I am back home from a week’s vacation with all four of my children. And it involved a road trip. Ten hours of driving the first day alone…four hours more the second. I’m still feeling a bit dizzy from the drive home this weekend. I managed to locate some of those car bingo cards we used to play with when I was a child and gave them to my son and daughter for the trip. And I watched them turn into competitive savages. I told them they had to fill in the entire board to win. And then I proceeded to drive and listen to them turn on each other in an attempt to win a game with no prize at the end. It was really kind of fun.
We made it to our rental house on Tybee Island, Georgia. Tybee is a very laid back kind of place..lots of colorful houses, palm trees, the ocean…so wonderful after our brutally cold Michigan winter. The flowers were blooming, and the pollen was so thick in the air, my white Explorer looked yellow. The kids went swimming in the ocean, reminiscing about their first trip to the ocean..back in Africa..when we went there to bring them home. They recalled how scared they had been (I remembered that they weren’t even aware that they lived near the ocean..) and we all remembered the long journey to the beach in Sierra Leone and the adventure we had that beach day. How far we have come since then.
Noah tried to catch a seagull, so he could “take it back with us for a pet.” Then he tried to find some buried pirate treasure on the beach, and finally sat on the bench swing, just relaxing. Swinging is one of his favorite things to do.
On Monday we drove four hours in to Atlanta, so Noah could go to the zoo and see all his favorite animals, and then went to the aquarium. The kids loved both places and we left the aquarium after the Disneyesque dolphin show ended–around 7 pm. We drove just outside of Atlanta and stopped for dinner..which was took some time, for some reason still unknown…and then, around 9 pm…just as the basketball game was about to begin, the television sets all lost cable. I made the comment that they must have satellite and it must be raining, and glanced outside. Sure enough, it was pouring and I thought, crap, we are going to get soaked running to the car. Famous. Last. Words.
I paid the bill and grabbed the kids and tried to run out to the Explorer. Except that Noah doesn’t run so quickly…I was pulling him…he was resisting…we were completely soaked in seconds. We jumped into the car and I quickly realized that being wet was the least of my worries.
I pulled out onto the freeway…a bit anxious, but wanting to get home. We still had a good 4 hours to drive..I got onto the freeway and the heavens opened. I mean, they freaking opened. This was Biblical proportions rain. This was hurricane, typhoon, wall of water, mother of god rain. I could not see a thing. There have only been a few times I have been this frightened driving in the rain. The last time was when I was 21 years old. I remember exactly where I was–that’s how scared I was.
I tried to not let the children see that I was terrified. In my mind I was thinking: HOLY SHIT HOW IN THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DRIVE IN THIS SHIT?? DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER!! GUARDIAN ANGELS HELP ME SURVIVE!!! I HAVEN’T WRITTEN MY BOOK YET!! SAVE MY KIDS!! THEY DESERVE TO LIVE!!!
What I said instead was, Oh, I wonder if I should pull off? This seems a bit heavy. My oldest daughter said that there was no place to pull over, as it sort of looked like we were in a construction zone..so we just tried to zero in on the tail lights in front of us. Meanwhile, as we could not really determine where the lanes were, semi’s were passing us, missing us by mere inches.
We drove like that, on and off for about an hour…and I think it took about 3 days for my hands to unclench and my jaw to relax. After the Biblical rains stopped..I noticed that we had about 70 miles left on the gas gauge. I remarked that we would have to stop for gas..and we began scanning for exits with gas stations.
We began pulling off at exits, and lo and behold! the gas stations were closed. WTF??? How is this even possible??? This is a freeway people!!!! So we drove on, stopping–still closed. Let me fast forward–it is now freaking midnight, and I now have 2 miles to empty. My GPS and my phone cannot locate a gas station…I pulled off the freeway at the next exit. It was extremely dark out, and I pulled into this abandoned road side store. I called Ford Roadside Assistance and was trying to explain exactly where we were when a semi pulled up.
The driver got out and talked with my oldest daughter. She reported to me that she thought we were all going to be murdered right then and there. Sigh. Roadside Assistance sent somebody right out to help us and put two gallons into our gas tank. The semi driver had his girlfriend/wife? with him and they got out and talked with me and waited with us until the gasoline arrived. They were very nice people and not at all murderers. At least, as far as I could tell.
We made it to the next 24 hour gas station (let me just interject here and explain that apparently, along this particular stretch of highway in Georgia, the gas stations close at 10 pm, and the 24 hour stations are about 50 or so miles apart. Good to know now, and THANKS GARMIN GPS FOR TELLING ME THAT. And that was sarcasm, just so you know). We finally rolled into Tybee around 230 am…making Monday officially a week long day. Officially.
We ate lots of seafood, and spent much time just hanging out. It was a glorious week. But alas, it ended and I had to begin the long drive home. Now, fourteen hours in a car with children is a lot for any parent. But fourteen hours in the car with my children?? Somebody needs to call Ellen Degeneres for me.
Let me explain a little bit what this is like. My kids don’t sleep in the car. Noah, my sweet autistic Noah, well…he likes to ask questions. Over and over and over. So it goes something like this : Mom. Mom. Mom. I want to be the Joker for Halloween. I want green hair and a red mouth. And the next Halloween I want to be Harley Quinn. And the next Halloween I want to be the Riddler and the next Halloween I want to be Scarecrow and the next Halloween I want to be Sandman and the next Halloween I want to be Penguin MOM WHO DO I WANT TO BE FOR HALLOWEEN???? except that I didn’t list out all 4o of the villains he really lists out and I am expected to remember. And then he switches to a different loop : Mom. Mom. Mom. I want to have polar bears as my pets. And meerkats. And golden barn owls and giant pandas and red pandas and lemurs and lions and tigers and (insert 300 other exotic animals here). MOM WHAT ANIMALS DO I WANT FOR MY PETS??? and then I have to repeat them back. And this goes on. And on. And on. And on. Without stopping. For hours. Sigh.
So just imagine that you’re a bit tired, and trying to navigate thru the hills of West Virginia, in the dark, and trying to answer all of that at exactly the same time.
Which is why I think I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. I’m exhausted.