And Then a Giant Chasm Opened Up in the Earth and Swallowed the Rental Car

Oh my God, you guys, never travel with us.

It all seemed so easy. A quick drive to the airport, a quick flight to Houston, a sixteen-hour (I exaggerate. But just a little.) run through the airport to get to our next gate, a quick flight to Denver, then a last quick drive to Grand Junction.

Listen, I need someone to start writing social stories for me so I’m not slammed in the face by the fact that everything goes wrong every time I try to do…anything. For background, you might want to read this post about the last time we flew. Or this one, from the time before that.

Let’s forget the stopped traffic on the way to the airport that left me nervously drumming my hand on the car door and muttering, “THIS is why you depart for the airport three hours before your flight leaves,” which is a semi-damaging tenet that my mom passed on to me, but that very occasionally becomes a truism.

Fortunately, luck was with us, and we arrived at our gate five whole minutes before they began boarding our flight. Like I said yesterday, I was in my own row in front of Jack, Quinn, and Alex, and diagonally across the aisle in front of Sam, which was awesome, but for the fact that the very last person on the plane was the lady sitting in the middle seat of my row and who was extremely nice, but kinda took up part of my seat too and then fell asleep and started snoring, which is when I had my sensory processing panic attack. (This looks to most people like me putting on my headphones, leaning awkwardly into the aisle—where the drink cart kept hitting me—and using my hair as a curtain between me and my sensory stress.)

Other than that, however, the flight was fine. I mean, Sam was obviously miserable, maybe due to plane sickness, or stress about having to sit in one place, or I don’t know what, but he wouldn’t even play his DSi. When that happens, I tend to check his pulse to make sure he’s still alive. Then, about a half hour before the plane landed, he started to FREAK OUT.

His freak out mostly consisted of crying and moaning loudly, and it was a bummer for all involved.

Our layover was not so bad, but for the vitriolic fight Alex and I had about appropriate airport dinner options vis-à-vis time, palatability, and acceptability to Team Stimey Junior. Everyone ate, Jack and I did the cha cha slide, and I decided that I was going to sit with Quinn and Jack and let Alex take the seat by himself.

I do have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed sitting next to the tiniest seat mate in the world (Quinn). I enjoyed it less when Sam started barfing across the aisle from me. I do have to commend him on his technique though. Two bags, no spillage. The kid is a pro at plane barfing by now.

I handed the bags to Alex (what he did with them, I don’t know, nor do I care), and thought we had been kind of unobtrusive about the whole thing until I asked Alex for his barf bag just in case we needed another one and three different people handed us their bags.

We were evidently the cause of some concern.

The rest of the flight went all right. Sam passed out on his tray table with a blanket over his head and Quinn and Jack talked and talked and talked to me. We played a rousing game of Stack the States on my iPad, which was awesome until the munchkins got too raucous and excited (Seriously, what’s up with that? It’s an educational game for Christ’s sake.) and I had to turn it off and have them play Tiny Tower.

When we were getting off the plane, I made a face and jokingly said to one of the ladies who gave us her barf bag, “I guess we’re THAT family, ha, ha,” to which she just nodded, leaving us to stand there in awkward silence.

We were all happy to have arrived, but Alex and I knew something that we hadn’t told the kids—our final destination was still hours away by car. By this point, it was 9:30 p.m. Colorado time, which makes it 11:30 Maryland time, which means that the munchkins fell asleep almost the second we started our car.

We programmed our GPS and it estimated our arrival time as 1:32 a.m.

And I was all, oh, it’s just a two-hour drive because clearly this GPS is still on East Coast time what with the inability of such a device to connect to a satellite and discover the real goddamn time.

It was when we got on I-70 and the fucking thing was all, “Drive two. hundred. and. thirty. nine. miles.” that I figured out how far away Grand Junction actually is from Denver, Colorado. Way to live in the middle of nowhere, friends getting married. I’m sure it’s beautiful out here and all, but do you have any idea how hard it is to get to you?

Because the kiddos were asleep, the car ride was pretty peaceful, except for the occasional shout of “He’s hitting me with his head!” and “Why can’t I use Jack as a pillow?!” At 12:05 a.m., I commented to Alex, “They’ve been champs,” and was immediately answered by Sam’s anguished shout from the back seat: “YOU’RE KILLING ME!”

At about 12:30, we stopped for a second and I was relegated to the back seat between Quinn and Jack so Sam could stretch out in the front seat. Apparently, Sam can whine even more than me, which is surprising, as I am regional champ and somewhat of a local legend in that regard.

An hour and 44 ounces of caffeinated soda later, we arrived at our hotel. It was 3:30 Maryland time. I was a little bit concerned that our kids would wake up to walk up to our room and then decide it was morning and they should start, I don’t know, tap dancing or something. Fortunately, they immediately went to sleep. As did Alex and I.

And that, my dear friends, is why you should never travel with Team Stimey.

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