Go.

We’re about to embark on a 10-day trip that begins and ends with a cross-country flight and has a three-hour drive in the middle. Just The Who and me. We are seasoned travelers, having taken many flights and road trips together, the first of which when he was just two months old.

First Road Trip

First Road Trip

I have navigated airports with him as both a stroller-rider and a walker (and runner!) and I have successfully driven us to Boston and back more times than I can count.

Already a seasoned air traveler at 9 months old.

Already a seasoned air traveler at 9 months old.

I know what works (snacks, toys, and a fully charged media-playing device) and what doesn’t (over-scheduling, chocolate, and forgetting the daily Miralax dose.) So, why am I so anxious as the days leading up to this trip tick down?

What I have done:

  • Made multiple lists (my suitcase, The Who’s suitcase, my carry-on, The Who’s carry-on, To-Do)
  • Purchased a handful of toys/crafts to “unwrap” during travel (puzzles, foam craft kit, books, markers)
  • Brought up the suitcases and opened them up so we can start filling them slowly over the next several days
  • Put all of our accommodation ducks in a row (secured who we are staying with and when, confirmed rental car reservation, confirmed hotel reservation, set a reminder on my phone to check in for the flight)
  • Planned out the timing of the day we leave so we get to the airport on time

What I have left to do:

  • Finish all my grading
  • Do some cooking to leave for m*
Even by boat! (Ferry from Boston to Provincetown)

Even by boat! (Ferry from Boston to Provincetown)

What am I missing? Seasoned travelers, especially: weigh in. What can I do to lose the anxiety and focus on the excitement of traveling to a city where I have never been, but have always wanted to visit and seeing friends that I really love?

Snacks.

There are two notable things about today’s drive home and they are both food-related, which anyone who has road-tripped with a kid will understand. It’s all about the snacks. In our case, we actually only made one stop (well, two, but one right after the other, just up the road) and that’s where all the action was.

Within the first hour, The Who was knocked out. Neither of us slept very well last night and I’m not sure if it was the anxiety of having to say goodbye or the humidity in the room or our allergies (maybe a combination of all three) but compared to all the nights in our house on the Cape, where I laid my head down and didn’t remember a thing until I was woken up in the morning, last night was sort of restless. And I know I heard The Who rustling around a lot, too. So, yeah. Not great sleep + droning highway driving = sleeping Who.

So, as he napped, I plotted. I remembered having seen the PEZ Visitor’s Center advertised on 95 on our way up last week, so I did a quick google, got the address, and pointed my gps directly at it. This gave The Who an hour and a half to sleep and when he woke up, I got to tell him that we were at a candy store. Win-win!

I want to have one of these PEZ benches in my house. Although, I think, first I need the kind of house in which a PEZ bench wouldn’t look crazy.

Wall of PEZ.

It was a little chaotic in there with all the kids and The Who so excited that he was like a pinball in a machine, so I didn’t get to really read all the history on the walls. But I did catch this. Did you know this?

This is a bunch of candy set in a window in the floor. There were a few of these in the room with different things in them. One was all different dispensers. One was PEZ candy packages.

Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the bank of PEZ tablets in bulk, with which you could fill a small bucket for $5. You’d be surprised how many PEZ fit in a small $5 bucket. (HINT: A LOT.) Immediately after that, you could choose a decorate-your-own dispenser. The Who chose a tractor-trailer to decorate. (Surprised? I wasn’t.)

He used his mad pattern-making skillz to fill it up.

And then he just gazed lovingly at it for a while.

And then there was lunch. I contemplated driving around and looking for an actual restaurant, but that would have taken too much time, so I hopped back on 95, expecting to just get off at some crappy rest stop and eat crappy rest stop food. Little did I know that the rest stops on 95 in Connecticut are awesome. Freals.

In a clean, well-lit building with super parking, sat this beacon of perfection. Freshly made, totally customizable, good-sized grilled cheese sandwiches. The Who was instantly sold.

The Who had a “classic” but I had this tomato/fresh basil gem. Road trip food is never good. But it was today.

And now we’re home.

The end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is the First Day.

We started our slow trek back home this morning with a ferry-boat ride back to reality, but I’ll get to that in a minute because there was a whole day’s worth of activities before we even stepped on the boat.

First: packing. Always the suckiest part of vacation because it is not only a chore, but it’s a chore that signifies the end. I pack up the same way I clean up: from the back of the house, forward. When I clean, I gather things and move them to other rooms, thereby always leaving a room spotless when I am done with it, even if I haven’t properly dealt with the things I moved. E.g. I will take a dirty mug and a piece of trash from the living room and move it to the kitchen counter to be dealt with when I reach the kitchen. I like to turn chaos into order and the feeling of leaving a whole room “done” is what motivates me. Packing is no different, so I started in the back bathroom, collecting all our stuff and moving it to my bed. Then folding up the stuff on my bed and moving it out to the living room, etc. It’s perhaps not the most efficient way to pack, but it gets the job done in a way I don’t loathe.

The plan, once I finished packing my stuff, was to take The Who into town for the dual purpose of allowing m* focused time to pack the rest of our stuff into the car and to procure The Who’s morning chocolate milk because we were all out of milk at the house. We found this place in town during the week that makes perfect chocolate milk — just like The Who likes it. Light and warm. They used slightly steamed milk and a squirt of their homemade chocolate sauce and made it all right into The Who’s sippy cup. Perfection. Plus, they happened to have the best breakfast sandwich in all of P-town, so it was a total win-win.

The Who totally indulged me by hugging this bear in front of the Purple Feather and letting me take a picture. He’s a real trooper about stuff like that generally.

Then, as we meandered toward the wharf, we were charmed by the face painter and The Who and I sat for a spell. He initially chose a full-face Spiderman face, but I gently dissuaded him because he’s an eye-rubber (especially with allergies and especially as we were about to get on a windy, sunny ferry ride.) So, he settled on a doggie on his cheek, which he happily wore all day until bath time.

Not just any doggie, though. Bella, The Who’s stuffed best friend. He described her to the face painter perfectly, right down to her little blue nose.

M* met us in town with the car (and our overnighter backpack) and took us down to the end of the wharf, where we were at the very front of the line for the ferry — and good thing, too, because you have to be among the first to procure the prize seats (outside, second-floor deck, facing forward), which is where we stayed planted until the last 15 minutes of the ride.

The beach and the ocean are great places to use the Photosynth app to stitch panoramic pictures. This is the Boston skyline as we approached it.

The wind on the top deck was not f*cking around. Notice my necklace blown all the way to the back of my neck. Try not to notice my ridiculous hat-hair, which I was forced to expose when the wind blew my hat right off my head.

The wind up at the top was way too much for my little Who, so we found him a safe spot, tucked under the overhang of the bow. He loved it under there and chilled casually until the boat slowed and I could pick him up to show him the harbor as we pulled in.

We arrived in Boston sweaty and salty and sticky and glad to be picked up by Grandma in the air conditioned car. Tonight we’re spending one last night here and then it’s on the road tomorrow morning to hopefully have a much shorter drive home than poor m*, who suffered today on her drive with pouring rain and traffic. We have our fingers crossed.

Back to the daily grind Tuesday. Grocery shopping, meal planning, and laundry await. And, believe it or not, I’ll be happy to get back to it.

 

 

Last Day.

Today, our last day on vacation here at the beach, was probably my favorite of the whole week. There was nothing particularly special about it, but maybe that’s what made it the best. We made today “Who’s Choice” and his choice was to spend the entire morning at home.

Our morning at home mostly consisted of block-building.

There was also some picture-taking. The Who took my phone and started shooting — mostly photos of his own face, but there were also a few artsy shots like this one.

We all woke around 6:30 and didn’t really mobilize to go anywhere until noon. And even then, we didn’t actually get out of the house until 1:30. I was mostly unstressed about this until I looked up when high tide was and saw that it was at 1:52pm and I knew the beach we were headed to was short and virtually non-existent at high tide. And, lo, I was right. We cruised by it to see the entire world congregated on the tiny postage stamp of sand left on the beach and so we set out for another one.

We could have gone to the National Seashore beach, but they make you pay the entire season’s pass even if you’re only going for an hour and while we would have done it if we had to, neither m* nor I thought to bring a wallet, so we were flat broke. Lucky for us, we remembered that last summer, our pals stayed at a place that had beach access and they didn’t seem to care who used it or whether we parked in their lot or not, so we parked and hiked down to the water.

Aaaah.

We had a grand time until I noticed the water bugs all over the place and got too skeeved to stay. (Some googling revealed that I think they were aquatic sowbugs, which indicate poorer water quality, so it’s a good thing I both firmly forbid ocean drinking and skin-licking and that I got out of the water after only a few minutes. I’m also glad we are all now showered and clean. Blech.)

Guess how many bites of Cheezit he got that weren’t accompanied by crunchy grains of sand.

We had an awesome, calm dinner out, complete with lemon lavender cake for dessert and now all that’s left is the morning pack-up and head-out. The Who and I will catch the ferry in the morning, spend a little time at the New England Aquarium, and then have one more sleepover at Grandma’s before hitting the road back home. It’s been a great, exhausting-in-all-the-right-ways vacation.

Second to Last.

I have virtually no pictures of yesterday because we spent most of it in the water. We finally found time to go to the pool and beach and we ended up spending 5 hours there. The pool is a public one at a hotel in the middle of town and it opens up to the bay, so after we had spent some time swimming, we ventured out to the water’s edge. The Who was, initially, kind of skeeved by the seaweed, but eventually took my hand and walked further in. By the end of the afternoon, he was sitting right in the water, collecting rocks and seashells for the “vacation jar” we plan to make when we get home.

We did visit the bounce house at the “Littles Gathering” in the park again in the morning, though, and it also happened to be “Magic Show Day” there, too. The Who tried over and over to get chosen to be an assistant and finally, got his chance on the last trick. The magician thought he needed someone “braver” (read: older) but I assured him (knowing that The Who really wanted to be able to participate) that he would do just fine. And, of course, he did.

“That doesn’t hurt, does it?”

“Where’s my arm?”

Voila!

Today is “Who’s Choice” day. It’s our last one here, so we promised him that we could do anything he wanted to do. So far, it has been to hang out at the house and play. Maybe we’ll make it to town or to the beach later. Whatever his little heart desires. And then tomorrow, it’s back on the boat to begin our journey home.

 

 

Bulleted Highlights. Day Four.

Highlights of today:

  • Discovering the chilled glasses in the freezer. Perfect for my room-temp soda that came with the pizza delivery.
  • No rain! Despite a decidedly wet forecast, there was nothing but sun all day long.
  • A Who just delighted to be at “Kidapalooza” (the hour and a half/day of free daycare offered here this week.)
  • An exhausted, yet playful Who.

  • Visting family and ‘stache glasses.

Day Two.

When The Who climbed into my bed with me this morning at 6am and I caught a glimpse of the clear day just beginning outside the bedroom skylight, I suggested we fast forward through our usual morning routine (chocolate milk, toast with butter, and a show) and instead get dressed right away and take a walk into town. This kind of a plan is never a hard sell on The Who; he loves walking into town, both home and on vacation (and as someone who generally opts to drive as opposed to walk, I consider this a personal coup. We walk a lot together.) So, as quietly as we could (so m* could get some much-needed rest) we slipped out the door with chocolate milk to go.

It’s the rare visitor here who gets to see this street so empty.

There’s nothing quite like a beach town early in the morning. Restaurants are washing their outside decks, people are walking their dogs, and the smell of coffee wafts out of open cafe doors. For what is normally such a crowded, energetic street, the main drag in the early morning is peaceful and serene. As we meandered toward the bay, The Who looked up at me and said, “I love walking into town when it’s so quiet.”

After playing by the water, collecting rocks, and bounce-housing, we inhaled the best egg-and-cheese sandwich I have ever had before I left The Who at the organized babysitting while I attended a “What’s so Gay about Money?” workshop. I got some great tips and took lots of notes while I could hear the sound of The Who and his comrades singing “Ring Around the Rosy” down the hall.

Arriving early for the “Littles Gathering” afforded The Who unlimited and untimed bounce turns. Delighted, he.

Target, trying to win back the gays (and doing a good job at it, I’d say) sponsored this whole week here, so there was some pretty awesome swag, including this kids’ backpack, which The Who insisted on wearing, telling me, “This is just for me, Mama. Not for grown-ups.” The shoulder strap was a little big and kept slipping off, so he held it around his waist valiantly, so proud to have his own little pack.

M* walked into town and met us for lunch (pizza and ice cream, per The Who’s request, but as it turned out, he wasn’t really hungry and barely had any pizza and skipped the ice cream entirely) and then we all walked home for the Nap What Wasn’t. I know we stopped the nap for a reason; he doesn’t really sleep. Still, we felt optimistic since he had been so tired in town. Alas.

M* carried a wilted Who for the last several blocks of our walk home. He wore a perma-grin the whole time, loving the view from up there.

Finally, to end our epic day, we packed up our gear and headed to the beach for a campfire, which was held — unfortunately — in the rain. We had an awesome umbrella/cabana, so we mostly stayed dry and The Who was largely¬†unfazed¬†by the weather as he enjoyed his first s’mores, bedecked in rain gear.

Baby’s First S’mores

The whole house is asleep soundly now as I watch the Olympics and get us ready for tomorrow, which will start rainy, but hopefully brighten up (if my weather app is to be trusted.) Hoping to get to the beach in the afternoon tomorrow. Fingers crossed.