As I type this, my crew and I are on the road toward eclipse totality. We decided to take off for an overnight adventure to chase the full eclipse because our day trip plans were canceled by Mother Nature. Now we will spend a total of two nights away from home so that we can experience 2 minutes of totality excitement.
We have no idea where we will spend our time while waiting for the eclipse. There are reports of traffic jams, crazy people, and gas shortages.
Personally, I am concerned about one thing: a bathroom WITH toilet paper. Every time my husband or father suggest a spot to meet and set up “camp” for the day I ask, “Where is a bathroom?”
It’s become quite clear to me that men don’t think about these things the same way.
So our spot for tomorrow remains a mystery. As do the traffic conditions, the bathroom issues, and the weather.
Tomorrow could be a fantastic family memory or a complete disaster.
It’s been my experience that there exists a fine line between a fantastic family memory and a complete disaster. With the right attitude, plenty of preparedness, and some flexibility, even a seeming disaster can be remembered as a fantastic family adventure.
Keep in mind that the power to tip the memory scale from disaster toward family adventure is often dependent the age of your children. Turning a disaster into a fun family memory probably means you don’t have a child under 5. And you definitely don’t have a three-year old.
As I head toward our potential family disaster, the eclipse totality, I am reminded of other family adventures that had disaster potential.
What tips the scale from disaster to laughable memory?
Look on the Bright Side
Our first camping trip was a three-night trip to Brevard, NC. Our weekend plans included lots of water fun at swimming holes and waterfalls.
It was not supposed to include water from the sky. But it did. And lots of it.
Not only did we get wet, but our towels remained wet without adequate amounts of sunshine to dry them. After hiking a half-mile to the car in the pouring rain, we decided it was time to make use of a clothes dryer at the local laundromat.
The sun came out while we were sipping Sonic shakes and waiting for our towels to dry, but as soon as we arrived at our next cold water destination, Sliding Rock, the rain appeared again.
But making a family memory means you look on the bright side.
All of the sane people left Sliding Rock and we had the place to ourselves. We laughed and slid in freezing cold mountain water and pouring rain with only a handful of other insane Sliding Rock adventurers.
And I was smart enough to leave a few of our freshly dried towels in the van.
Our kids still talk with fondness about this amazing camping weekend, including the misery of it.
Then there was the time that a cold front moved into the mountains on the exact weekend we planned our camping trip. We did some research, bought a ceramic heater for the tent, packed our snowsuits and took off.
At least we had our heater and winter coats, right?
It was so cold that first night, but we came prepared and stayed warm.
Sometimes it is the “disaster” that cements the trip into your memory. It definitely was in this case. Everyone still laughs about our cold weather camping adventure and Mommy making pancakes while wearing her winter coat.
Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
I realize that some families will laugh at my over planning. If it doesn’t work for you then ignore me, but it has helped keep the scale tipped the right way for our crew.
When packing, I think through all of the potential problems we might encounter, and I plan for them.
My concerns for our eclipse trip include being stuck in traffic, long lines at food places, and the heat. As a result, I packed a laundry basket of snacks and a cooler full of food. I also have one cooler filled with frozen water bottles. No one will dehydrate or starve in traffic or during the eclipse.
No one will dehydrate or starve in traffic or during the eclipse.
We have our pop up canopy in the van and well as pop-up chairs so we can set up a shady spot to relax while we wait. I tossed a large picnic blanket is in the car as well.
I have no idea what our situation will look like in Greenville so I also packed several card games in case we do have some time to kill under our canopy.
The only emergency I can’t plan for is bathroom access, but I did pack toilet paper just in case we have a spot but the toilet paper has run out.
Yep. I really truly try to think of everything.
General Planning Tip: I purchased rain jackets for every family member, and I pack them in their own large eBag (affilate link) for almost all of our trips. Our emergency raincoats saved our Mackinac Island memory earlier this month. Instead of being cold and miserable as we rode the ferry in the rain, we were able to smile and talk about our desire to get a hot chocolate as soon as we got to Starbucks.
As much as I try, I can’t plan for everything. I can’t predict every potential situation, and there are problems I can’t prevent. Other times I just plain forget something important.
The one thing I can control is my attitude.
Even as I drive toward the eclipse and the potential disaster of traffic and a collision of humanity, I remind myself that these moments are the future family memories for my kids.
This whole weekend – good, bad, or ugly – is a memory for life.
We make a big deal out of going to Trader Joe’s for special treats before trips. Because even if you are stuck in traffic, a box of special cookies helps!
We made this a social event, complete with 2 overnights – one with grandparents and one with close friends. Even if things go south, we will have memories with friends and family.
I talk out loud about the potential disasters and what we will do.
“Man. If a cloud blocks the eclipse, I am going to be so annoyed at it. I might have to eat extra cookies.”
“If we get stuck in traffic, we’ll just pull over and enjoy the dark highway during totality. That will be crazy!”
It helps me maintain perspective and encourages my kids to do the same.
Because let’s face it. Years from now we will talk about this trip. This is the 2017 eclipse and our family took off to chase totality. Whether it is cloudy or we get stuck in traffic, we will have a memory of this weekend to discuss forever.
I keep that in my mind as we drive.
Relax, laugh, and take it in stride. Come what may, this will become our family’s story of #eclipse2017.