Monday, June 11, 2012

The Epic Edisto Island Adventure

I saw the Tennessee State line as Alan Jackson was blaring from the car radio.
I had been behind the wheel of the family station wagon for over 8 hours.
The kids were fussing in the back.
The wind blew threw my hair.
I was trying to keep myself awake.
"only 3 more hours left until we're home!"

I slung my hand out the window, playing with the wind in an attempt to drown out the screaming from the back.

The three of us, me and the kids, were on our way back from a spontaneous trip to South Carolina.

"Mom, I feel sick. My belly hurts." - Anna

Within seconds Anna began throwing up.

My heart dropped, and my hand came back in the car window, when I heard the sound.
Between heaves she yelled "it's all over. It's all over me mom. HELP."

I quickly typed in "Family Drug Store" into the GPS. The nearest one was 10 miles away.
I turned all the music off, rolled up the windows and did my best to soothe her from my spot behind the steering wheel, as I kept saying to myself in my head "you've got this. You are going to be ok."

As soon as we made it to the family drug store in the middle of nowhere Tennessee, I drug Anna out of the car, calmly asked Paul to follow and walked into the store.  
I didn't waste any time. I yelled out in my most polite momma bear voice "I need some help please. She's sick. I need a bathroom, some sprite and some anti nausea medicine. I'll pay for everything when I get her cleaned up and feeling better."

Four women ran to my rescue!

I gave Anna a bath in the drug store's kitchen sink, cleaned out her car seat the best I could and placed one of my shirts over the mess.

It was the most appropriate way to end an epic beach adventure that started off even crazier than the way it ended.

I was standing in the living room trying to figure out what I was going to do with the kids all summer, when my good friend Amanda called.  She said she had up and decided to leave for the beach on Tuesday, did I want to go.
I am all about being random and I am all about road trips, so I was immediately on board.

The weekend before was spent getting the car checked out. I knew taking a long trip alone with the kids was a bit nuts so I wanted to make sure that the car was checked and every possible "what if" was thought of.  I even had Roger teach me how to change a flat tire and put an extra spare in the back.

Early Tuesday morning I nervously backed out of the drive.
My biggest fear was getting sleepy during the 10 hours on the road

Amanda and I decided to caravan to the beach since both of us were a bit nervous about driving our children alone that far of a distance.

Turns out caravanning with 3 small children is a bit tricky.
Between emergency bathroom breaks, melt downs and gas station fill ups, we were stopping just about every 2 hours.  In Asheville, NC we stopped for over an hour at a mall so that the kids could stretch their legs.  By that time my crew had been on the road for 9 hours and they were getting super tired of all of my cheesy attempts at entertaining them.

As we were pulling out of the mall parking lot the sky looked ominous.
A little ways down the road the glory came rollin' down.
We were in the middle of a tropical storm.
Every muscle in my body tensed up, my knuckles, turning white, held tight to the steering wheel.
Already that day we had witnessed 3 major car accidents, one in which was a 3 car pile up that I narrowly escaped, and the other in which a semi truck became engulfed in flames. When we passed the semi truck, Amanda called 911 as I felt the heat from the fire enter our car and feared the truck might blow up.

Around 10pm I noticed Amanda's car, which was in front of mine, had slowed down quite a bit and had  it's emergency blinkers on.  It was several miles to the next exit and raining too hard for me to risk reaching for my cell phone to give her a call.

When she finally did pull off we found out that we were in the middle of nowhere, in a tropical storm, and her  drivers side windshield wiper had flung off the side of her car.  We parked at the only thing we  could find, a closed BP station with a small little light out front.  It was pitch black dark and pouring the rain.

When I saw the windshield wiper I had flash backs to my college days in which the same thing happened to me.  The windshield wiper's screw had come loose and the arm extended too far.

I phoned my mom, which probably wasn't a good thing since now she knew I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, in a tropical storm, with HER grand kids. But my family owns an auto body shop and KNOWS a thing or two about cars.
She told me to find out the make and model of the car and to give my uncle a call.
I was too frightened to call my uncle.  I knew once he found out where I was and what I was doing there, he would give me a tough love lesson over the phone about how dangerous it is for a woman to travel alone with two small children, especially with out a gun.

I was too tired to listen to a love lesson so I called my husband.

Which probably wasn't a good idea either.

me- "hey Rog. Umm, can you look something up on the internet for me?"

Rog- "where are you at?'

me- "listen, can you just look something up for me?"

Rog- "What's going on?"

Me- "don't panic, all is well, the windshield wiper just flung off the side of Amanda's car and it is raining pretty bad. Listen, can you look up how I can go about fixing it?"

Rog- "Where are you?"

Me- "Listen, I have no clue where we are. can you just look up what I asked you to look up?"

When I am in stressful situations I deal with it by not lamenting about how I got into the situation in the first place, instead I form a plan of action in my head which calms me down and helps me to function.

My first thought was that I would try to fix the wiper and if I couldn't we could all pile into my station wagon, leave Amanda's car there and find a cheap, close, hotel.  In the morning we'd come back for the car and take it to an auto repair shop.

That is sort of how things went down but not really.

Amanda was very determined to get to the beach. She tried her hardest to tie the broken windshield washer up to the fixed one with some old fabric, hoping that the fixed one would drag the broken one across the windshield.  I stood close by giggling as she climbed on the hood of the soaking wet car, in her soaking wet clothes.

It didn't work.

They opted to tie the broken wiper to the side mirror and use a BP squeegee to periodically wipe off the drivers side wind shield.

me- "what's our plan of action?"
Amanda -"where going to try to make it to the ocean."

It was STILL pouring the rain, with no sign of letting up, and they were down to one wiper.

I followed behind Amanda's car as she entered back on the interstate.
It was slow going.

All of a sudden her car hydroplaned in a big puddle of water.
I sat behind my steering wheel hoping they could make it to the next exit and pull off.

They did!

We stopped at a small place called the Peach Tree Inn around midnight and lugged our little families through the tropical storm into the warm motel.
Amanda, her mom and little Ada "slept" in a bed, while Paul, Anna, and I "slept" in a bed.

At 6:30 am I woke to find Amanda hovering over me with her cell phone.
She put it to my ear.
me- "hello?"

It was my husband, and he was PISSED.

The last time I had talked to him was when we had first stopped at the abandoned BP station. I hadn't updated him on our current status. He had sat up all night long worrying and calling our cell phones.

Amanda and I got dressed and headed out shortly after that. We left the kids with her mom back at the hotel as we sat out to fix the wiper.
The little auto repair shop across the road from the Peach Tree Inn looked super shady so I mentioned going to Wal-Mart. Little did I know that Wal-Mart doesn't fix wipers.

Amanda was exhausted, the kids were exhausted and I was a hyper little monkey with way too much coffee in her system, so we got back on the road, without having the wiper fixed.

We made it to the beach in an hour and a half.

The rest of the trip was what you would expect; three women trying to juggle the demands of a moody 4 year old, a demanding 6 year old and a very active 16 month old, whilst attempting to "vacation."

For the first day I tried to keep up with Amanda, Ada and her mother but by the end of that day it was clear that my children had other plans.  For the rest of the stay we opted to split up; Amanda, Ada and her mother doing their thing, while the kids and I did ours.
Although I was sad not to get to spend time with my good friend, it worked better that way.

I was able to read Paul and Anna's mood and judge what to do next. (pool, beach, hiking, nap time, lunch, play ground)

Every evening we ALL got together for dinner and a walk on the beach to watch the sun set.

One evening Amanda and I sat on the back porch talking until 1am and one night we went out on the pier after putting the kids to bed. But the rest of the time we were all too tired by the time we put the kids to bed that we took showers and went our separate ways.

On the return trip Amanda and I opted not to caravan.
It was just too hard caravanning with 3 kids in two different cars.

Lesson Learned?
Two stay at home mothers going to the beach with children is NOT a vacation.
It's a business trip.

Family highlights from the trip:

watching a beautiful sun set with the kids and seeing a MASSIVE amount of dolphins swim through

Anna putting her face in the water for the first time

spending the day at Botany Bay, just me and the kids, swimming, exploring and flying kites

Put Put Golfing with Anna and Paul

Sitting at the playground for over an hour reading under a big oak tree while the kids played

Here is a link to Edisto Island

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