Time seemed to go by SO much faster once the dogs were not in the van anymore. For 20+ hours all I had done was think about how they were so unsure of what was going on and hearing their little claws scrape in the crates with each bump in the road just tore me to pieces (I promise, they were actually very comfortable but I tend to let my anxiety get the best of me). It was such a nice to change to think about how happy they were! Before we knew it we were back in NYC, except with a lot more traffic this time as it was around 3 pm. But, it kept moving the whole time so we didn't get discouraged. Being from a small town, Brittany and I just laughed about how we never imagined we would drive through NYC, much less in a jumbo van! The roads in NYC were so rough and the cages rattled really badly, especially without the weight of the dogs in them so once we hit the highway in New Jersey it was smooth sailing.
We had agreed before the trip that we were not going to worry about how far we made it back that day, although obviously we wanted to make it as far as possible we just decided there was no reason to put pressure on ourselves and we would just stop whenever we felt like it. Ronda from the shelter had told us that when she did the trip over Memorial Day weekend she had a hard time finding a hotel room so we had booked one in Winchester, VA just in case. When we left New Hampshire I thought there was NO way we were going to make it that far, 10 hours, but by a miracle neither one of us got sleepy. We had to cancel our room by 6 pm but wouldn't be there until 9 pm so we had to make the decision on if we were going to keep going or not. We decided to go for it. I'm not going to lie, those last 2 hours were ROUGH! It wasn't that we were even sleepy, just SO ready to be there. Once we arrived we had been driving straight for over 30 hours.
Brittany enjoying Joan's healthy treats!
Winchester was the first city once we crossed into Virginia and I've never been so happy to see Virginia. Our hotel was right off the interstate and we pulled Big Green into the parking lot for a much needed nights rest. I went to check in while Brittany gathered her things. We had called the hotel a little earlier to confirm our reservation and when Brittany said our name, the man immediately said that yes, he did have our reservation. We thought that was odd that he knew right off the top of his head and when I was waiting in line he was telling the people trying to get a room that they were full (glad we followed Rondas advice) so I couldn't figure out how he knew about our reservation because we had made it about a month ago. But, as I was checking in he said that someone had called and left us a gift so that is why our name was fresh on his mind. Our sweet Dad had called and gotten us a little welcome bag with fruit, special k bars, muffins and a water! We felt very special!
We had ordered a pizza before we arrived at the hotel and had just enough time to get showers before it arrived. We hadn't really eaten much of anything since the dinner our parents brought us the night before so we were starving. So, I guess pizza in our hotel room has become part of our Shelter Partners tradition. Not eating for 24 hours sure does make pizza taste good and I knew that going without sleep for 2 days was about to make for a wonderful nights sleep.
When Brittany woke me up the next day she said I was in the exact same position as I was when she turned off the light. It was the best nights sleep I'd had since last years trip. Even though we had 'lost' a nights sleep, we woke up feeling great. We went to breakfast and then we were back on the road. We picked up some Starbucks and headed south! We picked up this great radio station out of DC that was playing their Sunday morning 'acoustic sunrise' show and it was amazing. I felt so a peace, it was a beautiful day, we were feeling great and knew our pups were too!
Our windshield was NASTY!
It was about 5 hours until we were back in our hometown of Kingsport, TN. Our parents met us again outside of Pal's, our favorite fast food joint. This time we actually were able to visit for a while. We parked Big Green (Joan's name for our van!) and hopped in our Dad's car to go through the drive-thru. Pal's doesn't have seating so we found a shady spot and ate in Dad's car. We don't get to see our parents very often so it was such a treat, even if it was short. After about an hour we knew we had to get back on the road.
It was about 5 more hours to Birmingham and it just flew by. We pulled into town around 7:30 and decided to wait until Monday to take the van back to the shelter since it is about 45 minutes further away. We unpacked all our stuff and had a good laugh watching my dog go bananas over all the 'smells' on my clothes. I let him smell the van the next day and he didn't even make it past the bottom step of the van before he started drooling, I thought he was going to explode.
I can't believe that another trip is behind us. We can't thank you guys enough for all the prayers, donations (I'll do an expense breakdown later), and support. On a happy note, Joan went to visit the pups on Tuesday and two of them were on hold only an hour and a half after they had come out of quarantine! I REALLY hope we get some updates and photos from the shelters as the dogs get adopted and if/when we do I'll be sure to share them!