bedding and a TV, the key things we didn’t have in our new apartment.

It was a very long night.  Eliot and I took turns driving.  I drove for the afternoon and then as the sun went down Eliot took over.  Eliot got us up over Monarch pass and then handed the reigns back to me at about 4am to get us to Gunnison.  It was horrid.  My first time driving in a snow storm and on about 3 hours sleep but we made it to Gunnison.  We got there just as the doors to Walmart opened and got what we needed.  The kids were running around the store like crazy people and Jack did his best to chase them while I tried to pull my brain together to figure out what we needed.  Luckily Eliot came in to give us a hand because he couldn’t sleep in the car.  We all piled back in and then made the final push to Crested Butte, 40 minutes up the valley.

Driving that road to our new home was surreal.  I cried when I saw Mount Crested Butte and the beautiful valley we would now call home.  The snow fall halted and the blue skies came out.  I’d only ever seen Crested Butte like this on Instagram and it was just as stunning in real life.  We were home.

Lessons Learned from this leg…

  • Try to get to your destination in time for normal bedtime routine.  The littles settle a lot better
  • Chick Fil-A pretty much always have a playground so is a good place to stop for a meal and play if you don’t want to keep driving around finding a playground or the weather is bad.
  • Trying to buy key home items at Walmart at 6am with two small kids when you’ve been up all night is a bad idea.  I should have ordered it online and had it delivered like our beds and mattresses.
  • If you can afford it, book hotels with breakfast included.  Less food you need to have on hand, it starts everyone with a full stomach and you can take some fruit with you.

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