We've done this trip a bunch and are comfortable doing it in a day (the day following the drive we sleep a lot, but with a good book on tape, we can do it). DC's rush hour starts early and ends late, so we knew 2:20 was pushing it. Sure enough, we got two hours worth of traffic on the Beltway and in Northern Virginia. We listened on the radio for traffic reports, and their only explanation was it is Virgina on a Friday. Yup, so it is….
We stopped for dinner at Denny's in Virgina. I'm really a fan of Denny's while traveling. They are one of the few chains on I-95 that offer fresh fruit and vegetables, plus they are reasonably quick and have wi-fi. We ate and uploaded a book on our iPhone. Whenever we stop, we make sure our dog, Lady, is walked and gets some water. She gets stressed while we're away from the car and just pants and looks for us while we are gone.
We have a few exits and rest areas that we avoid in North Carolina because, the couple times we have, we get strange people that claim their car broke down and they don't have their wallet and need gas money. But we do like to stop in Selma, NC (Exit 97--just follow the signs for JR) and at around 10pm we stopped at a Dunkin Dounuts for coffee for the night. As soon as we stopped, Anne got sick. Anne doesn't get sick often, but when she does, she normally gets all her throwing up out of the way at once. Unfortunately for us, I wasn't quick enough getting her unstrapped and out of the car and most stayed in the car. Andy dealt with cleaning the car while I cleaned Anne up in the bathroom (a reason to keep paper towels in the car!). Anne was a mess, because of the car seat straps, she ended up having vomit in her eyes, hair, and all over her clothes. She got a sink bath in the bathroom with low pressure water. I also used bathroom soap to clean her "blankie". I also used the dryer to dry it. It worked pretty well, but we all still smelled. We all changed clothes. Andy was smart enough to buy an air freshener for the car, water, and a princess juice cup (which cheered Anne up because she was crying during all this).
We got coffee and tried to continue on the way. Andy tried the book on tape and it was one in which the volume varies but has to be loud to hear, so we gave up early on it. Anne wasn't falling asleep, the car stunk, and we were driving through a series of thunderstorms (did I mention Andy woke up at 4:30 am to work that morning?). So, around midnight, we decided to stop for the night at a Days Inn in Manning, South Carolina (thank goodness for their "pet friendly" billboard on I-95). I have never been more excited to shower my daughter. And it was the best $60 spent. We washed Anne's blanket again (this time with shampoo), her hair three times, and did another attempt at the car. We got in bed around 1 am. I sent emails to my family telling them our change of plans since they were expecting us around 5-7am.
But, we got a call waking us all up at 7am asking about our location (in hindsight, a text would have been better).
Lesson learned: keep the car, especially the area under the kids as clean and clutter free as possible. Always leave extra clothes handy. No matter how rushed you are, if a kid has a blow out, take time to make sure they are felling alright.