Vacation


Well, we survived our summer vacation. With two little kids, and a newborn. And my mom.

Actually, we more than survived. We had a great time on Martha’s Vineyard… once the pilgrimage from hell was behind us: an estimated 9 1/2 hours in the car — 500 miles — to catch a ferry to the island. With a 6:30 pm ferry reservation we gave ourselves an extra three hours to get there in time.
But I forgot the golden rule: when plotting a family vacation, one kid will inevitably become sick. Right on schedule, at 4:30 am, a barking, heaving seal limped down the stairs.
At least that’s what the Barbarian sounded like. “She’s got croup,” the after-hours nurse explained when I held the phone up to Hadley. “Run a hot shower and let her breathe the steam, then stick her head in the freezer.”
Once we had the barking seal tucked in the car beside her siblings, we were plagued by a swarm of giant bees. Martin strapped a couple of bags on the car roof, and either the straps or the bags vibrated, creating a horrible buzzing sound. The faster we drove, the louder it got.
Martin tinkered with the straps at Mom’s house. Then he pulled off the highway into a 7-11 to try again. Then in a church parking lot. Then at a truck stop. Each time the humming dropped off. But when we hit top speed, the droning resumed — a deafening hum that drowned out the radio and any attempt at a conversation.
“HEY! We’re losing serious time!” I shouted at Martin as he eyed up another exit. “No more stops. We’ll just have to deal.”
But we ditched the bees after fours hours when we stopped for lunch and crammed the roof contents into the back. By then, however, the traffic was so thick, we only inched along. It would have been too slow for the bees anyway.
To be precise, we hit New York City traffic. Long Island traffic. Stamford traffic. Bridgeport, New Haven, Providence traffic. By 5:30 pm we’d been traveling 11 1/2 hours and I estimated that we’d miss the ferry by 5 minutes.
That’s when Martin poured on his “Cannonball Run” impersonation, with a little Chevy Chase “Vacation” mixed in…
…specifically the scene when the Griswold’s discover that Wally World is closed. And Chevy Chase turns into a demented lunatic.
I watched the speedometer climb to 90 mph and everything outside the window blurred. Despite my terror, I buoyed Martin with my optimistic outlook: “MARTIN! SLOW down! You’re going to kill us! And for what? You’ll never get us there in time!”
Even the kids were quiet that last half hour (no doubt, petrified). I kept updating our iphone map application and it estimated our arrival at 6:34. Martin tried his best to shave a few minutes off our time but we lost a passing lane and were stuck behind a herd of cars. Finally we snaked down the dock ramp. After 12 1/2 hours and 508 miles, our arrival time: 6:28 pm.
The dock-man leaned out the window to check us in. “Cuttin it close, arncha?” he frowned, but astonishingly, he let us on the ferry. We were the last ones aboard.
So in the end we made it. With the sick kid, the maniacal bees, a car crammed with luggage, and two improperly charged dvd players (newsflash: looking out the window is entertaining…or else we couldn’t hear the kids complain over the bees.)
We nearly died in a firey crash but it was worth it. I’d do it all over again. Maybe.