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A Five Hour Drive for Dinner, or The Weekend Getaway That Wasn’t

We’re back.  We never even left.

Well, that’s not quite true.  We left for our first trip without the kids.  On Saturday we made it to Taos, enjoyed the stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains during the drive, and checked in to our hotel, and we even went to dinner.  But we didn’t make it through one whole night away.

At 9 pm, my parents called.  Jonas had thrown up over 20 times in an hour.  His pediatrician said to take him to the ER, so that’s where they were headed.  I, immediately, burst into tears.  Go out of town, and your baby gets attacked by a rapid onset evil stomach bug, or something even worse.  We gathered up our (still packed) bags, piled into the car, and got back on the road again.

Theoretically, one of us should’ve slept in the car during the drive.  But between the frantic phone calls back and forth, looking out for wayward deer crossing the road, and worrying about sick Jos, it didn’t really happen.

The phone calls  – and texts, in the many dropped call zones in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado – got even more frantic when emergency no. 2 came up.

The CO2 detector in our house started to beep.  And beep.  And beep.  And beep.  My mother woke up Axel, who somehow slept through those ear drum-shattering beeps, threw him into her car with two dogs (hers and ours), and drove across town to her house.  Our incredibly helpful neighbor waited to let in the utility guy to test for gas.  Of course, the test turned up negative.  No gas, just a terribly ill-timed malfunction of the C02 detector.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Jonas endured tests, got some fluids in him, and started to sing and flirt with the nurses.   My father sent us regular reports, and pictures of Jonas trying to yank off his hospital gown and looking remarkably cheerful for a kid who’d emptied his stomach 10 times over.

We started to worry less, because any kid who’s healthy enough to make new friends with the hospital staff is most certainly not in critical condition.   With one of our boys going to the hospital every month or so, I’m starting to consider how we get some kind of priority.  Like a season’s pass, or a badge, or maybe our own little reusable kidney-shaped puke bowl with the boys’ names engraved on the side.

Sean and I had fun encounters at rural gas stations, like the far-from-sober  guy with a wicked black eye who picked up three hot dogs and rolling papers at the 7-11, and the gas station attendant hanging out in the front seat of her taxi driver boyfriend’s car who didn’t seem too concerned about someone running in to steal all the Circus Peanuts and Fritos while they canoodled.  We learned important things, like that Circle K now offers a Slurpee doppleganger called a Froster, and that those RedMonsterBullPunkStarRockAnimal Energy drinks are indistinguishable, and if you want to avoid traffic to and from Taos, 9 pm – 2 am is a great time for the drive.  And we considered what kind of a grandparents of the year award we could get for my parents, for handling one mini crisis after another.

Back home, crisis no. 3: Axel needed some dry pants, and so my mom packed him back up into the car and drove back to our house, with its hefty stock of pajamas.  At this point, all we could do was laugh.  Because, seriously?  Baby puke fest, ER trip, gas alarm going off in the middle of the night, pajama emergency.  I waited for the next thing – car attacked by rabid moose, wallet stolen by gypsies, cat lighting himself on fire, UFO sighting in the bathtub.   Thankfully, nothing else happened, except a few more uneventful hours of late night driving in the company of long haul truckers and assorted misfits.

By the time we made it to Denver, Jonas had been discharged from the hospital and was snoozing in my mother’s arms, Axel was asleep in his own bed (still wearing his sweatshirt), and the four adults were just a bit out of it.   It was quite an adventure, for all of us.  Before he fell asleep, Axel kept on saying, “This is amazing!”  Amazing is right.

Our next attempt at a couples getaway will be much shorter like, say, to a movie theater down the block.   We’ve been scared off of trips for a bit.  Today, we’re going to explore our own city, where we’ll be a 15 minute drive away from the boys, and a handful of hospitals.

Ten hours in the car, round trip, with not much more to show for it than some mediocre elk burgers.   It was a long way to go for a dinner date.   All we wanted was a short, restful, low stress weekend, and maybe to go on a couple of hikes and eat some good food.   Instead, what we got was a story – the time mama & daddy attempted to go to Taos, and they didn’t even bring back a lousy t-shirt.

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