So, we set off from Salt Lake towards our destination of Las Vegas, where we would camp out for the night and then continue on to San Diego. Can I just begin by saying "What in the Hell was I thinking?" Really. I do not even take my one year old in the car with me to Target. Why on Earth would I think that 1,000 miles in the car would be any more doable? My dad had given Dalton and Gavin surfboards as a gift and we needed to bring them with us to the beach. Here are three ways we could have accomplished that same task with one tenth of the stress and fast food that we had to endure:
- Said, "Thanks Dad, btw, can you now load them back on to the roof of YOUR car and take them with you when YOU drive down to San Diego?"
- Said "Thanks Dad, how do we mail these to San Diego?"
- Said "Thanks Dad. Are the fins removable so that we can put these in the overhead compartments on the plane?"
But alas...I was not in my right mind and I said "ROAD TRIP!", thinking that it would be fun. I mean, we did the road trip from Boston, down the east coast, and then across country to Utah, when Shelby was exactly the same age as Garrett is now. And that was a blast. But here is what I forgot...Garrett is not Shelby. Garrett likes to be moving...24 hours a day. And when he is not...he will let you know that he is NOT happy. Oh, AND he can't sleep on his back. Nope, can't do it..not gunna do it! So, the entire time he is in his car seat he is either straining to try to break free of the constraints to hop out, or flip over on to his stomach so that he can sleep.
Another fun fact- there is only one thing that will keep his attention. Not Dora, not Barney, not Clifford or Elmo. For this boy his heart belongs only to four dancing fools and their pirate side kick. So, for ten hours straight we listened to the Wiggles. Now, I think that I have mentioned my affinity for the Blue Wiggle; Anthony. Oh, yes, that Wiggle can wiggle. And so, when I am forced to watch the Wiggles, it is bearable, as long as little-blue-sugar-buns with his oh-so-tight-pants, and his teeth-so-white-they-nearly-blind-you is performing.
But when I am in the driver's seat...and all I can hear is that the "Wiggles are going buh-nahhh-nuhs!", with all of them making annoying monkey sounds over and OVER and OVER again...it's enough to make you want to drive off the side of the road. The only sound that is one percent more annoying is Garrett's cry...so the Wiggles continued.
Lucky for Shelby and Dalton, they had the third row...with headphones...and their own DVD players...and Dad's itouch...and Dalton's DS...and snacks, and pillows...and boy did I envy them.
I have decided that I don't do well with stress. I have come to this conclusion after noticing that 99% of the time that I am stressed...I don't do well. So, I should just avoid stress. I know that that sounds idiotic. But not so to me. I mean, if you know that you are allergic to cats- you avoid them. If you worry about getting a sunburn- you stay out of the sun. So if I know that in the event of stress I melt in to a pile of what resembles human-goo...why don't I just avoid the stress-inducing events in the first place?...Meaning: never ever get in the car with my one year old for more than a five minute trip!?
But...we're already to Eureka, or Duchene or was it Delta??...regardless- it was some place that looked like the aftermath of Armageddon...like some volcano had erupted...some meteor had just struck the Earth...and anything that resembled life or vegetation in it's living state was dead and gone. In it's place were dust, rocks and dirt...for as far as the eye could see.
I decided that anything from Payson to San Diego could just fall off the map as far as I was concerned...and I wouldn't miss it one bit. Of course...at the time I was feeling really bitter because I was on to round three of The Wiggles DVD (did I mention that we only have ONE of their DVD's so we had to listen to the SAME ANNOYING songs OVER and OVER!? We didn't even get the luxury of at least mixing it up with new annoying songs. So, as I was driving (which I was happy to do, since the non-driver had the job of turning around while the car was moving and trying to adjust the DVD player every time Garrett's little piglet toes pushed the pause buttons on the DVD player, or attempt to find his missing bottle amongst the backpacks and board games that littered the floor every time he threw it in protest that his DVD had just stopped...thanks to his piglet toes...Or, fill said bottle every time he finished it, and try to quickly reinsert it in to his mouth before he started wailing, or hand snacks back to the big kids, or climb over two seats to straighten Shelby's head when she had fallen asleep in some contorted yoga position and her head looked like it was about to snap off her neck....yes...I much preferred driving. Except for when the scenery outside looked like the surface of the moon. Hello...could we get a flippin' tree now and again...or a house without three front doors?
So then Gavin and I made a list of all the worst places to live in the United States. And every town from Draper to San Diego was on my list. Again...I was feeling bitter. "But what about Las Vegas?" you say! Oh...I don't mean to offend...but I really hate that city...I do. I hate Mesquite, I hate anything with neon lights...I just hate it all. I know it's not fair of me. I am sure there are wonderful things about that city. It is just not for me.
There is no amount of shopping at Caesar's or dinners at Spago that can make up for the city that is Las Vegas. It shouldn't exist. It really shouldn't. It's not natural for anything to exist, let alone silicone and neon, in a place that is as hot as the surface of the sun. And no amount of trapeze artists jumping through water shows, or spas that ooze luxury can make me feel any different. Although, maybe when I have no kids at home anymore, and it is the middle of winter, and I am craving sun and a little dose of tacky...maybe then I will love it.
We stayed the night in the-city-I-loathe, and my cute step-dad was there to welcome us (at 1:00 a.m.). The next morning we ate his cereal and then headed out to the car for the second act of Hell, staring the three most adorable kids on Earth and the two orneriest parents.
Just as I was ready to pray for the utter and immediate destruction of Las Vegas, it went and semi-redeemed itself...by producing a Trader Joe's. Gavin suggested that I go in and buy a few things for the day's car trip. Oh, I could have spent hours in those isles...how I missed my Brookline Trader Joe's. All of the neat dried fruits, the organic produce, the packaged frozen foods, the samples, the Hawaiian shirted employees, the cheap wine...oh it was all too good to be true.
I got a bag of BBQ chips, some dried Mangoes, a bag of brioche rolls, buffalo beef jerky, grapes and some drinkable yogurts... I know, unwise to shop when you are hungry and ornery...bad combination.
Gavin and I got a little snippy with each other after about ten minutes in the car together. I was pissed off at him that he had gotten to sleep in that morning, while I had gotten up early with the baby. He was pissed off at me that I had left the car unlocked the night before our trip (first time in my life, I swear to you...but that's Murphy's Law) and the jerks had stolen our new DVD player, all of our annoying kid DVD's that NO ONE wants to purchase twice, our charger, our GPS system, and the wire that allows us to listen to our ipod in the car.
Yeah...I kind of hated myself over that one too. At first we thought it was just the DVD player, and then as we kept driving, Gavin noticed more and more things missing. By the time we reached Vegas, he was fuming. I think that he had dreamed that the thieves took me instead, and woke up disappointed that it was only a dream.
Shelby and Dalton were all a buzz over this act of thievery and buttheadedness. They kept talking about how we'd been "robbed", like masked gunmen were now part of their lives.
After a few hours, we got off at some exit in California, and head to Carl's Jr. For some reason I thought that this was a "nice" fast food joint, seeing as I frequent them about once a year- but big mistake on my part. There is nothing nice about the chili on the chili cheeseburger. WHAT WAS I THINKING? It's like I had already entered purgatory, so I may as well live it up. It was bad. All aspects of it were bad. We left feeling sick and greasy. I also left with mild paranoia that at least one of my kids had probably contracted the H1N1 virus while we were there.
After a good dousing with anti-bacterial gel, we continued on. Garrett, at this point was so full of bottles, that if you tipped him to one side, a gallon of apple juice would have come spilling out of him. It was the price we paid for some form of peace.
So we drove and drove and drove some more. I made more comments about all the places we passed, and how I hated them. Garrett continued to protest about the fact that we didn't seem to notice that he was restrained...even though we know darn well that he hates it. Dalton and Shelby were getting antsy too, after having already watched Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Wild, Snow Dogs, Barbie Fairytopia, and Scooby Doo.
"sorry we pillaged and plundered your entire culture and way of life...but oh, those arrowheads sure look sassy! Mind if we stick one of those at every mile marker to make it look like we have some deep roots in the Ancient American culture...even though the only Native American Indians living anywhere near southern California are working at the casinos or living on the squalid reservations"....but yeah, nice show of comradery.
I was annoyed. I wanted green...I wanted lush. I wanted Marblehead in Massachusetts, or Anne of Green Gables, for crying out loud. Not cactuses hanging out at the beach. And that is what San Diego is. Their myth is as big as Vegas...that it is some lush green coastal town, when in reality, without man it would be a barren desert of sand dunes with some waves.
We arrived at the beach at 4:00 p.m. I made Gavin promise me that for my birthday present, he would fly me home. "I can't take it." I told him, "just let me fly home. I will take the baby with me." And he obliged...I think more for his own sanity than for mine. One more round of The Wiggles and he would have thrown himself out of the car. So, happy early birthday to me!