Ria told me more than a year ago that she wanted to go to SLC, UT for General Conference so much that she was going to earn the money up to take our family there. She was determined that we would make the trip October 2013.
She didn't earn money as quickly as she expected. When she did sell a painting (her primary avenue for earning the money for the trip), she turned to me and said, "I'm so excited! We'll be able to go to General Conference for sure! I only have to sell a few more paintings!" I wanted to encourage her, but didn't want to mislead her, so I asked, "How much do you think we need to drive to Utah from here?" She said, "I don't know. But we've got almost as much as need now, right?"
Obviously, I need to focus a little more on financial information in her homeschool! :)
I did inform her about how much the gas would cost and her hopes were dashed. She said, "Oh! I don't think I can make that much by next Conference."
By that time, I'd started a business and determined that I would take my girl (children) to SLC for the next General Conference, if at all possible.
I did work hard toward that goal and was able to earn enough to pay to rent a van. My husband wasn't willing to allow us to drive our own vehicle for concern over it's viability for such a long journey. However, I did not have or make enough money to pay for the fuel to get to Utah.
We were blessed by a wonderful benefactor who gifted us with enough money to pay for fuel!
So, we departed in the evening of March 31, 2014.
It took right around 24 hours to reach Jessie's Dad's house: Pop. Jmy was able to meet his name-sake. That was probably more important to me than anyone else. It was nice to see and photograph them together. I'm glad all the children got to spend some time with him.
From there, it took us around 34 more hours to drive to SLC, UT.
I'll share a story or two from that journey, in the future. For now, though, I have to tell you that I would not recommend doing it in the way I did unless you absolutely must due to circumstances. And, if you decide to go ahead with it, you should probably make sure you do a few things I did not do before you depart.
First, make sure to get enough sleep and/or take a nap before you leave. Sleep is really helpful when dealing with 5 children cooped up WAY too long.
Second, if you can afford it, it would probably help to sleep somewhere on a bed. I like driving at night because the children are sleeping. It is definitely my preference. However, I would've liked to sleep on a bed instead of the floor boards of the van. But circumstances being what they were, the floor was WAY roomier and comfortable than I expected (with both front seats pushed as far UP as possible and both middle seats pushed BACK as much as possible). And EmJ (almost 10 months old at the time) didn't mind the floor one bit.
Third, let school go while traveling - whether you homeschool of public school, don't worry about school. Deal with it when you return from the trip.
Fourth, hopefully you can either get off TV entirely (as a regular habit) or "TV/electroncs starve" your children for at least a week (probably better to be longer) before you leave. (I DID do this one and it's SUPER helpful.)
Fifth, keep sugars ingestion SUPER low before and during the trip. I was not as mindful of that as I should've been before we left and I definitely paid the pieper for that one. BLECK.
Finally, if you believe in it, have your favorite priesthood holder (or three) give you and the children blessings. I did not do that before we left our home, but I did do it before we left Utah... and the two trips were like night and day. Night on the way there, and day on the way back (day being glorious and wonderful in my opinion).
In the preceding, I alluded to the difficulty of the drive TO Utah. Honestly, though, I cannot figure out how to adequately describe how horrible it was. Hellacious doesn't cover it. Seriously bad.
I took my own advice on all points above for the trip back to our house. So, I'm sharing from experience!
Next time I'll share about our time IN Utah! :)