Musings on a road trip

I haven’t taken D on a really long road trip alone since he was two. But this past Thursday morning, we set out for the Washington, DC area to visit a friend and her family, including her son that’s the same as as D.

Nothing quite goes the way you plan on a road trip, even when you try to plan for every eventuality, like I do, and as such, am prone to overpacking, which is reason 890 why I like road trips better than air travel.  But things started out pretty well. I packed a picnic lunch for us along with with our overstuffed luggage and we set out, full tank of gas and the whole day ahead of us.

I consider it an accomplishment to be able to make a trip like this with my kid managing to hold his pee the whole time, including through several naps both ways, so in that way, it was a success. We also didn’t hit anyone and nobody hit us, so that’s also a hash tag in the success column. And nobody threw up and we managed to hit bathrooms and stay fed when necessary, so yay.

As I get older and my general anxiety about death increases, I find other areas where anxiety now pops up unexpectedly. Oh, so I’m now apparently scared to drive over really long bridges? Ok. The long, under-mountain tunnel was less of an issue – I feel better in enclosed spaces, even though I was waiting for the mountain to drop down and crush us. I have yet to drive through a tunnel like that and not think of Princess Di as well. Do thoughts like these occur to other people as they drive? And oh, the mountains of Pennsylvania. I think they would be really nice if I experienced them by looking at pictures of them from the safety of my home computer. But driving through them, with their winding roads and steep hills was not so fun. I spent a lot of the trip gripping the wheel like a vise and sweating.

The attempt to give the child the iPad to play some new, free games I downloaded for him before we left was a huge fail. Most of these, at least for my kid, require some adult help or interaction in order to facilitate the game. We stopped for gas and I opened a game for him as a surprise as he was already getting antsy. We then proceeded to drive for like 10 minutes straight with a chipper, kiddie computer app voice loudly proclaming, “TO GET STARTED, TOUCH MY PIXIE DUST POUCH. TO GET STARTED, TOUCH MY PIXIE DUST POUCH. TO GET STARTED, TOUCH MY PIXIE DUST POUCH.” Over and over and over. Finally, while weaving through tight, dicey construction lanes and heavy traffic, I managed to reach back and grab the thing away from him to shut it off, which then led to him screaming and crying for several minutes. On top of frayed nerves, this was not fun.

Eventually, PA smoothed out and rolled into beautiful Maryland and I relaxed a little. I really enjoyed our little picnic that we had at a service plaza. D was so cheerful and excited about the food we had brought, and everyone around us was eating out of fast food sacks and looking miserable.

We had a good and busy visit, with a lot of walking and running and chasing, and ate some very good food, and then it was time to go home. We should have just left first thing in the morning but I wanted to take him to this really fun playground down there, and then poke around the farmer’s market to see if there was anything quick and easy we could eat when we stopped on our return trip, but the morning took so long that by the time we left, it was lunchtime. I gave D extra snacks all morning, whenever he asked, which is pretty much every hour, and I had this idea we could just push through and only stop once or twice for bathroom. But when we stopped, he asked for more food and I couldn’t face giving him another fruit bar or fig newton, so he had his very first fast food – half of a plain Roy Rogers roast beef sandwich. It was pretty lousy, but did the trick.

The drive home was a little quicker than the drive there because it was a weekend and there was less traffic everywhere, also I just really wanted to get home because I was so tired so I was speeding here and there, it’s a wonder I didn’t get a ticket. I pounded coffee all morning and got more at each stop but the road gets hypnotizing after a while, you know?

We have an even longer trip coming up in July, when we will drive to WI to visit my sister. That will be split into two 6-hour segments, about as long as this trip, with an overnight stay in between. I’m glad it’s not until July because right now, I don’t feel like going anywhere for a very long time.

I did a shitton of cleaning and cooking and a little food shopping when I got home, which made me feel more grounded. I had a celebratory shot of Bulleit rye for getting the trip done, and bought D a bottle of very special organic sparkling cider, and made a big deal about opening it and pouring it into glasses for us to toast his good behavior.


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