There’s nothing like getting out of your summer funk by piling all your funk into a car and hitting the open road. Of course, a car full of funk isn’t necessarily as fun as it sounds, but we’re planning on shedding our funk along the way.
I’m road tripping with my parents, Noah, Zack, and Darcey. Brad has Young Men’s Camp this week, and Ryan needed to stay home with him; plus, Ryan thinks this whole idea is nuts. He’s partially right about this. The plan may, in fact, be nuts. But we won’t know until it’s over.
My parents and my husband have very different ideas of what makes traveling fun. For my parents, a road trip is about enjoying the journey. They are laid back about schedules, ETA’s, rest stops and hotel rooms. They enjoy being together and, in this case, being with me and my kids. Ryan, on the other hand, finds the journey the torturous part that you have to get through in order to get to the fun part. Mostly that’s because he travels with four little kids and my parents have many traveling years with older kids. We aren’t comparing apples to apples.
I’m somewhere in the middle of these two theories – I grew up with my parents’ road trips for the first 18 years of life and have traveled with Ryan for the last 13. I want to like road trips more than I actually do, at least when traveling with small children is concerned. But I also don’t like my tendency towards ultra-scheduled vacations, either. So this trip is a trial run in some ways. If it works out well, I can confidently say that I’m in the flexible roadtripping category of travelers. If it works out poorly, I can try again in a few years. (I have too much of my upbringing in me to rule them out altogether.)
Day one of this trip had us driving from Orem, Utah to Reno, Nevada which is a good 500 miles of nothing. I had been warned that this section of road was a vast wilderness, but my dad had always wanted to go this way. He needed to check out the nothingness for himself. And yes, there was nothing, but there wasn’t any more nothing than the nothing from Orem to Las Vegas, say, or that big swath of land in the middle of America, all those states that are so full of nothing that I can’t remember which one is which. This country has plenty of nothing, let me just say. We could pick up several East Coast states and sprinkle the residents all over Nevada and still have room left over. So, yeah, there was just as much nothing as was promised during this part of the drive.
We stayed in a casino hotel in Reno, which is a conflicting issue for a Mormon like me. On the one hand, I’m not gambling, just sleeping there. But the people who were staring catatonically at the computer screens, pushing buttons like so many lab rats searching for cheese, those sad folks are the ones subsidizing my $50 a night room. I know some people view gambling as cheap entertainment, but the people there at 11:30p.m. on a Tuesday looked like they would have their Social Security checks direct deposited at the casino if they could. And then there’s my kids: we pulled up in front of the glass doors and they could not get over the gigantic “arcade.” But we have to sleep somewhere, right? It’s a quandary.
The only real problem we are having on the trip so far is this new thing that Darcey’s trying out. It’s a little trick she likes to call “ear-piercing shrieks at the top of her lungs for no apparent reason.” The first three displays of this little show had me (and my parents; they each took a turn) scrambling frantically to find the one thing that she wants so badly that will make her be quiet. After that, though, we are realizing that this is just her way of expressing just how boring a car ride can be. As my dad said, she’s saying what we’re all feeling. I hate the screaming for several reasons, the details of which would require a separate blog entry at the least, or several sessions with a therapist at most to fully understand. Suffice it to say that my ears aren’t the only part of me wanting the screaming to stop.
At one point my mom said, "I want to give her what she wants, I just wish I could understand her!" Zack piped up from the backseat and said, "I wish I could speak monkey." We all burst out laughing, which was just what I needed to remind me that this isn't life-altering screaming; it's just a whining two year old. Two-year-olds do this kind of thing all the time - it's not surprising and no one should take it personally (meaning me). Sure it's unpleasant, but it's survivable.
Tomorrow's agenda: Jelly Belly Factory tour in Fairfield, CA and then down to Salinas for the night.