The bags are packed. The DVDs and Cd’s have been collected because we will be leaving soon. We will drive 19-20 hours with our six and three year old boys. We will begin with tremendous optimism about the journey. And then15 minutes into the trip, the boys will shout, “why we aren’t at Grandma’s house yet?”
We will begin with healthy snacks, a clean car, bottled water, and fresh fruit. Eventually, we’ll tire out and settle Paul Newman salads and fajita wraps at Mc Donald’s. We’ll even keep our spirits up after a night of negotiating sleep at the Comfort Inn. And comment on how clean they keep the waffle makers due to “Waffle Off.” 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.) I’m still unclear as to which continent eats this way.
And then there will be time with extended family. Some of which will include the necessary chatter, and discussion of what “we have to do.” Only to be followed by the conversations in private about why we have to do what they want. And just when it seems like we can’t have one more family meal, ice cream, or hot dog on a hot bench with flys near by , its time to head back on the road.
But now, we’re tired. All the videos and DVDs are no longer exciting. One traffic jam seems like one too many. The empathy you felt for “that poor driver” on the way there, 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 unatural 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. You want to complain, but by the time you figure you’re way around the maze of a motel, it will be morning.
And when you wake up, you aren’t sure whether the place is better in the day or at night. The cleaning staff looks like local high school drop outs or goths who got a job there because it was the best one in town. You want to sleep. Your body aches. You feel stuffy. You want a glass of water, but the glass looks a bit tinted from overuse and rusty water. You don’t want to turn the shower to “H” for cold and “C” for hot. But you know if you miss breakfast hours, there is no make up policy. So you dragged the family down there.
You sit and listen to 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. By now, the car is on cruise control and basically the kids are driving and drinking Mountain Dew. The rest stops all look the same because, well, they are all the same. Your legs feel like lead weights from sitting so long. And then for awhile you are cruising. You feel like you are almost home, but there is a festival or its a weekend or people are leaving work, so you inch along, listening to the same songs. The kids can’t watch Cars or the Incredibles one more time. And then, you make the turn into the garage.
The house feels stuffy. The big pack of mail 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.