It was the best of times.. it was the worst of times...
It was the not-so-annual-actually-we've-never-taken-our-family-on-vacation-without-it-being-a-CdLS-Conference-with-grandparents-there-to-help
Watkins Family Vacation.
It ranged from the highest of highs (and not just because we were in Colorado.. ba dum chhh!)
to the lowest of lows.. and quite possibly everything in between.
It was a bit like the book "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie."
"If You Take Your Family On Vacation"
by: The Watkins
If you take your family on vacation, you'll decide at the last minute to pull the kids out of bed in the middle of the night to get an early start on the drive, in anticipation that they will sleep most the way there.. they probably won't.
They'll just decide to start their day at 1 am, so excited that they think they can see your campsite in the mountains from 500 miles away.
Thinking of camping in the mountains will remind you to order all the groceries you need for the entire week while on your drive there so they're ready for you to just pick up after being in the car for 11 hours,
making you feel like the smartest human on Earth.
Until you realize you bought 3 bags of mini marshmallows instead of regular for roasting smores.
Thinking of smores on the fire will remind you of how hot it is. So of course on the most sweltering 95 degree day, despite having already fixed your air conditioner in your car (twice) before leaving,
it will break again.
While trying to schedule an appointment to get the A/C looked at, chances are it will be a holiday so nothing will be open.
Happy Birthday 'Merica
While you're remembering that nothing is open, you'll be in a hurry so obviously you'll manage to stop at the one gas station in town that only has a single outdoor stall and it will take a full 30 minutes to get your crew through the line.
You'll also spend a too-large majority of your trip sweating in 100 degree port-a-potties
while your children's colons decide to work overtime.
Or not at all.
While spending so much time at the bathroom you'll be reminded of the important lesson your oldest learned about why 6 dried apricots is the serving size and not an entire bag..
And while you're still thinking about the bathroom because with 5 kids SO much of your day revolves around that, you'll remember that even though your youngest has been night potty trained for a year and never has accidents
he'll wet through his sleeping bag on the very first night you're camping.
Having a pee-soaked sleeping bag will remind you that you geniusly picked the campsite with a laundromat on purpose, so you'll try to go wash his sleeping bag.
And find out that the laundromat is closed for repair.
Having dirty clothes and nowhere to wash them will remind you of when that same child randomly threw up all over the car after just turning onto the expressway and almost to Pike's Peak
with no wipes, extra clothes, or place to turn around.
Cleaning up his puke with a few random Kleenex's you found on the floor will remind you that even though you're coming off the healthiest year on record for your family with absolutely zero trips to urgent care or stomach bugs of any kind, somehow Ella's eye is mattering and stuck shut every morning, looking like some kind of the pink-eye type infection, your eye is starting to itch, and the child who hasn't had strep throat since he had his tonsils removed nearly 3 years ago is complaining of a sore throat and stomach ache.
Driving on the expressway and up Pike's Peak will remind you that you are terrified of traffic that is more than 2 lanes and/or 10 total cars on the road, and also of hanging off the side of a 14,000 foot mountain as your spouse is easily distracted by pretty mountain views while teetering mere inches from a 1000 foot plummet so chances are you'll get in a fight. Or two. While small voices from the backseat echo "I KNOW how to DRIVE." *giggle giggle*
All those giggles will remind you of the pack of kids that run wild at the park at your campsite with very little to no adult supervision every night. And if you to start to feel sorry for yourself that all the other adults get to relax at their campsite but you have to sit at the park and play ice cream store for the 1,000,000 time because you can't leave your developmentally delayed child alone, chances are you'll meet another little girl named Ella who sees nothing different about yours and plays endlessly without a care in the world, blissfully relieving you of your make-believe ice cream duties.
While playing with the other Ella and her sister, your Ella will suddenly have a potty emergency so as you scoop her up to run to the bathroom because you don't want her to pee her pants in front of her new friends, your phone that you've had back for a mere 3 days, that they MADE you spend $130 to fix a tiny crack in the corner of the screen in order for them to fix their own internal error, will fall out of your pocket onto a sharp rock and crack into oblivion.
Seeing that pointy rock will remind you of the comment your husband made about
"those rocks being so sharp they could pop your tire."
And chances are the next morning you will wake up with a flat tire.
Seeing the flat tire will remind you to get your car's AC in to get looked at. So you'll make an appointment and time it perfectly to be 40 minutes before your hair appt to get photos done, with assurance you can catch a shuttle and be there in time. You will wait in the lounge for 40 minutes only to be told the shuttle is still 30 minutes away and you will miss your appointment.
But you’ll probably be able to reschedule with another gal. And when she’s finished making you beautiful you will call for your shuttle and proceed to wait 1 1/2 hours for them to show up and while you’re waiting your phone battery will die.
So you’ll ask the lady at the counter if anyone has a charger you can borrow and she informs you that every single stylist in the building uses Android and not Apple. So you’ll have to go next door to buy a new charger pack. Which won’t work. Of course. So you’ll walk back to return it and buy a new one. Only to find out the outlet you’re using doesn’t work. And then to be told by the gal who styled your hair that she did, indeed, have an iPhone AND a charger.
You’ll finally get your phone to charge and call the shuttle driver for the 4th time and when he actually does show up you’ll be pretty positive he has been taking full advantage of filling his tanks at Colorado's finest Gas & Grass.
Which will remind you of some of the serious crazy directions Siri has given you on this trip and wonder if she's been doing the same..
Which will also remind you that even though you hardly ever go over your phone data for the month, this month you did before even leaving home so your internet usage will sloooooooow to snail's pace, adding an extra element of difficultly to depend on Siri for directions in the first place.
Siri's directions will manage to guide you to the beautiful location you chose to take your family photos though. So if you've been talking about swapping photo sessions with your talented cousin photographer for 3 years and finally drive 570 miles to make it happen, chances are your youngest will scream literally the entire time because of the horrors of wearing overalls, and after only a little time the heavens will open up pouring rain and hailing on an area that is in a drought every year. Except this year.
But you'll make the best of the situation and spend the evening with your cousins you haven't seen in 5 years playing Whirleyball (a mix of bumper cars/lacrosse/basketball)
and manage to even win a bowling game in your sleep (waking up every time it's your turn) because it's waaaaaay past your bedtime.
And the next few days that you spend with your family, watching your kids play with their second cousins that they've met only once, twice or not at all, depending on their ages, will be some of your favorite memories of the whole trip, reminding you that the simple things in life really are the best.
When you tell the kids it's time to leave they'll cry and complain and deny that they're tired at all.
But they'll do SO good on the 10 hour drive home and you'll barely hear a peep from them the entire trip. Which could also be attributed to the fact that you had to drive 85 mph down the interstate with the windows down because it's 90 degrees out and they couldn't get your AC fixed after the entire fiasco and the wind muffled basically everything, actually making it a curse and blessing in disguise.
But if you have absolutely zero expectations with relatively zero preconceived plans, chances are in a few months.. or possibly years.... and with a little luck from a mild case of amnesia, you’ll end up having the best memories ever.