Borderline genius thought of the day: Eccentric minds shouldn’t just run free… they should sprint!
It’s been awhile since we all took a long road trip as a family. Last weekend we had a family reunion (on my husbands side of the family) about 45 minutes outside of San Francisco. On a good day it takes around 6 hours to drive from our home to the Bay area, but it ended up taking us over 7 hours to drive there this time around. Traffic was heavy and we wondered if it had anything to do with all the fires going on in California right now. There was a reported 18 fires burning throughout the state the day that we hit the road. The Holy Fire being the closest to where we live. The smoke was thick nearly the entire way.
During this road trip I discovered a few things about myself, came up with a couple borderline genius ideas, realized the best way to travel with kids, and came to grips with a few things in my life.
1) I hate driving next to school buses. Let me explain. My car is one of my comfort zones. When I get in it I’m relaxed and am not afraid to let it all hang out. On this particular day the temperature was in the high 90’s and I had on shorts and a tank top. I was settled and comfortable for the long drive ahead. Traffic was thick and it was stop-and-go fairly soon into our trip. During one of our stops in traffic I approached 2 school buses. A familiar feeling came over me as I stopped next to one. I get nervous when school buses are next to me on the road. There I said it! So many things run through my head. Is my muffin top offending the kids on the bus? Is my shirt totally covering my shorts making it look like I’m driving without pants on? Is my hand sitting in my lap in what could be interpreted as inappropriate? Am I too relaxed and sitting their with my mouth wide open? Like when I’m really into a movie, and my mouth is wide open, and my husband looks over and asks, “are you catching fly’s?”
Whatever the case I was a nervous wreck every time!!! You would never catch me dead looking over and making eye contact with anyone on any bus either. What if they looked at me like a truck driver and motioned for me to honk the horn? I cannot operate under that kind of pressure. To make matters worse the windows on these particular buses were tinted. I get the same type of nervousness for most vehicles that sit up higher than me. More than likely because they can see into my car and invade my security bubble with their nosey looks. The school bus is a whole different story though and all those kids on the bus freak me out! I’ve had these feelings for so long but never shared them. It has just become my normal. I think I might have taken phobias to a whole new level with this one.
2) My driving headaches go away when I take my sunglasses off. Now I have been on many roads trips and whether I’m the driver or the passenger I end up getting the worst headaches every time. I’ve always thought it was from sitting for so long and my neck and back getting stiff. This time around the onset of the familiar headache started but something told me to take my sunglasses off. So I did. After a bit I noticed that the headache never progressed and I was feeling pretty good. I wondered if I was getting the headaches because of the sunglasses so I tested that theory. I mean…what else is there to do but to run through random thoughts in your head while on a long drive? So I put the sunglasses on again and sure enough…headache creeped back up. It wasn’t the tinted glass/lense part that was doing it. It’s the part that sits on your ears. There were a couple different reasons this could be happening to me. 1) My baby ears just cannot tolerate the weight of the glasses 2) The ever so delicate touch of the sunglass arms touching my head was causing pressure. That’s it! I have a sensitive infant head and can never wear sunglasses again. Anyone else have this problem? No? Just me? Ok, moving on.
3) Eating half a bag of giant Boston baked beans is a bad idea. Stopping for gas in random towns is always such a welcome break from the long drive, but no matter how much I try to fight it I end up giving in to buying junk food on every road trip. There is something about taking a road trip that gives me a hunger like no other. It’s like I go into starvation mode and eat crap that I would never otherwise eat in normal daily life. In the past I’ve tried to plan and prepare to stock the car with healthy alternatives, but I’m telling you…those stores suck me in. Maybe it’s because everyone else on the road is stopping at the same place and when I pull up it’s like the vibe gets me all pumped up. With people walking all around going in and out of the store. It makes me feel like I’m missing out on something really cool going on in there, and not going inside the store would be taking away from the whole road trip experience. Right? Sounds legit.
So we made our first stop for gas and everyone was hungry and ready for lunch. The options were McDonalds, Subway, or Minimart junk food. We settled on Subway. My husband walked in the door then turned and walked directly back out before the rest of us could enter. The line was huge! So much for the healthy alternative. Rather than wait in the long line we all decided to just grab some snacks from the Minimart and get back on the road. Yes, we chose Minimart junk food over McDonald’s and I do not regret the choice. In the Minimart there was a section of locally packaged dried foods that seemed interesting. My husband spotted a bag of giant Boston baked beans and I decided that my best option at survival were those and caramel corn for my lunch that day. We walked out of there spending a small fortune, but I had giant Boston baked beans for the win and couldn’t be happier. You see…I would have missed out on that little treasure if I didn’t go into the store. Vacation dreams fulfilled one giant Boston baked bean at a time. About 30 minutes back into the drive, and half a bag of giant Boston baked bean later, and I felt like crap! In my defense though my focus was on the road and while I grabbed a few here and there I lost all concept of how many I had eaten. The bag was out of sight and out of mind and portion control was out the window when you have a bag of snacks at your disposal in the side pocket of the door. I’d like to say lessoned learned, but if I find those giant Boston baked beans ever again you better believe I’ll be all over those babies again. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture of the bag of giant Boston baked beans, but here are some other goodies from the store we stopped at so you can get an idea of the size of the bag I was dealing with.
4) I need to contact Elon Musk and talk to him about installing a track on the 200+ mile stretch of I-5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. For those of you that have made the drive heading North out of Los Angeles then you know that stretch of I-5 just as you descend from the 40 miles of mountain driving through the Tejon pass, also know as the Grapevine. As you descend from the Grapevine you start the most mind-numbing drive of your life. It is a straight stretch of nothing. The monotony of it made me feel like I was in my own personal version of the movie Groundhog Day. In my version it was the scenery that just kept repeating over and over again. The only thing that kept my sanity was when my oldest son saw a heard of sheep and said, “look at the sheepses” in a funny tone. We got on a discussion about the singular and plural versions of the word sheep. I asked my 10 year old what he thought. He said, “I just say THE sheep when I’m talking about 1, and THOSE sheep when I’m talking about more than 1.” Clever little guy, but it still didn’t technically answer the question. Ultimately we decided to refer to 1 sheep as a shep and multiple as sheep. Case closed.
Ok back to Elon Musk. So my mind started to run wild again as we drove along the uninteresting stretch of road. What if there was a contraption you could have installed underneath your car that would hook to rails in a designated section of the road that just zips you down that eye-gouging part of I-5? I’m thinking a single rail that your car is guided onto that allows cars to enter at 1 minute intervals (elevated enough so your tires don’t touch the ground), then swoosh! You don’t have to deal with traffic, or semi trucks, or people that somehow cause a traffic jam because they won’t move out of the fast lane, and it’s set to go something like 100 miles per hour. Maybe it’s even a solar powered magnet-like track. That sounds a little safer right? I have no idea what I’m talking about and don’t even want to think about why this is a terrible idea. Now back to my idea. This new lane would be like a cross between being on a train, but in the comfort of your own car, and on a toll roll/express lane. Eventually the contraption installed under your car would end up being standard on all new cars and would just come stock from the factory. This track could be installed on similar dull and lifeless roads throughout the country. Somebody get me Elon Musk’s number stat! If anyone can make this happen it’s him.
5) Travelling with 1 kid in the front and 1 in the back is the way to go. We’ve been taking road trips since the boys were little. At first they were pure joy to ride with. The car rides always seemed to sooth them and I would have activities to keep them busy in the car. They never cried or whined about needing to stop. Ever! Then about 8 months after my oldest son turned 13 we took another road trip and learned that the game had changed! He squirmed in the car in total discomfort, the sun was too bright, his brother was breathing too loud, and on and on. It has been all downhill from there. Our current traveling situation is both boys annoying each other to no end every time we are in the car together. They become instantly restless.
For this road trip we ended up having to take 2 cars. My husbands cousin flew in from Kauai and we also had my father-in-law. We decided the boys would ride with me in my car and the adults all with my husband in his truck. My oldest son sat upfront with me, and let me tell you… this was the most pleasant road trip I’ve had with my boys in a REALLY long time. It took separating them in the car to figure this out. The next time we all go somewhere together I will gladly even sit back seat middle on the hump just to keep them separate in the car if that’s what it takes. That’s the ticket! He also became the unspoken DJ in the car. I enjoy his appreciation for a wide variety of music like my husband and I do. We went from Charlie Puth, to Kanye West, Snoop Dogg to Toto, Eminem to Roxette, and Bruno Mars to Tupac just to name a few.
6) Hotels should charge additional fees for being a bad guest. My father-in-law was given a suggestion on a hotel to stay at that was near where the family reunion was going to be so that is where we stayed. Long story short…it wasn’t the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The first night was like any other first night in a hotel. Horrible! Staying away from home anywhere is always the worst for me. By the second night I felt a little more relaxed and was looking forward to a better nights sleep. I could tell there were some new guests directly above us that second night because they were so loud! It sounded like they were moving furniture up there and nonstop walking around. I suspected they might have had children because the walking, running, dropping things, and moving furniture was constant. After another terrible night sleeping I woke to the sound of a fog horn blowing. Except it wasn’t a fog horn. The shower above us was running and that was the sound of the pipes.
I was lying in bed listening to the fog horn shower and began to think. Hotels should have guests go through a screening process. Maybe a simple questionnaire asking them to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 on how quiet or loud they are, how clean they are, if they had pets or children, how loud they like to listen to their TV’s, if they like re-arranging the hotel furniture, if they prefer to sit still or run laps while staying in hotels. You know the standard stuff. If they wanted to take it a step further they could give guests a polygraph test to get more accurate information. That’s my vote! Depending on their score they could place guests in appropriate rooms. Ground floor rooms for the loud furniture moving guests, and quieter guests can be on floors 2 and above. I don’t know about you but I, as a hotel guest, would like to rate other guests around me. Those ratings should translate into discounts or extra charges. If you knew you would be rated and possibly get charged for bad behavior do you think you would be more aware and considerate of others around you? Nobody wants to see those additional “bad guest” fees on their final bill. At least I know I wouldn’t. The problem of the hotels worst guests ever would be solved.
7) Never, EVER trust my husband to give you parking advise! He is notorious for making his own parking spots and you would think he would have learned his lesson the one time we got towed. We were eating at a restaurant in Portland, OR about 8 years ago and there were 2 restaurants that shared a parking lot. He parked on the wrong side of the parking lot. At this point in time I cannot deny nor confirm if he did it deliberately, but he parked on the side for the restaurant we did not go into. When we came out the car was gone. It was late and we had 2 young kids in tow. One cab ride and about $250 later and we got our car back.
When we moved to California we had a 26 foot moving truck that held all our belongs. We checked into the townhouse we planned on renting for a bit and found that there was nowhere for us to park the large truck. In his defense, my husband DID ask the leasing agent at the front desk if we could park it in front of our townhouse (which was a red zone). She gave him permission and so that is where it was parked. Around 1am the rumbling of a big engine and chains clanking together woke me. It sounded close. I peaked out the window and saw our moving truck hooked up to a tow truck. My husband and I ran outside and assured the tow truck driver that we had permission to park there. The security guard for the townhouse complex approached and admitted to being the one that called for us to be towed but did not have any notes from the office in this case giving us permission to park there. We provided the name of the leasing agent and several calls were made. At the end of it the security guard gave the ok to leave the truck. The tow truck driver was not so easy. He had put in the work to hook the truck up and charged a standard fee of $100 just to let the truck down. It was late and we were not about to argue over it. We were just happy he was willing to let it down so we paid him the $100.
There have been other minor parking incidents that have occurred over the years, but let’s fast forward to this past weekend in the Bay area. We stopped at Cecil’s Famous Burgers in Hayward, CA. I was following my husband into the parking lot, and he rolled his window down to point to a spot along the building for me to park. I should’ve known better. It was not an actual parking spot, but there were a couple other cars parked alongside the building, so I did the same. We ate our food..which by the way was PHENOMENAL! If you are ever near Hayward, CA you have to stop at Cecil’s Famous Burgers. They do not disappoint. The kids and I got back into my car and sat there for a minute waiting for my husband to back out of his spot. As we sat there a police officer approached my window and said, “This is a no parking zone, and you were minutes away from getting towed. Just remember for next time not to park here.” I apologized and indicated that I was not from the area. I also may have blamed my husband for misguiding me. Nonetheless crisis was averted and that WILL be the last time I ever take parking advise from my husband and I advise you all to do the same.
All-in-all the trip was a success. The family reunion was amazing and we enjoyed reconnecting with people. There were some great discoveries made along the way and I may start referring to all my random thoughts as the Brainwave Express. In fact that sounds like a good name for my I-5 track invention! I will definitely be adding a few new invention ideas to my list as a result of this road trip. The kids are more tolerable in the car now, my new headache-free sunglasses will be hitting shelves soon (I wish), and hotel experiences will improve all across the country and you’ll have me to thank. What do Elon Musk, school buses, sunglasses, hotels, getting towed, travelling with kids, Cecil’s Famous Burgers, and Boston baked beans have in common? My wild imagination and this blog!