We spent four days in Memphis last week and it was fabulous. It was our first real vacation in six years and our first actual vacation with Nico other than short weekend camping trips. We took all day Friday to make the six-hour drive down and all day Wednesday to make the drive back, and that was a very smart move. We didn't have to rush to get anywhere, we were free to stop when needed, and it left us with four full days to do fun vacation stuff.
Nico was an absolute rockstar for the whole trip. I was a little concerned about the long stretches of car time, but he did great. We stopped in MB's hometown for lunch on the way down, which is about 2 hours into the trip, then stopped again 2 hours later to eat and stretch. We decided to just hit Wendy's since we didn't want to spend a lot of time or money and luckily there was only one other couple inside, who were very understanding when Nico literally ran laps around the place for the first ten minutes we were inside.
During the car ride, Nico did a little bit of coloring with this Color Wonder sound studio toy that he got for his birthday, which I put away at the time due to his overabundance of gifts. It was perfect for the car and I think if he was a little older, he would've been even more into it. After lunch we broke out the big guns and let him watch a Spot DVD on a borrowed car DVD player. This was a big deal since he gets to watch kid shows at Grandma's but not at home, and he was pretty pleased. We made it almost to Memphis before Nico cracked (and at that point MB and I were equally convinced we were never going to get there) and started shouting "GET OUT OF THE CAR!" at regular intervals. When that didn't work, he tried telling me he needed a diaper change (he didn't) and that he was "stuck" and needed help. I had to tell him that being buckled in is not the same as being stuck, but gave him points for creativity.
On Saturday we visited the huge and very nice Memphis Zoo. On Sunday we took a ride on an old fashioned trolley and went to the very cool scale model Mississippi River at Mud Island River Park. Monday we visited the Memphis Botanic Garden. Tuesday we went to the Fire Museum of Memphis, the Lichterman Nature Center, and Mud Island again. There are so many neat places to visit there, we could've easily filled several more days. There are also lots of great places to eat if you're not a picky toddler. Our favorites were the original Huey's in Midtown and Central BBQ.
When planning out our visit I picked things I thought Nico would enjoy, but I'm happy to report that MB and I ended up having a really good time, too. Part of it is that the places we went were overall pretty neat, but a lot of it was enjoying watching Nico have new experiences and adventures. Adventure was the word of the week, and we told Nico every day we were going on one. Pretty soon he was walking with us to the car chirping, "We're going on a aventure!" I'm stupidly grateful for how well-behaved and flexible this kid of mine is. He seems to take changes in routine happily in stride and I know this is something to acknowledge and appreciate. True, he had his moments of whining and subsisted mostly on grapes, blueberries, and applesauce all trip while we stimulated the Tennessee economy with our purchase of many uneaten kids' meals. But overall, the kid was a champion traveler.
It was great to be traveling again, it was fantastic spending time with BoMB and Nie, and it was really wonderful to get to share so many cool experiences with our kid. I want to show him that the world is an amazing place, and this trip felt like a good lesson in awesome for all three of us.
(I posted more vacation photos on Flickr if anyone's so inclined.)