How long has it been? Months? Years? Eons? I wish I could say that I’ve been involved with some fabulous charity work for some very meaningful organizations like Save Orcas with Diabetes or People for the Destruction of Bats and Their Demon-y Habitats, but I haven’t. I’ve been involved with lots of Pinterest, some Facebook, small amounts of Zillow and Trulia and just a little bit of travel. But mostly I’m just lazy.
I just returned home from a month of travel. Lest you think I’m referring to a European holiday traveling via train from beach to village to countryside vineyard whilst eating in adorable cafes and sipping on gourmet lattes, I will describe my holiday. I spent four weeks traveling via minivan everywhere from Texas to Georgia to South Carolina to North Carolina to Tennessee to Ohio to Pennsylvania to Virginia to Jacksonville Beach, Florida and then finally to Disney World. At no time did I eat in an adorable cafe. I did eat at a disgusting Burger King, if that counts for anything.
My road trip diet would cause the 100 Days of Real Food lady to gag and probably report me to CPS. I do not bake homemade granola for road trips. I pack commercial-sized bags of trail mix that have sugar listed as the second ingredient right after hydrogenated oil. I do not pack fruit. Fruit is juicy and messy and is often shaped like a ball that can be pelted at the back of my head at any moment. I pack fruit snacks full of red dye number 47 and yellow dye number 63. When I’m on a road trip I’m every child’s dream and every nutritionist’s nightmare.
As usual, none of this has anything to do with my story. I am kind of hoping that some of you will reassure me that you, too, eat like college students while on road trips. The only things that differentiate me from a college student are that I’m old and I can’t figure out how to make Ramen in my minivan. Also, I drive a minivan.
I’m going to bring you into my holiday at the point where I was driving with my mom, dad, The Good One and The Beast in a caravan with my oldest sister and her family. We were traveling from Richmond, Virginia to Jacksonville Beach, Florida to spend a day at the beach before heading to Disney.
Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? It wasn’t.
If you ever have the opportunity to take a road trip with me, I really suggest that you just go ahead and turn down that opportunity because, awesome snacks notwithstanding, there is a good chance that your road trip is going to take about 50% longer than it should.
On this trip to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, the extended travel time was due to having five people with unsynchronized bladder issues, a very long stop at a Burger King so that The Beast could play for an hour, and a navigation system who was on her period and thought it would be a hoot to send me to my destination via the most circuitous route possible. You think I’m kidding, but as we approached our hotel in Jacksonville, my van told me to take the exit one mile past the hotel and then circle back via the frontage road to the hotel. I obediently did what she told me to do, thinking that perhaps there was a one-way street or some other issue that would have prevented me from getting to my hotel should I take the most obvious exit. There was not. She’s just a bitch.
So, the Saturday morning before last, after spending 12 hours on what should have been a 9 ½ hour road trip, I pulled my van into the hotel parking lot at 12:35 a.m. My sister and her family had arrived 90 minutes earlier despite the fact that they left after we did. Their van wasn’t being a bitch.
My sister had picked up our room key and had set up a cot in the room that we would be sleeping in. The plan was for my mom and dad to share a bed, The Good One and me to share a bed and The Beast to sleep in a cot. However, upon getting to the room, my sister informed us that her room had recently been sprinkled with a carpet freshener (likely because someone died on the floor) and that when she entered the room, her lips went numb. My mom has asthma and there was no way that she was going to be able to sleep in that room without being intubated, so we decided we’d all hunker down together.
My mom and dad climbed into bed and were asleep within minutes. The Good One and I were in bed, The Beast was on the cot and my sister was on a chair. The Good One did offer to sleep on the chair, but my sister insisted that she sleep there. So for five minutes that’s how we lay.
Then The Beast decided that he’d rather sleep with me in the bed. So up he crawled. The Good One climbed into the cot and my sister climbed into the bed with The Beast and me. Now, the cot that The Good One climbed into was not a full-sized cot. It was a Star Wars cot meant for a toddler, not a 10-year-old who is over 5 feet tall, so The Good One had a very difficult time getting comfortable. He shifted and shimmied and tossed and turned for what seemed like 390 days, and then my sister said, “Good One, why don’t you sleep across the foot of the bed.”
The Good One said, “Thanks, that cot is really uncomfortable,” and he curled up on the bottom of our bed. We all settled back down and looked forward to rest. Sadly, because of the two Dr. Peppers that The Good One’s mother allowed him to consume in the midst of the eat-whatever-the-hell-you-want portion of our road trip, he could not stop moving.
Now, this was annoying to me. But to my sister who, in addition to having reactive lips, also has an actual hole in her skull that causes her brain to push against her ear drum to the point that any motion while lying down makes her sick, the constant motion was likely to induce vomiting. I will not even tell you the bedtime activities she has had to excuse herself from to go to the bathroom and vomit. But she is married and you can use your imagination.
We all lay there hoping that the movement would stop soon when suddenly there was a loud clunk followed by an “Owww!” The Good One had tossed and turned himself right out of the bed. My sister, seizing the opportunity to get out of the Bed of Imminent Vomiting, said, “Good One, come sleep up here and I’ll sleep in the chair.”
So again we shifted. There we were, now at 2:00 in the morning, half of the room sound asleep and snoring so loudly that I wished I had hearing aids just so I could remove them, the other half praying to fall asleep.
At some point we all fell asleep because at 7:00 a.m., despite the darkness in the room, The Beast’s Internal Clock of Suck awoke him and told him to ask for cereal. I attempted to quietly get dressed and take him to the lobby for breakfast, but The Beast doesn’t do quiet and he woke up my mom, dad, The Good One, and my sister who was now sleeping on the cot intended for a toddler.
We all got ready, ate breakfast, met up with my brother-in-law, niece and nephew who had slept soundly in the room with the carpet freshener that would have shut down my mother’s lungs and caused my sister’s lips to turn blue and fall clean off of her face, and headed for a day of fun at the beach.
We actually did have a great time at the beach. For about 4 hours The Beast played in the sand and in the ocean. “Played” is the wrong word. He attacked the ocean. He would walk out to the point in the ocean where the waves were breaking and he would kick and punch the ocean in an epic battle of strength. He does all things with gusto.
The Good One rented a boogie board and rode waves with his cousins. He does not attempt to fight the ocean.
At about 3:00 in the afternoon, The Beast was starting to show the effects of no sleep and lay his head in the sand. We packed up our stuff and headed back to the hotel. I gave The Beast a shower, fed him Chick-fil-a (the food crapfest continued) and he was asleep in the hotel room by 5:50 p.m. I said a prayer of thanks and enjoyed the silence.
At about 7:00 my mom and dad returned to the room and stayed with The Beast while my sister and I went shopping. The Good One was off with his cousins and uncle and was going to spend the night in their room, and my sister was going to sleep with The Beast and me.
My sister and I returned to the hotel room at about 9:30. My mom said that The Beast had woken once and asked for milk and went right back to sleep. I was excited for the delicious sleep I was about to enjoy. We all got ready for bed and by 10:00 my dad was sleeping quietly and my mom was snoring loudly enough to guide ships into a foggy harbor.
(My sister actually taped my mother snoring so that she could play it back for her in the morning. When she heard it my mom said, “That’s your dad.” It was so not my dad.)
I cuddled up to the sleeping Beast and fell asleep. At about 4:00 a.m. The Beast started tossing and turning. He’d rest his head on me and then flip over to my sister and rest on her. He shifted and moved for about 10 minutes and then snuggled up to me and said, “Mom, can you get me new underwear?“
I chuckled to myself that he was talking about underwear in his sleep and made a mental note to tell my family what he said in the morning. Then I noticed the unmistakable warmth of urine on my left butt cheek.
I jumped out of bed hoping to be only a little bit wet, but considering The Beast had not peed for 12 hours and had let loose in the bed, it was a miracle we didn’t drown. The Beast and I were both wet from hip to ankle. The only dry spots on the bed were the foot of the bed and where my sister had been sleeping but was now awake and enjoying the midnight showing of everyone’s favorite comedy, “Sweet Frack, How Much Urine Can Your Bladder Hold!?”
My sister was very careful not to move out of her dry spot. I placed a towel over the wet spot on the mattress, changed The Beast and put him in the cot. I changed into the pair of pajama pants I had bought just the night before. Yes, I put on unwashed pajamas. I was sopping wet and my choices were nudity or jammies with factory lice on them. I went with the pjs.
I held The Beast’s hand until he fell asleep and then settled in on top of the comforter at the foot of the bed. I closed my eyes, anticipating rest, when suddenly I had a vision of all of the God-forsaken things people could possibly do at the foot of a bed. I saw naked, skeevy, hairy men waiting anxiously for their Hampton Inn hooker to come out of the bathroom. I envisioned disgusting, horny teenagers doing whatever the hell teenagers do nowadays. I imagined the bedroom scenes of all of the R-rated movies I had ever watched in my life, and I knew instantly that I was sleeping on dried semen and derrière juice. (Sorry, I know that’s vile. I really don’t know how to put it in a ladylike manner.)
However, since the mattress on my side of the bed was wet with approximately 2 gallons of urine, my only option was to stay where I was and just pray that they sell antibiotics for face syphilis. So I lay my head back down and passed out.
At 7:00 in the morning, The Beast’s Internal Clock of Suck woke him up and told him to ask for cereal. He was very excited because he knew that after breakfast we were heading to Disney World and he was going to get to see Virginia Slims Man, whom we hadn’t seen in two weeks.
I was excited to see Virginia Slims Man too, because then he could take care of the kids while I sought out alcohol and a Disney World doctor who specializes in VD of the cheek.
So we all ate breakfast, hopped in our minivans and headed for a week at Disney World.
Heads up, The Magic Kingdom, unlike the other parks at Disney World, is dry.
Happiest place on earth, my ass.
P.S. Various forms of the verb “lay” appear in this post. I’m nearly certain I used the wrong form in every instance. I was an English major but did not master that aspect of grammar. I was too lazy to look it up. You’ll deal with it.