Day 65- The Storm

Everything is damp. Towels and bathing suits that were put out to dry yesterday are still sopping. And by sopping I mean able to be wrung out, with visible rivulets of water.  The floor under our bare feet has a gritty wet feel and even my bedding seems to have a strangely moist affect. The place smells like wet dog (Princess really needs a bath,) fish and yogurt. Don’t ask me why about the last one, I have no idea.  

I’m having fantasies of spraying everything within reach with anti-fungal spray and calling it a day.

We were supposed to go out and have fun at the beach this morning. I was promised white sandy beaches and seas of turquoise with 85 degree water. Instead we are trapped inside our cabin- which the management kindly didn’t kick us out of in spite of certain reservation complications – watching sheets of rain pour down. The storm took its sweet time to get here and now is shaking us with every loud roar of thunder. It feels like it’s coming from up under the floorboards. Ducky is cowering under his blankets and CJ and I are trying to respect his feelings while mouthing “Oh Wow!” at each other with silent grins.

We have seen quite a few southern thunderstorms but this was different having come of the sea. It slowly and majestically rolled across the gulf last night delighting storm watchers with a fantastic light show. It was way off in the distance but I didn’t really understand how far away it was or how long it was going to take to arrive.

Last night was heavenly. After accepting an invitation from a lovely couple from New Orleans to come over for dinner, we enjoyed good food and excellent company from folk who don’t hold much for standing on ceremony; our kind of people.

We joked and laughed all evening (Ducky holding forth with his most “on-stage” personality,) after which I put the boys to bed and then succumbed to the siren call of the storm.

I crossed the dock which was a grey slash across a rippled mass of obsidian.  I thought to myself, “So that’s what they mean when they say, ‘jet black waters.’” I felt a moment of primordial fear and shoved it to the back of my awareness. Still, crossing seemed to take far longer than usual. There was a pair of young boys fishing their profiles eerily lit with the flashes from across the bay. The edge of the dock had two benches which no one sat in, the five of us simply sat out and stared. Cell phones were taken out, and after several minutes of earnest tries to obtain ‘decent’ photos or video, devices were gently shoved back in purses or pockets with semi-relieved sighs.

It was an experience to have, not record. At least not with anything but memory.

I returned to the cabin around 1am, the boys soundly sleeping and my mind swirling. After reading until 2, I found myself rudely awoken at 5 by the sound of crashing thunder.

So now we sit, surrounded by our wet things and try to endure. I don’t know what the day will bring.

I wanted to go to the beach.

Day 63- Clean Up Your Mess!

So now that we have added a gargantuan, clumsy and randomly smelly teenager into the mix, ( I love you CJ!) it has become even more imperative to have a strong set of rules in place. This is necessary to see that Asterix doesn’t go from feeling like a cozy little home and conveyance into a cell on wheels trapping and dragging all on board into the depths of hell.

In other words I’d rather not drive a moldy, sandy, sticky mess of random leftovers from wandering all over hill and dale and apparent chewing gum factories.

This sign is now taped to one of the cabinet shelves:

SECURING THE RIG:

  1. Is EVERYTHING in its place?
  2. All cabinets locked and closed?
  3. All loose articles of paper, clothing, maps & random junk stowed away? (I will start throwing shit out.)
  4. Are there any items that need special attention? (Eg. wet items, messy drawers that items were shoved into instead of neatly folded, filthy shoes, anything stinky, sticky or otherwise.…)
  5. Does it smell nice? We own two HUGE bottles of Febreeze for a reason!
  6. Pick that thing up!
  7. That one too!
  8. I mean it!!

A day after sharing these rules yesterday, I came out after the boys “secured the rig” to find approximately 3 reams worth of paper scattered, 15 maps left all over the front, wrappers from forbidden foods, enough sand to repopulate a whole beach and a certain odor of indeterminate origin that smelled like a cross between peanut butter, mildew and beer.

I took one look, (and whiff,) slammed the doors shut, came back into the motel room and in varying levels of pissed off vocals let them know about my mild disappointment. I then went and locked myself in the bathroom after hissing at them that “this shit had better get fixed.”

It was either that or to simply drive off and leave them in the room for an hour or two which also seemed like a totally reasonable response at the time.

I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in four days at this point and am Beyond Cranky. I had already warned the boys the night before that the list was up, needed to be followed and I really, truly, desperately needed them to be at the top of their game.

I’m not sure why I’m so rarely able to accept shortcomings from my children without feeling like the Wrath of Mom MMXVI but damn, I go from reasonable human being to rabid lunatic within seconds when they mess up lately.

I know that things are not aided by the fact that one of our most recent adventures had us camping in a spot where the mosquito tribe had declared war on us and our delicate netting didn’t stand a chance. The A/C was also broken and without a generator we tried to sleep with the doors all flung open which did jack shit for the temp. It was soon 100 in the van and 95% humidity. There were tears. Finally we decided to make the tent. It was thundering. CJ took one look at the size of the thing and offered to go back into the rig.

The rest of the night was punctuated with random screaming and yelling while the war in the van intensified. Ducky crashed out while I nervously watched the lighting turn our tent varying shades of orange and wondered if the rain flap was going to hold up. Or the tent itself for that matter. I was angrily thinking to the future me that was going to find this a “great memory” to go jump off a cliff.

The next morning CJ’s war results were found in the form of dozens of tiny, bloody, squashed bodies all over the ceiling. But judging by the bites all over his feet and legs I’d say it was a draw.

He also said that he was telling his future self to go die in a fire. Yup, definitely my kid.

The three of us resembled national geographic pox victims, our legs and arms (and in Ducky’s case, tummy, back and face) covered to the point that there were more bites than skin. Top this off with the fact that we nearly all had terrible sunburns…

Yeah, not such a great night.

But the day before had been magical. We had reached the Atlantic and were playing in the waves, accompanied by millions of tiny fish and one intrepid little sting ray.

There were dolphins, crabs, and new birds along with blisteringly hot white sand to run across. We had nummy snacks and the dog stole some meat and cheese and didn’t look the least bit repentant. We laughed and played and feasted and rejoiced.

We clung to the memory of that day when dealing with the aftereffects of the night. I asked the boys the next day while coating everyone in calamine lotion if they were able to balance out the memories. “I think so.” Said one. “Yes!” said the other.

“What about you, Mom?”

Oh. That’s right. Me.

“I can still hear the waves crashing on the shore. I can remember the feeling of the swells lifting up my body and taste the sea-salt on my lips. I remember how you two laughed and played together as if all alone on the busy (but not quite crowded shore.) I told someone recently that our trip seems to be 85% trials and tribulations, 10% good days and 5% moments of earth-shattering glory. I think it was one of those 5% days. What about you?”

This time they both said Yes.

 

Day 35

I awoke this morning realizing that I have to drive to beat the heat and nearly started to cry. I am so achy and sore it hurts to go to the john.

We’ve lost some canned food to the heat. Went to pull out our dinner last night and found dents I don’t recall being there and I’m not sure if we can eat ‘em.

I managed to back up and knock off one of the dumping pipes to the van. It’s currently sitting in the toilet wrapped up in plastic bags and I’m trying not to think about it.  We also appear to have no dashboard lights when the headlights are on, which is absolutely terrifying when driving at night. We are about to drive through TX where it’s going to be about 12 hours before we know a living, breathing soul.

The dog had a foxtail deeply burrowed into her paw and I am not sure I got it all out. She was completely clingy all evening from being left in the kennel and my guilt was nearly insurmountable. (Ducky bravely announced he would skip promised swim time in the pool to stay with her. I still can’t believe that happened.)

Today is one of those days I Have Doubts.

I have been so excited. Brightly talking about our adventures, knowing we sound insane; going back east, through the south, coming back to California and then hopefully getting the job in SC and heading back again. (It is necessary to come back to CA to modify my custody order, even though Ducky’s daddy hasn’t said boo to him since he was two.)

I still believe, It’s just that today my hopes are dimmed.

This trip has been a strange reminder of just what it means to be a single parent. The word “we” has taken on a weird double meaning I’m starting to resent.  Every other “we” I’ve met has meant a traditional family and I’m dying of envy. Not the “husband and wife part,” (Or husband/husband, grandparents + brood, etc.,) no. I’m jealous of one simple factor: Two (or more!) Goddamned Licensed Drivers.

Oh the joy of being tired and having the ability to swap with somebody! I can hardly imagine it. Oh wait. Yes I can. In fact I’ve been practicing. I’m actually very good at imagining that, if I do say so myself…

Then again, when I realistically try to picture doing this trip with another adult it stretches my excellent imagination to the breaking point. I’ve never had to share parenting duties with another person. I am not certain I how to have healthy conversations about things or even how to productively fight. This last makes me fear for Ducky because without an example set, how will he learn? I don’t want him to grow up, fall in love and not know what the hell to do when there is a disagreement.

 

Yup. Like I said. Doubts.

 

I need to remember that I am aching all over from the fantastic explorations that we took part in yesterday.

That the canned food can be replaced and it was just a small portion of our stores. (Though I would trade my soul for a freakin’ Trader Joe’s ya’ll. Seriously.)

There are RV repair stops/shops and I’m sure to find one if need be. Not to mention that the dumping pipe we lost for for the toilet which we have never used. We also don’t tend to drive at night. Like ever.

The dog will be okay.

The kid will be okay.

I will be okay.

I am feeling the fear and doing stuff anyway. Off to another time zone today. Damn, Texas looks huge.

 

Day 24

 

Ducky and I have been cramming like a pair of chronically last minute students the night before the big test. Forced to buckle down due to extenuating circumstances we are pleased to announce, “Houston, we have a route!”

It was a fairly simple process. We opened the Atlas. At last. It’s been sitting all shiny and new in the van for several days looking like a wallflower at the big dance; all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Running our fingers along the bottom of the U.S. section, we came up with a list of states we will need to traverse. “Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina*, North Carolina, Virginia*, Maryland.” We chanted these in a sing-song, revelling in familiar yet strange names.

“Okay Ducky. We have 28 days to get to Centreville Virginia. The maps say that’s about 2800 miles. I’m planning for 3500 miles to provide extra time for Shiny & Squirrel. How many miles a day MINIMUM does that come out to? I don’t want to drive more than 6 hours a day if possible.”

Ducky, “HUH?”

“Get the calculator.”

“Oh.”

A few moments later…

“Okay mom, it looks like we would have to go about 125 miles a day or two hours or so to get there. I have no idea how to calculate for 6 hours a day though. Why six hours a day? Will we still go to the Grand Canyon? What is in New Orleans? How will we…”

“Please. Stop.”

“Okay.”

So, now to the nitty-gritty. Clearly we aren’t going to podunk along, taking our sweet time everywhere, especially because we want to be able to spend time in various locations with our friends who are hopefully still eagerly awaiting us. (As opposed to having given up on us all together. Did I mention I thought we’d be in Texas by now? Sorry y’all.)

Obviously some choices are going to have to be made. I am saddened to think that possibly cool areas will sped past as if hordes of zombies were the local attractions as opposed to huge balls of string or actual, giant forks on the road.

But since we have places to go and people to see, I know we will find a certain degree of balance if not a true happy medium.

Tonight we will be spending our final evening in Ramona, (our friends coincidentally making my favorite dish,) and heading to Yuma. I am excited and nervous (my usual combo) while looking very much forward to Ducky see a sign welcoming him to a new state for the first time.

See you on the flipside!