The long bumpy road


Photo above of the kids in front of their beloved minivan Airport taxi. We don’t have a minivan yet they LOVE them. So whenever the maroon colored Airport taxi arrives outside of our house, they are thrilled.

It was a LONG LONG day. It always is when traveling with kids. I can fly for 24 hours and survive it. Yet when it comes to traveling by myself with the kids it simply wears me out. I don’t have just myself to look after but two additional young beings that are constantly needing something. It is exhausting.

A few days before we left, the typical cold came on. My son developed his annual case of croup last Sunday in which he wound up at Children’s Hospital ER at 1 am. It is always scary when he gets croup because he can hardly breathe and it is frightening as a parent watching the child you love struggle to breathe. By now we know the drill. We get him dressed ASAP, get the car running, throw on clothes and take him the ten minute drive to the hospital where he gets some medication and resumes breathing normally. After the croup, he is left with a terrible hacking cough that keeps us all awake for nights and usually is passed on to me. No matter how hard I try to not get sick, I find is impossible and usually wind up sicker than a dog before every major trip. Oh well. One of the “pleasures” of being around kids!

I didn’t sleep a wink the night before our flight. I never sleep well before a morning flight. There is always so much last minute packing to do for the kids. I also had my coughing son sleeping on the floor next to my bed. By 6:30 am, I was already awake with a stuffy nose and tired. I was able to pack everything up, finish a post, make sandwiches and get us all ready for the arrival of our lovely cab.

The flight was uneventful except for the crazy, roller coaster landing. It was extremely windy in DC thus our landing into Reagan National was like being on a fighter jet. My stomach lurched and the kids screamed in delight. No matter how many hundreds of times I’ve flown, I still get jittery in extremely turbulent landings.

We landed and got off the plane. I was alone with the kids thus the three of us had to lug our huge suitcase, two car seats, and Dora and Star Wars mini backpacks to the car rental shuttle. My back nearly broke! It is never easy carrying all that stuff.

The shuttle dropped us off at the Enterprise Rental office where we picked up our bright, cherry red Chevy Impala. No offense to those who have one, but it has the worst most uncomfortable seats I’ve ever sat on. I had to stuff pillows and shirts behind my back to keep it from throbbing.
(Unfortunately I’ve had a bad upper back and neck since I was 13 and have recently resumed physical therapy to try to manage the pain and continue being a somewhat normal human being!).

I jumped on 95 South and was instantly reminded that I was on the East coast. The speed limit was 60 but everyone was driving 85. I forgot about the crazy, aggressive driving out here. (Minnesotans are more passive aggressive. Plus they generally drive pretty darn slow which drives me crazy).

Stress hit me as I was nearly run over while adjusting my seat and trying to get my kid’s DVD players started. I held my breathe so I wouldn’t have a near panic attack after almost missed my turn. Of course I didn’t have a map so the last thing I wanted to do was get lost.

It was smooth sailing at 80 mph out of DC to 95 South until I saw the sign that said “Caution: Accident 5 miles ahead”. Oh no. The sea of red headlights were endless and I was in stop and go traffic for the next half an hour. Things were not going too well.

I called my sister who gave me directions on a back road. I got off 95 and headed towards 17 South, a country road that would bring me right to my sister’s home in Gloucester Point, Virginia. Unfortunately once again, I missed the turn and wound up driving on some even smaller country road the wrong direction. I was surrounded by fields of gold, old white Baptist churches and nothing. It was much more relaxing and quieter than 95 but we were in the middle of no where!

A half an hour later, I finally found a side road that brought us back to 17 South. We had gone at least thirty minutes out of the way and I was beyond exhausted. This was going to end up being an eight hour day.

The kids had to go to the bathroom and were of course starving. But we were in the middle of rural, country Virginia and there was nothing, and I mean nothing in sight. We were surrounded by deep forests on bumpy, country roads. No bathrooms. No gas stations. No signs of civilization whatsoever. We could pull over along the road. But that wouldn’t fly.

Finally, like an oasis in a desert we found a tiny little roadside gas station. It was definitely a thirdeye moment. They sold fried chicken livers to go! But they did have ice cream and a small outhouse with sort-of running water. Relief. Yet we still had another hour and a half to go.

Finally, when I was at my wits end we pulled into Gloucester Point, eight hours after leaving our home in Minnesota. I was tired, cranky and grumpy. Yet, the wine was waiting as was my sister and her family.

Family Travel TRAVEL BY REGION United States Virginia