We took our second annual summer road trip to Minneapolis, MN from June 18-20. My wife graduated from the University of Minnesota, and her brothers still live in Rochester, MN. So we took a family weekend trip to Minneapolis, and then DW and the kids continued for a week in Rochester (visiting with brothers-in-law and DW’s parents, with whom we’d coordinated our trip) while I headed back home and to work. All of this background is to explain the decision to get the kids up at midnight on Friday, June 18 to start the drive to Minneapolis. With the “vacation” part of this trip for me limited to Friday-Sunday, I really didn’t want to lose an entire day of that to travel.

The trip couldn’t have started more perfectly. I took a few hours off from work on Thursday afternoon, got the last of my packing done, and went to bed by 4 p.m. (I’d been staying up really late all week, so that I’d be good and tired). DW took Squeaker and the Bug swimming and to dinner at a McDonald’s PlayPlace, with the explicit goal of wearing them out. She put them to bed near their usual 8 p.m. bedtime. I got up at 11 p.m., took a shower to help wake myself up fully, started the coffee maker, and woke DW around 11:30 p.m. We filled a couple of insulated coffee mugs for each of us and put the last few things into the car. We woke The Bug and she dazedly walked to the car, and we carried Squeaker to his seat. We pulled out of the garage at almost exactly midnight, and the kids were sound asleep again before we hit the highway entrance. While DW and the kids dozed, I had Disney Podcasts playing on my iPad to one ear of my headphones.

Just before 2 a.m., DW requested a bathroom stop and the kids woke up in the lights of the Kum & Go in middle of nowhere Northern Missouri. So after that brief stop, the kids decided that it was movie time, and The Rescuers was popped into the DVD player while the kids snacked on Froot Loops.

After The Rescuers, the kids switched to Muppet Show episodes on DVD, and watched a marathon of Muppet Shows until our stop for breakfast just before 6 a.m. Just in case you happen to be driving through Northern Iowa, I caution you to avoid the Denny’s in Clear Lake. Not only was the service bad and the restaurant dirty, but the coffee was lousy. If the kids hadn’t been complaining about being hungry for breakfast for close to half-an-hour before we stopped, we probably would have left and looked for someplace else. Unfortunately, the Perkins Restaurant across the street didn’t open until 7 a.m., and we weren’t up to waiting an hour.

Aside from the coffee, at least the food was OK. Even Squeaker, who frequently considers mealtimes merely suggestions that eating might be involved, ate his entire children’s meal and some of my pancakes too. We were back on the road at about 7:00 a.m., next stop, Hotel Ivy, Minneapolis.

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