Just over a week ago, the family and I drove to a coastal town north of Sydney for a bit of pre-Christmas R&R. A 5 hour car trip away.
'A fine idea' you might think. And yes, I was looking forward to it myself. I mean, I've always loved being on the open road. Eating snacks in the car. Playing music and singing along. Grabbing a bite to eat at a roadhouse (yep - even the dodgy ones). Stopping for a leg stretch and a cuppa. Sometimes stopping off to see a local sight. Yes siree. It's my kinda trip.
It stems from my childhood. Each year we'd take a 10-hour car trip north of Perth to a place called Monkey Mia (not far from Shark Bay). Back then, it was just a caravan park with a corner shop, and wild dolphins would come in to the shore and we would feed them and swim with them every day. It was a magical place. (It still exists, but not as just a caravan park, and the dolphins still visit, but touching them isn't allowed - to protect them.)
And the fun would always begin with the car trip there. I mean, yes - I'd eventually get bored and start asking my parents "Are we nearly there yet?" But I still loved it.
And so, whenever we get ready for a road trip in our family, like the one we took here to our holiday destination, I get excited. I can't wait to get in the car.
But here's the thing. My memory of past road trips taken with the kids, is similar to that of my memory regarding their births. I remember mostly the good bits. And the not so good bits? Almost forgotten.
Car trips with the kids is not: quickly pack a bag, throw it in the car and go. Oh, no. We have to negotiate just how much the kids can take first. "No," I will say more than once, "You can't take that. It just won't fit in the car." Then fitting it all in the car, and getting the kids in to the car presents the next challenge. If we can leave within 30 minutes of announcing: "Ok. We're ready to go!" we're doing well.
And in this particular case, we had to wait for Hubby too. Our plan on Sunday (when we left) was to depart at 9.30am. Hubby just wanted to mulch the garden first. (Of course. Ahem.) It was, ah, after 1.30pm when we finally hit the road.
Finally, we were in the car. Waving goodbye to my MIL, the dog standing beside her, off we went. We were a mere 1km (if that) down the road, when Hubby pulled in to the local petrol station. I felt slightly deflated. My mind and body was in travelling mode. And suddenly...it had come to a stand still. We filled up with petrol, washed the windows and checked the tyres. I smiled a big, cheezy grin at Hubby as he washed my window, and as tense and sore as he was feeling after all his mulching duties, he couldn't help but crack a smile. I had the boys do the same to him. The fun had begun.
I found the Hi-5 Christmas CD, and popped it on. "Oh, no. Hi-5!" moaned the 7yr old. But the 5yr old couldn't help but smile and the 2yr old started bopping. When Hubby jumped back in to the car, and on hearing the music and noticing my grin, rolled his eyes, and once again, we were off. Another 1km down the road, singing along with Nathan, Tim, Kathleen, Charlie and...oh, nup - it's gone (there goes that memory again) - I suddenly recalled something. "Did you pack the kids' bike helmets?" I asked Hubby. "Nope," he replied. And so, we turned around and headed back home again. *Sigh*
By the time we got back on the road, it was 2pm. The time we had hoped to be checking-in to our apartment by. Tsk.
This time, Hubby set up the GPS (if you read my post here, you'll have a good idea about how I feel on that one), and as we approached the end of our street, and the GPS lady asked us to turn left, Hubby repeated it for good measure. "Turn left," he said. It took all my strength not to reply, "Really? Do I really go left, heading north, because we're, like, going north on our holiday? Are you SURE?!"
The 2yr old started asking the same two questions over and over again during the 5 hours we were on the road (apart from when he slept that whole 45 minutes during part of the trip), being: a) "Where are we going?" and b) "Where's Granny?" (To which I would then explain she was minding the dog, because he couldn't come with us.) (The dog couldn't come; not only because we were staying in an apartment, but quite frankly, there was no room in the car. Every inch of the car was filled with...well, crap, quite frankly. Which was great news for us. We got to move the crap from one location, and relocate it to another. So we'd feel right at home. *Sigh*)
Ten minutes in to the car trip, the GPS lady was starting to annoy me. Her condescending tone was grating on my nerves. Here's what she said, and what I thought:
GPS lady: In 200 metres, take the third exit.
Me: Why don't you take a hike?
GPS lady: Take the third exit now.
Me: You know what lady? You're pushy. And opinionated. Why don't you get a real job? Like, on an Operator switch board or something? Harrumph!
But apart from a near miss at a stop off at MacDonald's when we almost forgot the bikes on the top of the car, but remembered just in time before we made our way through drive-thru (phew!); and the fact that by the time we got to our destination, had some dinner and settled the boys who were unable to sleep because they were overly excited about being in our holiday apartment, we made it here in one piece; nerves intact.
And tomorrow we make our return trip. I'll be armed with snacks, Nintendo DS', a portable DVD player and good old Hi-5 doing Christmas on the CD player, and hopefully (fingers crossed) we'll make our way home without too much fuss and bother.
After all, the trip here wasn't too bad. Not too bad at all.
Until next time...