Monday, June 8, 2009

Road Trip

We spent Ben's first birthday with Andy's folks in Wisconsin, which means that we spent four very long days (12 hours, give or take) on the road with a 12-month-old. And it went about as well as four 12-hour days in the car with a 12-month-old could possibly go, I must say.

On the advice of friends, we bought a portable dvd player and a dohickey to hang it from the front seats, and when it came time to pull out the big guns, I have never been so glad to kiss goodbye my formerly strong opinion that videos in cars are one of the things wrong with Kids Today. Without the magic trance-inducer, we'd have to have added another day to the trip each way, without a doubt. (Our dvds, in case you were dying to know, were They Might Be Giants' ABCs and 123s, and Yo Gabba Gabba.)

The other sine qua non of the trip was stopping for actual meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's tough to abandon a driving lifetime of honed road-trip tactics (the drive-through, the you-pee-while-I-get-gas, the lap snacks rather than meals), and it's really tough to feel that hour or hour and a half tick by, knowing that every minute is another minute you're going to be stuck in the car at the other end. But babies aren't roadtrippers, and the kid needed to stretch his baby legs and look at the crap on the walls of the Cracker Barrel instead of the back of a headrest for a while. And I do recommend Cracker Barrel. The vegetables are awful, but the rest of the menu is very tasty and very inexpensive. I can't think of another chain that's as ubiquitous and reliable without being also terrible or overpriced.

The real lesson of the trip, though, is don't take a baby on an eleven-hundred-mile road trip if you can possibly avoid it. Plane travel has its pitfalls and problems -- the expense springs to mind, along with the hell of being the one responsible for the crying baby making everyone else unhappy -- but I think it still might beat four 12-hour days in the car. Best of all, of course, is when it's their turn to come to you.

1 comment:

shareAgoodThingEMBS said...

We are also a big fan of the car DVD and Cracker Barrel for long road trips. We try to avoid them, but ugh. Looking forward to going to Australia next year but dreading, I mean DREADING, the flight.