Anyway, I'm here to complete the tale of my journey across the Southwest - or as the bestie called it "Thelma & Louise if they were happily married and had two kids in the car".
So we left LA and actually made it out of the city in remarkably good time. Now, a wise person would have taken the lack of LA traffic as a bad omen, but I thought it seemed like a good one. It was, for the remainder of the first day. We drove through the California desert, and hit our planned Tuscon stop much earlier than expected. Since it wasn't even 5:00pm yet, we decided to keep driving until we were so hungry we couldn't stand it. A. and I figured that it was better to be ahead of schedule at the end of day 1, since we still had 2 more days on the road.
We made it to Wilcox, AZ before the girls started getting cranky. Since we were just a hop, skip, and a jump from New Mexico, we decided it was the perfect place to stop. We found a decent hotel room, fed the baby and got our suitcases settled. We found a little mexican food place nearby for dinner, and it was remarkably good. The manager was a sweet woman who found baby K so adorable that she sat nearby and played with her for a good 30 minutes or so while A and I ate (with both hands!). The day went absolutely smoothly.
Unfortunately, that's where things started to get "interesting".
The first sign of mayhem was when we went to put baby K back in her carseat. She was having NONE of it. She screamed and cried the whole 5 minutes back to the hotel. As soon as we pulled her out, she was fine. We chalked it up to her being tired and thought nothing more about it.
Bedtime went according to plan, and we passed out pretty early. After a late night on Thursday, and an early start to Friday, I was exhausted. I slept like a rock for most of the night...except for one incident in the middle of the night (K's crib snuggler that plays water noises and a cute little melody was wedged just right between her little body and the side of the crib so that it just KEPT PLAYING on repeat). After taking a much needed bathroom break, I tried to wiggle the doll from the current position, ever so slowly, praying that I didn't wake the sleeping 6 month old. Luckily I was successful, but the whole ordeal took a good 30 minutes - just enough to fully disrupt my sleep patterns.
Oh well, I thought, thank goodness I have my meds to keep me awake all day anyway.
Little did I know that this would be the last time I slept until I arrived in Dallas.
Day 2 started out well - we made good time through New Mexico and didn't have any issues besides both K and L's tantrums over being in the car. Technically L was throwing a fit because she "wanted to watch cartoons" on her little DVD player...and apparently a Disney movie, while animated, isn't a "cartoon". This went on for an hour, I think....maybe it just felt like an hour.
We arrived in El Paso for lunch a little ahead of schedule. We had lunch at Luby's because the place my El Paso native friend suggested was packed and not really suitable for A to breastfeed. Lunch went well, besides the now constant tantrums everytime little K was put in her carseat.
We proceeded to drive across the West Texas desert which included:
- A Homeland Security/Border Patrol checkpoint that took at least 30 minutes to get through. We were luckier than the poor guy that they decided to search. He was standing out in the 100 degree heat (but in the shade, of course) while they pulled out every last piece of anything in his car to make sure it wasn't stuffed with illegal immigrants or drugs (or illegal immigrants stuffed with drugs)
- A toddler who peed so much that once her diaper was soaked, she proceeded to soak her clothes, car seat, and anything else near by that would absorb liquid - without so much as muttering a word about it.
- A screaming 6 month old
- Stopping to change the diapers of aforementioned children at a truck stop in Nowhere West Texas where we were the only white people, and possibly English speakers, in the place (although we did see a white family enter as we were leaving). This didn't really bother me in any way until I noticed everyone in there staring all wide-eyed at us as if we were (literally) ghosts....or unicorns or werewolves or something. THAT was creepy.
There was just one problem. There wasn't an open hotel room in Odessa....or Midland....anywhere. We called every where we would be willing to stay and any affordable room was booked for some convention (I'm assuming it was some oil convention).
After driving around a bit, we found an IHOP and stopped so we could have the time and space to formulate a plan. By the time we were seated, it was well after 8pm. We fed the children, ate ourselves (alternating holding the adorable K who was as sweet as she could be when freed from her carseat cage), and decided on the dumbest plan ever:
Let's just drive straight to Dallas.
Let me explain. We were approaching the ever increasingly cranky baby/toddler duo's bedtime. That coupled with the tantrums at the sight of a carseat made us realize that just driving for 3 hours to the next sizable town and unloading the kiddos was a horrible idea.
**(for my non-Texas readers...this is the reason Texas is both awesome and horrible. There are parts of the state where you can drive for 3 hours without a decent hotel/motel in site.)**
Arriving in Abliene to unload two kids at 1am only to load back up at 8-9am the next day and drive the last 3 hours seemed exhausting. I know, saying that outloud sounds like we were being silly, but at that point we were so desperate to avoid more baby crying that we just wanted to get home. A was exhausted herself and wanted to just crash in her bed while her mom watched the girls. I just wanted to curl up with my dogs and be happy I didn't have kids to annoy me. Plus we felt bad for the obviously upset kids...poor things were so unhappy and we just wanted them to feel better.
We left it open, saying if we were too tired we'd stop when we got to Abliene. We didn't - luckily A was still on Pacific time so she was still good to go. We drove through Abilene without so much as pausing.
There was a very scary bathroom break on the other side of Abilene. This gas station/convienence store had a set of always open, public restrooms attached to the building, but seperated by a covered walkway. The store was closed at 2am, but we still had an hour or more to arrive in a city big enough to have any place open that late. It was like being in a horror movie. The walkway was open on both sides, so I was just waiting for someone to come jumping out of the bushes behind the store. There was a younger guy parked next to a tinted Tahoe, and he was standing next to the driver side door - which had the window rolled down so they could carry on a coversation. At first I didn't see who he was talking to inside the vehicle, so of course I assumed it was a drug deal or something. I shot a nervous glance at A and told her that if I wasn't out in 5 minuts, to grab something really sharp and come look for me. Apparently the driver of the Tahoe was a cute girl about my age...and my presence in the murder's haven that was that public restroom was enough to embolden her. She arrived just as I settled into my stall. Apparently, to make this even more messed up, the door on her stall (there were only two stalls total) was completely missing - not didn't lock...the door was MISSING!
Anyway I hung out in there a few extra minutes to make sure I didn't leave her alone, and the young man was nice enough to hang in the parking lot until Amy rushed in and back to the car.
The rest of the drive is a bit of a diet coke/red bull blur. I remember stopping at a gas station near my Aunt's in Weatherford, and from that point I was on autopilot. I'd made that drive so many times, and as recently as the week before. I wasn't worried because from that point because we were, at most, an hour from my sleeping husband, in case anything went wrong. The girls slept like, well, babies during all of this.
We arrived at my apartment right before or after 4am. I have never been so happy to see my incredibly tiny place. After a little crankiness from L, we changed, cleaned up, and passed out. I was still up befoe 9am, but I got a nap in with K while the husband was in class.
Truth is, despite the insanity of it all - the 6 hour plane delay, the crazy cabbie, and the 14 hour drive straight from Wilcox AZ to Dallas TX - I really did have a good time. K is such a sweet darling baby, and I'm so happy she's close(r) that she was before. Plus L is growing like a weed so it is really nice to see her at least once a year.
Oh, and hanging out with my favorite Thelma&Louis counterpart A and catching up. It has been almost 2 years since we've really spent time together. Living 1500+ miles away will do that.
Now I'm opnly 8 days away from going BACK to California, but this time with the husband for vacation. We're totally flying back too, so hopefully plane delays will be the least of our problems.