Family Travel | Day 1 and 2 Driving from Illinois to Florida

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To say that our first family vacation in well over three years has gotten off to a rocky start would be the understatement of the year.

For weeks we’ve planning every detail of this trip to maximize our fun (and also because I’m a control freak that needs to know what I’m doing every minute of the day). The one thing we didn’t plan on was getting sick. And not just some normal semi-miserable cold but a full blown attack of Hand, Foot & Mouth virus on our entire family. If you’ve never experienced this, let me tell you, it’s not only worse than every virus or infection I’ve had in my life but the pain associated with the high fever is far worse than even labor!

When we first packed up the van weren’t sure if it was a good idea to go because Emma was covered in blisters and Kaydee had just started to experience a sore throat and mild fever. But we did. Mistake #1

boring illinois highway

With two kids in tow, one staying with his grandparents because he’d rather sweat his butt off playing football and video games than spend a minute in Disney World, we set out for the long, boring drive through Illinois. It wasn’t too long before we crossed into Tennessee and the scenery started changing. Rolling hills and beautiful rock layers bordered the highway with a never-ending display of greenery, something we haven’t seen in ages. Clearly the southern states aren’t as impacted by this drought as we are up north.

tennessee rock walls

As much as I would have liked to stop in Nashville, a city I haven’t visited before, we were on a tight schedule. All I got was a quick drive by snapshot of some of the tall buildings.

nashville tennessee buildings

We’ve taken this road trip once before when our son was a toddler and driving through to Atlanta was not something we wanted to experience again. So we planned our first pit stop in Chattanooga Tennessee and boy am I glad we did. It was late, Kaydee was miserable, Emma was feeling trapped and we were all ready to get in a comfy bed.

Unfortunately it is right about here where everything went downhill. Fast! I settled into a ridiculously hot bubble bath and started getting the chills. By the time I got out my teeth were chattering and a quick check with the thermometer revealed a 104 degree fever. Ugh. I was sick, horribly sick. The evening was filled with chills, body aches, whining, lots of whining and ended with me spending most of the morning puking. It was bad!

At this point all I wanted to do was go home but my husband kept reminding me that it will get better. It’s funny, I was having a hard time believing him while dry heaving every 15 minutes. But we kept on truckin’.

While I was delirious, Jon mentioned we made it to Atlanta Georgia where I woke up from a little cat nap to snap a picture. My fever was coming down and this is where mistake #2 happened. He took a wrong exit which led us on a half hour delay through a not-so-nice part of this city.

atlanta georgia buildings

Aside from the trees and red clay, Georgia is a pretty boring state to drive through and one we were stuck in for most of our day. It was until the evening that we crossed the state line into Florida where I spotted my first palm tree. I adore palm trees!!!!

small palm tree florida

As if we weren’t having bad enough luck, just before snapping the picture of the palm tree a section of our bumper fell out. Yes, really, the same bumper that was already cracked from when Jon hit a raccoon, the same bumper that was FIXED the week before. It just fell off and now it’s hanging out in our trunk. I just can’t but laugh, and worry about what might happen next.

And finally, a few more hours later we arrived in Tampa, FL where we unpacked our bags and checked into the Fairfield Marriott which happened to be hidden among these creepy looking trees.

mossy covered tree florida

And that my friends pretty much sums up the beginning over our vacation from hell. From here on out I can only hope and pray it gets better. In fact, I’d just be happy if my throat wasn’t so sore, I’d settle for that.


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  1. Lesley Fuchs says

    First let me start off by saying I hope everyone gets better & you guys start having fun on your trip. Now I have to say that your story made me laugh (of course feeling sorry for you at the same time) but your description of your journey so far brings back a lot of memories of our road trips on vacation. Trust me on this, it will some day make a great story for you. (Of course it may take awhile for that to happen) I hope you and your family have a great time and things can only get better :)

  2. says

    oh no! I hope you feel better soon. That sounds miserable!

    PS I do love your new picture with your new smile! :) :) :)

  3. says

    Omg! Sounds like our trip to Florida last summer. Our rental died, one of the twins touched peanuts and had a severe reaction in the middle of the Tennessee hills. The place we got to was flooded and we slept in the car the first night, then the next day our car got towed with all our stuff in it. The craziness goes on.
    Really hope it got better for you.

  4. Diane says

    Oh my but it can only get better from here …Right :)
    Hang in there !

  5. says

    Oh Cat…. We’re having the vacation from hell too :( My parents blew a tire, Aria has been sick for the last 2 days with a fever, we’ve missed Disney for a few days because of it, family all got into a big fight and we missed the electric parade…..and we leave tomorrow :( All the planning, just went to hell :( I hope the rest of your vacation is enjoyable!

  6. says

    Oh man, it sounds like you guys REALLY started what’s supposed to be a trip of a lifetime out on a horrible foot that was beyond your control o.O

    I really hope you are all feeling better and that the worst is behind you!

  7. says

    Wow, what a start to a trip! Glad to see on Facebook that things are really looking up. Thanks for keeping us posted on your adventure!

  8. says

    Oh no! That does sound horrible! I can’t believe you all just kept on going! I hope everyone feels better so you can enjoy the rest of your vacation!

  9. says

    How horrible that you were stick during all of this! Of all the bad luck. :( I’m glad that you got there safely and I can’t wait to read about your travels!

  10. says

    It sounds like it was a lovely scenic drive. Beautiful photos of your drive! Sorry to hear about your bumper. I hope the rest of your trip went smoothly!