Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Trip Commences

Sometimes I just wish I had an electrode or a conduit or something attached to my brain so that when I thought something, it would go to some electronic portal elsewhere for storage when I wanted to go back and retrieve it. Such was the case on our trip to Texas. I'd think, "Oh, I'll have to mention that," but know that it was invariably lost over the course of days. So here's what I remember.

We started out on the 18th a little later than I'd hoped for but still not at a horribly late time. The day was grey and rainy. As we drove between Cincinnati and Louisville, the rain intensified, putting a damper on our spirits, especially since David seemed to need to "go potty" every 10 miles or so. Wind buffeted the van, pushing us into different lanes on more than one occasion. That wind was stout! Finally we reached Louisville and I amused myself by teaching the girls the proper (i.e., local) way to say "Louisville". (It involved swallowing much of the word and drawling out the rest.) Unfortunately, our trial by fire (or restroom) was just beginning.

David kept saying that he had to "go potty" and as much as he actually produced when we stopped, I figured I'd better try to find him a place to go. At that point, though, we'd reached an industrial part of Louisville which did not boast of a single gas station. Finally, a gas station sign loomed on the horizon and we exited the loop around the city. Unfortunately, the gas station was about a mile from the highway and my blood pressure inexorably rose as I listened to David repeat "Gotta go potty!" in an endless loop. We finally reached the gas station, I started the pump going, and we headed into the station for the restroom. As I opened the door, I saw a sign taped to it, "No Public Restrooms".

Huh. Did that mean that, even if you spent money at the station, you were prevented from using their restroom? Yes, that's precisely what it meant, as I found out from the clerk when I asked. I believe that I said, "You have got to be kidding," at which point the clerk heartlessly laughed and turned away. It was all I could do not to let David do his business right there and walk out. Fortunately, my innate sense of propriety kicked in and I merely seethed, "I don't find this at all amusing!" at which point all three clerks and a decent percentage of the customers turned to stare at me. One of the clerks actually turned pale. What did he think I was going to do? I'm a mom with 5 children in tow...I think this is a pretty harmless scene, except for the fire that was probably flashing in my eyes.

I took the children back outside, reinserting the twins into their car seats, and stopped pumping gas. I looked around for any sort of identification number on the store, with the idea that I'd call their corporate headquarters and complain, to no avail. As I ripped the receipt out of the machine, I noticed that, not only was the store's ID number printed on it, so was the appropriate 800 number. Hot dog!

First on the agenda, however, was to find a restroom before Dave exploded utterly. At the next place, I sent Sarah in to inquire and she came out shaking her head but had the good news that, "That lady who works in there said that the Holiday Inn has public restrooms." Hot dog! As I got David out of his car seat, I realized that it was a pyrrhic victory. He had already relieved himself and he and the seat were soaked. Sighing deeply, I scrubbed him off with wipes, changed his clothes and then marched all of us over to the Holiday Inn where we all commenced to gratefully use the public facilities. Upon our return, I went into the Circle K and profusely thanked the clerk who pointed us in the right direction. And then I proceeded to call the Speedway America hotline and complain bitterly about clerks who mockingly laugh at me when I come upon them hoping for a restroom for my toddler with kidney problems. They assured me that my complaint would be heard and I continued on.

At this point, still in the throes of high blood pressure, I realized that, somewhere along the line, we'd gotten lost. Or passed our exit anyway, probably when I was frantically searching for a restroom. I pulled off the encircling freeway with the plan to find an on-ramp in the opposite direction and go back to the exit I needed. Of course, Murphy was riding with us and I found myself increasingly enmired in a questionable neighborhood which seemed to have no access to the highway. I prayed, I drove, I vainly looked for on-ramps. I could generally see the highway but no road to access it. Finally, a ramp materialized. I was so flustered that I almost took it in the wrong direction! But, after an hour and a half detour in the black hole that was Louisville, we escaped its environs.

All of this is to say that the trip didn't start out well and I began to talk at this point of turning back home and calling the whole thing off. To my surprise, the girls were vehemently opposed to this course of action. I grumped that I would have to think about it and drove a little while further from Louisville's orbit and questioned them again. They remained firm in the resolution to continue to Texas. I was doubtful but decided to press on anyway.

I don't remember much else about the rest of the trip, except arriving in Memphis at rush hour, which was not pleasant as the children were clamoring for a restroom and I kept telling them, "I'm not stopping in Memphis! Hold it!" (This became a major theme of the trip..."Hold it!") Once we crossed over the Mississippi, we stopped, called Friend Sharon's parents who had graciously agreed to put us up for the night, and continued on, contemplating that eternal puzzle of travelers with small people, "How much can one toddler bladder hold?"


Julie@Shanan Trail said...

I am sorry I laughed at you! You can have your turn after I get my David from Haiti.

Your story reminded me of my Dad. My Dad did not stop unless we needed gas. PERIOD. When we were little, my mom brought a coffee can lined with a plastic bag and a lid tht fit really well... on all our trips. We weren't allowed to have anything to drink until the gas tank was on less than a 1/4-tank. :o)

Gina said...

My Mom carried a little pink container from the potty seat. We would barely leave the driveway before one of my brothers would look over at me with a grin and ask to use the container. They knew I hated it. Dad never pulled over so Mom held it for the boys. I was absolutely terrified Dad would hit a hole in the road and the pee would splash on me. Mom would then hold the container until we stopped somewhere and she could flush it. I wish I were joking.

TobyBo said...

congratulations on surviving this road trip.

and congratulations on a great use of the phrase "pyrrhic victory."

reneegrace said...

funny - now anyway :)

This is from the mother who has a 4 yr old who CANNOT hold his pee!! :)