We made the slightly insane decision to drive with our young pups all the way to Seattle and back. In four days. I’m guessing it’s about 1500 miles roundtrip. Maybe more.
Our journey o’fun started on Wednesday at roughly 4.30pm. Having borrowed a DVD player from a friend, and completely altering our children’s world view, (you can watch movies….in a car?) we drove to Kalispell. Montana.
When I mentioned to a couple of friends that we were going to do this, they asked me questions. ‘Do you have four-wheel drive?’ No. ‘Snow tires?’ No. ‘Chains?’ No.
‘Well you might want to pack an emergency kit [in case you get stranded.]’
The drive was a bit treacherous. Something about it being dark, and driving through mountains. Passing by signs for ‘snow-chain removal’ areas. And lots of signs warning of animals darting across the road. Combined with actual animal sightings: elk hidden behind trees. And a bunch of deer-like creatures standing on the side of road. Thankfully, staying on the side of the road.
Around 10.30pm we arrived at the prestigious La Quinta Inn in Kalispell. After having parted with three oranges at the U.S. border crossing.
Since I’ve yet to meet a customs officer with a discernible sense of humor, I didn’t point out that the oranges were from California. And had (presumably) already been deemed ‘acceptable’ by customs officials. So, why banish them now?
The problem with arriving at a hotel at 10.30 at night is that one’s kids have already fallen asleep in the car. And, when a certain nineteen-month-old wakes up upon being deposited in a hotel room – particularly a La Quinta Inn hotel room – he goes nuts. Runs to the door, and bangs on it while screaming bloody murder. And nothing and no one can stop him.
Our Hen was like a woman in labor and we were his team of doulas. At one point, I was sitting on the bed rocking him. Jason was rubbing his feet. And his big brother was rubbing his hair and kissing him on the head. All in an effort to get the kid to pipe down before the people in the adjacent room called management.
We were finally asleep by midnight. And awake by 6am. There is truly nothing better than staying in a hotel room with two kids.
I had the misguided notion that, since we’d gotten up at the crack of dawn, we might get an early start on our drive to the Emerald City. But, it apparently took 2 hours and 40 minutes: for 2 adults to shower and get dressed; feed 4 people breakfast; and to re-pack bags and do a triple check of the room to make sure no one’s favorite monkey or pillow case got left behind.
It was 8.40am by the time we left. And it was snowing – confirming the less than rosy weather reports we’d been watching on the television.
But the snow didn’t stop my better half – aka Mario Andretti – from exercising his disdain for speed limits recommendations. Google maps ‘recommended’ a driving time of 2 hours…from Kalispell to I-90…yet he did it in one hour and twenty minutes. On minor ‘highways’. In snowy conditions. Awesome.
It was another treacherous drive through a multitude of terrains and every possible weather condition imaginable. Snow. Rain. Sleet. Sunshine. Avalanche (control).
It was dinner time when we drove into (rainy) Seattle.
But even the rain couldn’t dampen my spirits. We’d arrived. And there was green grass to be seen. And our hotel appeared to actually resemble the pictures on its website.
Though our priceline.com-obtained room, did not. It may have been the smallest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in.
The room on the website had featured a beautiful bath tub – the very essence of luxury and relaxation. But the ‘European’ shower in my room fell short, somehow.
The good thing about taking kids on trips is that they’re generally excited about anything and everything. They don’t complain about small rooms. Because they’re completely enamored with the trains passing by every twenty minutes, and the chess and checkers games in the lobby. And the view of the water from the lobby. And the elevator. And the large flat-screen television in our room.
The only phrases that came out of G’s mouth for 3 days were: ‘I want to watch some boy-tv…..can I watch some boy-tv now…when we get back to the hotel, can I watch some boy-tv?’ It is possible he watched a month’s worth of cartoons in the three days we stayed there. By the end of the three-day period he had learned that ‘commercials’ are but momentary interruptions to a particular show.
They do not signal the abrupt end of a show, and do not warrant a massive panic attack each time they occur. ‘Don’t worry, it’s just a commercial,’ he advised his brother when their cartoons were interrupted on our last morning there. As though he’d known this all along.
One morning I asked him: ‘what do you want to do today?’ His reply: ‘I just want to stay in the hotel and watch boy-tv.’ But eventually we ventured out. We went to the ‘fish museum’ and the Arboretum. The boys went to the Olympic Sculpture Park while I walked around the Market with my mom. We had good coffee, and pastries, and cheesecake, and macaroni and cheese. Jason and I even went out to dinner. By ourselves.
If it weren’t for ‘The Drive’ I might have considered it a rather successful trip.
We left Sunday morning at 9am – Seattle time – which was really 10am in Calgary. There was a mandatory stop at Target in Marysville, which, admittedly lengthened the trip by at least an hour. But there was no way that I was going to leave ‘A-muhr-i-ca’ without stopping at a Target.
Of course, Jason/Mario tried to make up for lost time by speeding through British Columbia. My nose was buried in my book when I noticed we were stopping. On the highway.
‘Are you being pulled over?’ I demanded incredulously.
Sure enough. I saw the police car. And the lights.
‘Where you’s going?’ The police man inquired. ‘To Calgary,’ I replied. Politely ‘Did they call you’s and tell you’s Calgary was moving?’
Ha ha ha.
Twenty minutes and $196 later…we were on our way.
We stopped at a McDonald’s for dinner. When Jason picked up the Hen to carry him back to the car, he started screaming.
I wanted to, too.