Our Family Trip to S.C. and D.C. – Why? When? and 1st 2 Days

Why? And When?
Last December I realized my best friend Emily’s kids had never met my kids, and I decided this needed to be fixed. I also hadn’t been down to visit them in South Carolina since her wedding, which was Nov 2011!

The plan was to go the last week of June. And since we’d be driving, might as well go to Washington D.C. too. Amber had been asking for a little while, she wanted to see the country’s capital. I knew the risk of heat (and hurricane) in that month, but it was the earliest Amber and I supposedly had off at the same time, and it would not run over Aurora’s birthday party either.

Then, it turned out I had to do another half semester in my MEDPREP program, which supposedly ended that last week of June. However, I found I had no time to study and take the MCAT as expected, and so had to move taking that test to July 10th. Which meant our trip had to be moved to the middle (third) week of July.

As the time neared, I followed the news on tropical storm / hurricane Barry daily. Didn’t seem like it was going to impact our trip, we should be in and out of S.C. before any of the rain hit.

The first 2 days – Driving to S.C.
Okay, so off we go! Saturday, July 13th. As it was a driving vacation, we didn’t have to leave at a set time. I planned to do the drive from MI to SC in two days, giving the kids something outside to do each day before driving. In Ann Arbor, the kids played at Dad and Colette’s while I finished packing. Then we attended the AADL’s Summer Game Spectacular, and left for vacation right from there! I hadn’t been able to find anywhere between Columbus, OH, and Charlotte, NC, with something for the kids to do the next morning before driving again, so we ended up starting the drive without a destination for that night. Figured I’d just drive and see how far we got before bedtime. About 1/2 hour out, I started calling ahead to hotels / inns 1/2 hour away. No availability. So I called 1 hour ahead. Still no open rooms. Eventually I asked one of the hotels I called, what was happening that all rooms were booked up? Apparently it was Ohio Brew Week… ugh. I finally found a motel with 1 room left, and it had two double beds. I was suspect, because we’d had a pretty bad experience in a cheap motel driving back from Boston a previous Summer (literally stuff growing on one of the mattresses). But it was my ONLY option at this point. It was also more expensive than I thought it should be, at $85 which turned into $92-ish after taxes, especially for a 2 star motel on the side of a highway in nowhere Ohio. But, last room in the area, so I took it. Thankfully, it turned out decent!! Hometown Inn. The “double” beds turned out to be Queens. The family that runs it was really nice and helpful. Thankfully the room was a non-smoking one. The AC was strong! The room was clean, the except the carpet, the beds were decent and well kept. And no bugs! The décor was 1980s-ish. Clearly an old motel, but definitely well kept. Even had Wifi.

We slept well, and were off the next morning. Aaaaand I took a wrong turn somewhere, and we ended up on “the scenic route”. It was supposed to go to the same freeway we wanted, but we lost 30 to 45 minutes driving country foothill twisting roads. We did get to see the quaint, charming old town of Pomeroy, OH, and a very pretty and impressive white bridge connecting OH and WV which we used to cross the large river. Then, all of a sudden we saw the WV AEP Mountaineer Power Plant right up close! The main stack was impressive, looked like we were going to drive right up to it! Lastly, we got to see the Ohio River Racine locks and dam, which we actually stopped at to see how close we could get.

Turns out driving long distance on a Saturday and a Sunday was pretty good for traffic reasons – no rush hours, and no returning-from-Up-North backups! So long as no one does anything stupid while driving. Unfortunately, someone did, and we ended up stopped on the freeway, 2 miles behind a car vs motorcycle accident that shut down the freeway for several minutes. We got trapped on a long bridge, over a deep gorge, with a high divider between the two directions, 18 miles from the WV / Virginia border. We were there for almost half an hour. I was a little proud of myself for not freaking out, didn’t even start to little bitty panic!

All in all, we were hours later than we should have been getting to Emily’s house, and about an hour late for planned dinner time. But we made it!

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