Monday, August 29, 2011


I believe in signs. I do. Like when my mom and I went out to dinner and a thunderstorm knocked the power out, my mother calmly said, "Well, I guess this is God's way of saying I've maxed out my Weight Watchers Points today."

I just took it as a sign that we needed to go out for ice cream instead.

Matt took the van to the shop on Friday to have it serviced as he does religiously every three months or road trip time, whichever comes first. Friday happened to be road trip time. With Irene coming, it was a great day to leave the area for drier land, and it left out home open to Matt's mom, who fled the coast so she could come catch up on our laundry while we were gone.

2.5 hours into our seven-hour journey to Georgia, we pulled over for a potty break. [At what age do I stop calling it a potty break? When do I stop asking my friends if anyone needs to go pee-pee when we're out on the town?] We pulled over at a Chick-Fil-A because those people are very excited to be working there and generally take pride in their restrooms. We did not, however, order any food. And to add insult to injury, I cleaned all of the McDonald's trash out of the van and put it in their trashcan.

I am grasping at straws here, but maybe this earned us some bad juju in the vehicular karma department. I promise we did not defile the restrooms.

Back into the steamy, sunny day, we realized the air conditioner was not conditioning the air. On a 95-degree day, we were treated with nothing but hot air and several more hours of sweat. The windows went down, although the window on my side cannot go down more than six inches because of my little Safety Town fiasco. Which is still not repaired, but I did put some black duct tape on it. Kind of like desperately using cover-up on the world's biggest zit.

Daniel got upset because he threw his Happy Meal toy out the window at 70 mph. Actually, I don't think he was upset that he threw it out, but upset that we wouldn't turn the van around and retrieve it. Somehow this got blamed on me, like many things that go wrong in my children's lives.

I've never had the urge to stay with the kids inside a truck stop as long as I did that day. Sure, there's lots of unsavory characters and inappropriate souvenirs. But there's air conditioning, and that's worth all the mullets, Slim Jims, and over-the-counter male enhancement pills that money can buy.

It was a hot, sweaty nightmare. Not necessary a road trip from hell, because I'm pretty sure we were driving right through it. The sheer fact that we arrived at our destination without divorce or child abandonment was a miracle in itself. Surely, it would have been on the news if everyone wasn't covering Irene.

We stayed at my aunt and uncle's house with my parents. According to my mom, my dad rented a boat, but to be honest, it looked like a Grand Marquis to me. Matt was able to drop the van off at Firestone and we borrowed the rented vessel for the weekend.

We must have had an interesting aroma from all the glistening because my aunt kept asking if we wanted a cold shower before supper. I'm sure we smelled like a pack of wet dogs, which is what I'm told white people smell like when they sweat. And I believe it. And I'm sorry this is so.

The next morning, Matt and I loaded the kids into the car and we headed to Six Flags. This initial trip made me miss my van, and not just because I left my Kidz Bop cd in there. I like the spaciousness of a minivan. More specifically, I like how we can spread the kids out so they aren't touching each other and then yelling, Natalie touched me/Daniel breathed on me/Eve spit on me! But far more important than the kids being too close together is that the kids were too close to us. And the sound is really magnified when it's only coming from 12 inches away.

Try listening to Eve shout, "There's no DVD player in here!" less than an arm's length away as she chucks Cheerios at your head while you look at the clock and realize that it's way too early for a drink.

But we got there, just in time to get a pic with Speedy Gonzales before his handler whisked him away to do something else more important than take pictures. Something much more important, like double-checking his W-9 or playing Powerball.

Daniel was with us but chose not to be photographed at that moment. He would later melt down at the sight of his noneness in the picture and demand to go back in time so I could rectify the situation. Just another example of me getting blamed for something that is so obviously my fault.

We were given something called a Flash Pass that let us skip the lines. Apparently, we could also skip the height measurements, because I know Dan was too short to ride a roller coaster that Natalie would go on to describe as "the one that was so awesome it made me want to vomit." I'm pretty sure I saw them buckling in children who were Eve's size on there. Dan seemed to be the only one who didn't feel nauseated after the ride, and he was even in the right state of mind to reach over while we were coming down a hill and catch my sunglasses as they were about to fly away. It may have been the most impressive display of coordination I have ever seen him complete, had I not seen him spin in circles with his eyes closed down the stairs, one hand on his head, one hand knocking pictures off the wall.

In summation, we had lots of dry fun while Irene and her bossy self flooded the eastern seaboard.

We left that afternoon and checked into our hotel so we could get cleaned off and go to my cousin's anniversary party. Compared to my dad and his brother, I felt under-dressed. You'd never believe my uncle, the man on the left, was the first person to teach me how to load and shoot a potato gun, would you?

I've always been told I have my dad's tentacles, but I've never seen it.

There was much fun to be had dressing up for the photo booth and rapping Baby Got Back on the karaoke mic. It was very romantic. And even when Matt and I missed the vow renewal, we were able to convince the happy couple to renew their renewals one more time. I felt bad missing the initial performance but we were taking the kids to the babysitter, lest they see their grandfather dressed as a blind squid. Anyway, practice makes perfect!

On Sunday, we got up and started to get ready for a brunch my aunt was hosting. I used the waste-reducing soap provided by the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center.

I'm not sure why this is less wasteful than just making a small bar of soap. Did another room get my soap hole? Like a donut hole, but made of soap?

To truly go green would have meant to skip a shower altogether, but I didn't want to smell of bad karaoke.

After eating an excellent brunch, it was time to hit the road in the boat and go get our van. Many dollars later, we were on the road in our cool, air conditioned, duct taped-van.

Until hour 4 of our trip.

Why are you pulling over, Matt? Is it already time for another potty break? The transmission feels funny. Is that our van making that smell?
Ooh that smell. It was a-comin' from under the hood. And I'm no mechanic, but that red transmission fluid probably belonged in our van.

Dear AAA STOP please to help STOP stuck at rest stop two hours from home STOP

Wha? Enterprise really won't pick you up? So, as our van is towed away, what do we do with the family and luggage?

We just have to figure out a way to get to the airport. There are always cars to be had at the airport. As we wait, with the car off and doors open, the kids get uneasy. Waiting in an airless, foodless, movieless vehicle is proving to be too much. "We must watch TV. It's the law!" Dan informs us. Great. We can't afford a ticket due to no television on top of all these car repairs.

We feel sorry for whoever pulls into that space next. There is so much red fluid pouring out that it now looks like we're two seconds away from a chalk-outline.

An hour later, we are rescued by a kind-hearted cab driver who lets us turn his sedan into a clown car and we drive to the nearest airport where we find a boat big enough to fit our car seats and boosters, and even the children, too.

You can just smell the money burning a hole in someone else's pocket at this point. I find myself chanting it's not cancer, it's not cancer, it's not cancer over and over again. Matt sees my mantra and raises me a It's not cancer but it's almost as expensive!

And then we go into that delirious laughter that only happens when you're exhausted and receive really bad news.

And the kids are too close to us and each other once again, but this car smells much fresher than the cab. And being fresh is kind of a big deal after the weekend we had.

We made it home, 10.5 hours after we started. And the best part was that Matt and I got to make a three-hour round trip today to retrieve our van and return the rental car.

And it didn't even break down on the way home. Not a once!

But there's always the Duke trip on Wednesday. So if you see a black, duct-taped minivan smoking or oozing or pulled over on the side of the Durham Freeway, run, do not walk, to the nearest Taco Bell and bring me back some nachos.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Christy, people can't even make up stuff crazier than this!! So sorry I couldn't come to your rescue in my rockin' white minivan. And I would have had to come without the time to find the floor, so you would have seen the real deal. I hope you are all enjoying some clean, relaxing fun now- all in your separate rooms so as to not have to touch ;)

    Our kids have no idea what 'road trip' means until they've spent a 12 hour drive thrown in the back of a station wagon with no air conditioning. Or as my hubby's family did 4 kids in a chevette and they took turns laying (baking) in the back window all the way from NC to FL. Please come our way again soon for something fun. We have to get together soon!