Thing One: That’s a radiator cap. Everyone (or every car) should have one. For a brief moment on that fantastic 80MPH stretch between Salt Lake City and St. George, we did not have one. Or at least we did not have one attached to our radiator in quite the way one might wish. As a result, there was a 15-minute stretch of our journey when we also had no coolant. Somewhat miraculously, the cap remained partially connected, perched at a jaunty angle and staring back at me as I opened the hood (with bated breath). I “blame” St. Christopher, because I still have no idea how it came off so completely as to vent all that fluid, yet remained affixed enough for me to re-discover (and re-attach). Luckily, we’ve had issues with the cooling system in the past, so I was prepared. One container of coolant (and 5-6 bottles of drinking water) later, we were back on the road again, although Sean expressed some serious doubts as to whether we had enough drinking water to complete our trek across the Mojave.
Thing Two: These are snacks. Not food, really; just snacks. When at home, by dint of hard work, perseverance, and a bit of iron-fisted, ruthless oversight from yours truly, we usually mange to squeeze about 3-4 days out of them. In the car, they last for just over 13 seconds. I’m used to my boys consuming large amounts. Honestly, I am. But I’m also used to buying myself at least a couple of minutes of semi-tranquility in the moments immediately after I’ve given them something. In the car, I swear they start asking for more before the food I’ve just handed them (at some risk to life/limb/steering/navigation/sanity) has even hit their tastes buds. Which assumes they’re actually tasting anything. The relentless pace is mind-boggling to me.
Thing Three: This is a rest area — something one sees from time to time while flying along the interstates. And they are worthless. They are either closed, or none of the six boys in the car need to use the readily-available bathroom. There is no middle ground. None! …Well, “worthless” might not be entirely accurate. If you happen to fall into that small subset of people who actually WANT most/all of your boys to be desperately clamoring to use the restroom within 5 miles of leaving a given location, then they’re not worthless. Because that’s exactly what happens. Every. Single. TIME. It’s uncanny. (Also, it takes exactly 7.38 seconds for all six boys to disembark from the van upon arriving at one of the aforementioned rest stops. However, it takes between 37.8 and 38.7 minutes to get them back into said van and back on the road once again. I don’t understand how it “works;” it just does. I avoid them like the plague. …unless, of course, the five-year-old is weeping and wailing and begging me to find a bathroom. I’m not an ogre.)
Thing Four: That is what an idyllic, brochure-worthy vacation looks like. I suppose. I have no actual, first-hand experience, though. The WyoSanka Pack gives not a fig for such peaceful quietude. (Nor for hammocks, apparently.) Instead, we believe in subjecting those around us to as much noise and bustle and Life Lived Large as humanly possible. Good times; truly. But also, insane times. (My parents are saints; crazy, tolerant, crazy-tolerant saints. Also, the travel lodge in St. George still doesn’t know what hit ‘em. And they seemed like such nice, quiet people. I have guilt.)
Thing Five: This is E. Nesbit. She is awesome. She (and the silvered tongues of Blackstone Audio Books) made everything else on this list immeasurably easier. The boys and I spent the better part of the trip out listening to “Five Children and It,” in fact. And a not-insignificant portion of the return on “The Treasure Seekers”. And it was very, very good. Bless you, Edith.
Attribution(s): First four images provided by Shutterstock; E. Nesbit courtesy of Getty Images, which allows the use of certain images “as long as the photo is not used for commercial purposes (meaning in an advertisement or in any way intended to sell a product, raise money, or promote or endorse something).”