Thursday, April 16, 2009


You know what the definition of insanity is? Remembering the road trips you went on with your parents as a child and then setting off on one with your own kids anyway. And by "you" I mean "Rachel." My parents only took us on one road trip of note when I was growing up -- all the way from New Jersey to Utah. That was enough for them and us. (I still remember driving my father stark raving mad by making up a song about a street we passed, to the tune of Camptown Races: "One mile road is ten miles long, doo dah, doo dah..." I sang it until he expressed his sincere and heartfelt desire that I stop before I gave him an aneurism.)

But Rachel is made of sterner stuff. Or more stubborn, or more optimistic, or all three. Thus we set off Friday night. Rachel will fill in some details too but I would like to say that while it was not a worst case scenario (that would be Isaac yelling the whole way with Melissa joining in and Matthew alternately moaning "how much longer?" and shouting at Melissa to be quiet) it was still a pretty bad case scenario. Isaac slept about ninety minutes and played in his seat an hour each way, which left a good hour and a half to yell.

On the way up he would have only yelled maybe an hour but Melissa woke up before we got to the hotel and started screaming for no reason. Isaac was tired but eventually she woke him and they had a duet. For added fun, neither the GPS nor my iphone could take us to the hotel we'd booked, so that prolonged the symphony an extra quarter hour (you think in hours when you are being yelled at like that -- it seems much longer than a mere "fifteen minutes") -- while someone at the hotel gave us directions through the dark.

The tree-lined streets were a nice touch for a busy commercial area but they made finding your hotel in the dark at 11 PM damn hard.

So eventually we got there and it was the wrong hotel. There was another Marriott Residence Inn five minutes away that didn't show up on the map at all.

By the time we got there we were exceedingly grumpy. At least I was. And from the noises they were making, so were the kids. (Matthew was in "worst case" mode by this time.)

Fortunately we had separate bedrooms at the hotel -- one for us, one for the kids -- so we all slept well. And by "we" I mean "everyone but Rachel, whom Isaac is still trying to subject to some kind of sleep deprivation test."

In the morning we visited Rachel's cousin and his family. I noticed there was a "Fat Ogre Games and Comics" not far away. That is a pretty cool name for a store so of course I went over and picked up a copy of San Juan, which I'd been introduced to at PyCon. I think I taught everyone in the house how to play but Rachel.

So we hung out and then Sunday we blessed the baby and then in the afternoon we headed home. It was a lot like the trip out, only Melissa didn't fall asleep (which means she didn't wake up screaming either). We did get to experience Matthew suddenly announcing, "I need to pee really really bad." I guess it wouldn't be a real road trip without that. Fortunately there was a rest area near and we rested, by which I mean "peed."

An hour later we stopped at the very next rest area too, this time so Rachel could nurse Isaac. (It didn't help much: he was still pissed afterwards.) I thought the first rest stop had been pretty nice -- 6 clean bathrooms, full landscaping, lots of picnic benches under shade trees -- but the second had all that and a jungle gym too, so the bar moved that much higher.

Then we got home, and like my father before me I vowed never again to drive my kids farther than the nearest Walmart.

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