“Did you know that some people charge two, even three dollars for a cup of coffee? Coffee!” the cashier scoffs as my husband hands her $1.25 for the gas station blend that’s been sitting on the warmer since dawn. It’s pushing 1 o’clock, and we are the only patrons in this forgotten town.
“It’s really about the anticipation of the trip - not the trip itself,” I overhear the tired mother tell the eager insurance salesman over coffee. He nods his head and says something about a pricey trip to the ocean, thousands of dollars spent and nothing remembered by ungrateful children. He’s trying to make a sale; she’s trying to be heard.
My Facebook game is strong. I have a cover photo boasting a towering mountain range from our last trip out west. There’s a profile pic with three happy children and a smiling husband.
A few summers ago, I convinced my husband to join me, our rapidly growing fetus, and our two-year-old and ten-month-old boys, on a 3,500 mile, 13 day trek to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. This Canadian adventure was the very first of what has become our annual (sometimes semi-annual) family road trip, these unruly journeys that have cemented themselves at the very top of my favorite way to travel.
When you fail to learn a lesson, the universe tries again. After the unfortunate travel potty incident and subsequent sleepover from hell described in my last post, one would think I could have kept both my butt and my family at home for a while. Instead, I took us camping.
The past two weeks have been a lesson in slowing down. Like most lessons, this is not one I have openly embraced. In fact, I raged against it forcefully, as I often do, and the universe kept busting my chops until I finally conceded.
I haven’t showered since Jackson Hole. That was Day 4. This is Day 9. I am disgusting. My hair is slicked back into a disheveled bun using a mixture of sweat and dry shampoo. I am wearing glasses because my eyes rejected contacts this morning after hours of staring at the road. My armpits and breath compete for most offensive. We are somewhere near the bottom of Wisconsin and our energy reserves. Our youngest has been asking for home for the last two days, and it’s starting to break me.
We leave on a Tuesday around dinner and make it to North Dakota exactly two days later. The drive takes 19 hours, but with three kids, a business meeting, 27 potty breaks, a roadside picnic, three underwhelming fast food experiences, one temporarily closed water park, and a whirlwind tour of the North Dakota Heritage Center, two days feels right.
I am sitting on my couch listening to the slow whine of my youngest child from the other room. It’s 10:30, and he hasn’t quite adjusted back to Eastern Standard Time following our vacation out west. The neighbors aren’t helping. Outside, fireworks erupt in a never-ending chorus of pops and crackles with the occasional resounding... Continue Reading →