After visiting with in-laws, cousins, and extended family, it’s time to hug, promise to stay in touch, and say goodbye. And as much as we’re ready to go, the 19-20 hours doesn’t seem quite as reasonable as it did on the way there.
The videos and DVD’s seem old and boring. Every traffic jam seems like one too many. The empathy you felt for “that poor driver” on the way there suddenly turns into,”for crisake, get off the road!” And about now, the food goes downhill. You go to Bob Evans for the sausages and biscuits, start drinking serious quantities of Big Gulps from 7-11, and the fruit has to come from unnatural food sources; “sour apple, grape, and fruity” flavored gum, cereal and treats. And then its time for one more night at a motel.
This time, its the one off the highway. The one with the really, really, really, long drive way to the Days Inn. Most of the other guests are truckers. The place usually looks like it was painted over many, many times as part of its effort to upgrade. The lobby entrance is a mix of low lighting and the blue bouncing off of the tv screen. The plants are fake with a coating of dust. It’s the kind of motel where they provide you with an iron door stop to keep out the riff raff. The air conditioning is always a bit too cold and loud. The floral prints have turned to weed prints. Most of the caulk in the bath has peeled away. They don’t even bother letting you know that the bathroom was cleaned. And while they provide you a supply of towels, everyone you open up appears to be a hand towel.
Not even the “cont’ breakfast can change your mood.. You feel forced to hear loud truckers compare road tales. Despite swearing off excessive carbohydrates, you are forced to eat white bread, powdered donuts, Frosted Flakes, and drink coffee with Creamer packets. The place is so far down the motel totem pole, they don’t even have “waffle off.” Only then, do you realize how good you had it. The dining room is basically 10 card tables and some black chairs with minor rips and stuffing peeking out. You have to wonder if its even worth eating there and then its back on that long, long, long drive way.
Every rest stop feels like a burden. You can’t even make one more joke about the bathroom key being attached to a hubcap. And jus t when you are about to give up, you see home. At first, the house feels stuffy. A big pack of bills is waiting for you. The microwave lights are blinking because the power went out for awhile while you were away. The laundry sits in a mountainous pile. You take a hot shower. The air conditioning starts to kick in. You watch a show you’ve been missing and then………….. fall asleep……. during the best part.
The bags are packed. The DVDs and Cd’s have been collected . We will be leaving for summer vacation. We will drive 19-20 hours with our 7 and 5year old boys. It will begin with tremendous optimism about the journey. The car will be spotless and have that fresh new car smell. We will fill our stomachs with healthy snacks,bottled water, and fruit.
But sooner than we expect, we’ll stop at a highway Mc Donald’s. At first, we’ll stick to salads, fajita sandwiches, and happy meals. We’ll continue to be hopeful as we arrive at the U shaped halls of the Comfort Inn. We’ll adapt to the musty curtains, heavy floral print sheets, covers, and erratic air conditioning because its our first night on the road. And as the the kids jump from bed to bed, I will complain about the room. My wife will then remind me that we’ get a free breakfast in the morning. And then all is good.
No doubt, we’ll be shocked to see how many people will be sharing our carbo loaded “free” breakfast with us. The kids will be excited about the unhealthy cereal choices and doughnuts. And my wife and I will remark on this amazing product called, “waffle off.” While we’ve never seen it anywhere else in the world, we always find it at the Comfort Inn’.
What you may ask is “Waffle Off?” It is a spray used to clean off the waffle makers in between uses at the “Cont Breakfast,” (continental breakfast.) However I’m still unclear as to which continent started this breakfast tradition.
After filling up our tummy’s and the tank, we’ll continue our journey until one of the boys shouts, “why we aren’t at Grandma’s house yet?”