car-free when Josie was a little over one and she'll be five years old in early September. All of my children hated car rides and car seats when they were young, but Josie never got over it. The boys travel like troopers, but Josie makes it hell for everyone involved. We took a suggestion from our friend/neighbor, Gita, and bought the kids little MP3 players before setting out. We only had a few hours to charge them and download an audio book and a song or two before we set out. We took the computer along to try to add more to the ipods, but when we didn't stop the first night until after midnight and we on the road the next morning as soon as the kids woke, it didn't get done. The ipods did save the boys from having to hear the brunt of Josie's wrath at being strapped into a car for hours/days. The ipod kept her pacified for a bit, but she didn't have enough variety or she dislikes to travel by car even more than we previously suspected. We did have some nice stops and good vegan food in unexpected places, but basically a blitz trip from Illinois to North Carolina with our youngest child is going to difficult and take years off your life. The great news is that we get to do it again in less than two weeks as we head to our scheduled beach vacation. Just shoot me now. We are vacationing with Gita and her family so I'm hoping Josie can ride with them for a bit. She promises she is always good for them. We are willing to pay money to get her out of our car for while.
We thought filling the kids up at Thara Thai before hitting the road might help. I think it did for a while. We drove until late at night or really early in the morning and stopped right before Dayton, OH to stay at one of the worst Holiday Inns I think I've ever encountered.
One of the hardest meals to eat on the road as a vegan, in my opinion, is breakfast. I found the Butter Cafe in Dayton, OH online (thanks to dayton.vegan.food blog!!!) and I knew we had to check it out.
Cute decor, clean, and bright. Even with a lot of construction going on around the cafe and it being a Friday morning, the place was pretty busy. I would say it is pretty kid friendly, but it isn't a place for a hurried meal.
Parker sipping his organic strawberry lemonade at Butter Cafe in Dayton, OH. (I have to mention the location several times because I'm blown away that we found good food in Dayton. Not once, but twice!*)
Dema's tofu scramble with seasoned breakfast potatoes, vegan sausage, and toast with vegan butter at Butter Cafe. Nothing like a big breakfast before spending the day in the car.
Parker and I had the vegan burrito with avocado and vegan cheese. It was as good or better than our favorite vegan breakfast burrito at Common Ground Co-op.
Really hit the spot! Breakfast kept us fueled up until we finally arrived in the Raleigh, NC area for dinner.
We met Rob's family at Neo-Asia in Raleigh, NC. We picked the restaurant based on the blog More Squash Please. I love bloggers who do restaurant reviews, thanks! We started with some yummy sushi and edamame because the kids the were starving.
I ordered the homestyle tofu based on More Squash Please's recomendation and I definitely enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, so did the kids because their pad thai didn't come until after everyone was done with their meals. I'm sure this place is good, but I'm giving it a thumbs down based on the service. Apparently, they put egg on the pad thai and had to make it again, but it still too forever and the kids had been traveling all day and were hungry and tired. It made for a lot of sadness. When the pad thai did arrive at the table the kids were so sad and said it was tasteless. They were right. Ugh. We had to take three heaping pad thai dishes back to the hotel. It was edible the next morning with a lot of hot sauce, but barely. My kids love Thai and we are spoiled to have Thara Thai (one of the best Thai restaurants in the country), but this place was just okay. If you go, definitely get the sushi.
Finally, a moment to settle in to a nicer hotel (yeah, Hampton Inn!) right across from Rob's brother, sister-in-law, and our niece. Rob's dad was next door to them so the kids were excited to hang out for a bit after all the driving. We all stayed up too late (our families were down in the hotel gym drinking beer and watching the kids play on the gym equipment at one point...anything to get some of the pent up energy out!) chatting and Josie ended up sleeping in her cousin's hotel room. Finally, a successful sleep-over with cousin Lillian, thanks to uncle Marc (he charmed Josie to sleep by talking about things that made them both feel safe and happy). They were getting a bit of their goofy out the next morning before the funeral as we packed up our bags to get on the road again.
Check out Josie's shoes. You can't really see them in this picture, but they have cats on them. They were the only black vegan "dress shoes" I could find on short notice. They went well with her cat purse. Luckily, everyone at the funeral thought it was adorable.
The kids with their beautiful cousin, Lillian. We don't get to see her enough. We all needed to hit the road, but we decided to get some food first. We all met up at Z Pizza so Dema could have a vegan calzone.
Josie eating a vegan calzone at Z Pizza in Cary, NC (near Raleigh).
Vegan cheese and veggie pizza at Z Pizza.
Vegan cheese, veggies, and veggie burger crumbles at Z Pizza.
The boys completely passed out after gorging themselves on pizza.
After scoring a win at Butter Cafe in Dayton, I decided we should stop there again on the drive back to Illinois. Lucky's Taproom and Eatery* was a definite win. Although, it would be better to eat here and then go to a hotel. We were all very tired after eating and still had several hours to drive.
Vegan chili cheese fries at Lucky's Taproom and Eatery in Dayton, OH.
Parker's setian burger loaded down with vegan cheese, avocado, lettuce, onion, pickles, vegan mayo, dijon mustard, and cucumbers at Lucky's. He could barely open his mouth wide enough to eat it, but he managed.
Josie eating vegan banana bread french toast sicks, toast and strawberry jelly, and home fries at Lucky's.
BBQ seitan nuggets at Lucky's. Seitan (homemade, I believe) breaded and then cooked in bbq sauce. It was all sooooo good!
It was so nice seeing Rob's family, cousins we hadn't seen in years, and we hope to not wait so long to see them again. We have a beach vacation planned in NC soon so we'll be making that drive again. Argh! We were pretty exhausted when we arrived home so food had to be easy.
Whole wheat pasta, steamed broccoli, peanut sauce, and ginger-amalki mix.