Last month, on a rather last minute decision – we packed up the kids and took a road trip to visit Reno, NV. Yes, we could have stayed more local and seen snow in SoCal, but we have family & friends in Reno and Jon needed to meet up with some of them for a new project they’re working on.
Now, traveling with 3 small kids is sort of interesting. The longest car ride they had was 4 hours to Vegas last summer. I was not about to lose my mind so we decided to split up the drive out to Reno. Jon and I booked a hotel room just outside of Sacramento and we arrived about 11pm at night on Thursday. The kids, of course, got their second wind and ran all over the place inside. Ryan was completely sleep-drunk and we all laughed hysterically as he waddled and fell (he was also very new to walking). If you’ve seen little kids in this stage, you know what I’m talking about.
What we packed (affiliate links)
When we were choosing a hotel, it was really important to try and find a suite with separate living space, a kitchenette, and free breakfast in the morning. While we didn’t have separate living space, we did have a kitchenette (to help keep Ryan’s food stuff clean & cold!) and the breakfast in the morning helped our family budget! The big kids had waffles, everyone had yogurt & fruit, and Mommy & Daddy had some great hot coffee. Friday morning, once everyone was fed, we hit the road for the remaining 2-ish hours into Reno. Fortunately for us, it started snowing as we crossed into Reno and the kids were filled with such joy and happiness watching it fall down all around us. Ok side note – we have NEVER driven in the snow before. Well, that’s a lie. We did once, in Colorado, but our friends had snow tires. We knew we needed to purcahse something for the van. I went to buy traditional cables for our tires, but the guy mentioned this thing – the AutoSock. It sounds weird, seems like it wouldn’t work, but the guy told me he personally had used it and was amazed at how it functioned and how easy it was to put on. We bought it, and I agree – the drive was so smooth (but make sure you follow the guidelines and drive slow in them) and I felt so safe the entire time. We put them on and off with ease and we did get a few weird looks when we pulled off the side of the road. By time we arrived in Reno, got to the house to unpack, got food, it was a bit too late to head out anywhere official for snow. So we drove around and realized we were heading into Tahoe. We found a turnout and decided to just get out and let the kids play. Ryan had fallen asleep in the van so the big kids had their first official encounter with snow. I forgot their warm hats & gloves at the house, so we improvised with a pair of leather gloves I found in the van and Jon’s huge snowboarding gloves. It was hilarious. The kids mad real snow angels and as it was getting darker, we hopped back into the van to drive back to the house. The next day, after breakfast with family, Jon went off with them to work on the project and I took the kids up to Tahoe to meet our friends at their house. We talked about driving somewhere to see more snow, but I figured we could just keep it simple and let the kids play on the side of the house. Ryan had his first encounter with snow and he really didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t really walk so I held him the whole time. My mom crocheted the scarf for the snowman they wanted to make. Luke had asked her too as soon as he found out we were going to the snow. They also had a lot of hershey kisses to use for the eyes and buttons. But our friends have dogs so we used stuff we found in nature instead. And we did bring a carrot all the way from home to have the finishing touch. Super cute, right? I brought Ryan back in and shortly after Luke told me he was cold and done. He wouldn’t walk so I also had to carry him back inside. LOL. It’s not super easy to do, but I managed. After we dried off, we headed back into Reno. We picked up some dry clothes on the way and met up with our family back at our uncle’s house for a family dinner. The kids were able to play with their little cousin and the adults were able to chat. It was good times. The next day, we kept it easy in the morning before our long drive home. Ryan and I went out to the drive-thru Starbucks and drive-thru McDonald’s to get breakfast for everyone. After everyone was fed, sheets washed, and car packed up, we made it out at our 10am goal. We started the drive and stopped at our friend’s outside of Sacramento for lunch and allowing the kids a break from their carseats. We were pelted with rain (we went on the crazy weathered weekend in January) and finally made it to Harris Ranch for a pit stop. With an indoors restaurant and gift shop, this allowed Ryan to also get out and run around a bit. By the last 3 hours of our drive, EVERYONE was over the car. I was grateful for 3iPads to keep everyone preoccupied. Ryan’s had downloadedBeatBugs & Trolls, and the big kids had games they love to play. It was a win-win for everyone. In the end, everyone survived. It was touch and go at the end for the last bit of the car ride, but I know each trip will have things become smoother and smoother!