Tag Archives: road trips

Checklist for road tripping with small children

  1. Run to the store to buy juice boxes, goldfish crackers, raisins, assorted cheaply made toys designed to be hurled into the backseat at the first sign of a tantrum.
  2. Eat all the leftovers in the fridge, even the questionable ones, over the three days leading up to the trip. The ancient pizza, the fossilized Chinese food, the milk on the verge of going bad, the giant vat of bean soup everyone hates but mom keeps making because it’s cheap and has at least a 2 percent nutritional value. Eat it. Eat it all.
  3. Do everyone’s laundry because every single person in the household only wants to bring the outfits they wore for the past five days.
  4. Run back to the store because you just realized you are out of dish soap and need to run the dishwasher before you leave.
  5. Spend 45 minutes looking for suitcases in the attic.
  6. Realize suitcases are still in the corner of the bedroom where you left them the last time you took a trip and still contain the dirty laundry from said trip.
  7. Unpack suitcases.
  8. Do laundry. Again.
  9. Run back to the store AGAIN for Little Swimmer diapers because the hotel has a pool. Pay $10 for an entire pack even though you will likely only use one. Cry briefly in the car.
  10. Gather all the chargers for everyone’s electronic devices. Keep removing chargers from the pile of chargers because everything needs to be charged.
  11. Look up route on Google Maps. Cry again.
  12. Drop dog off at the dog-sitter’s house, who you found off of Rover.com after surfing the website for five whole minutes. Feel huge waves of guilt you are abandoning your dog with a complete stranger. Try not to look too concerned when she opens the door and looks 12.
  13. Run back to that godforsaken piece of crap store AGAIN because the Little Swimmer diapers were the wrong size for your toddler. Also fork over another $10 for another pack because what if your freaking 4-month-old wants to swim too? Give $3 to a bum in the parking lot so you can take a swig from his brown bag whiskey.
  14. Pack. Or more precisely, try to fit basically everything you own into every suitcase, backpack, tote bag and ridiculously large purse you own.
  15. Drag all the luggage to the car the night before. Play the world’s least fun game of Tetris.
  16. Start drinking heavily.
  17. Wake up hungover at 4 a.m. Throw everyone in the car with their pajamas on. Get snippy with your significant other over whether the coffee pot is still on.
  18. Run back into the house to search for Mr. Doody, the stupid stuffed monkey your toddler can’t live without. Give up search after 20 minutes. Go back to the car and see your toddler holding Mr. Doody.
  19. Try not to murder your significant other when they ask if you checked the coffee pot while you were in there.
  20. Climb into the driver’s seat.
  21. Re-enact Ryan Reynolds’ car scene from “Just Friends.”
  22. Calmly put the car in reverse.
  23. Take a deep breath as you pull onto the highway and both children immediately start crying.

Checklist for the return trip home

  1. Hurl everything into the car.
  2. Throw suitcases into the corner of the bedroom and unpack eight months later when you need the suitcases for another super fun family bonding trip.
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Hoarders on a Road Trip

Indulge me for a second, if you will. I want you to close your eyes and picture the following:

You’re driving down the Interstate, minding your own business. Perhaps you’re heading home after a long day of work or maybe you’re picking your kid up from soccer practice. Or it could even be that you’re on your way to dinner reservations with your in-laws, which you’re dreading because Phil always has too much to drink and then plays his favorite game of “Insult His Daughter’s Husband Until It’s Time for Dessert,” after which you will go home and get in a huge fight with your wife because she never stands up for you, oh no, she could never stand up to her ultra-macho, conservative father. No one stands up to Phil. Phil fought in the war, for crying out loud. And what have you done with your life, Shirley? He calls you Shirley. Just another way for him to emasculate you. Ugh. Phil. You hate Phil. So much.

Or whatever. I don’t know. I don’t know your life.

But the point is, you’re driving down the Interstate.

When all of a sudden you pass a tin can painted red that is disguised as a car (a Hyundai Accent, to be exact). Upon closer inspection of this “car,” you see the following:

Road trip 1

And for a second, all your troubles are forgotten since you can’t help but ask yourself “What the hell is going on in there?”

Well, let me tell you what the hell is going on in there. This past weekend, a man, a 7-months-pregnant woman and a neurotic dog with abandonment issues all thought it would be a great idea to take a 14-hour road trip to Ohio.

And it technically was a great idea.

In theory.

Where things went horribly, horribly wrong was on the way back.

See, the reason for the trip was so that the couple could have a baby shower with the majority of their family and friends. And granted, I’ve written in the past about how much I hate baby showers but let me tell you, it’s a whole new world when it’s being thrown in your honor. Turns out it’s just like having a birthday party, the only difference being that getting drunk, making out with someone and then crying on the bathroom floor about how old you are is generally frowned upon at the baby shower.

Now, they say it takes a village to raise a children. I don’t know if that’s true but I do know that it takes a village to afford one. And our village was EXTREMELY generous (big shout-out due here to all the future grandparents, great aunts and my 52 female cousins). This kid will truly never want for anything for at least the first year of his life (wanting a mom that doesn’t sing “Close To You” off-key before he goes to bed every night notwithstanding).

And we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who came. However, it left us with the following dilemma:

Road trip 4

Luckily, all those years of my husband blowing off doing anything productive and eschewing socialization with actual humans to play Tetris instead paid off. He managed to get it ALL in there. Well, almost all. At one point, there was a fear of damaging the structural integrity of the car so he had to stop.

However, this meant we had to drive over 800 miles with a dog sharing the passenger seat, limited visibility out of all windows and boxes hitting the back of our heads even though the seats were pushed up as far as they could go (which was SUPER fun for the 6’2″ daddy to be).

And even that wouldn’t have been that bad if it weren’t for the fact that I am not the world’s greatest driver (for documented proof, click here or here or here) and that it had snowed the night before (Weather: If you don’t like it, you are probably in Ohio). For example, here is a fairly accurate representation of the construction we encountered (Construction: If you are dealing with it, you are probably in Ohio) within 30 minutes of leaving:

Road trip 2

No big deal, right? All I had to do was follow the signs for “Thru Traffic” since we were going, duh, “thru” the area and weren’t getting off of an exit for the next 200 miles.

But at 5 a.m. in the dark on snowy and icy roads with no caffeine in my system, this is what I saw:

Road trip 3

So I panicked and we spent the next 30 minutes trying to find the Interstate again from back country roads that had their very own banjo soundtrack.

Somehow we did it though. We made it back to Boston in one piece. Even the baby, who was squished for no less than 400 miles by a highly excitable dog. And on the plus side, I now have a new sympathy for hoarders.

I’m just dreading finding all those dead cats once I finally build up the stamina to put together the nursery.

Road hookin’

They say that a true sign of wisdom is when you finally know just how much you don’t know. They also say it’s cliché to start an article with the phrase “they say.” But “they” can suck it. I like how it sounds.

(I also enjoy the “good news/bad news” cliché from time to time and the occasional question lede).

Anyhoo, moving on. If that is the case, then I am now about as wise as…as…uh, I don’t know…Angela Lansbury, maybe? Or perhaps the big-boobed mom from “Facts of Life.” Yeah, definitely the big-boobed mom from “Facts of Life.”

Because despite the numerous road trips I have taken across this great country of ours (like this one, or this one, or this one), I am not too proud to admit that I remained ignorant of an apparently somewhat common road tradition.

That is, until this latest 14-hour trek to the Mid-west I recently took.

It all started when I noticed that an unusually large number of trucks kept flashing their lights and honking at me as I barreled down the highway. Now, in my experience, this kind of behavior meant one of two things:

  1. There is a cop up ahead. And you are going 93 miles per hour. Slow down, dumbass. Or…
  2. Your car, which is being held together with duct tape, has something visibly and very, very wrong with it. Like your trunk just fell off.

However, after about three panick-y inspections of my vehicle at rest stops, I knew it wasn’t No. 2 and I immediately dismissed No. 1 since my car can’t go over 75 miles per hour without switching into what I like to call “Seizure Mode.”

So, I decided to call an expert, who, based on the fact that 1. she drives and 2. calls me “kiddo,” would have the answer.

“Mom? Trucks keep honking their horns at me and flashing their lights. What gives?”

“Oh, yeah, that’s how they try to get your attention when they want you to pull over at the next exit with them.”

“Why?”

“I know you’re not that naive.”

“How the hell do you know this?”

“The 80’s were a crazy time, kid.”*

Of course, seeing as how I drive a 2004 Hyundai Accent, which is technically the smallest car you can get without being a card-carrying member of the Circus Clown Car Union, I immediately dismissed what she said. There is absolutely nothing about that car that says “Hey, I’m a road hooker!”  If anything, it says “Hey, I dig doing puzzles on Saturday night with my cat!” Sure, it gets great gas mileage, but I doubt that’s what these guys are looking for.

“Wow. She gets 38 miles to the gallon? That chick must be down for a good time at a seedy truck stop!”

But then, this happened:

I’m in the left lane. Some white pick-up is in the right. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see him creeping up on me. Soon, we are side by side. The truck then falls back. Repeat three times. Cut to me getting annoyed because I hate when people don’t abide by the “left is the passing lane” rule. It throws off the ENTIRE flow of traffic. So I, thinking he wants to pass me and considering my car is already in heavy “Seizure Mode,” slow down and pull into the right lane behind him. As we approach the next exit, he starts hitting his brakes. And now, I’m super-duper annoyed because this jackass just two seconds ago wanted to pass me. He then starts to get on the exit ramp and as I speed past him, he begins flashing his lights and honking his horn as he rolls off toward the exciting world of Snow Shoe, PA.

And that’s when it hit me.

I just apparently accidentally gave the international road hooker sign that said “YES! I will get off this exit with you and then we can make a bastard in some Exxon Mobile/Subway parking lot!”

I felt bad for a bit. Even though I just thought I was being a polite driver, my actions caused this poor horny pick-up driver to not only lose a good two minutes of traveling time as he wandered his way through some podunk town, but had also dashed his hopes that he would soon be able to tell his buddies he scored with some Massachusetts foreign car drivin’ slut.

And that bad feeling lasted for all of two seconds.

But then, just to bring this whole thing full circle, I realized that even though I now know about this underground road sex tradition, there is still so much more that I don’t know. Like, if you do actually get off the exit with these guys, how does it work? Do you park side by side? Do you choose the McDonald’s parking lot or Taco Bell? Or is Arby’s considered classier? Do you introduce yourselves or just get down to business? My car or yours? Afterwards, do I at least get a cup of gas station coffee in return? Or maybe a large bag of Cheetos if my performance was suitable?

So many questions. So many no-way-in-hell will I ever know the answers.

But, I guess in the end, you just have to take the good and take the bad and there you have the facts of life.**

*I may have made that last part up.

**See? So wise now.