A Life Stirred

A Christmas Road Trip Story

on September 8, 2014

So it turns out, I really enjoy this storytelling process.  The process of remembering, writing, and sharing a part of my life (and my heart) with you.  (Yes, you, my 5 faithful readers.) 

Plus I like that I get to delve into alllllll the details that I would probably just skim over in real life.  I have this fear of boring people in conversation (because I know we’ve all been in that conversation where all you can think is “Goodness.  Shorten this thing up!”).  So I tend to abbreviate my thoughts and stories.  But really, in my heart of hearts, I just want to go on and on and share all the details and the backstory and the hilarities. 

Thank goodness for this fabulous thing called a blog.  I can go on and on.  And no one can stop me.  Because it’s my little space in the internet.  If I am completely dull, you can just stop reading.  I don’t have to watch you subtly check the time on your cell phone.  And you don’t have to come up with a polite way to excuse yourself from the conversation.  Win-win, right?

Ok, so for Christmas last year, we traveled down to Pennsylvania and New Jersey in order to visit all kinds of extended family.  It was an awesome trip, exceeding all my expectations (even though I was very careful not to have any).

See?  We had a great trip.

See? We had a great trip.

Except with regards to the actual traveling part.  That part was terrible.  Really, really terrible.

There was the crummy weather—a snowstorm on the way down and a rainstorm on the way back (ironically, the rainstorm was worse).  There was the 6 month old who could just sense when we were about 20 minutes away from our next planned stop and would scream her head off until we made it.  There was traffic and a crabby toddler and a few grumpy grown-ups.  And there was the actual distance.  700 miles and 12 hours one way is not for wimps.

But the best part was our return journey.

And by “best”, I clearly mean “worst.”

We left Ben’s sister in NJ and headed north…in a crazy rainstorm.  Visibility was…terrible.  (I am so lame at estimating things like visibility.)  Our goal was to make it to Portland, where we would crash at a (pre-booked) hotel, and then do the second half of our trip the next day.

There was traffic and longer-than-anticipated stops and crabby kids (who were all done with the carseats after a week of lots and lots of traveling).  But after a looooong day, Portland was nearly in sight!  We watched the miles and minutes tick down on the GPS.  It started snowing and the girls started fussing, but we were only about 20 minutes away from our destination.  No big deal.

And then….

The oil light blinked…

Then all the other dashboard lights blinked…

Then the car just shut down.

Not good.  (That was my expert analysis of our situation.)

With a not-yet-two year old and a 6 month old in the back, I took to entertaining them while Ben checked out the car.  And by “entertaining”, I mean I sung just about every children’s song I could think of…which, by some miracle, worked!

Since Ben and the kind road-crew guy who stopped were unable to determine (or fix) the issue, we called a tow truck.  And then we waited…forever!!  Give or take.

The snow really picked up while we waited, and it started accumulating on the road.  Obviously, the car wasn’t working, and neither was the heat.  So, I was suddenly very thankful that Ben requires lovingly suggests I always travel with a blanket.

Eventually, the tow truck came.  Yay!

But the tow truck cab only had a bench seat.  You know the kind that can fit two, maybe three (if you’re willing to be cozy).  And there were 5 of us…and two who required car seats.

But it was late.  We were tired.  It was snowy.  So we loaded into the cab: Claire (in her infant carrier) on Ben’s lap, Joanna on my lap, and me trying to keep my legs out of the way of the gear shift (and simultaneously trying to keep my thighs from touching the tow-truck guy’s).

Off we went down I-95…slowly because it was really quite snowy and slick.

And then Claire started screaming.  Loudly.

It.  Was.  Awful.

I kept apologizing.  Because really, nobody wants to be driving down an interstate in terrible weather with an overloaded cab of people AND a screaming baby.

The tow truck guy was amazing.  Every time I apologized, he would respond, “Babies will be babies.  They cry.”

At one point, he calmly asked, “Do you think music would help?” as he turned on the radio for Claire (who actually paused for a few minutes).  It turned out that this was Tow Truck Guy’s first night on the job.  He even offered to drop us off at our hotel before he took our car into the shop (possibly just to get rid of the screaming child) at no extra charge.

After the longest 20ish miles ever, we finally made it to the hotel.  I brought the girls into the lobby while Ben unloaded the stuff from the car.  And Claire?  Claire was as happy as a clam.  Apparently, she just likes to be heard sometimes.

But the very best part of this whole (long) story?

Our car stopped working because…wait for it…we ran out of gas.

How embarrassing.

But it certainly makes for a good story.  Or at least a long one.

And Babies Don't Keep

6 responses to “A Christmas Road Trip Story

  1. Melissa says:

    So sorry that I just laughed out loud at this. Mostly the running out of gas part!

  2. Bethany says:

    We had an incident while traveling to visit family a few years ago for Easter…ended up in a ditch in a blizzard with a broken down van and (thankfully only!) one baby! Not fun. Not fun at all.

    Great story. I could definitely relate…and feel your pain:)

  3. HAHAHA this is so awesome. I mean, terrible, so sorry it happened, but I loved reading it. Thanks so much for linking up, Carley! I hope you’ll do it again.

    • carleymorse says:

      Yeah, it’s hilarious now. I couldn’t even talk about if for a few months there.

      Thanks for starting this storytelling thing! I continue to be surprised by how much I look forward to this (and surprised by the fact that I keep thinking of stories!).

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