M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, July 05, 2005  

Baby on Board

Well, we finally put some serious miles on the baby this holiday weekend.

As I've previously mentioned, we've been looking forward to taking the kid on the road, specifically to the Black Hills late this summer. So this weekend was good practice, just to see what it's like travelling with someone who has specific dietary and scatological needs that have to be met every couple of hours or so. Intervals that don't always correspond with the timing of our own needs and those of the car. We'd made the three-and-a-half hour drive to Iowa once before, back in February, but that was when he only needed a bottle every four hours or so and could sleep four hours at a stretch during the day. But those days are over, at least until his teens.
So we were curious to see how he'd do on the four-hour drive to my mother-in-law's house in remotest Iowa. Put it this way: it ended up being a five-hour drive.

Making things a little bit more exciting was the fact that since Minnesota's government is shut down over a budgetary pissing match, all of the state's highway rest areas are closed off as well. There are three of them between here and the Iowa state line, and at every one, there are two ranks of orange cones and barriers bearing different permutations of the message "closed." Our state tax dollars not at work.

"They should make those signs clearer," I told Trash, as if they weren't visible from space.

So it was a race to the Iowa line, made even more challenging by the fact that I was still seeing people getting pulled over for speeding along the way. People, if you're going to shut down the government, shut it down. If I can't get rid of my kid's poopy diaper in a publicly funded roadside facility, I should at least be allowed to get to the next state at 95 miles per hour unfettered. Is that so much to ask?

So we made it to the Iowa Welcome Center without the baby waking up and wondering why he was still strapped into his car seat. When he was a few weeks old and he first started eating out of his bottle, nobody else could be in the room. He'd be too distracted by the company to concentrate on the task at hand. And then he and Trash and I found ourselves in the lobby of the first open rest area south of the Canadian border on a mid-morning of the first day of a holiday weekend, and I was thinking, thank God he got over that.

And then there was another stop at a Flying J at the halfway point of our trip to gas up the car and stock up on our snacks, and a brief layover at the Wal-Mart in Indianola to pick up an item of some minor importance that I'd forgotten to pack (coughdiaperscough), and then we were pulling into my mother-in-law's driveway in time for a late lunch on Saturday afternoon. Of course, Trash was in the back seat with M. Tiny for the whole second half so as to discourage him from freaking the fuck out. Even though I have a station wagon, the back seat affords a passenger enough room to make one long for the wide-open spaces of a sealed FedEx envelope, so they weren't ideal traveling conditions for the wife. But aside from that, it was fairly uneventful. We'd survived.

So why not travel another four hours the same weekend?

My only surviving grandparent lives in Missouri, about three-and-a-half hours further along than Trash's mom's house. I figured, hey, we're more than halfway there, Grandma's never met him, and who knows whether she's going to make it up here any time soon? Never mind the fact that I have to be back at work on Wednesday. Pack up the kid. He's road-tested.

We spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday with Trash's mom and those of her relatives who could join us for a cookout, and then we lit out for parts south the next morning, the Fourth of July, even before our hosts were up.

We got to within forty-five minutes of Grandma's house (with Trash in the backseat for most of the way again) before it was time to pull over. We were on a four-lane state highway by then, which meant no rest areas. So we got off at the next exit and pulled over in front of a gas station. I don't know why Trash didn't want to pull into the gas station, but she didn't. Probably because we weren't buying anything. She's like that. So anyway, she's sitting in the open door of the car, I've got the folded baby stroller arranged into a makeshift changing table of sorts in the hatchback, with a couple of bags out on the shoulder to make room, and she says, "There's something so Grapes of Wrath about this. Feeding the baby by the side of the road, because we're not buying gas?" Then I pointed out that the laptop we had sitting on the shoulder would probably be worth enough in Depression dollars to by the Joads' farm back, and she felt better.

So we made it to Grandma's house in just over four hours, and spent roughly that amount of time with her and my aunt before turning around and doing the drive again.

More on that later.

posted by M. Giant 7:44 PM 6 comments


Damn, sounds like M. Tiny is off to a way better start than me. I'm 23 and can only survive the 3 hour drive from Winnipeg to Brandon, MB by going right the hell to sleep. In my defence, however, the entire trip is straight, with the road only turning occasionally to adjust for the curvature of the god damn Earth.

By Anonymous Jeremy, at July 5, 2005 at 9:57 PM  

Okay, I've been reading and enjoying Velcrometer for a few years now, and what's the thing that prompts me to delurk and comment? Why, it's a mention of the Indianola Wal-Mart! See, my grandparents are from tiny Leon in southern Iowa, and when we'd go visit them when I was a kid, we'd beg to go to the Indianola Wal-Mart. It was a day trip, an overwhelming excitement, and an event worth celebrating, because the Indianola Wal-Mart was the only store within driving distance that was bigger than my bedroom at home. Oh, the memories!

By Anonymous Lorie, at July 6, 2005 at 6:12 AM  

HeeHee!! Welcome to our hell!! At least he doesn't puke repeatedly at the mention of a 4 hour trip. Yet.

By Anonymous SIL, at July 7, 2005 at 10:13 AM  

I've driven from Dallas, TX to Des Moines and back when Bean was 3 months, 7 months, and now yearly over the 4th of July. She's three and we left at 8.30am yesterday morning and got back at 8pm last night with 4 short stops. Of course, I now have the entire script of Mary Poppins memorized but it's a small price to pay.

By Blogger Liz, at July 7, 2005 at 2:54 PM  

Yet another brilliant and hysterical post - I am so going to buy one of those cool Velcrometer shirts.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 7, 2005 at 8:00 PM  

I am so going to buy one of those cool Velcrometer shirts.

What cool Velcrometer shirts? I want one, too!

By Anonymous Trish, at July 7, 2005 at 8:46 PM  

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