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Road trip to Washington State

We would drive to Mt. Shasta the first day

 We talked about “the trip to Seattle” with our kids.
We talked about “the trip to Seattle” with our kids.

We’re getting ready to hit the road. This Thursday at 4:00 a.m., I plan to herd my five children into our loaded Ford E- 350 van and head north toward Seattle. We’re vacationing this year with Jack’s brother Mark, Mark’s wife Katy, and their nine kids at Mark and Katy’s waterfront summer home in Lake Joy, Washington. I’m excited, I think.

We have vacationed many times with Jack’s side of the family — multiple reunions in Nantucket and Ohio, a weeklong excursion to June Lake here in California. In May 2003, Mark and Katy and their kids visited us for Angela’s First Holy Communion. My kids love to be with the cousins. Jack is close to Mark. I can talk to Katy about raising kids and family politics as I can talk to no one else.

When Mark and Katy left that spring, Jack and I promised we’d come visit them the next summer. We talked about “the trip to Seattle” with our kids through the many intervening months. In January, Angela purchased a duffel bag with her birthday money “for the trip to Seattle.” Sometimes the kids discussed the trip so often that Ben, my youngest, asked, “Are we going to Seattle today?”

“No, Ben,” I answered. “Not today. This summer.”

“Is that a long time?”

“Yes.”

Suddenly, the answer is “No.” Jack and I had originally planned to leave the second-tolast Friday in July. We would drive to Mt. Shasta the first day — about 700 miles — then go the remaining 500 miles on Saturday. “It’ll be a long haul on Friday,” I told Jack as I perused the AAA maps I’d ordered. “But if we leave really early, we should get through L.A. before the morning rush hour. Plus the kids will sleep.”

At the end of June, Jack found out he’d have a lot more work in July than he’d anticipated. Plus, we ran into some financial problems. At one point, we considered canceling the trip altogether. “I know I can’t be away for the whole ten days,” Jack said. “We’ll have to figure out something else.”

By the second week in July, we’d formulated a new plan. I would drive with the kids by myself. Instead of trying to make the 1200- mile trip in two days, I would leave a day earlier and stop in Mammoth to visit my family. “Won’t that add too many miles to the trip?” Jack asked. “You’ll have to go a lot farther to get back to the 5 to head north.”

“It adds some miles,” I answered, “but the extra day and night will make it more doable. And the kids will get to see my family.”

Yesterday, I spent the day hammering out pretrip logistics. Jack left for work around 5:30. I loaded the kids into the van and headed out around 9:30. First stop: the orthodontist. While Rebecca got her braces adjusted, Angela, Lucy, Johnny, and Ben played the free video games in the orthodontist’s in-office arcade.

At 10:30, we drove south from Vista to Encinitas to the Ford dealership. “Why do we have to go to the car place?” Lucy whined from one of the many back seats

“They have to change the oil and check the tires and the brakes and make sure the car works right because we’re going to be driving a long way,” I explained.

“Will we have to wait a long time?” Angela asked.

“The man told me about an hour and a half.”

While they worked on the car, we walked across Encinitas Blvd. to Jack in the Box. We sat in two adjacent booths. Rebecca read a book. Angela and Lucy played footsie under the table and tried to crack each other up. Johnny and Ben removed the toys from their Kid Meals — Lex Luthor, Superman’s mortal enemy — and staged mock battles among the french fries. “Let’s both be bad guys,” Ben sneered.

“Okay,” Johnny agreed. “I use my super powers to smash you.”

“And then I smash you.”

I tried to maintain order, to keep Johnny and Ben from killing each other and to run through the list of tasks we still had to accomplish before Thursday morning. Buy goodies and toys for the trip, do 15 loads of laundry, write column, wash car, pack car.

When the van was ready two hours later, we piled back in and headed north on El Camino Real to Target. As we walked toward the automatic doors, Johnny asked, “How many toys can we get for the trip?”

The girls and Ben fell silent and waited for my answer.

“You can each get a big toy and a little toy or two medium toys. And remember, they should be things you can do in the car. We’re going to be on the road for a long time. Three whole days.”

Inside the store, chaos reigned. I heard the phrase, “Can I get this?” 837 times.

“Can I get two Barbies?” Lucy asked.

“No. That counts as two big toys. Get a Barbie and a little toy.”

“But I can’t decide which Barbie to get,” Lucy said as she dissolved in tears.

After 45 minutes and many more tears from Lucy and her siblings, we walked out of Target with toys for the trip. Plus some clothes and a few coloring books.

“Are we going to Seattle today?” Ben asked

“Nope. On Thursday.”

“Is that long?”

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 We talked about “the trip to Seattle” with our kids.
We talked about “the trip to Seattle” with our kids.

We’re getting ready to hit the road. This Thursday at 4:00 a.m., I plan to herd my five children into our loaded Ford E- 350 van and head north toward Seattle. We’re vacationing this year with Jack’s brother Mark, Mark’s wife Katy, and their nine kids at Mark and Katy’s waterfront summer home in Lake Joy, Washington. I’m excited, I think.

We have vacationed many times with Jack’s side of the family — multiple reunions in Nantucket and Ohio, a weeklong excursion to June Lake here in California. In May 2003, Mark and Katy and their kids visited us for Angela’s First Holy Communion. My kids love to be with the cousins. Jack is close to Mark. I can talk to Katy about raising kids and family politics as I can talk to no one else.

When Mark and Katy left that spring, Jack and I promised we’d come visit them the next summer. We talked about “the trip to Seattle” with our kids through the many intervening months. In January, Angela purchased a duffel bag with her birthday money “for the trip to Seattle.” Sometimes the kids discussed the trip so often that Ben, my youngest, asked, “Are we going to Seattle today?”

“No, Ben,” I answered. “Not today. This summer.”

“Is that a long time?”

“Yes.”

Suddenly, the answer is “No.” Jack and I had originally planned to leave the second-tolast Friday in July. We would drive to Mt. Shasta the first day — about 700 miles — then go the remaining 500 miles on Saturday. “It’ll be a long haul on Friday,” I told Jack as I perused the AAA maps I’d ordered. “But if we leave really early, we should get through L.A. before the morning rush hour. Plus the kids will sleep.”

At the end of June, Jack found out he’d have a lot more work in July than he’d anticipated. Plus, we ran into some financial problems. At one point, we considered canceling the trip altogether. “I know I can’t be away for the whole ten days,” Jack said. “We’ll have to figure out something else.”

By the second week in July, we’d formulated a new plan. I would drive with the kids by myself. Instead of trying to make the 1200- mile trip in two days, I would leave a day earlier and stop in Mammoth to visit my family. “Won’t that add too many miles to the trip?” Jack asked. “You’ll have to go a lot farther to get back to the 5 to head north.”

“It adds some miles,” I answered, “but the extra day and night will make it more doable. And the kids will get to see my family.”

Yesterday, I spent the day hammering out pretrip logistics. Jack left for work around 5:30. I loaded the kids into the van and headed out around 9:30. First stop: the orthodontist. While Rebecca got her braces adjusted, Angela, Lucy, Johnny, and Ben played the free video games in the orthodontist’s in-office arcade.

At 10:30, we drove south from Vista to Encinitas to the Ford dealership. “Why do we have to go to the car place?” Lucy whined from one of the many back seats

“They have to change the oil and check the tires and the brakes and make sure the car works right because we’re going to be driving a long way,” I explained.

“Will we have to wait a long time?” Angela asked.

“The man told me about an hour and a half.”

While they worked on the car, we walked across Encinitas Blvd. to Jack in the Box. We sat in two adjacent booths. Rebecca read a book. Angela and Lucy played footsie under the table and tried to crack each other up. Johnny and Ben removed the toys from their Kid Meals — Lex Luthor, Superman’s mortal enemy — and staged mock battles among the french fries. “Let’s both be bad guys,” Ben sneered.

“Okay,” Johnny agreed. “I use my super powers to smash you.”

“And then I smash you.”

I tried to maintain order, to keep Johnny and Ben from killing each other and to run through the list of tasks we still had to accomplish before Thursday morning. Buy goodies and toys for the trip, do 15 loads of laundry, write column, wash car, pack car.

When the van was ready two hours later, we piled back in and headed north on El Camino Real to Target. As we walked toward the automatic doors, Johnny asked, “How many toys can we get for the trip?”

The girls and Ben fell silent and waited for my answer.

“You can each get a big toy and a little toy or two medium toys. And remember, they should be things you can do in the car. We’re going to be on the road for a long time. Three whole days.”

Inside the store, chaos reigned. I heard the phrase, “Can I get this?” 837 times.

“Can I get two Barbies?” Lucy asked.

“No. That counts as two big toys. Get a Barbie and a little toy.”

“But I can’t decide which Barbie to get,” Lucy said as she dissolved in tears.

After 45 minutes and many more tears from Lucy and her siblings, we walked out of Target with toys for the trip. Plus some clothes and a few coloring books.

“Are we going to Seattle today?” Ben asked

“Nope. On Thursday.”

“Is that long?”

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