The Best $144 Dollars I Ever Spent

You can tell we haven’t road tripped in awhile due to our wildly naive plan to depart for an Idaho lakeside vacation at 6:00 am on a Monday morning. (Don’t laugh!) Google Maps estimated the drive would take us about 7 1/2 hours, without stops. We figured, with a few breaks, we would take maybe 9 hours. Images of a scenic and relaxed drive with two rested adult drivers ready to take the helm at a moment’s notice danced in our heads. (As if the words “rested” and “6:00 am” have ever belonged in the same sentence for Tom and I.)

Unfortunately, life had other plans. The week before our getaway, Zoe had soccer practice every day, a whole slew of work meetings came up at the last minute filling the calendar I had oh so carefully cleared, an eleventh hour trip to California for work sprang up, and Zoe had a soccer tournament where her team made a run to the finals, coming in second. Of course, we had to attend the barbecue afterward.

All of this to say, we didn’t even return home, much less begin packing/planning for our 6:00 am Monday start, until mid afternoon the day before.

Believing all was not lost, we marshalled our family resources and became whirling dervishes of activity to get organized for our extended absence.

Did it help? No.

By 2:30 am Monday, less than four short hours from when we were supposed to be departing, Tom and I were pooped and nowhere near ready to go. So, we did what any smart American who has lived as an Argentine expat would do — we radically postponed our departure date.

Not surprisingly, instead of leaving at o’dark thirty, we ended up rolling out of the building in the mid afternoon Monday. “Okay,” we told ourselves, “this isn’t so bad…8 hours late, plus or minus.” [Insert shrug]

The good news about the first leg of our journey is that we made it to Gresham in record time! The bad news is that we stopped there, only thirty minutes to the east of Portland! This unscheduled break was prompted by the Z’s car DVD player giving up the ghost. One screen just stopped working. Kaput. And no, it wasn’t the cables.

What are bad parents to do without video screens on a long drive with kids who have not absorbed the notion that children should be seen and not heard and who love to vocalize every little personal discomfort as if the rest of us really want to know?

Stop at Target in Gresham and buy another car DVD player! (I know, horrible, right?)

Of course, it took us forever to select, purchase, assemble, and connect it all so it was functioning. But eventually, we got the job done. (By “we” I mean Tom — I took the kids car snack shopping while he played with the electronics.) The blessed silence on the road that resulted from this lengthy, unscheduled stop induced Tom to say, “That is the best $144.00 I have ever spent.”

“Amen to that,” I replied. A subtle giving and taking of a parental high five ensued.

The rest of our trip was equally ridiculously slow for various reasons related to food, gas, bathrooms, an auxiliary jack for music, etc. All in all, it took us about 9 hours to drive from Portland to Spokane, WA, still 2 hours short of our destination. It’s an embarrassment really, for someone who grew up in a hard core, drive ’til you drop, West Coast family.

But the trip was relaxed, the big orange moon that rose over the horizon as we neared Spokane was breathtaking, and the scenery was beautiful (all of these pictures were taken with my phone as Tom was guiding our car through the Columbia River Gorge).

And yes, we made the Zs turn off their movie and actually interact and look around from time to time. Eventually though, they would start bickering and/or complaining, prompting us to direct them back to their movie for a little crack hit of screen time.

Do you think they were doing it on purpose?

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