The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. - Robert Frost (this many miles, to be exact)
Three a.m. announced itself with a crappy song on the alarm clock radio. I did not get nearly enough sleep and I had none of the “I’m going on a family trip today!” excitement that fueled me through the drive there. But Sister B was due to arrive that afternoon with her three kids in tow and we would be even more hard up for decent sleeping arrangements if we stayed. So I reluctantly got out of bed, made myself some coffee, and woke up some kids (best part of the day so far… just a small payback for all of the times they have done it to me). Kid E woke up crying. I don’t know if he was still going from the night before or if he was starting fresh, but he was working up a mighty fine fit. What do I do about that? Let’s all strap ourselves in to a confined space for about fourteen hours. But first I shall spill about half of my freshly brewed coffee on my seat. Awesome.
What is nice about the trip in this direction is that we are on the highways pretty quickly, so the kids would be melodically lulled back to sleep. What is decidedly not nice are the number of toll booths on those same highways that are preceded by those things in the road that sound like machine gun fire when you drive over them so that if you are by chance sleeping while driving, you will indeed wake up just before you pull up to/ crash into the toll collector’s booth. And so will everyone else in your vehicle. Super cool.
I have my iPod in one ear while I drive and I had loaded some excellent new music before the trip up, so I was verily entertained even whilst everyone else was sleeping (/being woken up/ falling back to sleep again). Traffic was pretty light and the weather was remarkably clear given the hideous storm just hours prior. We even made it to the other side of Washington, D.C. by about 7:45 a.m., where we stopped for some breakfast, refueling and a leg stretch. I noticed a party at a long table behind ours that seemed like it had a lot of kids. There were car seats everywhere. After watching them while we waited (forever) for our food to come, I realized that there were actually more adults than there were kids… about one mom and dad for every 1.5 babies. And when I got a true head count I also became aware that there was only one more kid in their party than in mine. So I realized that I have a lot of kids. Then I think we contracted a mild case of E. coli from the food because we have all had shooting stomach pains ever since. Fantastic.
Back on the road we continued to roll along nicely, but with eight hours still ahead of us it seemed like the never-ending road trip. Certainly the antics from the peanut gallery would help us pass the time…
Every single time there was a noise on the highway or from the vehicle Kid D said, “That was probably a bike falling off. You should check. No, really Mom – I think a bike just fell off of our car. I heard it.”
One time during a period of relative quiet on I-85 just south of Richmond, I began to pass an oil truck. About mid-way through there was a BANG! that made me presume that someone in the backseat was setting off fireworks. After first asking if anyone in our car had been shot, I quickly assessed the windshields. None were cracked, so I can only assume that it was a piece of debris or a rock that shot against our undercarriage. Holy Crap! Now I’m definitely awake.
Kid E was in no mood to travel. He made it clear in the driveway prior to takeoff when he started crying something about how his pillow was “broken” and such. His lines of the day (meaning he said them no less than a bajillion times) were, “I want to go home.” I responded with, “That’s what I’m doing, Big Man, driving us home.” He would then reply, “No! I want to be home NOW!” Don’t we all? ”Here, have a roll of Smarties.” He was clearly buzzing high on sugar by the time we got home.
“I’m hungry,” ”I’m thirsty,” “I want to watch a different movie,” and “I’m bored,” “Where are we?” and “How much further?” were frequent fan favorites of the day. We also had a couple of the predictable “I have to pee!” and “I have to poop!” emergencies, so we got to see more rest stops on this go around. Rest stops have gotten a bad reputation lately with the whole foot tapping thing and the sexual predator hangout stereotype, so I had forgotten how clean they usually are. I was pleasantly reminded each and every time we had to swing into one. They also have a lot of pretty landscaping now too, which was also nice.
Speaking of rest stop predators, maybe they were keeping all of the police officers busy because I did not see any of either of them. Well, that’s not totally true, as I did see a few state police cars in North Carolina, but only in the northbound lanes. I wonder what determines where the police lie in wait to
hassle people who just want to get where they are going keep the roads safe from dangerous speeders. I’d like to know the answer to that so I can avoid those routes whenever possible.
This is how we roll (at the Equator)
Our last stop for refueling was in South Carolina at about 3:30 in the afternoon. When I stepped out of the car I was assaulted with a chest-crushing heat. The whole time I was filling the tank (“Jersey Girls don’t pump gas!”) I struggled just to breathe. Welcome back to Summer in the South. And so begins two more months of never leaving my house during the day, else I will be soaked through to my underpants in sweat within sixty seconds. Super Sexy!
Finally, around 5 o’clock we pulled into our driveway. Yeah! We were finally home. It was still an unholy kind of hot outside, but the truck needed to be unloaded so I could pull it into the garage. As I wrestled the bikes, disassembled the bike rack, climbed atop the truck to empty and detach the cargo bag, pulled everything out of the inside of our vehicle and piled it all in our driveway (I didn’t have five kids for nothing… they were going to carry all of this crap into the house for me), I realized that it was only by a Road Trip miracle (or undetectable extension charm) that all of these things fit inside.
So while the chickens were putting stuff away, I got a nice, cold shower. Sheepdog was still on the West Coast riding in the Tour of the California Alps Death Ride 2011 (and yes, just based on the name alone I confirmed that his life insurance policy was up to date prior to letting him ride in that race) and we had been gone for close to four weeks, so our cupboards were bare. I quickly ran out for some necessary groceries and Mexi-food for dinner. By the time I finally sat down I was too tired to even open a bottle of wine. Now that’s tired.
… but I would have gotten right back into the car the very next day just to go back to the beach. Sigh.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…