A long time ago, I told you that we existed in a Vortex of Adventure. Nothing was ever easy, a simple trip to the store was bloggy fodder with a clean up on aisle 4, and we rarely left home because of it. Then our kids got older, there seemed to be less blog material from our outings, and we actually made trips with little to no incident.
I got complacent.
I got prideful.
I was in that “goeth before a fall” season.
Months ago, we committed to attending the Inkwell Conference with friends. (By the way, if you aren’t reading the excellent content at Story Warren, rectify this immediately. Trust me.) When it came time to leave, though, money was tight, our time was tight, and the trip got shortened to just an overnight jaunt. And somehow, in my head, the fact that it was 6 Google hours one way didn’t really enter into the equation. We’d made a Shiny Vita-cation and a five hour drive to the beach with nary a hitch. This would be a cakewalk.
*insert snort of derision*
Apparently that sixth hour is the one that will push you over the edge. Or maybe it was just the barfer in the back-seat…
We were carpooling with another family. They have two kids. We have, well, you know: An army. In my ignorance-is-bliss state, I neglected to consider what it would be like to add a small family to our already small country on the move. Or what a circus show we might appear to the casual observer.
It was about two hours in and we needed to fill up the van. We picked the most crowded gas station ever, nearly got into a rumble over a gas pump, and took thirty minutes to finish the task. I turned around in my seat and whispered, “Everybody? BE COOL. Try not to draw attention…”she said from inside a 12 passenger van full of kids.
At this point, we played fruit basket turn-over and somehow the two mamas ended up in our van with 9 kids. We took another two hours to make it through some rush hour traffic. Whatever, I had a friend to gab with. The kids had each other. Finn had his paci. We were fine.
And then Adam said from the way back, “I don’t feel so good.”
I made some sort of flailing movement with my arm as I held the steering wheel while my friend Lara said, “Oo! Oo!”
And that was all the warning we got. The next thing we heard was a chorus of “Ewwwwwwwwwwww,” from the 3 boys beside Adam.
And then, “Oh no! Not again!”
Followed by, “I’m so sorry, Adam. You ok?”
Finished with retching noises and “Can I get out of the back seat now????”
I performed some sort of evasive maneuver across three lanes of traffic to get us off the interstate. I whipped the van into a McDonald’s parking lots and we evacuated as quickly as possible. I tossed peppermint oil over everybody and we began triage.
We pulled out an hour later, freshly scrubbed, thanks to a Publix run and heroic Andrew, who hasn’t gone through morning sickness and doesn’t suffer from the hair-trigger gag reflex I still have. We had to throw away a lot of crucial items, including Adam’s shoes. Fortunately, Sam gave Adam his flip-flops, I gave Sam my flip-flops, and I had a spare pair of shoes for me. Otherwise… well, I don’t know. I didn’t have a plan B.
What I’m trying to say is, it took us eight and a half hours to make it to our hotel. We threw the kids in bed and slept for five hours before it was time to get up and troop downstairs where we entertained the crowd at the breakfast buffet with our “Who wants a waffle?” routine. (This is second only to “Who has to go to the bathroom?” which I’m told is hysterical but feels nothing of the sort.)
The conference itself was a treat. If you ever get the chance to go, don’t question, just DO IT. Inkwell is designed for kids and parents are “allowed” to attend. So are younger siblings. They made it super easy for all of us to be there and to get the most out of each session. We spoke to writers, songwriters, illustrators, and poets. They fired our imagination and challenged us to consider our creativity as an act of worship to The Creator. hashtagFANTASTIC
Our kids were suspicious that this would feel like school (said the homeschoolers who have never been to school) but by the end of the conference, they were all bent over their papers, creating stories and drawings.
And all the parents secretly exchanged high fives.
The Vitafam had to hit the road due to some scheduling issues, so we turned the van in the direction of home and planned to retrace our steps from the previous day. Fortunately, some rearranging of seats so the carsick prone were protected and a highly motivated Andrew got us home in just seven “short” hours without further incident.
We did stop at a rest stop to eat dinner from our cooler. The kids were super impressed and said, “What is this place? We should stop here every time!”
I shivered and searched the bushes for serial killers.
All of that to tell you that, despite my denial, the Vortex of Adventure has not left us. It may go on hiatus, it may not always find us at Costco, but to enter our Vortex is to do so at your own risk.
So… we’re off on another trip next week, because we are gluttons for punishment, that’s why.
Who would be brave enough to join us???