We would leave Seattle very early in the morning, sometimes the girls would still be in their pajamas, Chuck and I would fill our travel mugs with hot tea or coffee and we'd head out before the sun came up.
We'd drive from Seattle to Redding, California the first day, then from Redding to San Diego the next. That equals out to about 10 hours of driving each day.
We would stay at a hotel that served breakfast and that would save us money and time. We'd all go down to eat together, then after breakfast Chuck would take the van to fill it with gas while the girls and I would go back to the room to brush our teeth, braid hair, repack suitcases and check under the beds for lost toys.
After a while on the road, it would be time for lunch so we'd try to find a McDonalds that had a play place.
Chuck or I would stand in line to order lunch for just the two of us while the other one took the girls right to the play area. They would play and play while we ate our lunch.
"Mom, look at me!" "Dad, watch this!" We were both able to focus on them while we casually ate, sort of like a date. Sort of. 😉
They would eventually come over, hot, sweaty and tired and we'd tell them, "Only 10 more minutes!" and they'd laugh and dash back out to play some more.
When it was finally time to go, I'd take them to use the bathroom and wash and wash our hands while Chuck ordered their lunch. Fries, chicken nuggets, apple slices, no wait. They didn't have apple slices back then. Well, we only got finger foods that wouldn't make too much of a mess in the car, then we get them all buckled in and hand them their lunch.
After playing hard and having a full tummy, they would read or quietly play and eventually...
It worked every time!