Murphy’s Law is a Law for a Reason
Scroll down for all the highlights from our PCS Across American on video!
Over three weeks, I crossed the country with 2 toddlers while towing a small travel trailer. (Read Chapter 1 here!) Along the way, we experienced:
- 5,000+ Miles
- 19 states and the District of Columbia
- 3 national parks
- 2 dead car batteries
- 1 trip to the Emergency Room
- 15 family members from DC to CA
- 1 threatened lawsuit
- 1 Fire evacuation warning
- Countless snacks including applesauce pouches, graham crackers, fruit snacks, pretzels, cheez-its and more
- 12 Blu-ray movies played on a loop
Before we set out, we learned a lesson that would repeat itself throughout the trip: Murphy’s Law is a law for a reason. It was pouring rain and I ran to the van to grab something, hit the wrong button, and instead opened all of the windows. I didn’t realize the mistake for five minutes. The interior of the car was soaked. Because newer cars have fancy computers running them, this was a problem. Our emergency parking brake broke and due to supply chain issues, it was backordered six months. The car was drivable, but we didn’t have an E-brake. One of the wonderful features of our van is its built-in shop vac which is a necessity with toddlers eating snacks on long car rides. The shop vac only works when the emergency break is on. Murphy’s Law at its finest.
We left on a Friday morning in mid-August with no emergency brake and the plan to drive from Rhode Island to Washington, D.C. in a day. The first thing to know about road trips with young kids is that they will inevitably take longer than you think.
Someone needs to pee, a toy that it absolutely necessary for survival will fall where none of the adults can reach it, one of them will figure out how to silently escape his car seat on the interstate, the Blu-ray player will die, the tablets will run out of batteries and energetic kids will need a break to get out the wiggles. If it sounds like a long drive to you as an adult, it will be too long for kids.
What should have been an eight-hour drive took nearly 13 hours. Everyone shed tears by the end of that day. To make matters worse, by the time we arrived in D.C., it was night and pouring, which is a terrible combination for setting up a travel trailer. Thankfully, we had friends living in Arlington that we planned to meet the following day who reached out when it started raining and offered us their spare room, so we didn’t need to setup the R-Pod on a rainy night.
So, night one of our epic cross-country camping trip was spent in our friend’s basement. The camping didn’t work out, but we hadn’t seen our friends in years, and it was great to reconnect. The next morning, we loaded back into the minivan and took the camper to Fort Belvoir where we would stay for the following two nights. The campsite was a lovely plot next to the Potomac River. We enjoyed some sight-seeing, including a very eventful trip to look at dinosaur bones at the Smithsonian, visited family, ate a lot of ice cream and generally had a good time.
From there we struck out West to visit my husband’s family in Knoxville, Tennessee. Our campsite was along another river, but we had our first true hitch here. It rained. And rained. And then rained a little more. Keeping toddlers in tight spaces is hard for long periods, even with a now turbo-charged library of DVDs. The R-Pod is purposefully small. It’s mostly for sleeping, cooking and eating. The rest of the time is meant to be out exploring. We were lucky to have family to visit, but the camping wasn’t great. Thankfully, our next stop in West Memphis was scheduled to be at a hotel to give us a little break and showers that didn’t involve standing over the toilet.
The pause in West Memphis let us recharge physically, but drained our car’s battery. Here is something I did not know about RVs. If they are plugged into a car, they run off the car’s battery. If nothing’s running in the RV, it doesn’t pull any charge. If, for example, you forget to turn off the fridge overnight, the car’s battery will be dead by morning. Murphy’s Law strikes again….