August 5, 2009

Family Vacation Reality Check

Back in the day, when my kids were brand new and I was still in that “Wow, I’m a father, I’m totally going to make a difference in my kids life” stage of fatherhood (rather than the current, “Let’s just not fuck this up too bad” stage), I envisioned great quality time with my kids. I envisioned idyllic Christmas scenes, playing catch in the back yard and long, wonderful family road trips that bonded us together in a way that wasn’t as creepy as it sounds. (Kinda like Clark Griswold only with a better car and less Christie Brinkley.)

We would take these long road trips, stopping off at places of historical interests, like the California missions, Hearst Castle or that rest stop on I-5 just outside of Buttonwillow. These trips would include captivating games of “I spy” and searching for letters of the Alphabet on road signs. We would sing “She’s Coming Around The Mountain” over and over again and we’d eat healthy snacks in between healthy meals at sit-down restaurants and at the end of the trip we’d all sit around and laugh about the great times we’d had together as a family.

But then, I stopped smoking all that crack and reality came crashing down on me like a ton of Paula Abduls. This past weekend, for example, we did take a road trip. We drove 487 miles to visit dear old Grandmother and this is how it went down…

8:35 a.m. We leave to gas up, eat at the local Panera and head off on our trip.
9:25 a.m. Return to the house to get forgotten items, including small toilet seat for the kids and High School Reunion Parking pass for me.
9:40 a.m. Backing out of the driveway TheMonk asks for the first time, “Are we there yet?” This might be some sort of record.
11:10 a.m. DVD player in back no longer works. I cry a little inside. TheMonk cries a little outside.
11:25 a.m. Come to a screeching halt outside of the Hell Hole otherwise known as L.A.
12:35 p.m. Finally get through L.A. traffic and start thinking of food. Wife feeds kids cookies to buy us more time.
1:40 p.m. Settle on McDonalds that is attached to a mini-mart. Due to long line for women’s restroom, I take both TheMonk, then Swee’Pea, then TheMonk again to the bathroom. The sign says “Free Mocha Mondays” but the man tells me they are out of mochas. I consider stabbing him with a petrified french fry but think better of it. On a similar note, petrified McDonald’s french fries that have been sitting under a warmer for quite some time should not be consumed.
2:20 p.m. Back on the road. I attempt to distract kids from long drive by asking them to count trucks. I assign red trucks to Monk and Blue trucks to Swee’Pea. This is a mistake as Swee’Pea wants to count Red Trucks too. I am seeing red but it isn’t from trucks.
2:30 p.m. I am asked for the 4,597th time, “Are we there yet?”
2:31 p.m. I am asked for the 4,598th time, “Are we there yet?”
2:45 p.m. The gods smile upon me as the kids fall asleep. Although I swear TheMonk asks me if we’re there yet in his sleep.
3:45 p.m. Awakened kids are treated to ice cream at the most run-down, dirty, Foster’s Freeze restaurant on the planet.
4:30 p.m. Swee’Pea tries a variant of the old “Are we there yet?” by whining aloud, “Is it going to take a long time?” I answer, “Yes. Yes it is!”
5:00 p.m. I am driving that car faster than I should but all I want is for that road to get behind me. TheMonk notices and says, “Daddy’s car can go fast!”
6:00 p.m. We are close. The coastal fog has rolled in and Swee’Pea is genuinely concerned that it is going to rain. Also, she asks, “Are we there yet?”
6:30 p.m. We arrive in my home town. We drive down Hwy 1 towards my mother’s house. The entire way they ask “Are we almost there?!” They also remark about how many trees there are. Note to self: Get the kids out of the suburbs more.
6:40 p.m. We arrive at Grandmother’s door. TheMonk tells his “knock knock” joke. (Knock Knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you gonna give me a smooch?!) And she does.

Only 85 hours til we do it again! Woo Hoo! (Are we there yet?)


  1. I would have stabbed the McDonald’s guy, but I get cranky when I don’t have my caffeine so it’s totally justifiable.

    Comment by Chicky Chicky Baby — August 6, 2009 @ 6:48 am

  2. You better buy a new DVD player for the trip home. :)

    Comment by Kate — August 6, 2009 @ 8:11 am

  3. HA! I was going to say the exact same thing as Kate. Good luck on the return trip.

    Comment by cindy w — August 6, 2009 @ 8:43 am

  4. E-gads! The DVD player stopped working? Sorry to hear that the trip up was filled with “not so pleasant” moments. Hopefully the drive home will be better.

    Comment by Grace — August 6, 2009 @ 9:06 am

  5. Have a safe trip back. Hopefully you can find some better fast food on the way.

    And thanks – I was trying to put this stuff out of my mind. I’ve gotta a road trip with the kidlets and grandma to San Diego later this month. If you see a minivan in flames on the highway, it’s probably me. Just keep driving. It’s probably for the best.

    Comment by Nancy — August 6, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  6. Vacations with kids are not vacations. They’re hellations.

    Comment by Hyla — August 6, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

  7. And now you know why Ii bought my children their own ipods a few years ago. Because DVD players always fail, but you can charge ipods in the car. Yep, I have the smart.

    So um, are we there yet?

    Comment by Issa — August 6, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

  8. I totally would have stabbed the McDonald’s guy. And then asked for a rain check so I could have the free mocha on the way home. I’m glad you made it in one piece. Good luck getting home again. Ben@dryl can be your friend. (oh, did I just say that aloud? Sorry.)

    Comment by MommyTime — August 6, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

  9. I am only twitching slightly over here. I FEEL your pain. Hope the trip home has a working dvd player and some new toys from gram-nummah.

    Comment by tracey — August 6, 2009 @ 10:27 pm

  10. you gotta keep them up real late the night before so they sleep the whole ride. Then they can unload all that new energy on Gramma. wheeeeeeee

    Comment by melissa — August 7, 2009 @ 7:07 am

  11. I did my part; I broke THE routine; we had ice cream for lunch, we bought cute shoes, we expressed ourselves artistically, we meandered down Pacific Garden Mall and took in the colorful characters: The Abbott Family playing Blue Grass in their bare feet; the man in the wheel chair with his cat in a makeshift bed attached to the chair and a mouse in a cage; they did miss out on seeing the Great Morgani playing the accordion in wonderful costumes, The Umbrella Man inching along the street dressed in Pink from head to toe complete with pink boa and lastly the Balloon master, I suspect they were engaged elsewhere, next time.

    Some people come to Santa Cruz for the Boardwalk and the sun and surf. We locals love our weirdos, even the young woman who is new to the local weird scene and is being touted as Sara Palin’s VP running mate.

    Comment by Grandmother — August 7, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

  12. well, as long as u are having the ride of ur life while on the way…what matters is u have reached ur destination safely

    Comment by heart — August 8, 2009 @ 10:43 am

  13. I’m sorry…there is no better vehicle that the wagon queen family truckster. You would be lucky to drive a car as sweet as the Griswolds!

    Comment by ali — August 8, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

  14. I’m chuckling over here, but I’m going to do it quietly because I still want you to talk to me.

    Comment by Maura ~ @MoBurns67 — August 10, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

  15. I love it! We are on vacation right now, and I’m going to liveblog the events of today. So far, it’s only 8:45am, and I’ve got about 12 lines written…

    When we left for our trip, we were literally 2 miles from our house, when we stopped at a light and my 3 year old asked, “Are we there yet?”. My husband and I just looked at each other in horror.

    Comment by Kari — August 11, 2009 @ 8:47 am

  16. On our last road trip we didn’t even make it to the interstate when Renee declared she needed to go potty. Then, 15 minutes later she was throwing up from motion sickness. So.. 30 minutes into our 7 hour drive they began the “are we there yet”. I’ve never been so thankful for a portable DVD player.

    Comment by Natalie — August 19, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

  17. Here are some tips for planning family vacations, enjoy

    Comment by Scott — August 31, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

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