It's been sort of a lousy weekend. The Packers lost today, which was my last hope for something cheerful. My uncle passed away early this week after a long illness and the funeral was Friday in a town 6 hours from home. Well, when normal people drive it, it's six hours.
See, on the trip back from the funeral, since Hubby had a family thing to attend in his hometown halfway between the funeral and where we live, I rode up with him on Thursday night. The funeral was late Friday afternoon, so by 6 pm he was ready to go, and I was to ride with my parents and my brother. That was my big mistake.
Let me create a mental image. Ever hear of the movie "National Lampoon's Family Vacation?" Yeah, that's our family. Right down the the dog pee sandwiches. The four of us have done very well in radio contests with disaster stories from our family vacations.
So riding home, late at night, with my parents and my brother, I knew was going to be...interesting. At best.
It started out okay. Dad and Bro driving the rental (For the record, everyone of us has cars bigger than this rental.) Mom and I folded up like origami in the back seat. We were making good time because Bro was driving and Bro thinks of speed limits more as general suggestions for the weak.
I should mention two things:
1) My mother has restless leg syndrome and is lactose intolerant.
2) I'd been in pumps for 9 hours, and my already lousy feet went from numb to searingly painful pretty quickly.
Our first stop, 150 miles into the trip, (And 150 minutes, according to bro) got us past the tedious, two lane highway, section of the trip. It was all interstate from here! And, since we were leaving Minnesota, a lovely state, but one I've now dubbed "Land of 10,000 funky smells" I was jazzed. Looking at the clock and working out the math, I figured we'd be home by midnight.
Then my uncle, not the one who passed away, but the one who lives an hour east of the Wisconsin boarder, called my dad and invited him, since we were going that way, over for cake and soda. Bro and I groaned because 1) This would cut into the fantastic time we were making (The New Ulm, MN to Milwaukee, WI run is something college kids in New Ulm challenge each other to generation after generation. IT was a matter of pride to beat the standing record. As old people, we needed this, no matter how unofficial it would be. We'd know we broke the record.) and 2) We were hungry and cake and soda was not going to do it.
We took a vote, three normal people and the lactose intolerant one, and we decided to hit the McDonald's in La Crosse, easy on/easy off exit. Three of us knew these exits very, very well.
Which is why it was so ridiculous that we missed it.
So we went two up, to Onalaska. But the Mc D's in Onalaska isn't on the freeway. So we had to make a quick change of plans.
Ahhhhh, Culvers. That blessed blue glow promising butter burgers and frozen custard. (For those of you not familiar with Culvers, I feel very sorry for you.) We all voted for that.
The thing about Culvers is, however, that they make everything when you order it. So there's a wait. And, since there were no cup holders in the rental (for the record, everyone in this trip has cars that have no less that six cup holders.) we had to eat in the restaurant.
We ate, but as we did so, Mother announced that it wasn't just dairy that gave her gas attacks...no, it was all restaurant food. Oh, and she couldn't find her gas pills.
Eat up everyone!
Forty minutes later, our eta for home now closer to 1 AM, we get back in the car. Another vote is taken on the cake and soda offer and since the parents get two votes (How did that happen?) we stopped.
"Half an hour" my mother swears. "We'll eat some cake and go in half an hour."
Well, my aunt, bless her, made brownies for our visit. Warm brownies and ice cream! Yum!
My mother ate a plate baked goods. She weighs nine pounds and since she ate a plateful of baked goods, I gained six pounds.
And then, as we were thanking my aunt and uncle...the subject of politics came up.
Now, my parents and my relatives AGREE on all things political. Seriously. What this debate was about, I couldn't tell you. It was four adults sitting at a table eating dessert and howling about the general state of affairs.
Tick, tick, tick...
At 11 PM we made our way out of the house. Mother, of course, stayed behind to use the gas room. Uncle, who is a planter guy, wanted to show us his moon flowers. Bro and I were as polite as we could be, but come on, we were five hours into what should have been a six hour trip, we still had a solid 2 hours and more to go, and it was already 11 PM.
But, flowers viewed, dessert eaten, gas released, we were back on the road.
Well, for another 45 minutes.
At this point, Mother and I, both with legs and feet roiling in pain, were trying to sit face to face in the back seat of the rental, with our legs on the seat of the rental. Since Mother is tiny, this worked, except getting the two of us out of the car took the skill of acrobatic conjoined twins. (Hey, I watch a lot of Health Channel, I've seen the coordination it takes to move around. I do not have that sort of coordination and Mother certainly doesn't.)
|Rental cars...you think you hate them now, wait 'til you drive one!|
So, Mother and I unfolded out of the car. I used the ladies room, sharing a hand washing moment with a Chris-Farley-in-a-dress-look-alike. Since the universe is balanced, of course the mad she was with was a tiny, feminine looking fellow. Hey, it was well after midnight at this point.
I wanted coffee. But I didn't want hot coffee. Why not?
1) It was roughly 1100 degrees in the car.
2) NO CUP HOLDERS IN THE RENTAL.
So I went to the "iced coffee" dispenser. I had an insulated cup, but that was okay, I told the clerk it was iced coffee. It's Kwik Trip, they really don't care what you put in the cup.
We got ourselves folded back into the car for the last two, yep you read that right, two hours of the trip. I took a sip of blessed iced coffee.
It wasn't iced.
It wasn't even cold.
It was WARM!
Not hot, but warm. Warm and sticky and thick and gross.
I've never had a mental breakdown, but I think I know what the warning signs are now.
Somewhere in the woods of I-94, as we approached the Wisconsin Dells, I did something I never do.
I threw out food.
I opened my window, took the lid off the cup, and let the sticky coffee fly.
Have I mentioned I've never been really good with things like Physics?
While most of the coffee did fly into the semi behind us (I started yelling, I've just hit a Teamster....DRIVE!) a goodly portion stayed on my arm.
Great. Now I'm sticky.
Mother is a problem solver. She got a bottle of warm water (Because again, it's about 1100 degrees in the car.) and said, "Rinse with this."
Then we hit a bump and the water splashed all over me, except on my arm.
Great, now I'm wet and sticky.
At this point, we are laughing so hard, it's hard to breath. Mother then announces to the entire car, that she has a feminine wipe in her purse and that will clean me up.
That's when Bro turns on the radio. Since my father avoids all things rock and roll, the radio is turned to his favorite AM station. Do you know what they play on AM stations in the wee hours?
Radio plays from the 40's. I'm sitting there, wet and sticky, laughing my face off, twisted in some weird seating position they only picture in love making books from other cultures, and I'm listening to a radio play.
Well, I don't like being sticky, so I accepted my mother's feminine wipe. Which made the volume of the radio play soar. (Apparently Bro is not comfortable enough with his manliness to listen to a MAssengill ad in the car.) I wiped myself down. Now, I'm not sticky. I'm still wet, but at least I smell like flowers.
We rolled into Waukesha at 2 AM, 8 hours after we'd left New Ulm. My kids waited up for me. Awwww....Okay, Skippy doesn't go to bed on Friday nights, so that doesn't count. But Peaches waited up for me which was nice.
My parents returned the rental, so they didn't get home until after 3. I should note that had we driven one of our own cars, with the bigger back seat, the cup holders, and no rental rules worries, they would have been in bed almost an hour earlier.
I'm just sayin'.
So, you may ask, am I afraid my parents will be offended that I'm telling you all this? Nope, I'm not. Know why?
Because somewhere on this death march into darkness, my mother said to me, "Sarah, your best writing is when you just tell it like it is."
So, here's to you, Mom!