Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Highs and Lows - Road trip to the beach

Medman had a conference near Orlando.  He approached me a couple months ago to see if I wanted to make a family vacation out of it.  We scampered to the computer and googled the drive time.

Twenty hours.

Each way.

We've been married a long time. I don't even think I said what immediately sprang to mind at the thought of 40 hours in the car with two little kids and a nursing baby. He just said in a resigned sort of way, "Well, it would be more fun for me if you came."

Medman is the luckiest man on earth.  Do you know he won $60 in about five minutes playing WAR at a casino in Las Vegas?  War.  You know, I flip a card, you flip a card, highest wins?   Yeah, he's lucky.

And he's lucky because it turned out that we did go to Florida with him.  All of us in the car.  Three days down.  Four days there.  Three days back.

So here's snapshots of the trip in Highs and Lows form:


Honestly, the trip was a lot of fun.  Even though at first you might not think it sounds fun to take very young children and a nursing baby on an long road trip. 

Belle and Dalton seem to like long road trips.  I'm developing a theory on the effect eye contact has on whining and fighting.  When positioned next to each other, both facing forward, they don't fight, they barely whine, they just sort of sit there and chatter.  Dalton chatters about cars.  Belle chatters about heaven knows what.  That girl is a bit odd.  But it is in a funny way.  She kept us laughing.
See how crammed in they are?  They almost can't  look at each other.

Liam was the one I was worried about, but he did great.  It helps that he's semi-mute.  I think he may be training to be a ninja.  He would often sit quietly and stare happily at Dalton 'til he fell asleep, then sleep, then wake up silently and stare happily at Dalton 'til one of the kids noticed.  I think he wishes he could have silently dropped from a rope in the ceiling to peer secretively at what the big kids were doing.  Except then he'd probably do the little chortle that he does when he's excited and give himself away.  Little cheerful ninja. 

I saw an alligator.  This is only a high because I saw it from the car moving at highway speed.  But it was clear as day, lurking in a little lake by the road.  Alligators are very good lurkers.  Did you know there's a $1000 find for feeding alligators in Florida?  I understand this is to protect the other Floridians, not just the idiot who fed it.  But I do think anyone dumb enough to feed an alligator deserves to have a hungry alligator following them around nosing in their pockets for more. 

I saw a unicorn.  Again from a fast moving car somewhere in Tennessee.  The farther south we drove, the farther we got into spring.  By Tennessee the woods were just starting to burst with that unearthly green of early spring.  (Unearthly? What planet should have that color green?) And a bit back into one of these emerald woods stood a perfectly white horse.  It was so picturesque that I told Medman about it immediately.  There's no way he was mocking my enthusiasm for seeing "a white horse in the trees!" when he said dryly, "It was probably a unicorn."  OF COURSE IT WAS!  And I do realize how lucky I am to have seen the elusive Tennessee unicorn.  I kept my eye out for more the rest of the trip, but that was just greedy. 

The Beach.  We got to go to the beach two times.
 Trip #1
  • Parked at a meter that after putting all our change into gave us 20 minutes of beach time. OK, twenty minutesSo we left our junk in the car and went to play in the waves.
  • Medman took Dalton into the waves. Dalton quickly decided that they were intimidating  and he started wanting to go back to the car. Medman began the herculean task of convincing a skittish boy that the ocean was actually fun. I'm not sure it worked right then, but something must have clicked because from then until we went again he was excited about the ocean.
  • And Belle? Well, she decided that she didn't like to touch the sand with her feet. No problem there. How much contact do feet have with the sand at the beach, really? Knuckle head. So I stood there in the tiny waves with Belle and Liam while Medman waded out into the deeper waves with Dalton.  
  • It's been a long time since we've been at the ocean.  So even though the kids we a bit unsure of it at first, it was fun.  The weather was warm, the water was much warmer than we were thinking it would be. And we immediately planned when we could go back.
  • was a full day at the beach.   It involved the proper equipment - giant umbrella, chairs to keep sand-eating babies elevated, etc.  There were turns taking older kids into the water, gorgeous weather, kids who decided that the waves were actually very fun and that sand in your toes is not really that bad, ("Daddy!  I walked in the sand all by myself!  And it didn't hurt me!!!")
  • It was lovely.  I have to agree with Dalton's first impression that the ocean is intimidating.  So huge and powerful, even when you just dip your feet in the very edge of it.  But it also gives you such a good feeling of being alive and being part of some great big planet where parents have taken their children for years upon years and lifted them up over the biggest waves.

The house we rented rocked.  4 bedrooms, 3 baths, private screened in pool and playground across the street.  How lovely to have everyone spread out to sleep.  You families with the family bed, I have no idea how you do it.  You have amazing powers of sleep that I do not have. 

Old Friends: We got to see some old friends of ours, Lisa and Toby.  They're friends from our first two years of medical school and it was great to reconnect with them now that this whole medical school/residency marathon is almost over.  And Toby deserves a medal because we met them at a Red Lobster and while we talked he became a human jungle gym for my kids who decided that they loved him.  Well, first Belle decided he was terrifying, but then suddenly she loved him.  And told him so.  (She also regularly tells checkout people she loves them.  This morning she said it to a dead spider.  Sorry to cheapen her declaration, Toby.)


There was really only one low, and it turned into a high.  Somewhere in Tennessee on the way down there, we hit a pothole bigger than...than...than our car.  I'm surprised we made it through in one piece.  Well, technically we didn't because the car started shaking a bit, then shuddering, then wiggling and by Florida it could definitely be called jerking.  With every revolution of the tire.  We wiggled and jiggled our way through most of northern Florida.

Since it needed to be dealt with and we had no tools we found a nearby mechanic that had gotten good reviews and he was able to get our car in immediately.  On my birthday.  I was afraid that this was going to be the most expensive birthday every. 

It took him 20 minutes to diagnose our separated tire (and here I thought tires were together for life), remove it, put on the spare.

And the High?  Besides getting us in right away, he only charged us TWENTY DOLLARS.  I wasn't there.  I told Medman to kiss them all for me.  Come to think of it, I don't know if he did.  He should have, though.

So that was our trip.  We all survived and really did have fun.

And when asked what they liked best, both kids answered immediately "the play area in McDonald's!" But with a tiny reminder that we had also visited the beach, they both recanted and declared that the ocean was way better than McDonald's.


  1. I would love to have a pool. Well, it would be a pool for 3 months of the year and the rest would be a very expensive ice rink thanks to our stupid weather. I'm glad to hear that you got your own pool while there!
    And what the heck? $20 for your car fix? Did you get his name so that you can send him flowers every year on your birthday?!

  2. Man, what a great week you had. You're a brave woman though! Here I am, worried about making a 10 hour drive to St Louis in November with a 9 and 7 year old, a 27 month old and a 1 month old. Eek.

    Love ya!

  3. Oh, I love road trips. I have just the best memories of them, in the same way that you have such lovely memories of trip #1 to the beach. They are perfect in their bizarre way.

    And you are SO lucky to have seen that unicorn! Some day I'll see one too, I know it.

  4. Janice, I was looking for your detergent recipe and of course I had to read through your posts and look at the beautiful photos of your kids! Dalton looks sooo much older than when we last saw him (and of course Belle does too ;) ) I think we will be doing the 20 hour drive to Florida this fall (Alex's mom moved there this winter) - Alex is scared. I hope you are all doing well! Emily Smith


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