Thursday, September 11, 2008

PEI Post Mortem: Walk Through the Fire

Before I talk about PEI, I feel that I must somehow acknowledge the unspoken: The Dreaded Roadtrip. You know, it wasn't all that bad. In fact, it was much better than I thought it would be. Except when it was horrible. I thought that the kids did pretty well, considering that it is a long trip. And the Little Guy was cutting two new teeth. And the A/C in the car was on the fritz.

We started out on Sunday shortly after noon because my dad was filling in for a vacationing minister that morning. We had to pack in a downpour, but we got off pretty much on time. The kids napped. We stopped at a service centre to breastfeed in a parking lot (Hi random parking lot dwellers! Did you enjoy the show?), and to get coffee at the slowest Tim Hortons on the planet. I love me some Timmies, but hot damn some of the people working the counter need a shot of speed. The woman in line in front of me was rocking back and forth on her feet the entire time, and not only did it make me seasick but she kept bumping into me. She's lucky I don't have connections with the mob.

After the pit stop, my mom took a turn in the backseat and we drove until dinner. My parents had the foresight to pack a picnic dinner, so we just pulled over at a Welcome Centre to eat, and the Boy could run around. Then my dad dropped the bomb. He wanted to get to Drummondville in order to avoid the early morning Montreal traffic. It was 6:30pm and it was at least an hour an a half away. We start bedtime around 7pm in our house, and while the Boy could possibly stay up later, the baby needed to feed by 7:30pm and would be screaming for bed not much later. I tried to explain this, but no luck. I understand why he wanted to do it, but still! We got to Drummondville shortly after 8pm without too much fuss thanks to the novelty of the portable DVD player, but then all hell broke loose. By the time we checked in and got set up, it was 9pm before I got to feed the baby and he screamed so much that he threw up. (He did sleep for the first night ever without swaddling, though, so...small blessings...silver linings...blah, blah).

The Boy was up at 5:30am the next day, and we played with cars (not so) quietly till the Little Guy woke up. My dad, in a misguided attempt to find the perfect stopping place for the late morning feed, ended up stranding us roadside while I fed the baby (Hi random people on the Transcanada Highway! Did you enjoy the show?). The car shook every time someone rocketed past and the Boy and my parents did a bush pit stop and blew Dora bubbles. I had to hit the bush too, and I went so far back from the road that I'm pretty sure I peed in someone's front yard. Yay me!

The naps were sketchy throughout the day, and the Little Guy ended taking a quickie nap at 5:30pm, so we pushed on to Moncton and I waved a sad hello-goodbye to Mad from the car on the way by. Of course, we had no hotel booked in Moncton and it must have been a rockin' town because no rooms were available in any of the regular places. We had to book a room in the posh new Hampton Suites. The Boy stayed in my parents' room and the Little Guy and I had the place to ourselves. Since he was asleep, I couldn't watch the fancy new flatscreen tv, and ended up reading my book in the bathroom and texting Mr Earth. I'm SO glamourous.

The next morning we took our time getting going because we didn't have far to go. Of course, the Boy was up at 5:30am and so both he and the Little Guy were sound asleep when we went across the Confederation Bridge. I've never been so glad to see the end of a road trip in my life.

By the time we drove back from PEI, though, I really thought we had found our travelling legs. The Boy understood that "quiet time" was necessary so that the Little Guy could sleep. The Little Guy stopped balking and screaming every time we put him in the carseat. We were able to convince the Boy that he didn't have to be entertained every single minute of the trip, and that he could, in fact, look out the window and see the sights and be just as entertained. We had a lovely picnic dinner with a fantastic view of a lake near Rivière-du-Loup. We picked a hotel at random from the CAA Guide and it ended up being a lovely waterfront motel. And even though I have huge motel issues, I managed to have a great time. We had our set up and take down running like clockwork. Breastfeeding stops were quick and easy (Hi honking truck drivers! I KNOW you enjoyed the show!)

And even when the car wouldn't start after we stopped at a random service centre in St-Apollinaire Quebec, we managed to take it in stride. (Our attempts to run the A/C had sucked the life out of the battery. Thank goodness we weren't on the road. We got a jump from CAA and then saw an "air climatique" specialist who said we could make it to Toronto, but we could not use the A/C. My years of french immersion were worth the time and money for this event alone.) Of course, we got stuck in Montreal traffic, in 32 degree Celsius heat with no A/C and that kind of sapped the will to live, but we still made it.

It's hard to explain, and it seems kind of extreme, but I feel like the road trip changed me. It was a lesson I needed desperately to learn: the trip is part of the journey. I wasn't sure I could handle it. I didn't handle it well sometimes. I had a few freakouts. The baby screamed. The Boy learned how to make the most annoying sound in the world. But we survived. And we are better for it. It didn't kill us, it made us stronger. But for the next little while, I think I'll walk. Thank you very much.

Hey, it's Thursday and I'm doing a road trip round-up over at Playdate - talking about the toys, books and gear that worked for us on the road. Please stop by and say hello! And, if you have suggestions for other great road trip booty, please let me know. Who knows? I may brave the car again someday.


crazymumma said...

'The trip is part of the journey.'

I love that! No I fucking love that.

I swear too much. Welcome back!

bren j. said...

The Boy looks so big in those pictures! So grown up. I'm glad you had a good trip. It sounds like even the bad parts are laughable now - at least to some degree....sitting in traffic with no a/c in 32 degree weather is NEVER laughable.

Beck said...

You are brave people, travelling so far with those handsome little men.

motherbumper said...

Montreal with no A/C is hell en francais. Oh wait, excusez-moi, l'enfer en francais (bill 101 approved).

ANYHOW - you are a brave brave woman and I love you even more now that you have possibly peed in a stranger's front yard - in the presence of your children ;)

Mac and Cheese said...

I understand what you mean when you say that the road trip changed you. Embarking on it in the first place is no small feat. Knowing now that you can pull it off puts you in a whole new catagory of parenting.

Tracey said...

Road trips are an EVENT. They require a certain frame of mind, especially without another adult to take the wheel and children turns...

kgirl said...

This, and your playdate post, are exactly what I need -- in two weeks we embark for Florida, and you have made me actually look forward to it!