Worst Road Trip EVER.
This is a great blog entry. One in which I admit to drugging my toddler and leaving my five year old alone with strange men outside a diner. In other words, it’s a post about a bad day. A really, really, REALLY bad day. In hindsight it’s a tiny bit funny. Just a teeny tiny bit.
We tried to go to meet friends from my April 2010 due date club yesterday in Asheville and it was a complete and total fail. My due date club (from my pregnancy with Ada) is awesome and the ladies on the east coast have been planning a meet-up for months now. I’ve been super excited to go to it.
Ada was finally well enough to go after having infected tonsils this weekend, so I packed late at night then slept for a few hours before getting the girls up at 4 in the morning to hop in the car and go. Tyler had to work. It was just the girls and me going alone. I’ve never taken them on a big trip alone before, but certainly it would be fine…right?
Watching Scooby Doo peacefully, before everything went wrong on the trip.
The trip started out fine except that they didn’t fall back asleep like planned. (Of course, right?) So they watched a movie instead and everyone was happy.
We got to the TN border in good time and my Garmin was telling me we’d be in Asheville in only a couple more hours. Exciting! I was thinking this was going to be an easy trip, and I was so glad I’d decided to come alone with the girls and faced my traveling anxiety.
At the Kentucky Tennessee border I-75 was closed right over Jellico mountain due to a collapse in the road. I’d heard that on the news but figured small detour, no big deal right?
I did not realize that detours were this big of a deal when traveling. I have one brief memory of traveling in the Jellico mountain area witih my parents as a small child and hearing them upset that there was a detour at Jellico. That was in the back of my mind, but I assumed it was just my dad being uptight like usual. A detour couldn’t be that bad! We would listen to music and smile through it, then we would be right back on the highway and to Asheville without losing much time at all.
Hi, I haven’t been an adult for very long and sometimes I still have to learn things the hard way.
I cheerfully took this no-big-deal-detour and it turned out to be 45 minutes of long winding roads up and down and around Jellico and Pine Mountain. The road wound around, up, down, over, and through the mountains for 26 miles.
TWENTY SIX EFFING MILES PEOPLE.
Now 26 miles may not sound that long to you, but 26 miles in fog and pouring rain along mountain roads in traffic in the car with small children is like the equivalent of pure hell. There were huge semi trucks trying to drive on these roads with everyone else!
We have roads like that in the part of Kentucky where I live too, but they usually don’t have long lines of crawling traffic on them, let alone 18 wheelers roaring around hair pin curves on the edge of a mountainside in heavy rain and fog.
That alone was bad enough, and I was beginning to question the cheerful attitude I’d had about this detour.
And then Rosie got car sick.
My vomit phobia, the middle of nowhere in the rain and fog, no cell phone reception to call my mom and cry, and no GPS satellite reception to know how much further we had to go. A barfing terrified kid wanting to be comforted while I drove the car, a crying toddler, a never ending long line of traffic, and not a single place to stop.
Seriously, these are the things I have anxiety riddled nightmares about.
The safety of home seemed like a million desperate light years away during the next few hours.
Finally we got to LaFollette, TN at the end of that long and hellish road. We hit it right at morning rush hour. Except I think LaFollette has a population of like 7,000. Small town. The entire town was out on their way to work and school that Monday morning.
I stopped at the first tiny gas station I saw to see if they had any Dramamine for Rosie, but they didn’t. An old man tried to convince me that Pepto Bismol would work just fine, because they had that. Then a couple other old men squeezed in the closet sized store to get coffee and they started passing around Duck Face, who Rosie had carried inside. (Did I mention the duck went on our trip with us? She rides in a dog crate, but I’d taken her out for Rosie to hold in an attempt to calm Rosie down earlier when she started feeling sickly. The duck is so tame that it wants to be with us where ever we go if it can. It absolutely loved riding in Rosie’s lap in the car!)
I didn’t want to buy Pepto Bismal so got the duck back and left to look for another gas station one of the guys had pointed out down the street, which thankfully did have Dramamine.
Five dollars later I thought we were saved, I was so relieved! I made Rosie take one tablet even though she really didn’t want to. Before we drove two seconds she was puking it back up. She’s never, ever gotten car sick before. Then I really started to panic. I was holding out hope that Dramamine would be my savior for the remainder of the trip and all would be well and good after that. I don’t know if she got sick because she got up super early and only drank water and didn’t eat anything, then we hit those mountain roads? But we drive through rural mountain roads all the time around here with no issue. I just don’t know what happened to her stomach on this trip.
Then in the middle of Rosie puking up the Dramamine and sobbing Ada started screaming that she was going to pee her pants. I stopped at the next driveway, which happened to be a diner that looked like something straight out of 1950. It even had the original Pepsi signs, original old wood floors, etc. I don’t mean it was decorated to be a 1950’s diner. It just hadn’t changed since 1950. I think it was actually called The Diner.
Rosie wouldn’t get out of the car, she was just sitting there heaving into a red solo cup and sobbing with Face Duck happily chattering away on a towel in her lap. (Thank you motion sick Duggars for the red solo cup idea!)
Ada was loudly screaming that she had to pee. I was desperately trying to figure out what to do and how to take Rosie inside the diner to the bathroom without her puking all over the restaurant, which would be traumatic and embarrassing to say the least. These two guys–middle aged good ol’ boys both wearing white undershirts, one with suspenders, and both smoking–who had been standing out front of the diner near my car came over to see what the commotion was.
They were what I call down home people. Please tell me someone else knows what I mean by that. Tyler makes fun of me and has no clue what kind of people I’m talking about.
You know, nice people, genuinely friendly, from a small town/rural area where everyone knows and looks out for everyone else. Tyler has only lived in a city and just cannot grasp what I mean, but everyone in the town where my mom grew up is like this. It’s a wonderful sort of place to live. I could tell LaFollete was probably that sort of place just based on the looks of that diner and the people in it.
Out of complete desperation I left those men outside comforting Rosie as she sat in the car while I took Ada inside to the potty.
The old bathroom was so funny. The toilet was on a tiny platform in the corner, up four huge steps from the sink area. It was literally a throne. Ada was delighted. I should have taken a picture, but I was too flustered by everything else.
I rushed back outside worried about Rosie. One of the men was holding Duck Face with a huge grin on his face. He only had one front tooth. I swear they were like angels at that moment. Comforting and reassuring men in overalls saved me from a distressing situation.
I can’t believe I left Rosie alone with strange men, but small town and nice people…I guess it’s one thing about quirky rural Kentucky and Tennessee that’s good. Not that I ever want such a situation to happen again, but I was thankful those guys were there because Rosie really wasn’t able to get out and walk into a diner at that moment and I didn’t want to leave her totally alone, sick and terrified in the car.
It looked like those two guys probably stood outside of The Diner at 8 o’clock every morning drinking coffee and smoking. Didn’t seem likely they would hurt or kidnap a vomiting five year old girl and a quacking duck in broad daylight in the hustle and bustle of morning rush hour, in front of a diner they frequent daily. That’s good logic for desperate times right? (Did I mention I never want to attempt traveling alone with the girls ever again?)
We started driving once more after those guys gave us directions to continue the detour through town and find the interstate at the end of it. Rosie was screaming that she just wanted to get out of the car and to a house. We were closer to our house than Asheville by an hour or so, and since I didn’t know if she was car sick or germy sick we just went back home. I was completely and totally stressed to the max by that point. Incapable of making another rational decision if my life depended on it.
The best part is that we had to go back through that horrible detour along the mountain roads. I made Rosie close her eyes and try to sleep through it. She didn’t throw up any more thankfully. Then I made record time going 90 mph on the interstate while Rosie threw an epic and irrational tantrum about not getting to see her friend Atlee at the meet-up we were missing in Asheville, complete with kicking and throwing things.
Ada had taken 1/2 a dramamine tablet and she was out COLD. (Ada asked for some medicine when I gave the tablet to Rosie, and in my great distress I went ahead and gave her half hoping she would fall asleep so I would have one less kid to worry about. Rosie was more than I could handle at that point.) Ada was fine on the entire trip, surprisingly. Rosie didn’t throw up at all on the trip home, she was too busy screaming in pure anger about turning around and not going to Asheville.
Once we finally got home Rosie screamed and cried for another hour about how angry she was at me for bringing us back home. Then she started begging for food. She was completely fine after that, not sick at all. I promised her I would take her to the movies to make up for not getting to go to the meet up. We’re both extremely disappointed. I was so freaking excited that Ada was better and we were going to make it.
Clearly fate did not want me to go, for some reason. First Ada got unexpectedly really ill, then when we tried to drive there Rosie randomly got car sick and we took the detour from hell. I even wasted an entire tank of gas.
Want to know something kind of funny? When I got home there was a two foot long skinny strip of magnet scrap stuck to the driver’s door of my van. Tyler asked me where it came from and I have absolutely no idea. I never really left the van parked anywhere. We were in it the entire time except for when I ran Ada into the bathroom and when we stepped into the gas station for three seconds to look for Dramamine. Weird.
Tyler took the magnet and in Sharpie he wrote on it, “I went to Hell and back, and all I got was this ugly magnet.”
Then he stuck it back on my van.
After I described my LaFollete, Tennessee experience to Tyler in great detail he didn’t completely believe me. Now I’ve sworn that we’re taking a weekend vacation there. It looked like a nice place to live. I want to stay in the mountain lodge I saw on the detour (McCloud’s or something like that) and eat BBQ ribs on Saturday night at The Diner. I bet those two angel men will be there. Before we drive down there again I am loading Rosie up on Dramamine just in case!