Traveling with a Newborn: Cape Cod, MA

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This was by far our longest car ride with Weston.  Philadelphia to Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Massachusetts is six and a half hours without stopping or traffic.  So at its best, it is double what we did last weekend, when traveling to Woodstock. We left Saturday morning. I had a client in the morning, so we were able to hit the road about 9:30am.  While I was with my client, Kait timed it perfectly with feeding Weston and having awake time so he would be sleepy for the start of the ride. I had mostly packed the car prior to the session with my client, but I had a few things to grab when I swung back around to pick them up.  Kait put Weston in the carseat, and we walked the half block to where I had to park the car and then we were off, sort of.  We had to drop off our Terra Cycle box at FedEx.  So, I stopped there, only 2 blocks from our house, ran in and dropped it off.

When I got back to the car, I see Kait taking Weston out of his seat and see that he is turning that purply red color.  He’s freaking out.  We pull over, same spot where we pulled over on our way to Ocean City because he was having a moment.  Kait was able to bring Weston back to peace and then we were off.  

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Weston did amazingly.  On the ride up, he started off with sleeping for almost three hours.  We got through all the terribly confusing George Washington Bridge shit around NYC and stopped at some rest stop in Connecticut off of Rt 95.  Weston was ready. We were ready.  We took about an hour to all eat, go to the bathroom, and change Weston.

We changed Weston’s diapers in the booth of a Connecticut rest stop, in the car seat in a parking lot of a McDonalds, a public parking lot in Wellfleet, a Smash Burger parking lot, a rest stop parking lot, the back of our friends SUV at Mayo Beach, and on a rock and shell driveway at a house in Eastham, MA (we put a little padded mat down).

We would stop one more time prior to hitting up Main Street in Wellfleet to grab some food to take back to our AirBnB.  How wonderful it felt to be on the Cape.  The weather, the nature, the cool crisp air, the quiet, and the darkness.  We all slept so soundly that night and the next.

The feel of the Cape for me is chill, rustic, peace, and nature.  With that feel, it is still exciting and interesting.  While driving all around Eastham on Saturday, we saw different areas that neither of us had ever experienced.  Kait has been going to North Truro her entire life, as her family would vacation there every summer.  But she didn’t venture much outside of North Truro and Provincetown, at least that she remembers.  Only since we met did she go to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  I had been to Cape Cod once with my family, and we explored the entire Cape and the islands.  Then, in college, I also spent a week in Martha’s Vineyard and a night in Nantucket with my friend Nick and his dad, on their boat.  We now go to North Truro every other year to vacation with Kait’s family.  So I’ve had some different experiences than Kait, but neither of us have explored like this.  It’s great to see everything that just one town that we tend to pass through has to offer.  It’s fantastic – about 4 miles wide at that point, you are never too far from the beaches on the bay or ocean side.  About 40% of Eastham is the National Sea Shore, which is protected land and has a ton of hiking trails.  Also running through Eastham is the bike trail, which runs from Dennis to the Eastham-Wellfleet line.  Sure, there are a lot of sharks up there right now because of the seals that are hanging around, but that’s just another thing to enjoy about the nature of it.  Just don’t go swimming!

Eastham is close to Wellfleet and Orleans, about a 30 minute drive from Provincetown and there are ferries in Hyannis that go to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  We chose to stay at this Airbnb in Wellfleet. This was kind of a last minute trip and we wanted to keep the price on the low end.  This was a great option.  It was a little studio above the garage of a family home.  We did not see the family at all, though we knew they were home because of the car that would come and go.  It was super clean, had a really nice bathroom, and there was a nice breeze when you opened the windows.  This place was great for a short stay, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a long stay.  There is only a coffee maker, desk, couch, mini-fridge, and queen and twin bed.  For us, it wouldn’t work for a longer stay because we would need a washer for Weston’s diapers and a kitchen to make food. If you do not care about those things, then this is much nicer than any hotel, as long as the location works!  It was only about a 5 minute drive to Main St in Wellfleet and to quiet Mayo Beach in Wellfleet Harbor. The space was ample and allowed more than enough room for Weston’s Guava travel crib.  We also found the bed and pillows to be quite comfortable.  It is very easy to find, even at night, as it is only two short turns off of Rt 6 in a quiet neighborhood.  We would definitely stay again for 2-3 nights. 

Wow, what a long but great three days.  This was the most Kait and I have spent in the car since our road trip from Phila. > Nashville > Asheville > Charlottesville > Phila. in 2017.  That was a great trip, we also stopped in Louisville and the Smokey Mountains.  In 2015, we did a road trip for our honeymoon where we flew to Seattle then drove – Seattle > Portland > Sonoma > San Francisco.  What another beautiful and fantastic trip.  The drive form Portland to Sonoma was the longest, about a good 12+ hour day.  We had originally planned to stop along the coast for a night but our plans changed when we had to head out a day late, so straight on through we went!  

For this Cape Cod trip, basically, Saturday and Monday were spent driving for most of the day.  It was a lot.  Then Sunday, our only full day in Cape Cod was spent running around to a bunch of places.  This was less of a leisure trip, and more of a family business trip (more on this in a later post).

Weston had many moments of wanting out of the car, but we did practices to calm him down such as:  Kait and I collectively shhhhh’ing, holding his pacifier, holding his hand, lightly rubbing his head and face, gently holding his arms down, wrapping him tightly with a blanket, turning off the music or podcast, adjusting his position in the carseat.  It all worked, even if for short periods of time.  Eventually, he would fall back asleep for long enough to get us to our next stop.  Each stop had to happen every 2-3 hours to take proper care of Weston’s needs.

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Stopping that frequently is actually really good for us too, though we would like to power through these car trips to get to our destination and/or to save time.  From a body perspective, we have to move.  I mean, cars are one of the absolute worst things we can be in for long periods of time.  There is so little room for changing of body position or joint movement.  Cars are brutal, I actually really dislike them.  We really have to move more for the health and sanity of our body-mind, and cars just do not allow for it; so stopping every 2-3 hours actually allowed Kait and me to stretch out and get ourselves out of that shitty sunken flexed position.

Weston was a straight up stud, truly.  He handled the trip so well and made our roles as parents much easier.  Sure, we had some trying times in the car, no doubt. But each time we were truly able to figure it out and bring him back to peace. After our super long day on Saturday we met up with our great friends, Nick, Renee and their kiddos at Mayo Beach in Wellfleet.  We don’t get to see them too often so we always make the time when we are fairly close.  It was a wonderful way to end the day, but we did struggle to keep Weston calm at dinner. Kait had him in her Boba wrap most of the time, but after I finished eating I took him so Kait could eat.  I just walked away from the restaurant for a bit.  Weston and I walked across the street to the beach area, it was a beautiful evening.  I was able to calm him some, but he was still not fully peaceful.  Suddenly it hit me, I should loosely swaddle him in the blanket that’s in the car.  That totally did the trick.  I returned to our table at the restaurant and he was peaceful and comfy cozy.  He didn’t like going into the carseat after that, but luckily we only had about a five minute drive to our Airbnb.  Weston slept another six hours straight that night, only awakening once before 6am. 

The next morning we hit the road for a very long trip home.  This one took even longer with a stop in Rhode Island to see another of Kait’s best friend Meg.  Then we also had to pick up Avett from my parents in South Jersey.  Each added about an hour to our trip, without including the time we stopped.  Weston was feeling the length of the day, but we did our best.

One of the worst things about living in Philadelphia is the parking.  If you don’t have a parking spot or a garage attached to your home, then you have to do street parking which is first come first serve.  In our neighborhood, there is no chance of finding a parking spot after 5:30pm.  We got home around 6pm. I dropped Kait, Weston and Avett off. I emptied the car and then drove around to every street that might have possible parking, for probably a good thirty more minutes. eventually, I ended up parking in a lot and paying for it.  Luckily we don’t drive much living here, but the parking situation does deter us from driving more. 

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Weston had a few firsts on this trip.  His first trip to Massachusetts and Cape Cod.  His first time meeting some of our best friends, Nick and Renee and their children, as well as his first stop in Rhode Island to meet another best friend, Meg.  He slept for six hours straight for the first time too!  He first did this Saturday night, then again Sunday night, and then again Monday night when we returned back home.  It was glorious.  Not only did he sleep for those six hours, but he did so without his arms being swaddled.  Must be something about Cape Cod that got him started.

Here are some tips that we have learned so far….

Travel Tips for New Parents:

  • On any road trip, be prepared to stop every 2-3 hours.
  • Be prepared for any impromptu stops
    • So for this seemingly 6.5 hour drive, it took us about 8.5 hours to arrive. 2 hours were spent stopped
  • Still plan to use your cloth diapers.
    • Have as many clean as possible prior to leaving – we have 24 total and had 22 clean. We used all of them in the 3 days.
    • Our Airbnb didn’t have a washer, but we made it through until we got home and could do laundry
  • Be prepared, mindfully, for fussiness. That’s a long time to be cooped up in a car for everyone.
  • Try to take the baby out of the car seat whenever you’re not in the car – they need to move, especially in the opposite direction. Some tummy time right after all of that sitting is great
  • Still stick with nap times and awake times as much as possible. Stimulate while stopped and a bit in the car
  • Plan ahead to line up feedings and awake time before you go, so they are ready to snooze while in the car
  • Definitely go to Cape Cod — and spend at least a week.  It’s a great place for children of any age.  Get out into nature, so much to offer. 
  • Use Airbnb!

Weston’s first flight will be next weekend when we visit Charleston!

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