The Journey Home

Thursday afternoon, January 1: Begin scouting around mom’s house for all the stray detritus small children leave after visiting grandma’s for two and half weeks. Realize we have room for only 739 pounds of junk, and begin to pare down the piles. Mom’s garbage can and recycle are both overflowing, and I’m only down to 912 pounds of junk. Crap. Ask to borrow retired neighbor’s half-empty cans, and fill to overflowing.

Thursday night, January 1: Exasperation is my new BFF, and boys just don’t understand that I HAVE NO IDEA which bag the RED spiderman jammies are in, just wear the BLUE ONES I LEFT OUT and NO I AM NOT UNPACKING to look for them! Grandma and grandpa are clearly frazzled by the extended invasion of their quiet, peaceful lives; at this point, no one can even decide on dinner.  Grandpa opts to run for the Border, I do a drive-by of my favorite Chinese place, the kids do leftovers, grandma raids the freezer for any leftover frozen yogurt, and Cousin Michael eats my Chinese leavins. This is the dregs of a vacation.

Friday morning, 4 am, January 2: Abigail decides sleep is is meaningless, and chats cheerfully for the next two hours about the state of my eyelids, daddy’s snoring, Mickey Mouse and how much she likes the “magic” noise her stuffed bunny makes.

Friday, January 2, 9:30 am: Thank you, mom, for letting me sleep and for feeding the boys breakfast. Wave buh-bye to the noon departure plan, and usher in the 2:00 idea. Check the online weather and DOT traffic cams- our plan is coalescing; all systems go.

Friday, January 2, High Noon: I forgot to tell all the fam about the change in times, and people stop by to wave us off, only to find chaos, confusion and delay. Welcome to my life! Cousin Michael drives me to the market to pick up bribery food for the drive, while David backs the ‘Burb into mom’s driveway and begins the schlepping.

Friday, January 2, 2:00: Hot damn, we actually hit a target! The kids are wedged in, buckled down, and as long as no one moves, the colossal amount of stuff packed to the rafters should be fine. I’d feel like the Beverly Hillbillies, if we could tie a dog or small child on the luggage rack. Or maybe a rocking chair.

Friday, January 2, 2:08 pm: Hugs and kisses and tears. We are again a soverign nation unto ourselves.

Friday, January 2, 2:28 pm: Our first phone call to tell us what we forgot. My sneakers, and a double-secret recipe of Sourdough starter from my uncle. The starter originated in Alaska in 1975, and I’ve been begging some for years and years. He finally gave in, and I FORGOT IT. Mom will look into shipping live cultures. Crap.

Friday January 2, dinner time: Been on the road six+ hours, pull into Wendy’s for a potty break, some hot dinner, and to get the wiggles out. When we pull into the parking lot, it is empty. Looking back at Abby, I swing my door open, and BASH my heavy Suburban door into the car that pulled up while I was turned around. Awesome. Turns out the lady was mellow, and in a rush to get HER kids to the potty too. We end up talking and exchange road condition info, not insurance cards. Whew.

Friday, January 2, late: Been on the road around 8 hours. Kids are beginning to whine and are on their fourth or fifth movie, and it has begun to snow. The chain-checkpoint waves us through, despite our lack of chains (we have them- somewhere under all the packed crap in the back…) Tender Mercies. It doesn’t snow long, but road conditions are sketchy and snowy for many miles. So much for Interstate speed. Go to sleep, children. Please?

Friday, January 2, near midnight: Fog. Icy fog. Frozen fog. 160 MILES of fog. Oh yeah. The roads are clear and mostly dry, but the fog is causing me to screw my face into tight little knots of geeked-out stress. Fantastic. At 40 mph, we ought to be home next week!

Saturday, January 3, 1:30 am: Abby wakes and decides she is DONE being in her carseat, DONE being in the car, DONE with buckles and driving and roadnoise and car food. DONE.

Saturday, January 3, 2:00 am: The Beverly Hillbillies pull into a Holiday Inn Express somewhere in Oregon (Oregon is an odd place; I think it has middle-child syndrome) and at 2:10 am, fall into beds. Very, very awesome beds. Either I was too tired to care, or HIE has the most comfortable hotel beds ever. We all slept in our clothes. No one cared. I’m still waiting to feel smarter.

Saturday, Januray 3, 9:30 am: Commiting the Cardinal sin of waking sleeping children, we pile all the whiny, prickly, tired children back in the burb and bounce off down the road. But what’s a morning without a fight? DH and I are bickering, as I am now driving, and he keeps attempting to drive from the passenger seat. No matter how hard he stomps on his imaginary brake, it doesn’t work, but instead is a direct line to my Annoyance Button.

Saturday, January 3, various: Ooohing and aaaaa-ing at waterfalls, rivers and lakes that were unfrozen when we left, but are now frosty wonderlands of delight.

Saturday, January 3, 4:12 pm: David promises the boys they can do anything they want when we get home, only just be quiet a little while longer. Desperation sets in. The sun is setting, the roads are icy. We see two spin-offs. David’s brake still doesn’t work, and my Annoyance Button is set to Hair-Trigger. Vacation is FUN!

Saturday, January 3, 5:30 pm:  Have to use 4×4 powers of the super Suburban to breach the berm in our driveway. The Deacons (teen boys) at our church have shoveled our walkways and drive three times, but the snowplow left us the 4′ berm. Holy crap, the only place I have ever seen so much snow is in Tahoe while skiing. Unreal.

Saturday, January 3, 5:32 pm: We all sit in garage for a second… Home? oh, sweet, sweet home! Funneling from the car like ants in a poked anthill, the kids swarm the house. DH turns the water back on, the pipes are mercifully fine, the house is warm, and my mother-in-law has thought to bring over fresh milk, bread and bananas. Hallelujah, I don’t have to go to the store! I take back everything I ever said about her!

…wait a minute….? Nah.

Saturday, January 3, 6:00: We are all as far away from each other as possible in our house. DH is watching football while Abby is in the bath, I am fixing dinner, Jeffrey is in his room, and Bean is in the living room. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

Saturday, January 3, 6:01 pm. The phone rings, and it’s some lady from church who is annoyed and needy and starts in on me about things out of my control. I am not even unpacked yet. I don’t know where my toothbrush is, and I haven’t even fed my kids yet, and she wants me to answer complicated questions I cannot even process. I think I am rude to her, but I can’t remember exactly. I turn the phone off for the rest of the night. We don’t unpack more than the bathroom bag, and let the rest slide until morning.

Sunday, January 4, 8:15 am: I slept like a rock. Like a log. Like the dead. Like a mother who had been travelling in 12-square-feet of car with three little kids and a husband for two solid days. I slept goooooooood.

Sunday, January 4, 9:00 am. Oh yeah. We switched to early church January 1st. Ooops.

I have 161 emails, 17 messages on the machine and 2’ pile of mail. Oh, and my Christmas tree and decorations are still up. There were half-a-dozen packages waiting on the porch, and a ton of thank-yous to write…

So we’re home. Home really is the sweetest thing.

15 thoughts on “The Journey Home

  1. What a big stinking pile of fun! I’m glad you’re home and safe and you all lived to tell the tale. There’s just something blissful about sleeping in your own bed in your own home after a long trip. Welcome home!

  2. this sounds like every. freaking. vacation. i took when i was a kid. every one! except that when we visited my mom’s parents there was fighting between my mom and grandpa thrown in there too, and us leaving at 4 am because we ALWAYS left at 4 am, no matter where we were going.

    at least you survived. someday you’ll look back on it and…not laugh…but be thankful that you survived. and it’s over. 🙂

  3. I’m so SO glad you are home safe.
    I think you still enjoyed your vacation, minus the driving part, right?
    I wish you best of luck getting back into a groove, rhythm, and routine as I prepare to give mine up.
    Take it easy.
    Hope the kids cooperate.
    And uh, try to enjoy that snow (from INSIDE of course). I hope you continue to evade any property damage from it!

  4. ugh! family road trips! in snow! So glad you made it home safely. Isn’t it great when you get a chance to step outside your life long enough to realize that you actually do want to live in your life?

  5. I hear you. My vacation would have been 100% better if I had left 5 days earlier. I just hope I can forge a relationship with my sisters again (I will) and see my mom again someday without a raging need to pummel her into the ground. Um, did I just write that? Chalk it up to exhaustion, but man.

    I thought of you as I drove home from CA with my 3 children in tow and no husband or DVD player anywhere. The first hour was total fog. Freaked me out, but after that I was fine and I knew that at least I was going home to warmth.

    And yes, I slept once I got here. Took Saturday completely off, did nothing, made it very CLEAR I was doing nothing, hubby understood.

    Oregon is a weird place, I agree 100%.

    I will never stay in a hotel other than a HIE (they REALLY are better) or a Marriott ever again. We often stop on the way to and from UT and let me tell you, the HIE is so worth it.

  6. You are clearly a great writer when I want to read about your horrid road-trip. Reminds me of the reality of it because I had been pondering a road-trip to Utah next summer – From the East Coast! It also gave me feelings of normalcy to know that homicidal thoughts directed at your spouse is common place during such a road-trip.

    Glad you found things well at home and got some sleep.

  7. Sorry, I got a good laugh out of your pain, it was just to like out family “vacations” growing up, only there were like 10 of us in a big blue cargo van. Though now I’m feeling a little more sympathy for my poor mom.

  8. Yes! The beds at HIE are incredible! On our way to Arkansas we stopped there – it was the last hotel with a room left in town – and oh blessed miraculous softness! Squishy bed! Soft sheets! So nice.

    The only thing better as far as hotels? Springhill Suites, an offshoot of the Marriott. Never would have stayed there except we got a free weekend there. Nice!

    Glad you made it home alive 🙂

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