April 7, 2010
For spring break we headed out on a 14-hour road trip to visit family. Generally we make this drive for Thanksgiving or Christmas but we planned a spring trip this time to avoid the bad weather that occasionally plagues us. I packed shorts and sandals. And the snow came tumbling down.
40 minutes into our drive we came across a huge mountain snowstorm and a multi-car pileup that had traffic stopped for miles. Keeping with our family goal of increased optimism, we talked about how lucky we were that the traffic jam was happening at the beginning of our trip while we were still fresh, rather than at the end when our eyes were drooping and we were anxious to get to our destination.
I gave out trip presents and we played games. Dan read a book about the history of fiber, string and rope. I'm not making that up. We even talked about what it would be like if the traffic never started again and we had to build houses in the mountain woods around us. We all agreed that the giant ice cream truck next to us would make a great neighbor, although Magoo was emphatic that he really would prefer to get moving and make it to Grandpa's house. After two hours the wreckage was cleared and we carried on, grateful that our car was merely stopped by the accident, not a part of it.
We kept our spirits up but the weather was sketchy all the way from Seattle to Utah. We hit a few storms, rain, hail, snow and sleet. We even ran into some dense fog in Idaho. Seriously? Fog in Idaho? What? Did it rise up and roll in off a potato field? I thought you had to be near water to have fog that dense. Then again, Ireland has fog AND potatoes so... I'm just sayin'.
We did eventually arrive at Grandma and Grandpa's house at nearly 5:00am after over 18 hours on the road. It was the longest trip in history with a 4-year-old, a 7-year-old and a baby in tow, a baby who was so happy about the whole thing that she refused to eat. Whenever we would stop to nurse, she'd flail her arms, crane her neck around and make joyful noises, so excited to be free of the car seat straps.
At one point, we drove for 3 hours at speeds of 30 mph or less in snow falling so thickly around us that we had to follow a semi truck to stay on the road, hoping the semi truck stayed on the road.
What really amazed me was how well everyone dealt with it. We were all tired and the adults were pretty stressed but we kept focusing on the positive, like little Pollyanna clones playing the glad game for 18+ hours.
We're parked for two hours. Well isn't it lucky that Mom packed so many great snacks?
We are stopping at every rest stop on the interstate. Well, aren't we glad that the last two had such pleasant air fresheners?
The baby's stopped eating and I fear my mammaries might actually explode. Isn't it great that we have a breast pump we can run from the power of the cigarette lighter to avoid said rupture?
From 11pm to 3am our car drove at school-zone speeds while we watched the arrival time on the GPS get later and later and later. Don't you think it's amazing that a tank of gas lasts for so long when you're driving your car slower than a fat man riding a BMX?
You might not think that positive thinking can make much of a difference but I've got to tell you that these little one-liners got us through what was probably the worst driving trip we've ever taken. Not only did we make it through, but we were in a good mood when we arrived, tired, happy and ready for the vacation.
When I pointed out to Laylee that Wanda had been so good during the drive even though she was too little to understand where we were going, she said, "Maybe Wanda's just being optimistic too. Maybe in her head she's thinking, 'We're probably just going to Baby Disneyland!'"
It snowed for most of the trip and I packed no winter clothes. Isn't it lucky that Grandma keeps such a huge stash of mittens, hats and sleds on hand? When you end up with a white spring break, you might as well go sledding.