Sooooooo... The things I took from the trip:
1. 4.5 months is a long time. There are things I would do different on future trips. Mainly, I would slow down. Some areas we were drawn to like New England. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were amazing and it was easy to stay and to be honest, they feel like home and relaxing. Other areas we felt little connection to, the midwest and southern states... It was difficult to pace myself and slow down when none of us felt that connection. Maybe I would have felt like less of a troglodyte when we arrived home had we paced ourselves? Maybe 4.5 months is too long? I'm not sure I will ever know.
In the future, if we don't enjoy an area, I think we would take that time to relax and hang out around our campsites.
2. The seasons impacted our days. My kids tend to sleep with the sun as I call it. When the sun would set, they would hit the pillow and wake up when the sun rose in the morning. This is amazing when you are camping in the summer. Endless hours of sun, you have time to make breakfast, clean up, maybe pack up, head out to a museum or hike and come back and make dinner or hit the road... But as the nights grew longer, it became harder to focus that energy. Several days we were getting back to our campsite and the sun was setting. By the end of the trip it felt like a race with the sun.
3. The pope is kind of a pain in the butt. I'm being honest. Our time in DC was chaotic, we planned our time around DC when we could meet the girls' father for a business trip. It just also happened to take place when the pope was in town. I'd avoid world leaders and what not if possible in the future.
4. Making time for friends (and fellow travelers) along the way was needed more than wanted. Some of them are fantastic, I am lucky to have those of you in our lives:) Wisdom and friendship from them were greatly appreciated.
5. Compromise is crucial when you are on the road for several months. Three personalities and two kids with different interest. Sometimes you bend and break... and sometimes, you are going to miss out on experiences when someone needs something different than you. While we hoped to stay out three additional weeks, we cut our trip a bit short. Due to a sick kid who wanted to go home, it didn't work out. It was disappointing, but when I left we agreed to coming home when one of us felt the need to go home. Part of me is surprised we lasted 4.5 months, the other part of me is not shocked at all because ditching schedules is freeing.
All in all, it was a great experience. Within days of being home, the girls were ready to go out on a new adventure again and I share that sentiment!