I am dying. I have swollen lymph nodes. I have had them for the last four days. It is a fate worse than death. It is difficult to breathe, yawn, talk, sneeze, swallow, eat, and drink. Also it hurts a lot. I try to make the best of situations, but I am not enjoying one bit of this. I was hoping it was tonsillitis, or something severe so that I could convey with one term the pain and suffering I’m experiencing. But it wasn’t. It was, at best, a swollen throat. Caused by nothing in particular. How annoying.
So here is a week late update on more of our adventures. Time flies when you’re doing stuff. I think that’s how the saying goes.
Monday morning we left bright and early. We stopped for gas and a good windshield wipe down and then we were good to go.
The first part of the trip was easy. My mom was driving, the girls were playing mad libs, and I was sitting in the passenger seat thinking and dozing off and listening to the girls giggle.
[I took a video of them reading them out loud and laughing. If I ever get around to it I’ll upload it. It’s precious.]
That sign made me a little homesick. Homesick for a home I don’t even have.
There were a few rest stops and several endless stretches of road.
We switched drivers for a while so that mother could rest. It was my first time driving on those cross country roads. It was quite an experience. I like to think I’m a pretty skilled driver. I’ve certainly had plenty of experience, and I got my…confident driving from my father. But I’d never previously driven our little explorer stuffed to the stop with people and things and dogs with a luggage rack on top. Driving with a top heavy car is a lot harder than driving a mostly empty one. And then there were the trucks. Those huge massive bullies of the road that intimidated me and made me fear for my passenger’s safety. Even when I was sneaking past them on the left lane, I was still nervous. Instead of being a nimble little car, deftly darting past them, I felt like I was a coward just holding my breath that they wouldn’t get angry and run me off of the road. I was nervous with every lane change that the wind would catch as I shifted right and left and tip the car over. Probably unrealistic, but still something to consider. The thing about driving is that I’m in control of the car. If anything happens, I’m the one that has to save us. I would feel much safer on a bicycle or a scooter, where if anything happens I can just jump off the scooter, abandon it, and get myself to safety. There’s so much more pressure in driving a car. I felt dumb being so scared until I realized that it was my first time driving the I-10, sharing the road with log and fuel carriers. All the other times that we’ve made the brave haul across the country I was little. In fact, I was the one to watch out for on road trips, the one you don’t want to sit by. I was consistently the reason behind the car pulling over on the side of the road, always needing to rid my stomach of whatever we’d had for lunch. I distinctly remember one trip to Utah. We’d had fast food for breakfast [for the record, this does NOT happen in our family. We don’t eat fast food, hardly ever. And NEVER for breakfast. Maybe that’s why I had the reaction that I did.] and it took less than twenty minutes for me to throw up. I peed in my pants [hey, I was like 7…a little old, but still]. I threw up again just before lunch. Then we stopped at a park and I peed my pants again. This was all in one day. It was a wonder my parents didn’t just leave me on the side of the road. I remember ending up in Alyssa’s flowered shirt and green soccer shorts because between all my…accidents I’d run out of clean clothes. Gratefully I’ve overcome these problems and we have had an accident free trip.
To be honest, I was impressed with how good the kids were on the trip. Between movies, mad libs, and harassing each other, they were really mild mannered. The only real skirmish that occurred was when Aria REALLY needed to use the restroom and we were miles away from the nearest rest stop. She started to get a little grumpy. When my mom asked her to please be sweet she shouted “I CAN’T BE SWEET, I’M IN PAIN!!!”. We responded with peals of laughter which caused her to forget her anguish and be proud that she made the whole car laugh.
And then it was just long hours of driving. I was thankful for my Demau5 Pandora playlist that kept me company, kept me awake, and kept me hyper. There really was a good atmosphere in our car. We were really making cherished memories, as Lisa had suggested.
After several hours and a few rest stops later we switched drivers.
That’s right. Jace drove. If I thought I was scared before, I was wrong. I mean, I guess he’s not a bad driver, he’s just doesn’t have a very steady hand at the wheel. His turn didn’t last very long and I was relieved when it was over.
Driving through Florida took FOREVER. I never realized how far away Tallahassee and Gainesville were. We didn’t cross into Mississippi till the sun was setting. I went a little camera happy. I take too many pictures.
About halfway through Mississippi, Domino decided he was bored with being in the back.
He started by sticking his head forward, checking on the kids to see what they were doing. He loves being up where the kids are, where the action is.
[Haha, Aria’s face. I didn’t even see that until I uploaded the picture.]
So he took it upon himself to climb over everything and everyone and jump up in the front on Kenyan’s lap. I WISH I’d gotten a video of everyone screams and laughs. Domino’s leg got stuck down Jada’s jacket and he didn’t know what to do. He just sat there with his hind leg in the air until Jace came to his rescue.
Kenyan, resident animal lover, was delighted and he stayed on her lap deadening her legs for the rest of the journey.
[For the record, this is my favorite picture of the trip so far. Domino just chillin’, Kenyan loving it, and Aria…well…being Aria.]
I didn’t get a good picture of the Mississippi River. I got a picture of the banks and the bridge. I suppose you can just Google it if you want to see an actual picture.
We stopped after about eleven hours of driving in Lafayette, Louisiana. We found a hotel with the tech support of my wonderful aunt. We got a room at a Marriot at a great price…in fact it was so great that the room was the same price as the pet fee. But we were grateful to have found a hotel that took all of us and our dog, with a pool and a gym and free breakfast. At that point, nothing in the world had ever sounded so good. It was late and we were exhausted. We unloaded everything and, despite our exhaustion, took the kids swimming. It wasn’t till well after midnight that we all showered and crawled into our clean, fluffy, white hotel beds and fell asleep watching the Disney Channel. Ultimate vacation.
We really meant to sleep in the next morning, but it just wasn’t possible. We were up by 7:30, down to the lobby to watch the news and drink hot chocolate and toast waffles. Watching the news was interesting. It seemed that, in many ways we were leaving disaster in our wake. There were wildfires in the southwest that had gotten worse just after we’d driven past them. Then, the morning after we’d left Mississippi, parts of the levy had broken and there were floods in Mississippi. Here we go, escaping disaster.
We packed everything up and swept the room for things left behind and hit the road again. It wasn’t until then that I started noticing Louisiana in the daylight. I had a friend tell me that it was a “cool state. Kinda trashy though”. And he turned out to be right. The ‘cool’ part would probably be the quaintness of some of it. The areas were called parishes instead of counties. The area we stayed in was certainly cool—there were a lot of those fancy Southern Estates owned by land barons, what I would typically expect from wealthier southerners. And then there was the trashy part. Trailer parks, mobile homes for sale on the roads leading to the highway, you name it. One mobile home company actually advertised their homes by putting a pickup truck ON TOP of one of the mobile homes. Really? What are you implying there? It can survive hurricanes? I asked my wise, wise mother who gave me a more fitting explanation. She said that if you ever drive your pickup back to your mobile home and you’re so drunk that you park on the roof, you’ll be okay. Well…your house will be okay.
We stopped to fill up with gas and de-bug the windshield. I used Aria’s stuffed giraffe to wipe off a spot on the inside of the glass and she wasn’t too thrilled. Luckily it was too early for her to get mad. She was just astonished.
[Please notice that the kids have switched seats. My mom is known for being fair in all things, especially window time.]
And then there was more driving. It wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, especially after logging so many miles the first day. Just enough time to take more pictures of the road.
I imagine it was hot outside. We were allowed to blast the air conditioning, which was a surprise to me because my mother HATES cold air. I think. I could see the heat waves on the road and see the sun glistening off of the oncoming traffic. The way it reflects off the glass makes it look like a parade of cops with their lights illuminated.
We finally crossed the Texas state line and there was much rejoicing.
We stopped at a wonderfully clean rest stop and loved the spacious fields and sunshine. I particularly loved the cool breeze coming through.
For those of you who are tracking what my mom eats [don’t laugh…there really are quite a few of them] this is her half eaten bell pepper. Yep, she eats them like apples and yep, it’s weird. But she’s eating. I’m happy.
We sent Aria off to chase the plastic bags that were getting carried away in the wind. She had quite a bit of excessive energy to exert. Everyone else rested.
Jace and I found this HUGE bug. I was thinking about being scared of it when I realized that it was empty! It was just a shell. I have no idea what it is. Jace thought it was a cicada, but there weren’t any wings. So we got nothin’. But it was cool. And also creepy.
When we’d decided we were well rested enough we loaded up again to make the final home stretch. My mom handled entertainment for the rest of the trip, drawing little happy faces on little toes.
Then there was that brief bit of driving through downtown Dallas where I thought I was going to DIE. I didn’t though. No one in my car did. Success!
And we arrived here:
And it is here that we have spent the last four days being spoiled rotten and having grand adventures. Stay tuned :)
[Title from Sweet Disposition by Temper Tramp]