Friday, October 10, 2008

The long drive home.

Amazingly enough, I was able to get pretty much everything done on Tuesday that really needed to get done.

I had all the dishes done by 5pm, and made an executive call. I would not be getting another thing dirty in my kitchen before the trip, therefore, we were going OUT for supper.

So off to the sushi place we went, the kids just pumped because they were getting sushi, and it wasn't a Special Friday Night with Dad, or a Wednesday Lunch with Mom. (um, yeah, maybe we go out a little bit too much for meals. I'll have to rein us in a bit). We were in and out in under an hour, full to the gills with sushi, and ready to go.

It was a hot muggy day, and I'd been running around, and I knew the kids had been running, too, so after hitting the grocery store (for last minute things that I knew the Irish Cousins would enjoy, and that the Ontario Niece had requested) we hit the house around 7pm. I was so proud of myself, I didn't even turn on the TV. It was just business, business, business. The kids went into the tub sequentially, and were all squeaky clean for the trip. Of course, all three of them ended up having spectacular Bed Head the next morning, but we were on the road, so who really cared?

I had all three kids in bed before 9, and that was even with Skip helping me pack the van. I had a nice luxurious shower, and then decided, after phoning Ken, and calling my dad, too, that I could watch just a LITTLE bit of tv before I packed it in, too. I had a few more loads of laundry to do, so I thought I'd kill 2 birds with one stone.

So I turned on the TV and watched the NCIS that I'd recorded. Oh, Mark Harmon, what an insipid and overtly telegraphing episode you directed. I really wanted better from you, but maybe it's for the best that it was a forgettable episode that I watched as the last load of laundry finished, before I headed off to bed before 10pm.

I usually sleep for crap on the night before a trip. I'm worried that I will sleep through the alarm, or that I'll wake up and not have a clue what it is that I'm supposed to do when the alarm goes off at 3:45. But I was in luck on Wednesday morning. I awoke to complete and absolute wakefulness at 3:03am. I guess that's what getting to bed at a reasonable hour will do. But instead of drifting back to sleep under my warm covers, I popped out of bed and decided that getting a bit of a head start was a grand idea.

The kids were a great help, and we were out the door by 3:30am. A full half hour before we usually hit the road. I imagine that we'd have gotten off to an even better start had I not realized, 3 blocks from home, that I'd left my camera batteries on the charger in the kitchen. But even with that U-turn and retracing of the steps, we were still gone by 3:39am.

I only had to drive like Steve McQueen twice.

First, as we were pulling out onto the freeway at 3:43am, I had my first real scare, and I hadn't even popped open my first Starbucks Doubleshot. I was coming around the full-circle on-ramp, only to discover that someone had lost a volkswagen-sized pile of cargo RIGHT in the middle of the onramp. I was able to swerve around, and the adrenaline rush stood me in great stead almost all the way into San Francisco. I didn't even pop the first Doubleshot until I was past the Ikea on the 80, and heading east, 30 minutes later.

(My worries about fog were unfounded. It was clear as a bell that early morning. Cold, but clear. Not a speck of fog until the sun was coming up, and then it was really just morning mist. Nothing like the pea-soup that I'd driven through on Tuesday morning while taking the kids to school.)

The second bit of Steve McQueen driving was much later in the day, when a 5-gallon white bucket suddenly decided to roll around on the shoulder, and rolled into my lane in rush hour traffic just north of Portland.

I was so proud of my kids on the trip, though. They got in the car, curled up into little balls, and proceeded to sleep for the first 4 hours of the trip. I didn't have to stop until nearly 8am, at some little pull-off Safeway-with-a-Starbucks. I loved having 240 miles of interruption-free driving under my belt by sunrise.

Oregon just goes on and on and ON, though. I crossed the border into Oregon at 9am, and just couldn't stop enough times to make it bearable. There was a gas stop, then there was a lunch stop, then there was a rest-area stop, then there was ANOTHER rest area stop, and then there was gas again, just before Portland (and RUSH HOUR! Wheeee!) And then I started to flag, which was really depressing, because I knew I still had ONE MORE STATE to drive through before I could be done, and Oregon had taken a soul-crushingly long 6 hours.

But then I hit Washington, and I didn't feel the need to stop any more. The kids swung back into a routine of watching movies and watching the road, and whining "are we there yet?", and I entered my Zen State of driving with one eye open, so the other one could rest.

Yeah, that's safe.

Fortunately, J-jumping came to the rescue with a phone call.

Oh wait. I called her.

Yeah. I was a little punchy. For the sake of this story, let's assume her eldest son (aged 14.5) is named Charles Jones. So I phone, and (because I can never tell if it's J-jumping answering the phone, or her 17 year old daughter who SOUNDS JUST LIKE HER), when the phone is answered, I giggle into the phone, and say "tee hee, is this Charlie Jones' mother? tee tee tee hee heh hee" Well, I immediately knew that it was NOT J-jumping answering the phone when the voice on the other end audibly sighed and said "Um, DUH, no, this is NOT his mother. This is his *sister*. I'll go get his mother..." I swear, you could HEAR her rolling her eyes.

Well, I can't put anything past J-jumping, so when I repeated my question when SHE answered the phone, she didn't fall for it at all.

And then she proceeded to regale me with stories that were hilariously funny, probably unrepeatable, and definitely ones that I have VERY little recall of. I know they were funny, because we were laughing like loons, but what were we talking about? No clue. It woke me up, though. Perked me RIGHT up, and made my drive through ridiculously stop-and-go south Tacoma rush hour traffic bearable.

And then we were at the hotel in Arlington. Unfortunately, they did NOT have Nate's blanket that he left there in July, but Nate was pretty sanguine about things, and was happy to shrug his shoulders, and race to the pool.

It was around 9pm, as we were bedding down for the night, that I realized that we had eaten nothing since 11am in Roseburg, Oregon. The kids were hungry, and I was in my jammies, and exhausted, and was not going to go out and grab any night lunches for them. We just went to bed, with the promise of a Free Hot Bar breakfast in the morning. WHoopsie. I'll be getting my Conscientious Mother Of The Year award in the mail next week.

The beds were VERY comfortable. For the price we paid, they should've been made by elves, and massaged you while you slept, but I was tired enough to settle for "very comfortable and down-filled comforters". I probably shouldn't have watched the Muppets Wizard of Oz, though, as I had weird dreams in the night of being on The Price is Right with that Gene Whats-his-name who was on Match Game, and having to play a price-checking game involving dancing barefoot on astroturf on a hill with a Dyson vacuum cleaner against Doogie Howser, and that very well-heeled woman who used to be on the panel of What's My Line with Bennet Cerf.

We got up at 6 yesterday morning, packed up as fast as three exhausted kids who don't want to listen to their mother will pack, had a very mediocre complimentary breakfast, fed the koi and rainbow trout in the hotel pond, and were back on the road by 7:30. We had the most trouble-free border crossing, with a very empathetic border guard, who looked like she might burst into tears herself when I said that we were driving up for Grandpa's funeral. And then we bee-lined it for the ferry, missing the 9am ferry by about 4 minutes.

WHoopsie again.

But we made it with plenty of time to spare for the 11am ferry, and made it to Grandma's house by 1:15pm.

When I got there, and had unpacked the hundred-or-so pounds of goodies for all the brothers and their kids, Ken let me know that his brother Fred (the professor in Ireland) was coveting Ken's red felted wool socks that I made him for Christmas, so I went out and bought black (Fred's choice) Patons Classic Wool at Beehive Wool Shop (a store for which I have a customer loyalty card. Yes, I have a problem. I admit it. Let's move on.) and am now knitting him up a pair that I will partially felt onto Ken's feet before mailing to Fred for Christmas.

And I may or may not have had a cashmere accident in Beehive Wool Shop.

I was sleep deprived. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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