Road Trip


On Tuesday night I vowed to never step foot in my 2008 Honda Odyssey again. After riding all day for our family road trip, I didn’t ever want to sit in that minivan again.

And neither did my 3-month old.

We left last week for California, a trip that would take us 750 miles across the country and at least 11 hours each way.

Before we left, I spent $20 in the Target dollar section hoping to give my older boys something to do while riding. We didn’t make it 30 minutes before those cheap activities failed me.

Apparently you have to be able to open them for them to be fun, and my 6-year-old has yet to learn how to tear through plastic packaging. I got to listen to him whine from the back seat as he couldn’t open, only noisily crinkle the crap out of the wrapper.

At our first stop I opened everything I could see that he might have trouble with. Then I gave him a brief overview on how to operate our traveling DVD players.

The ride was much smoother after that.

My husband and I decided to break up the trip by stopping in St. George for the night and driving the rest of the way the next day. With how well the first day’s travels went I was optimistic about our second day. I was naive.

We left St. George bright and early, but didn’t even make it to Mesquite — about 40 miles — before my 3-month old was screaming. I hopped in the back to calm him down, but to no avail. He was MAD.

We pulled off at a barren exit while I fed him. When we all climbed back in the van, my 6-year-old announced that he needed to go to the bathroom. Luckily there was a potty 5 miles away, but then we all had to endure a can’t-you-go-when-it’s-more-convenient speech from my husband.

At that point I was so nervous about having to go before it was “convenient” again, I thought I better try while we were stopped. When I saw the line of four biker chicks waiting outside the Chevron lady’s room, I changed my mind and decided to hold it.

Bad idea. Our next stop was Barstow where we ate a pizza at a park. You can only imagine what the facilities were like there. I ended up squatting over a chrome commode because the nasty metal seat nearly frostbit my backside. It. Was. Gross.

Aside from a couple of smartphone Google-maps mishaps, one of which nearly led us up a rocky cliff in order to find Pizza Hut, we made it to our final destination without any more incident.

Note that I said without any more incident. That doesn’t mean we were free from any more outbursts from the youngest member of our party.

Poor little baby. I think a combination of things drove him to tears — strapped facing backwards, stranded by himself in the middle of the van, restricted to sitting in a tiny chair with a poopy backside, to mention a few.

But the trip back to Utah would be worse.

On the way home, we didn’t stop in St. George. We drove straight through each inch of those 750 miles. It was the longest drive of my life.

Before we even left California my husband made a dangerous suggestion.

“We could slide the middle seats in the van together,” he said. “That way when our baby gets hungry we wouldn’t even have to stop. You could just kind of lean over his car seat to feed him.”

Say what? I didn’t know if I should yell at him for thinking that was a good idea, or laugh at the absurdity of his proposition.

Luckily — for him — I laughed. Then he backed off of the idea like it was a joke. Sadly, I swear he was serious. To his utter disappointment, I sat up front with him and didn’t hunch over the car seat every three hours to nurse.

The drive from California to Las Vegas was actually pretty good. The baby fell asleep and we drove in peace. I finally got to dive into the new novel I bought for the trip.

But after Vegas I think we all had had enough. The two oldest kept punching and pinching in the back while yelling loud enough to keep their brother awake.

Once again I tried to calm the little one down by climbing into the middle and acting like a fool to entertain him, but it was all in vain. I finally climbed back to the front and tried not to let my heart break as he continued to cry. It was horrible staring at his screaming pinkish purple face knowing there literally was nothing I could do for him.

Despite his cries, we drove on.

To top the trip all off, as we were buckling up at our last pit stop, my husband spotted two baby mice frolicking by the entrance to the fast-food joint where we had just eaten. They were inches away from the door to the place where my meal was prepared – Where all of our meals were prepared. Yuck!

Our baby fell asleep while nursing during dinner, giving me a sense of hope. But I guess he has gotten really good at sensing his car-seat confinement. He was screaming mere minutes from our final take off.

Having already hopped in the back seat twice on the trip I figured it would do me no good. I waited an hour or so before I could take it no longer.

By the time we rounded the point of the mountain, I was dreaming of having a taxi-like partition between the front and rear seats of the van. I thought I was going to go crazy with the screaming.

I jumped into the middle of the van hoping that the third time would be the charm and that I could somehow make him stop. We rode the rest of the way with the interior light on as I jingled rattles and babbled like a bubbling idiot trying to entertain him on the last leg of our journey.

Miraculously it worked.

We were able to drive the last hour and a half of our trip in peace listening to the presidential debate while our two oldest boys watched probably their twelfth movie of the trip.

But an hour and a half of peace isn’t enough to forget the other hours of close-spaced stress.

We rolled into our driveway at 9 p.m. At least 12 hours from when we left. And that’s when I promised myself I would never get back into our silver van.

Unfortunately, that promise was short-lived. I had to climb into the driver’s seat less than 12 hours later to take my oldest to school.

So I may not be able to avoid driving around town, but you can be sure it will be a long time before I am ready for another all-day mini-van confinement.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jamie
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 16:10:55

    This post made me laugh! Kudos for being brave enough to drive to Cali with a baby! I am wAaayy to wussy (I don’t think I’ve used that word since jr. high) to attempt it— despite how badly I need a vacation right now. 🙂


    • Natalie
      Oct 21, 2012 @ 14:03:17

      LOL Jamie. I don’t know if I am brave, or just plain stupid. Too bad airline tickets aren’t cheaper or else we would all probably go on more family vacations 🙂


  2. Christie
    Oct 20, 2012 @ 20:18:29

    Oh, how I can empathize. I fantasize of a passenger van- one where each child would have a seat between them. You know, so everyone can have their space. Randy doesn’t think I’m serious. I have never been more serious about anything in my life. The screaming baby, though? It takes the cake. I don’t miss those trips. At least with the older kids, I can yell and threaten until they stop. 😉


  3. Elise
    Nov 02, 2012 @ 09:53:27

    I laughed so hard over Travis’ “great” idea for you nursing the baby while driving!! On long drives like that, stopping to feed the baby was a huge, wonderful break that I always looked forward to, as I’m sure the baby did as well! I’ve totally done the dollar store splurge thing too for trips. I’m excited that next time we have a long trip our youngest will be old enough to enjoy that stuff too. I’m glad you all made it home safe anyway!


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