I figured it was time to document our trek out West. Not because I have any grand insights into cross-Canada travel with four kids and a dog, other than: DO NOT DO IT! I repeat: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THIS BE ATTEMPTED. But, I want it documented here so that we will never do it again, even in a couple of years, when my brain chooses to forget the anguish, the suffering and the mind-numbing monotony my dear family endured over the course of those five days, and I suggest to Mr. Level-Headed:
Let's drive home this summer to save on the cost of air travel. It will be fun! It will be an adventure. We are due for an adventure.
Because we all know it is inevitable . . . I really am that crazy.
Future Krista must be stopped. So, here goes:
Our first mistake is that we made this trek with two vehicles (the Uhaul and the Loser Cruiser) and only two drivers . . .what were we thinking!
Our second mistake was deciding to leave late Tuesday night after Avery's soccer game. Sure it was nice having the day to attend to any last minute details, having lunch with Grammie at McDonald's, napping at Nanny's and finally watching Avery's playoff game with all the grandparents and a dear friend from high school, BUT hello!! I had just said goodbye to my parents and our 18 year old Baby Girl, who needed to stay behind to finish her summer job, AND I had spent the past two months packing, prepping the house for sale and caring for five children all by myself, while Mr. Level-Headed worked up North. It was no surprise that after a mere three hours, I could drive no further and needed to stop at Grand Falls, NB, rather than push on to Quebec, which was the initial plan. I was in no physical or emotional shape to drive for five hours.
No worries, Krista. We will just make up the time tomorrow.
That Mr. Level-Headed . . . he is always so flexible when it comes to meeting his adorable, but whiny wife's needs.
After finally finding a hotel that had a vacancy, which proved to be a very difficult task throughout our entire trip, we all had a good night's sleep and woke hopeful and eager to start our first full day on the road.
And it went great . . . well, for awhile. Sure Harriet cried, and I had to listen to the Backyardigans sing: "The Worman Polka" over and over again, and I kept thinking they were singing the Mormon Polka, which didn't make any sense because the Backyardigans are probably not Mormon . . .Anyhoo . . I ordered lunch for everyone at Subway in french . . . woohoo! Yay, me! and I found a great splash pad just outside of Montreal, where we ate pizza and the babies ran and played.
Elliot and I got the biggest kick out of this town name in Quebec: Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! I should have read it as an omen. The gods were laughing at us.
Look at those fools. All hopped up on excitement and optimism. They think this drive is going to be a breeze . . . . muhahahaha! We will show them.
Shake your booty!
Oh, and that dark speck on the right side of Harriet's hair is a knot that she created from twisting her hair and crying on the drive. Oh, she is a treat. She definitely won the worst travel companion award.
After our rest at the park, everything went downhill from there. Elliot did not eat supper and chose to lie down in the van instead. When we packed the van up and started rolling again, he complained that his back hurt. Before we hit the highway, we stopped at a drug store to get him some muscle relaxants, thinking his pain was from sitting in the car all day.
An hour later Elliot perked up and started to eat the left over pizza we saved for him. Two hours later, as were driving through Ottawa, Elliot started complaining that his stomach hurt. By then, it was dark, we were all exhausted and even though we had not reached Mr. Level-Headed's planned destination . . . again, we texted him:
We need to pull over for the night.
For the record, most people stop for the night before 11pm, which means all those lovely hotels you see along the highway are booked up by then and you have to drive through tiny, backwoods towns in the dark to find sketchy, old motels that only the really desperate people, like ourselves, are willing to stay at. Just for the record.
So, after encountering many dead-ends and having to turn around countless times with two crying toddlers and a teenager who is getting progressively more sick, Mr. Level-Headed finally finds a vacant motel, and while he is getting the room keys, the babies run wild through the parking lot, the teenager throws up all over the parking lot, the pre-teen desperately tries to wrestle the dog away from the puke and I . . . well, I am ready to shoot someone and curse the day that attractive Mr. Level-Headed walked into my life because we all know this is his fault somehow.
Families are such a blessing.
After a quick text to Zoe informing her that I love her and to warn her that if she never hears from me again, I have been murdered and left to rot in some sketchy motel in Ontario, I fall asleep.
The next day, everyone was worn out, but Elliot had stopped vomiting and was ready to sleep off the apparent food poisoning in the Uhaul with Mr. Level-Headed. We grabbed some breakfast at McDonald's and hit the road.
See the mark on her forehead? That's where Harriet scratched herself during one of her fits. Yep, like I said: Worst Travel Companion Ever.
It was a grey, drizzly day and it was one of those days where the weather matched everyone's mood to a tee. Our excitement had dissipated. We were ready to be done, but we still had two more days to go. After driving all morning without a break and with two babies crying and no playgrounds in sight, I texted Mr. Level-Headed:
Find somewhere for the babies to play.
He stopped at a mall. I lost my mind.
The babies need fresh air. They need water. They need to run. So, we are going to take them shopping?
Oh, I pitched a fit, and once my tantrum was done, we went shopping. Elliot still was not feeling well, so he stayed in the car and slept with Scout. We bought Leif a pair of sneakers (because he somehow managed to leave NB with only one shoe . . . insert eye roll here), snacked on smoothies and let the babies play on the mall rides.
Everyone enjoyed themselves. I was wrong to pitch a fit. There, I apologized. And really I should apologize because little did I know but this was our last taste of the modern world for another 36 hours. Oh, Northern Ontario. You are such a doll!
The next two days can pretty much be summed up as follows:
Two freaking days. . . I now have a better understanding of what Chinese Water Torture must feel like. Oh. My. Land.
Oh, and just another tidbit of information, you will never see a grocery store on your travels through Northern Ontario, but you will come across a strip club that rents rooms AND North America's largest porn rental shop. I kid you not.
Anyhoo . . .
Somewhere along the line, I managed to pitch another fit in the parking lot of a restaurant . . . who am I kidding? I was the Worst Travel Companion Ever. We found a playground, an old, rusty playground with a vicious dog incessantly barking and growling at us through a chain-linked fence, but oh, that playground was like a gift from the heavens. I swear I heard angels sing when we drove up to it.
That right there is what joy looks like.
And Elliot got sicker and sicker. For two days, he laid in the back of the van, not moving a muscle. We kept telling ourselves he was getting better, but he wasn't. Finally, late Friday afternoon, I started to get really worried and scared. Thankfully, the scenery started to change. The lakes disappeared and the road widened. Suddenly, there was a sign:
We had entered the modern world once again. As soon as we turned onto the off-ramp, I saw a sign that pointed in the direction of the nearest hospital. I looked in my rearview mirror and knew without a doubt that Elliot needed to be seen by a doctor. Once we pulled up to the intersection, I texted Mr. Level-Headed (it was a red light)
Go straight to the hospital.
I pulled up to the emergency doors, hopped out of the van and started barking orders.
Avery, you stay with the babies in the van.
Derrick, go park the Uhaul. Then, get the van and find somewhere for everyone to eat.
I can be such a treat sometimes. I felt bad. I knew Mr. Level-Headed really wanted to be in Winnipeg by Friday, but we couldn't go any further without Elliot being looked after.
Oh, and get a hotel. We are done driving for today.
I rushed Elliot into the hospital. As soon as we were done in Triage, they sent him into an examining room, and within moments, he was hooked up to an IV and saw the doctor. At this point, I was still thinking it was food poisoning, so when the doctor told us Elliot needed a chest x-ray, I nearly pitched another fit.
What? Have you not been listening to me?
But I didn't. I did what I was told and headed to X-ray. Low and behold, the doctor was right; Elliot had pneumonia. He prescribed an antibiotic, some Gravol and Tylenol, and sent us on our way.
It really should not have come as such a shock because crazy seems to be what we do best.
That night, we slept in a nice hotel. Before we went to our separate rooms (Hello! Our family size is not hotel friendly), Mr. Level-Headed kissed me on the forehead and assured me it was almost over. We only had three and a half more driving hours to go, and we could do this.
Right. We do hard things.
The next day, after being all hopped up on his medicinal cocktail for a good twelve hours, Elliot felt much better. We had breakfast in the hotel dining room and enjoyed eavesdropping on all the older, retired couples, sharing their travel tales and words of wisdom with one another. Their trips sounded remarkably different from ours, I should have shared our story . . . tee hee!
With our bellies full and our hope returning, we hopped back into the vehicles and headed for the Manitoba border. We were quite eager to be done with Ontario. Thankfully, the travel gods were done with us too, and the remainder of our trip was uneventful. Once we saw the flat fields of Manitoba, our excitement grew. We had made it. We may have been a day late, but we made it!
Welcome to your new home, Websters!
Now, all we had left to do was unpack . . . Seriously, what were we thinking?
. . . tee hee!