I think I’m getting better at tax season road trips. I mean, time will tell, I guess – I have a few more coming up before April 15, including a big spring break trip around the state, but so far, so good. This is not to say that these road trips aren’t still harrowing, just that I am better able to deal with them without a complete mental and emotional breakdown. Then again, I was not PMS-ing. Let us pray that PMS and a tax season road trip never coincide.
We left on Friday, a non-student day at school, and headed south. The car doesn’t have to hold nearly so much stuff now that Freddie can sit in a normal dining chair (not that he does, mind you; he stands on the chair all the time, dancing and singing while stuffing food in his face or throwing it at the dog), sleep in a normal bed (he sleeps in my bed, kicking me in the back or smooshing his cheek on my cheek, which is not comfortable AT ALL), and walk places without need of a stroller (also run away in the grocery store, climb mailbox posts, or sumersault through a rest stop). We had a full tank of gas, plenty of snacks, the weather was fine, and the traffic wasn’t bad. That is, until we got to JBLM. If you drive I-5 in Washington, you know that this portion of the interstate is the ABSOLUTE WORST. Coming up to it, I thought we might escape it’s terrible traffic relatively unscathed, but then Charles had to pee. Like, desperately, get off the freeway right now, someone look for a cup just in case. It was lunchtime, I spotted a McDonald’s sign, I took the exit… and then I got stuck. Traffic in front was not moving, I couldn’t reverse because it was the freeway, the off-ramp was totally blocked. I moved to the left turn lane, thinking I could go over the overpass, turn around, and maybe hit the light to get to the McDonald’s on the west side of the freeway coming from that direction, but the traffic was blocked there, too. The only place to go was into the base, and I can’t do that, so… I pulled over, opened the side door (hooray, minivan!), and instructed Charles to pee out the side.
After assessing all the options and watching the backed up traffic in all directions just sort of… sit there for awhile, I squeezed my way over the the I-5 North on-ramp. If you’re keeping track, that’s the opposite direction from which I was heading. But the on-ramp for I-5 South was blocked and the train crossing arms were down and lights were on to the west (no train, though) and all the traffic lights were red in every direction, so I decided that I would go north one exit and turn around and go back south until we could find a better place for lunch (spoiler: we ended up at a McDonald’s – kid gourmet – anyhow). As I got off on that next exit, I realized that IT WAS BLOCKED, TOO. What kind of fresh hell was this? The worst section of freeway seemed to have every exit blocked, traffic lights and railroad crossings going haywire, and all the while my kids were getting hungrier and crankier.
I decided to do something about it. I pulled out my phone and called WSDOT. I had been sitting near the last exit where Charles peed for about 10 minutes and at this exit for 5 and so had HUNDREDS of other people in cars, but was I the first one to call the state transportation department? Yes, yes I was. They quickly connected me to the right person who then called the state police and asked me to get out of my car and direct traffic until the troopers could get there. I told her that, being the only adult in the car, I couldn’t possibly, but lucky for us all, someone up ahead had finally had enough and jumped out of their vehicle and started moving people through the intersection. We eventually got back on the freeway in the correct direction and sought lunch. Turns out a construction company working near the freeway hit some sort of signal line and munged up everything for the whole day. The moral here is: call the authorities when something is wrong. Chances are, no one else will.
The drive continued uneventfully, despite my insisting that all ice cream be consumed before we leave McDonald’s, a ruling that almost incited a riot among my children, until we started to climb the hill on Highway 101 just south of Montesano. If you’re familiar with the area, you know that the road twists and turns as it climbs through the hills. I was singing along with the stereo (ask me how many times I’ve heard the Cars soundtrack… go ahead, just ask. A MILLION TIMES is the answer.) when Onyx abruptly sat up and started panting and drooling. Oh, shit, I thought, she’s gonna barf. There are not many convenient places to pull over up there, so I grabbed the garbage bag (a grocery sack) we keep in the front and concentrated on keeping us on the road while simultaneously holding the bag under the dog’s snout with one hand.
I probably should have stopped. Carsick dogs vomit for a long time, evidently.
At our rest stop on South Bend, I cleaned out the car while Jamie walked Onyx. I managed to contain most of the dog vomit and I got the chicken nugget and fry remnants out of the car before she could scavange them and potentially puke again. That was, thankfully, our last stop before finally making it to the beach.
All told, I think dog vomit was the easiest bodily fluid I’ve had to deal with in the car, thanks to my quick catching skills.
It’s always an adventure.