Well, it felt like the 2nd day of the road trip. It was actually the same day. But because I was up so late the night before packing the car, and then up early to try to put the totally insane bike rack and bikes on the back of the wagon (I decided I won’t blog about that twisted piece of metal and tie-downs. Just know that the bike rack situation almost gave me an ulcer, because it bounced up and down on my bumper and all I could imagine was a bike falling off of it, despite all the straps and tie downs, and killing families in mini-vans behind us as the bike flew into traffic).
Anyway, we found the retainers in the dirt, sanitized them (?) at a Love’s truck stop, ate Subway for dinner, and kept burning pavement for 8 more hours, when yet another miracle occurred. I happened to find an old Disney music CD, and we were all 3 delerious enough to belt out the tunes we had memorized 10 years ago and not listened to in at least 5. I might be PMSing (or just totally neurotic, as close friends are happy to remind me), but it still brings a lump to my throat just remembering that hour of the trip.
An hour later, my son was accusing us of being “hobos”, and that pretty much killed the moment. You see, I had reached the point of exhaustion. It was 11 pm, and what would you have done? Really?! Would you have stopped in a sweet little Iowa town, 300 miles from your destination, and slept in a hotel bed with a shower and sink and mattress? I didn’t think so. I would lose too much momentum. So the Gestapo prevailed, and we drove to a rest area. After all, it is a “REST Area”. I wanted to rest. I did not want to have to peel kids out of bed at 6 am the next morning. Paying $100 may have had something to do with it too. I just paid the outstanding balance on summer camp, rather than buy a decent trailer hitch and bike rack. But whatever, I digress.
So we pulled in to the Rest Area, and there are 3 things I noticed immediately: 1) lots of semi trucks, a LOT, like about 30, all lined up and only 3 puny little cars. I felt very small; 2) there were lights everywhere, making it seem like broad daylight; and 3) all the semis are running their engines. I felt extremely awkward, not to mention vulnerable, but not so much that I was awake enough to drive or to tell my son to quit calling us “hobos”. We tried wedging the Subaru between trucks, but that was not restful. We tried edging up to the building, but the dang lights were blaring. I ended up finding a half-dark parking spot between the semi line-up and the building.
Oops, unforseen issue… it was SO DANG HOT, at 11 pm at night, on the 25th of June, in Iowa (go figure) that we could not shut the windows of the car. So we left them open. But, it was so DANG HUMID, we all felt like we were honey-dipped, legs sticking together, seats noisy with sweat and just trying to breathe and gasp was difficult. Nothing to do about that, just couldn’t cover up. “Just close your eyes, sweeties. Sweet dreams!” Aggghh, had to ignore the ADDITIONAL vulnerable feelings. It was so weird to place my children in a car with windows rolled down, next to semi trucks, to sleep. I was too tired to figure out if I was being a terrible mom or if this truly was the adventure I had promised them when I informed them that we would not be flying to WI this time.
Five hours later, I woke up and felt actually kind of ok. We had not been murdered or accosted in our sleep. The car was intact. I used the facilities and began driving towards Chicago. The stars went down, the sun came up, and I did a very sincere gratitude prayer that I am not a semi-truck driver. I stuck some pillows in the back window so that I could not see the bikes bouncing in the rear-view mirror, so voila, the bike rack was fixed! When the other 2 hobos woke up, I made them promise not to tell Grandma where we slept.
To Be Continued…