Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Very O'Hell Vacation

My Dad and "Bonus Mom" have a strong family tradition of having National Lampoon style vacations. Apparently this tradition goes back generations in my Dad's family. When my forefathers and mothers got off of the boat from Ireland, they took a look around Ellis Island, and my great-great-great-grandmother said to my great-great-great-grandfather, "Oh hell, I think I left the oven on in Dublin!"

For the sake of anonymity, this family will heretofore be referred to as the O'Hell family. Not to be confused with my mother's people, the McLates. That's another post.

We had a very O'Hell vacation.

It all started on Tuesday afternoon. I returned from visiting little Cameron and his parents, and when I arrived at the house, both kids were asleep. We were mostly packed, so I told BJ we should "git while the gittin's good" and hit the road. We threw the rest of the stuff in the car and hit the road. Claire didn't love this plan, though. She started crying before we left the driveway. "Shirley she'll go back to sleep when we get on the interstate!" we thought. That Shirley O'Hell gets us in trouble every single time. She didn't. We ended up having to stop before we even got to the Big City in the Middle. It did not bode well.

We persevered. Around 10 pm our friend Ben, who was housesitting for us, called and said that he was locked out of our house. We had locked the screen door to keep MG in, and had failed to unlock it in our haste to get on the road. The key he had fit the door behind the locked screen door. Nuts. So, we helped him break into our house. It's probably not a good idea for me to go into details on the 'net, but it was a process. It is a comfort to know that our house isn't easy to break into.

Once Ben got inside, he found that there was water on the floor in the hall. Apparently Culligan had capped something off incorrectly when they removed our expensive water softener by the month thingie, and it leaked under the wall and into the hall. Culligan came out at 11 pm to fix it. It was a long night for Ben, and this whole time we were on the road in the next state over thinking, "Should we go back??"

We drove until it wasn't safe to drive anymore, and made it to Pennsylvania, where we gave up and stopped for the night. We slept as fast as we could, and went to McDonald's the next morning for breakfast. There was a Playplace, and we thought it would be a good idea for MG to run off a little steam before we put her back in the car for 3 or 4 hours. Unfortunately, we let her drink her chocolate milk first and then play, and she yakked all over herself, the play place, and her Daddy.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that BJ had spilled his coffee, too, on the way to the table, so it was a two mop visit to Mickey Dee's. BJ said, "Let's get out of here before they run us out of town on a rail!"

Things started to settle down as we got closer to D.C. Thanks to the GPS, we made it to our hotel without incident. Our hotel was, in a word, funky.

D.C. is weird. The license plates say "Taxation without Representation." You'll be in a really nice neighborhood, and then you'll turn a corner and you're in a really not nice neighborhood. And, for a city where a lot of tourists go, they're really unused to seeing babies. Especially pretty babies like mine. Ha ha... We were fawned all over, mostly by 20-something women who appeared to be reluctantly putting their careers ahead of any plans for a family (judging by the power suits, the lack of wedding rings, and the over-enthusiasm for people in diapers that I observed).

When we got there, BJ went down to the conference to register, and the girls and I got settled in the hotel and took a nap. He returned, and we went off in search of dinner. We ended up at McCormick and Schmick's, which was extremely good. It kind of made Red Lobster look like Long John Silver's. I had the stuffed salmon (Oh. My. God.) and BJ had the Crab Étouffée. Even better than the food, though, was our waitress Jamie. She made us feel like guests in her home, and I told her so. It was a fantastic meal.

After dinner, we walked down to the White House, around the Old Executive Office Building, around the front of the White House, and up past the Treasury Building. Some guy was talking to the security guard (apparently he didn't know the difference between "tour guide" and "security guard"). He asked the guard, "Where does the president spend most of his time?" and I called, "Texas!" over my shoulder, but that was the closest I got to any sort of political statement. This is pretty good, considering my normal outspokenness and my politics.

Moving right along... The following day, Thursday, was BJ's conference, so he got up early and went to Arlington, while the girls and I headed to the National Zoo.

The zoo kicked my ass.

It's beautiful, and it's free which is just incredible. It's part of the Smithsonian (and I never knew what a national treasure the Smithsonian was until I saw all the museums, the zoo, etc. Wow. I could spend years there, trying to take it all in. Just incredible...). The zoo goes gradually downhill, though, so by the time you're good and tired, you've got to walk all the way back up again. And that's just about the right time for MG to decide that she's hungry, so I hauled ass up the hill, pushing MG and carrying Claire in the sling. It was about 100 degrees and SO humid. I thought I was going to die. At one point, a woman offered to help by pushing the stroller, but I said, "No thanks, it's the only thing holding me up right now."

I'm pretty sure I got heat exhaustion. I was sweating buckets. It was just gross. And the water in our hotel didn't get as cold as you'd hope when you're dying of heat exhaustion, which prevented me from taking a really cold shower when we got back. Looking back, that's probably good, because I would've probably cooled myself off too quickly and gotten sick. As it was, I just had a headache and was nauseated, but it went away once I got cool.

Now you're thinking, "Well, Shirley (there she is again!) she learned her lesson that day and didn't overdo it on Friday or Saturday!"

Yeah, right.

I'm going to have to do this in installments, though, because I've been writing this all day and I'm tired. I'll find the cord for the camera, too, so I can include pictures with the next installment.

For now, we're home safe and sound. I'm sure it will take me 6 months to get the girls back into our normal routine!

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