Family Road Trip

Okay, so here is magnum opus on my last hurrah of summer.  To some driving around in a mini van for two weeks with two small children might be hellish.  I was in heaven.  Did they listen when I tried to tell them the importance behind Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the storm”?  No, but we bonded in other ways.  Most of it we did as three for the road, but Mark joined us 8 days in.

Being a mom of two littles is easier for me on the open road.  We aren’t chained to our screens.  Away from stressors.  That’s why they call it vacation.  Mountain of laundry

Who says moms can’t be spontaneous?

Um, that would have been me.  Since Vivien’s birth I’ve been saying that I’m a borderline shut in.  Partly due to the fact that until she was well over a year she would SCREAM if put in the car.  The walking helped me lose weight, but hard to go more than a couple of miles at best.

Then Little Rex comes along and the thought of trucking with two little ones seemed to hold more planning than I could muster.  You pack the entire house, make a little space so I can back the car up and, oh, forget it, we will stay at home.  Add to the equation that trying to get some free time on my husband’s schedule is pretty tough and I am back on the couch watching cartoons again.  How can I handle two kids on my own out of town?  Can’t be done.

Or can it?

I have been wanting to take Vivien to the Santa Barbara zoo since she was about 2. I realized this past Friday was the one day that NOTHING was scheduled.  No shots, no work, no preschool, no nothing.  So I said, that’s it, I’m not even going to think about it, let’s go.  I said to Mark I would love it if he could come, but of course he couldn’t.  The one good mommy sense I had was that I packed extra clothes for the kids and even an extra shirt for me.

Lot’s of traffic on the way up, but Rex sleeps most of the way (not the screamer his sis was) and Vivien has her DVD.  The zoo is great.  Compact unlike the overly large LA Zoo.  Well landscaped and easy to navigate.

What did I do right?  I grabbed the zoo food as soon as we walked in.  We all control the dipping blood sugar.  The whole journey I put my picky, foodie tastes aside as there was NO way I was going to be able to ingest anything desirable with Rex.  I have to feed Rex like he is Helen Keller before Ann Bancroft showed up.  Chasing after him or letting him grab a bit as he runs off somewhere.  The food there was totally edible.  The other helpful tool was my bugaboo with the standing board.

Added bonus I got a work out pushing them up hills.

The other great thing about the SB zoo is that they have wide swaths of green and a little stage the kids can play on.  The greenery is jarring to an Angeleno. Don’t forget the TRAIN.  A big reason I had been wanting to take them was the zoo has a little train that rings the park.  Sweet.

We saw EVERYTHING.  Then went to the beach area and I ate some pizza with the speed as if the Russians were down the street.  We came to a great park that delighted the kids so much I didn’t even pine for an espresso like I usually so when I’m standing in sand.  Vivien was saying something over and over to me that I have thought since the ’80’s, “Why don’t we live in Santa Barbara?”

Sigh, it’s like going back to LA 60 years ago.  Less people, orange groves on the edge of town, Spanish tile roofs, albeit no affordable housing or plentiful jobs, but look at the water!

“Vivien why do you like it here more than at home?”

“There is more air.” Out of the mouth of babes.

The sun was almost gone (just after 8pm) when we left the park (mostly because some large adults had shown up to play on the slide which I thought not right) and crossed over to another large expanse of green, this one next to the beach.  I just sat as the kids ran around.

At one point Vivien suddenly started meditating like a yogi. I didn’t even know she knew about that. It was the magic of the trip and the magic of summer.  Where you are still out playing long after you would normally be in bed.  Why hustle them to bed?  Did we have anywhere to be in the morning?  No. In fact Vivien kept begging to stay.  Well, I don’t know…

I was tempted, but we had no toothbrushes, no clean underwear for mom, etc.  But, we got some great Mexican at Le Super Rica while I thought about it.  Then we got in the car.  “Ah, mom,” She said with disapointment.  I called Mark.  I was still clinging to this idea of Rex’s crib, toothpaste, change of clothes in the morning.  Then I when I spoke to Mark he said, “Not the best night to come home.”  He was dealing with a pretty serious mental health situation in his family and his Saturday would be occupied with that.  At Carpenteria I turned the car around.  “Vivien you got your wish!”  Yeah, she yelled as Rex slept.

Hmmm, where shall we go?  I drove up State street and hoped to rent a room at a motor lodge that former flame of mine and I used to get naked at quite a bit.  I thought it would seem ironic, yet safe.  There were no vacancies.  More irony.  We got a room at another serviceable place and I got the price down since he had no crib for Rex.  Oh, and there was no soap in the shower, but I wouldn’t know that till the next morning. There was a mini mart next door where I bought some toiletries and we were set. It helps that I still nurse, which makes me feel more self reliant.  Although I did have a bottle and it’s pretty easy to get extra milk.

Vivien can sleep standing up, so she was fine.  Rex took a little help.  I think he was looking around at the room thinking, “Really, we couldn’t stay at the Biltmore?” Or maybe I was projecting.  I woke up a fair bit as I know how strong he is and was thinking my wall of pillows I ringed the bed with wouldn’t hold him.  I made a blanket on the floor bed, but that only lasted a while.

The next day we had a great diner bfast and I took them to the Mission.  More great expanses  of green they could play in.  More wishes that we lived here. Living like a hobo was yielding lots of good moments.

I will say I am a good traveler in that I keep my ears open.  I had figured out that today SB was having their Summer Solstice parade.  It’s a big deal there.  We parked near our shelter and walked down toward where people where lining up for the parade.  Pushing my own float, our big stroller.  We bought cookies and coffee from the local church and waited.  And waited, waited.

It was hot.

“Mommy, let’s go to the shade”  All the spots are taken, Viv.  But, I have to just keep listening to her.  Once we packed up the chuck wagon and walked toward the park where the parade ended there were PLENTY of places in the shade.  No as good a vantage points as before, but we got the gist.  And more expanses of land to frolic in and buy garlands and tye dye.  It was a hippie throwback and it was fun.

After a snack I pushed them up the hill to the car.  I saw an open house sign.  It looked like a fab house.

“Do you mind if I indulge my fantasy of living here?”  The realtor was so sweet.

“Come in, everyone is at the parade.  No one has come.”  As she showed me my future perfect home, save that it’s 100 percent more than we could afford, but other than that it’s awesome, I told her what my husband did.

“Mark pppp?

“Peel, yes”  I thought, oh, she probably thinks we do have the money for this house.

The drive home contained no screaming and I felt the way you do after you take a dip in a pool on a hot day.  Refreshed.  I was proud of my kids for being good travelers and for myself for going for it.  I am really excited to think that unlike my previous post, fun anecdotes don’t have to end or be delayed while raising children.

They just might not include clean underwear.