It was, indeed, the best of times and the worst of times. Well, that tends to the hyperbolic, but the car ride to Philly was pretty smooth. No difficult traffic, no major complaints from the children, and no bad weather. The kids sat, as they usually do, next to each other and played amicably all the way except when my son was napping in the afternoon.
The way back, perhaps not the worst drive ever, was fairly nerve wracking. Bad traffic, poor communication while navigating around it, sick and grumpy children, sleep deprived parents, and the threat of rain made for a ride almost the same length of time but far more frazzling. We ended up separating the car seats, and while my wife and daughter napped for the last few hours, my son made a persistent and irritating sound. This on top of being away from home for several days was not unexpected but fully unhelpful to the well being of us all.
With four tickets to purchase and the craziness of airports along with travel to and from them, we have settled on driving as a cost effective and not terribly different in door-to-door travel time way to make this regular journey. I still prefer the train, but it is expensive and slower than the rest of the options.