People laughed when we told them we were driving from Chicago to South Carolina for our summer vacation.
“Your kids can stay in the car for that many hours?” they said.
“We’ll be fine,” we said, “we are going to take our time to get there, have a couple of overnight stops. It will be an adventure.”
And an adventure it was. (There’s a lot of yelling and throwing in adventures right?)
Besides, as Constantinos Kavafis, one of the greatest poets of my people, said: it’s not Ithaca but the journey to Ithaca that matters. (Especially if Ithaca is a beach in South Carolina- if you ask me!)
We had it all figured out:
– We planned to drive about 6 to 7 hours the first two days leaving us only 2 to 3 hours on the last day.
– Our route was pre-mapped with enough stops for bathroom and play breaks and we were staying at hotels with a pool so the kids could have some fun after spending most of the day strapped in their car seats.
– We had enough snacks for 3 hour stretches within reach of both children and emergency snacks (lollipops and candy) in the front.
– We went on an itunes shopping spree the night before, buying them all the shows they love, ensuring hours of entertainment.
– We got each of them Bluetooth headphones so they could watch their shows without annoying each-other and most importantly us.
So on Saturday morning, and only one hour behind schedule ,we got into our car and headed south. The music was good, the kids were watching their iPads; we were excited and optimistic about the future.
One hour later….
– The boy tried and dismissed all of the snacks.
– Took his headphones off and threw them on the floor at least seven times.
– Was tired of watching his iPad.
– And we were stuck in traffic on the Interstate just outside of Chicago.
I started to think that maybe this was a mistake, a 16 hour long mistake, each way….
The trip got better. He had his moments of “frustration” and my daughter did ask “how many more minutes until we get there?” more than just a couple of times.
Sure, there were times when we wished that, like a taxi, our car had a divider so that we could open a little window, quickly throw some snacks at the kids and close it to get back to some adult conversation. But we enjoyed the time together anyway. The route was beautiful for the most part and Satellite radio kept us entertained.
It was also an educational experience for all of us:
– We saw the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and drove through an Indian Reservation.
– On our way back we spent some time in Savannah and explored the beautiful southern city, admired the Spanish moss trees that line every street and visited a beautiful historic cemetery with haunting statues.
– We learned that bugs have not evolved enough to stay off the high-way and my windshield at times looked like the site of a massacre.
– My daughter finally learned the right words to the song “Milkshake,” by Kelis, and no longer says “my milkshake is bad but it’s better than yours.”
– We discovered the song “Lonely women make good lovers” on one of the many (you guessed it) country stations that SiriusXM has to offer.
– We ate fried pickles, which taste just like regular pickles only they are really bad for you.
– Turns out my husband can say things like “don’t make me stop this car” and keep a straight face.
So would we do it again? Ask again in six to eight months.