Tuesday, June 30, 2009

C'mon Barbie Let's Go Potty (a somewhat true story)

My maternal ancestors came to the United States on the Mayflower (seriously - me and most other people, actually... It's not that uncommon). In the late 1700s the patriarch, who was probably named Jedediah or Ezekiel or something (actual names from my geneology - Freelove and Prentice Eagles, but I digress), decided to load up a Conestoga wagon and head west to seek his fortune.

And now I know why Jedediah and clan didn't get farther than Iowa - he had kids.

We loaded up the family truckster on Monday and drove from northern Indiana to Huntsville. A trip that should have taken approximately 7 hours.

Ha. Hahahahaha.

In our modern day Conestoga wagon we had the following gear:
  • Two laptops
  • Two smartphones
  • Two Amazon Kindles (we don't share well)
  • One GPS (thanks to Pierre!)
  • One in-ceiling DVD player
  • Three iPods (his, mine, and kids!)
  • One iPod speaker
  • One digital camera
  • Assorted cables, chargers, and other gear
I am not kidding or being at all facetious when I tell you that we had more computing power on board our Conestoga minivan than they have on the Space Shuttle.

We hadn't been in the car ten minutes, we weren't even out of our own town, when the kids got bored. Let me tell you something, though, something important. You have not lived until you've heard a 3 year old sing along with music on headphones. Oh my God it was funny. I put Barbie Girl on her iPod because she loves Barbies, but she doesn't know the lyrics. We laughed ourselves silly listening to her sing, "C'mon Barbie, let's go potty!" (it's supposed to be party).

One of the most awesome features of my van is the in-ceiling DVD thing. I resisted, at first, but I am so glad we have a DVD player. They may not see anything when we travel, but as I recently read in Reader's Digest, the interstate highway system has ensured that you can drive from coast to coast in this country without seeing anything. Personally, I think kids looking out windows is highly overrated. So, we had the kids watching their movies in the back, and we were listening to music or talk radio in the front, and everyone was happy...

Until we got to Kentucky.

Back to Jedediah, though, what in the hell did he do for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks on the trip between Massachusettes and Iowa? What did his kids do? They did not have on-board DVDs or GPS or iPods. I tell you, we never would've made it. I think that we'd find, if we studied it, that most children walked behind the wagon to the west. If it had been me and my kids? They would've walked WAAAAAAY behind the wagon. Like, in Massachusettes. Can you imagine how many times you'd hear "Are we there yet?" if you were on the Oregon Trail? Losing a kid to a bear here and there is the price that parents paid to not have to listen to them bitch for 1000 miles. "I'm thirsty. I'm hot. I want a snack. Are we there yet? She's touching me. She's touching meeeee. That's mine! Are we there yet?" Yeah, suddenly bears are looking like my best friends.

Thank God for technology.

In Kentucky, they were doing construction on a bridge, and there was an accident on top of that, so the traffic was backed up for miles and miles and miles. It added over two hours to our trip. I finally got bored with sitting on the freeway, so we turned around and tried to take a state highway. That was backed up, too, with all the other people who had given up on the freeway. Eventually I got tired of sitting in that, too, so we went seriously off the map.

The thing about Indiana is that everything is pretty much on a big grid. If you go west you'll eventually find another highway that's going south.

You know what? You can't count on that logic in the mountains.

At least Jedediah never got stuck in wagon gridlock. He may have broken an axle or a wheel here and there, and he didn't have an iPod, but by golly, if he wanted to go south, he went south, and if there was something in his way, he could just go around it.

We wound around a mountain, and eventually ended up on the same highway we'd been on before, but about 5 miles south of where we'd been. Things were moving by that point, so we gassed up, got some snacks, and got back on the freeway. I have never been so glad to see a four lane, 70 mph freeway in my life.

We kept the kids happy by promising them that they could swim when we arrived at the hotel. Because of the extra time, I was really worried that the pool at the hotel would be closed by the time we arrived. Fortunately, we made it in time and were able to take a quick dip before bed. Do you think that Jedediah promised the kids a dip in the Mississippi if they made it by nightfall? Maybe he didn't know the names of the rivers beyond there, because he didn't get much farther...

"Daaaad! I'm not going to South Dakota! There's no swimmin'!"

"All right, fine, we'll stay here in Cedar Rapids! At least there's a river..."

Today we went to the NASA museum, where they host Space Camp. The kids enjoyed that, but it was a lot of walking around outside in 90 degree heat. We spent the morning looking at "Daddy's rockets," then we went to a drive-thru "safari" this afternoon.

We learned that Claire does not like emus.

They tell you it's ok to let the kids out of the car seats (you're only going 2 mph!), and that it's ok to let your windows down about 8 inches. What they don't tell you is that all the animals have been fed from car windows so many times in their lives, that if they hear you roll down a window, they'll come right up and help themselves. Claire was sitting in the front passenger seat when a really large emu came up to meet her. I've never seen her move so fast. "Big scare-y bird! I don't like it, Mommy! Bird scared me!"

I'm a bad Mommy - I was taking pictures while she was scrambling to get away from the emu.

I think Jedediah would've done the same thing, if he'd had a digital camera.

Hey, at least it wasn't a bear.


Debbie said...

Hey! Here you are in my state - how cool. I follow your blog, but don't comment. I almost did at Christmas time to tell you that I really think I saw your limo in downtown Chicago that night. Really - no kidding. I was there with my kids. Anyway, if you are coming to the west coast (Tampa area) let me know.

Rachel said...

Great post, I really enjoyed it! Very funny and love the comparisons, very clever.

di said...

Man, long way to go with 2 little kids. You guys are brave AND you made it. Like you said, 'how did our ancestors do it?' (Love your wit),