Well. Holy shit. Here we are, four hours into the trip, and we are just now making our first stop. FIRST stop! This is amazing; we've basically blown through most of California already (thanks to Nate's slightly excessive speed but whatever) and we are just now stopping. Amazing. Ethan and Connor have been watching movies and playing games, and Brandon, the 14-month-old, only spent 25 minutes fussing before falling asleep for 30 minutes (whoopie) and now we are getting the boys out of the car for some running, food, and bathroom breaks.
We are at a McDonald's that is so clean that there are only about 6 flies buzzing around our table, scaring the bejeezus out of Connor for some reason. We eat, treat the boys to some soda as a reward for being good in the car, and head back out to the parking lot to let them run around some more. I KNOW, what great parents... we let our kids play in the parking lot! To clarify, we are parked at the far end and there is no one else around us. Or maybe there is some subconscious activity at play here, who really knows. Anyway, Brandon graciously takes a dump at this time, instead of 15 minutes after we get back on the road, somewhat making up for the fact that he cried for 25 minutes earlier in the trip.
After a bit, we load back up and hit the road. Now, because things have gone so well, I am smart enough to know that this means that it's all downhill from here. It sucks that I'm not enjoying the fact that it's going well because at any second, I know disaster is going to strike. About an hour after getting back on the road, it does. Brandon, who usually has absolutely no problem falling asleep in the car is, of course, incapable of it today. He's tired and bored as hell but is NOT going to sleep. Instead, he's crying. For two hours, this kid cries. And cries, and cries. I can hold him off here and there with food, a bottle or a sippy cup, but he's basically not happy. Not happy at all. And therefore, neither are we.
Finally, we decide that it's time to feed them dinner and get them out of the car. Clearly, the baby isn't going to sleep. This stop is what I'd like to call the highlight of our trip. We're in Oregon and stop at a Kentucky Fried Chicken. I tell Nate that I'll take the boys in and order them some food while he goes to get gas. My mistake.
I troop them in and tell them to sit at a booth, don't move, I'll be right back. I walk up to the counter. The boys are directly behind me, and have stood up on the booth seat and faced backwards to watch me. Each older boy is flanking Brandon, so he's basically in no danger of falling. I'm looking at the menu and one of the weirdest people I have ever met is behind the counter. He's standing as far back from the counter as he possibly can, has his arms crossed over his chest, and is looking down at the floor. Occasionally he looks up at me, then shakes his head, whispers to himself, and looks back down - so far down that I can see the top of his head. I'm standing there for several minutes, waiting for someone who's capable of taking an order to come help me. During this time, Ethan jumps down from the seat and I hiss at him to get back on the seat and keep his brother from falling. Finally, the strange dude looks up for the 27th time, and decides to walk up to the counter and ask me what I want. Great, this is who is going to be helping me. But whatever, he's the conduit to some food.
I tell him what I want, and he begins to speak and make absolutely no sense. He doesn't have a speech deficiency; he's just a Really Strange Person. He's asking what should be very simple questions about what type of chicken I want in my order and I'm giving him answers, but each answer I give him is somehow the wrong one. I'm getting pretty flustered. Suddenly, I hear a SPLAT. I whip around, and see Brandon splayed out on one of the dirtiest floors I have ever seen, his mouth open and in full contact with said floor. I run over and pick him up, he's wailing, and I'm pissed. I stare at Ethan, who is OFF the seat, and start yelling at him for getting off the seat. He tells me that Connor pushed Brandon off the seat, and I'm like, no shit, because YOU got off, in spite of being told not to, and therefore was not able to keep Brandon in place. I tell him to get back on the seat, do not get off, and I go back to the counter to deal with the freak. I look at him and say, "You know what? How about you just pick whatever is supposed to go in there and we'll be good, okay?" I hand him some cash, and he nods his head and starts typing in my order, but then he starts shaking his head and whispering to himself while doing weird flourishing movements over the register with his hands. I'm just staring at him, holding my crying baby, and then shake my own head and walk back to the boys.
I get them off the seat and tell them to go to the bathroom. I'm acutely aware of the other tables, full of old people, who are giving us the hairy eyeball and whispering amongst themselves while shaking their heads. Not that I actually care what people that I am never going to see again really think about me, but this just completes the scene. I mean, for one, the place couldn't have been empty for our little spectacle, like every other time I've been in a KFC, and two, since when do old people eat dinner at 7:30 at night? I thought they'd be in bed by now, after eating dinner at 4:30.
By now, Nate has come back (good for him; I'd probably have driven off and not returned) and I tell him that the plan of eating inside has been aborted. We're now going to eat outside, in the car, in the parking lot, in the 36-degree weather. He knows me well enough by now and can tell by the look on my face and the giant bump and bruise on Brandon's forehead that he's better off not arguing.
We pile into the car, eat, and head back out. At this point, we only have a couple of hours left, the boys are getting tired and falling asleep (finally) and I'm thinking we're good. Well, no. We get stuck behind one of those vehicles that sprays the stuff on the road to keep it from getting too icy later in the night. For twenty-five minutes, we get to travel at about 40 miles per hour behind this behemoth of a vehicle that takes up both lanes of I-5. I am fuming, furious! I want to pass it on the shoulder, but Nate keeps me in check. What's even worse is that we were the second car behind it, meaning that we had just missed being in front of it. MOTHER bleeper.
Finally, the thing exits the freeway and away we go. We pull into my mom's driveway at 9:30 p.m., a mere 11.5 hours after leaving, and with only 2 stops. That, in my book, is a successful trip, in spite of the drawbacks. No accidents, no car troubles, we all arrived safely. Now, we just have to get through the week and the return trip.