Your brain starts to register the reality of a 13-hour road trip with two small children around 30 minutes into the trip, when you feel like you've already been in the car for an eternity but realize you're just passing the homes of your friends who've moved to the suburbs.
The reality really starts to slap you in the face when, four hours in, you're just crossing the state line and after doing some quick math on your fingers realize that what should be a 13-hour road trip will more likely end up being 18 and the people who told you it will only take 13 hours are lying bastards. Jim.
It's so weird - I could physically feel my will to live escape my body somewhere around the Tennessee/Mississippi state line.
Lucky for us Nick's entire family went as well, providing us with unlimited free babysitting services and we even had the luxury of a few nights out.
Our date night was especially interesting, when we pulled up to a popular Destin seafood restaurant to see patrons sprinting out of the restaurant in a bug-eyed panic. Like most sensible adults, my first thought was Grouper Revolution, which is actually pretty disturbing if you think about it for too long.
But as the people rushed by I caught wind that the reason for the mob was something way less frightening... the stairs down to the beach behind the building had collapsed. Which taught me a valuable lesson - when using the stairs always walk about 4 seconds behind someone fatter than you.
I know what you're thinking and don't worry - we were able to enjoy our tasty fish dinner as scheduled after the ambulances and police cars left.
Our second day there I learned another valuable lesson - dolphins look a LOT like sharks when you're looking down on them from a 6th floor balcony.
I also learned that even the most elderly and frail can haul major ass out of the ocean when you scream !SHARK! and point behind them from your 6th floor balcony.
In addition to a few nights out, we also were able to enjoy a nice afternoon pontoon boat ride with Nick's siblings while his parents watched the girls.
If you've ever been pregnant or in AA you know what I mean when I say that being the lone sober person on a boat with a group of drunk people is like being trapped in the chimp house at the zoo, complete with the throwing of feces.
It was actually fine until, on the way home, there was an "incident". I'll spare you the details but it involved urination, a busy boat pass which we stopped in the middle of, no one listening to my sensible logic and me completely losing my shit, storming out from behind the wheel cursing everyone and demanding to be taken home immediately.
Anhyoo, as you can see the first annual Mayer family vacation was a rousing success. I use the word "vacation" extremely loosely because collectively we only spent an average of 28 minutes on the beach. Apparently Ellie is terrified of both the sand and ocean and the only thing that didn't send her head first into a trembling tailspin was standing on the stairs at the pool or watching Baby Einstein.
The ride back to St. Louis rivaled the ride down to Florida in terms of times in my life that I've most been tempted to do heroin. We decided to drive straight through, so as not to prolong the torture.
The day before we left Nick started to come down with a virus, and by the time we left had a crushing headache and muscle aches so bad he was literally almost unable to move.
Which meant that I drove the entire way back by myself.
And entertained the kids by myself.
I don't want to say anything too specific or incriminating here but I will say that I was really impressed with my ability to drive while not actually looking at the road at all. By the end of the trip I was sitting Indian style with my back to the steering wheel flipping made-to-order omelets for neighboring cars.
When we finally reached the home stretch with one hour left we were just about to breathe a sigh of relief that the day from hell was nearing a close when we saw lightning illuminate the huge tornado to our left.
Please see previous post on my three super phobias: Snakes, heights and tornadoes.
It's an interesting thing about the Honda Accord. Many people buy it as a sensible family sedan, but what most don't realize is that it can accelerate from 80 to 110 in a snap. And it's able to maintain a really smooth ride at that speed for a significant amount of time.
As I white knuckled the steering wheel with one hand and tried to muffle my shrieks with the other (I was trying to inflict minimal psychological damage on the girls in the off chance that we actually survived) I prayed death would come quickly and painlessly, and I cursed myself for ignoring my earlier instinct - to ask the McDonald's cashier if they could put hot fudge on my McFlurry. "OF COURSE THEY COULD HAVE... IT'S McDONALD'S!" I sobbed through my screams. "I swear if I make it out of this alive I'll never have another dessert without hot fudge!"
Nick craned his head this way and that to try to see where it was going, which was only possible when the lightning struck, and calmly told me to go faster. With every flash it was closer, closer, and it looked we were right about to drive into it. I was sure with the next flash its little tail would be knocking on my window asking if I wanted some candy when by some miracle, right before it reached the tree line next to the highway, the top half sucked up the bottom half and it was behind us.
Luckily, we made it out unscathed. I mean, this looks normal, right?
Lying in bed that night the blogger in me was kicking myself for not taking video, but that video would have also erased any shred of dignity I hoped to retain as I tried to use Lila as a human shield.
Next year we fly.
Or just go to the pool.