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    We Don’t Travel

    April 20, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]W[/dropcap]e really don’t travel. Or, at least, we try not to. Every once in a while, we travel out of obligation. For instance, this June, Si’s youngest brother is graduating from high school. We will make the 8+ hour {round-trip} drive because we love him.

    Why We Don't Travel

    We would love him more if he moved in, say, next door. We could see him all the time, and never drive 8 hours again.


    If you have been reading here the past few years, then you have already been told some of our worst traveling tales. There are more. I only tell the worst here, folks. No need to complain about everything.

    So, as a refresher, there were the severe flight delays {in both coming and going directions} when I took a trip {sans children} to D.C. with Si for his Centurion commissioning when A. was an infant. And, of course, there was this past January, when we and our {sick} three children suffered a flight cancellation and we only survived because Si’s mom drove half an hour to drop off hypoallergenic foods for our oldest two babes. And I never mentioned it, but once we visited some friends of ours {you know who you are} who lived in a beautiful mountain community. On the way home, our then-two-year-old Saturn lost its transmission for the first time {never buy a Saturn Ion, by the way}.

    The only traveling that seems to be safe for us is to head west and hit the lovely central California coast. We enjoy it there, and part of that probably has to do with the fact that we can drive there and drive home again without having anything bad happen.

    However, if I am going to tell this story properly, I have to admit that things begin to go wrong for us before the traveling part even gets off the ground. Take Saturday, for instance. We were making a day trip {7 hours of driving total} for my nephew’s seventh birthday party. So, naturally, the night before the ants that we have been battling made a huge strategic move and nearly won the war.

    They found the dining table.

    I wanted to cry, and I could not stop them, try as I might.

    So we ate dinner at the kitchen island.

    And then, when we were doing the dinner dishes, the sink backed up. As I type, it still isn’t draining properly.

    So we left feeling stressed, and dreading coming home to ants doing a victory dance and a pile of dishes that we were unable to conquer before heading out.

    The drive over was so smooth I almost got confident. I told my mother that this experience made me feel better about making the even longer drive for the aforementioned graduation in June. The kids did well. There was no crying, no wet pants, nothing. We read a Little House book, and it was great. Sort of like having school right there in the car.

    We left my sister’s house at 7pm, a little later than planned since we knew the drain needed to be snaked upon our return, but it was nice to be with their family again.

    Forty-five minutes into our drive, one of our back tires blows out. On the infamous I-5 freeway in Orange County. In the dark. In Saturday evening traffic.

    And we’re on the left-hand shoulder.

    A very nice policeman followed us with blinking lights while we moved to a wider part of the left shoulder. Thump thump thump went my poor Suburban’s tire.

    And then we sat there with our three patient children who I love more than ever while we waited for the tow-truck to come. I gave the baby a bottle {we were protected by a concrete wall at that point}, and then I read aloud again to keep everyone calm.

    The boy thinks having a vehicle break down is just about the most exciting thing that can happen. Little A. was terrified of all the traffic noise. Baby Q. stared at all the cars flying past out the window and waved bye-bye to them all.

    All one million of them.

    We got home close to midnight.

    We fell into bed.

    The ants are still on our table.

    The dishes are piling up.

    The end.


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  • Reply Brandy April 22, 2008 at 4:13 am

    Rahime, I will email you privately when I know our schedule and locations better. It would be nice to see you if it works out!

    So, so sorry about your car. I know you don’t NEED two, but if you are like us, it is definitely convenient to have two a lot of the time…

  • Reply Brandy April 21, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    KansasMom, We have a history of bad holidays, too! (Of course, this doesn’t keep me from liking the holidays…) I was thinking that it would be great if they invented some sort of worry-free transporter. It really is the getting there that tends to go wrong for us. I have yet to visit a place or a family member and not enjoy our time spent being there. We just need an easier way to accomplish the transportation aspect…And I bet you agree! 🙂

    Gracie, Si found where the ants were getting in last night! He has conquered for the time being. We are trying to find a nontoxic method of fighting ants since the children are so sensitive to chemicals. But, for now, we are using old-fashioned poison. 🙂

  • Reply Rahime April 21, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    I think it will be very expensive. My other three tires are worn very unevenly now, so I’ll have to replace them too. But, we haven’t gotten it fixed yet because out mechanic had to move his shop and hasn’t found a new one yet. We’ll probably have to fix the gas tank and brake wiring before the tires. Oh well, we don’t NEED two cars these days.

    We’ll, I guess it depends on if you’re planning to stay in SJ or elsewhere the night before his business stuff. We’re about an hour north of San Jose. Right in between Sac. and SJ. Maybe email me when you know what your schedule will be like and we’ll work out meeting or something.

  • Reply Gracie April 21, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    I HATE, ABSOLUTELY HATE ANTS! They are SPAWNS OF SATAN. Ok. Now that’s off of my chest….I hope that you are able to recover from the weekend. 🙂

  • Reply Kansas Mom April 21, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Brandy, I’m so sorry to hear about your ordeal! As bad as it is to have a flat tire or something, it’s much worse with kids who often don’t understand the patience necessary for such things. I feel very lucky my little fender bender last week was without kids (and that I was first and therefore not at fault).

    We also have horrible traveling stories. The last time we were driving to my parents’ house (a 12 hour drive, with stops), we had to clean out three car seats the night before because both of our kids got sick in them (on Christmas Eve, no less). (My son got sick in two different seats.) It was a disheartening way to start the holiday.

    You can read about it here:

    (Remove the space.)

    I just read this again and it was even worse than I remember it!

  • Reply Brandy April 21, 2008 at 4:22 am

    Rahime! A half-foot shoulder! That sounds WAY more frightening than what we encountered. And expensive, too (well, by the time you add in the additional damage to your gas tank and brakes). I will say that the one reason I didn’t panic was because the shoulder was actually wider than the car pool lane in which we had been driving when the tire popped.

    Si has a business trip that we are adding on at the end of the graduation trip for the sake of efficiency. I believe that would put us somewhere near San Jose. Since I don’t know geography above, oh, Fresno, very well, you will have to tell me: are you close to San Jose at all? It would probably be helpful to know where in relation to San Jose we will be, which is something I could tell you next month or so. Just floating the idea…I don’t actually know if I will have a car that day or not…

  • Reply Rahime April 21, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Sounds scary!! Did I tell you about the time (about little over a month ago) when I got a flat on one of our local bridges. Luckily it was one of the longest bridges (I think it spans about 10 miles) and I wasn’t even a quarter of the way across. Oh, and there was no shoulder (ok, there was, it was about 6″ wide). I had a nice police officer tell me I had to drive off the bridge and follow me off…which caused my bald rims to cut a but hole in my gas tank (lost half a tank of gas) and slice the wire for the rear brakes.

    I can completely relate. Scary. Frustrating. Makes you never want to drive again.

    On another note…if you have time for a little detour on your way home from the graduation, you should swing by here. Don’t know where Si’s family lives (I think it was somewhere in the Sacramento area), but we’re a mere hour-ish from downtown Sac.

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