5 people, two adults, three children two of them under the age of 5, and a 75 lb dog on a 300 square foot recreational vehicle (RV). The goal was to get up to Maine as quickly as possible, spend a week and a half wandering through the coastal towns and then sort of meander down the east coast on our return to Florida.
The trip played out much like a Wes Anderson movie with Clark Grizwold as both the male and female lead with a little sprinkle of This is Forty accompanied by an always brilliant Danny Elfman soundtrack.
Greg and I are a very unique couple in that we both have really big dreams (only sometimes slightly unrealistic) and really high expectations that we don’t really communicate with anyone else but each other. It’s a couple flaw and we are working on it. All we thought about was this amazing experience that would bring our little family closer together, unplug from social existence and a life altering view of the world!
It was life altering all right.
We meet my sister on a Monday in Kissimmee FL at the RV rental site. She was taking our car back to her house and wished us good luck (laughing all the way home I’m sure). The RV is 300 sq. ft. We decided to home school this year so we could do some traveling, he has a great job where he works from home: why not take advantage of it. So we loaded up the three kiddos and our furry side, who I might mention, loathes traveling in small confined spaces (or so we thought) and all of our CRAP into this awesome beast of a machine.
“We are doing this!” we said to ourselves. Danny Elfman wrote the score for Nightmare Before Christmas. In the movie, there was a wonderful song titled What’s This?…and We were 120 miles up the road and the kids were back and forth to the bathroom, back and forth to the back bedroom, up and down from the loft, up and down from the loft once more (just in case it changed in the last 2 minutes they were up there) back and forth from the kitchen for some water, and then to the refrigerator to get their 5th helping of banana bread muffins I made for the trip. All I could think about was that song;
“What’s this? What’s this? There’s a toilet right in there,
What’s this? What’s this? There’s windows everywhere
What’s this? What’s this? A mattress right up there
What’s this? What’s this? A table with a chair
What’s this? What’s this? A sink for pouring water
What’s this? What’s this? Oh feel, it’s getting hotter
What’s this? What’s this? A couch, no it’s a bed
What’s this? What’s this?” A bug right on your head….
And that’s where that song ended. Guess the people who had the RV before us, forgot to clean out some things. Whoops. We got it…don’t worry about it. Seriously! We got this!
Once we got past the bug episode, it was back to being exciting for everyone. I was excited for the kids as well as myself. As a kid, I always wanted to go camping in an RV with a tv and bunk beds (for the record, our RV had neither a tv or bunk beds). My dreams are coming true, not only for me, but for my children (last sentence to be spoken/sung almost as if it were a lyric from a Danny Elfman song, complete with trumpet, trombone and Bass accompaniment). Cecilia and I were making videos on my phone and I was in a dreamlike heaven watching my kids laugh and giggle having the best time. Until Greg hit the brakes and 3 very heavy book bags came crashing down from the bunk. Greg and I looked at each other and said, simultaneously, “that could have been one of the kids.”
Lesson #1. no matter the size of the vehicle, everyone in seats/with belts on unless you need to use the potty.
We got this! Don’t worry!!! We’re fine!
Before we even got out of the state of Florida, our 75 pound dog Bear was trying to make his way under Greg’s legs while he was driving. Awesome! I got this! Seriously, I got this! I coaxed him out, not so gently, and suggested Abby and Phoebe take turns sitting on the couch with Bear giving him some love, attention and reassurance. His nervousness and shaking was beginning to stress me out (mind you we are only 300 miles away from our home at this point). With attention and love, we can get Bear through this. We are a family! WE GOT THIS!!!
Lesson #2. don’t bring the 75 lb dog (who doesn’t like riding in vehicles) on a vehicular vacation.
The first two nights were spent hauling you know what up to Maine. We slept in South Carolina the first night and just a tad bit beyond Baltimore the next night. After watching The Wire, I really wanted to get as far away as possible from the Baltimore area. The third and final day of our driving odyssey took us up to Vermont where we spent a glorious 3 days on a really awesome campground snuggled in the heart of the city.
The first full day at Camp Vermont, we will call it, was a little difficult. Cecilia is a full on toddler, throwing her drinks down, flipping her plate of food over onto the floor, saying “no” very loudly and running away when we ask her to, “come here”. Phoebe has been out of that stage for almost a year and a half. I had forgotten (most likely self-imposed amnesia) how difficult it is to reason with a toddler.
Cecilia had her own version of the brilliant Danny Elfman song What’s This? She went around and touched every button, flipped every switch, blew every horn, unplugged every plug and turned all the knobs on the gas stove. It took Greg an hour to figure out that in fact our black water tank was not overflowing as I had suggested, but the gas from the stove was on. It took me the same amount of time to find her shoes she flung in opposite directions and a smelly #2 diaper hidden somewhere within nose shot. Here, if you can picture it in your head, we have an adorable 3 year old seemingly innocent in pig tails no less, watching as both her parents scramble to put back the whirlwind of chaos she brought down. Needless to say, Greg has given her the title of Polite Dictator, because she uses ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ naturally without being prompted, when giving her commands.
Lesson #3 For future reference, one of those plastic gates/fences for children is a really good investment, if you have a toddler. But ONLY IF you want to take care of your important irreplaceable things. We really could have benefited from one on this trip.
Join me for the next segment of this blog entry where I discuss my driving, finding our groove in Vermont, eating Maine lobster while in Maine and grocery shopping in New Hampshire.