Getting there is all the battle
So imagine their dismay this week upon finding out that, yes, they get to see their cousins for the holiday but they first have to be in the car for six or seven hours - maybe more if a flat tire stretches the journey to nine hours like it did over Labor Day.
"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," Boots wailed. "That will be for a long time."
You're right, son, and there's no way to sugar coat it. I can pack a massive supply of games, snacks and prizes but it will still be "for a long time." You're going to start moaning for a bathroom when there's none for miles, and you'll cry piteously to get out of the car before finally falling asleep. At that point I'll want to jump out of the car in hopes of maiming myself into unconsciousness before someone wakes up and starts crying again.
Expense be hanged, I'd rather fly. At least I'd be able to drink.
The trip starts on a low note - 30 miles along the most uninteresting two-lane road you'll ever encounter. It even intersects with Boring Road at one point. Once you pass the tanks just past the main gate, there's nothing but sand and rocks for the next half hour.
Oh, and a 55 mph speed limit that forces me to set the cruise control so I don't speed. At least that keeps the guys entertained as they oooh and aaah at the marvel of the car driving itself. Dad refuses to use the cruise, though, because someone told him in a safety briefing that it's dangerous.
So if he's driving, there's nothing to do for the first 40 minutes except listen to the guys gripe about how boring it is even before we reach Boring Road. They have a point - we can't even play our go-to games.
"I spy with my little eye ... something brown."
"Darn it. You got it."
"I spy with my little eye ... something gray."
"It's the rocks!"
After that, we're pretty much out of things to spy. So we hang on until Barstow, where the guys will beg to stop at the world's most wonderful McDonald's but Dad and I will pull rank and pull into Starbucks.
Admittedly, the McDonald's is pretty cool - it's set up in old passenger train cars - but when Mommy wants coffee, Daddy knows he better buy her coffee. Particularly when he's going to be stuck in the car with her for a quarter of a day.
Next comes a two and a half hour stretch between Barstow and Bakersfield that's almost as uninspiring as the first 30 miles. We get excited momentarily when we see start seeing Bakersfield, but then we realize we're still only halfway there.
At least there's something to do on the final leg - the ample fast-food signs give the guys something else to clamor for.
Finally, we arrive and the guys are so giddy with joy - at seeing family, at being freed from seat belts - that it's as if the past seven hours hadn't happened.
Ay, but they did. And they'll happen again in a few days when it's time to reverse course.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.