Ten days. Thirty-five hundred miles. Two cross-country flights and more car rides than I care to remember…all with three infants in-tow. What would drive Missy and I to seemingly inflict such pain on ourselves?
I guess you could say Missy had reached her breaking point.
Four months of being at the girls every beck and call, changing their dirty diapers, listening to their whines and cries, cleaning their spit-up, and staring at (basically) the same four walls every waking hour, had taken its toll. She told me she that she was in dire need of a change of scenery.
“Sure babe,” I said, “anything you want. What did you have in mind?” I asked, thinking all that she wanted was a spa day or a weekend away from the babies.
I soon learned that she had bigger and more extravagant endeavors in mind…because that’s when she proceeded to lay out every detail of what would become known as the “Hardinge Triplet East Coast Tour 2010“. From flight numbers to hotel reservations, Missy had been slowly scheming a massive family getaway which, in my mind, defied all logic and reason. Yet as she began to explain herself, the more sense it (gulp) began to make.
The main premise of her grand excursion involved two semi-significant events taking place during consecutive weekends in October that would in turn bookend a week-long visit with my side of the family in Hagerstown. Thus the trip broke down into three main phases:
- Phase 1: Des Moines to Lexington, Virginia (via Washington D.C.), for my five-year reunion at VMI. Duration: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 1st-3rd.
- Phase 2: Lexington to Hagerstown, Maryland, to visit family and friends who can’t make to the trip to Iowa to see us and the girls. Duration: Sunday through Friday, October 3rd-8th.
- Phase 3: Hagerstown to Durham, North Carolina, for Allen-Bixler wedding. Duration: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 8th-10th. After the wedding weekend, we would then travel directly from Durham to D.C. to catch our flight back to Des Moines.
No way, I thought. I won’t even survive the first flight. Screaming babies? People looking at us, rolling their eyes, and scoffing under their breath? Even if I did manage to make it, what about all that driving? The girls strapped in their car seats for hours at a time? I was certain they’d wail the whole way. Plus a week away from work? I broke out in a cold sweat just thinking about it all.
I was obviously against the whole idea, but Missy was adamant from the beginning. The holidays were an unrealistic option this year, and the girls were at the perfect age where they weren’t quiet mobile enough to want to move and play as we travelled from location to location. So after days coaxing and sweet-talking, she finally convinced me to buy in. The plane tickets were soon purchased and the hotel rooms were reserved; the Hardinge’s were going on their first family vacation.
So as I sat with nervously Missy, Aunt Shannon, and the girls at Gate C-3 in Des Moines International on October 1st with two double strollers, three car seats, two carry-on suitcases, backpack, and diaper bag, I knew that we were about to embark on the most stressful yet, as I would later learn, most rewarding journey of my life.
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Editors note: Stay tuned. Over the next few days (or weeks…whenever I get enough time), I will write about each phase of our amazing trip in detail, with each post filled with plenty of pictures and anecdotes for your enjoyment. -Tommy