I'm Baaaaaack!

If you've been following along on Facebook and Instagram, then you'll know that I've just returned from a two-week trip on the road with the family.

I'm not sure how I got suckered into such a thing, but it had a lot to do with the Hubs and his rotten childhood. You see, The Hubs was raised in a home where road trips were never done. He had this idea that driving across the country is a romantic and fun adventure best shared with the people closest to you. He envisioned the four of us playing "I Spy" for hours and singing Kumbaya as we wound our way through beautiful countryside. At least I think that's what he imagined when he proposed the idea of a road trip.

I was horrified. I'll be the first to admit: I'm a spoiled rotten woman who prefers to travel the quickest way possible to anywhere. I've been on road trips as a child and I still get the shakes when I think about using gas station bathrooms in Bum Fuck, Ohio and orange construction signs make me break out in a cold sweat.

I begged the Hubs to rethink. He wouldn't and so I was forced to go along for the ride. I had no choice. You see, the dirty secret in our family is that the Hubs is truly the lowest man on the totem pole. We rarely do any of his ideas. Mostly because they're hare-brained. For instance, I have no desire to climb together on the top of Mt. Everest (in his scenario we don't die, but in mine we always do). We can't afford to heli-ski in the Alps. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef is also out of our budget. So, when he had the idea to road trip across America, I decided that if I wanted to show that I value him and his (stupid) ideas, I was going to have to do it, BUT we were going to do it my way. That's called COMPROMISE, people.

The Hubs envisioned us driving west and seeing The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Old Faithful, that sort of thing. A couple of reasons why his plan sucked. The west is far! Even from Kansas. It's like 8 hours just to cross Kansas! Plus, the west is desolate and even with GPS the Hubs has a terrible sense of direction. I had no desire to become The Donner Party, get chased by bears, fall down a crevasse, or get trapped in some raging forest fire.

"We must go east," I told the Hubs.

"East?" he complained. "Why?"

"Because I'm not convinced you can handle the west," I replied. "Besides, what are you going to do in the west? We're not hikers or campers. You're going to drive all the way to the Grand Canyon so we can peer over the edge for five minutes before you hustle us back into the car and turn around to head home. That's bullshit."

He didn't argue. He knew I was right.

"And this way we can stop every five to six hours," I told him.

"Five to six hours??" he whined. "I want to get this trip done in about five days."

"Yeah, that's bullshit too," I told him. "If we're road tripping, we're going to see the sights. I've mapped it out and there are things to do in several stops along the way. We need to stay in hotels in each city and town. I don't want some Bates Motel thing just off the highway exit ramp. Every place should have a pool so you have something to do with the kids when I'm at Panera in each town we stop in."

"What? Why will you be at Panera?" he asked.

"Because I'm going to need a break from you and I will need to see friendly faces in every city a Panera. It will be great!" I was starting to get excited now.

He looked at my plan. "This will be two weeks on the road," he said.

"Yes, we'll actually get to see America! This was your idea," I reminded him.

"This isn't exactly my idea," he said.

"No, it's better."

So, the fateful day came and we loaded up the swagger wagon with everything we might possibly need in the event of the Apocalypse (like a lifetime supply of granola bars, chips, and clean underwear) and we hit the open road ...

Only to stop forty-five minutes later so that everyone could pee. (I'd also packed everyone a giant water bottle.)

"Let's go! Let's go!" the Hubs grumbled as Adolpha and I waited patiently in the line for the ladies' room.

We got in the car and started back again with the Hubs doing some serious calculations: "We just lost ten minutes with this stop! No more liquids," he announced.

"What?? I'm thirsty!" cried Adolpha.

"Hubs," I said. "we can't ban liquids."

"Jen, we have to or we're never going to get there. This is a six hour drive today and we're not even one hour in. If we stop once an hour and add ten minutes for every rest room break, we could add an hour onto our drive time. Is that what you want? Longer time in the car?"

"Good point," I said. "Everyone give me your water bottle."

I won't tell you all the juicy details today, but I've got several good stories for you from this trip that I'll share over the next several days. Like the monsoons that threatened to sweep us away at every turn -- at one point I was Googling: "How to survive a flash flood." The cheetah that wanted to eat me. The haunted penitentiary. The Liberty Bell that underwhelmed my children: "That's it?!" The toenail in my hotel room bed. Yeah. A motherfucking toenail. The dump trucks who raced one another during rush hour traffic in New Jersey and sent a piece of plywood flying at the windshield of my car. When Gomer rode a unicycle across a high wire and got stuck. When Adolpha brought 25 stuffed animals into a hotel room without my knowledge and lost one and we had tear apart the room looking for the smallest stuffed dog ever. The assholes who had the room next door to me in every single hotel. (Seriously, what gives with people being dicks in hotels? When did it become acceptable to yell down a hallway at 11 PM at night? When did it become OK to let your children run the halls like a couple of fucking wild animals screaming and whooping at the top of their lungs?) Meeting awesome people at every stop of the way, including one brave dude, a woman loaded down with delicious food (just in time since our granola bar and chip supply was running low), a group of women who had no idea who the hell I was, but came only because their friend told them it would be fun (that is one influential friend!), a woman who came all the way from France (OK, she really did come from France, but I think she actually came to see her family and the fact that I was in town too was a coincidence), and my friend who brought me a margarita in her purse.

We introduced the kids to local fare like cheese steak, lobster rolls, Friendly's, and even the famous TGI Friday's. (If you don't know why TGI Friday's is "famous," then get my book with the cupcake on the cover. It's all there.)

When we got home we asked the kids what their favorite part of the trip was. Their answers were: The time we drove all the way across the country and went swimming at my friend's pool and ate burgers in her backyard and drank soda from her "special" poolside fridge, the time we were in St. Louis and went to a museum we've already been to, and the time we went to an amusement park that was so similar to the one near our house that the layout was even almost the same. So basically to make my kids lose their minds, I need to find a friend in Kansas City with a pool in her backyard, make the four-hour trek to St. Louis once a year for them to crawl through the tunnels of the City Museum, and I need to take them to World's of Fun.

The part I thought was the best? (Besides seeing friends along the way, of course.) The part where we were sitting--once again--wedged between orange cones and tractor trailers in completely stopped traffic next to a road sign taunting us that home was only 25 miles away and the Hubs said, "OK, you're right. Road trips suck. We'll fly next time."

Check back for the new road trip stories! In the meantime, get new, original content right here!

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Unknown said...

I vaguely remember that I enjoyed road trips as a kid. Then again, I was a big reader, there was no such thing as "screen time", and my parents used to let us lie down in the back of the station wagon and take a nap. Now that I have a nearly one-year-old, road trips have completely lost their appeal.

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, we did a 4,000km return trip road trip with two kids in an un-airconditioned car. Trip up was planned with military precision, no more than 4 hours in the car each day, we will look at the following sites etc. On the way back, we still had three days to go, realised we were a mere 732km from home, looked at each other and hit the road, Jack. It was still an awesome trip but yeah, two weeks was well long enough.

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