Monday, June 23, 2008

portland vacation

Before we left town for our roadtrip to Portland, I quizzed the other playgroup moms for tips and warnings concerning 24 hours of total driving time with a toddler. Nobody had yet attempted anything of this magnitude, but optimism was high. Offers of portable dvd players and various videos were abundant. Various tricks and ideas I had planned and shared with them were met with approval and encouragement. I wasn't dreading the drive at all; in fact, it was my bright idea to do the trip this way, allowing us to save some money and have more flexibility and fluidity.

We survived. We drove our small subaru imprezza for the gas mileage, and Sam had never ridden in that car before, so we had a novelty factor there. Plus we decided to turn his carseat around to forward-facing for the first time, figuring that he would do better if we could all see each other. Sure enough, as soon as we pulled out of the driveway and around the corner, Sam let out his characteristic single-syllable laugh of surprised amusement. That moment turned out to be the highlight of the drive.

We split the drive into two-day segments each way, leaving in the evening and driving as far as we could while Sam slept, then stopping for the night at a motel and continuing the next morning until we got there. This was a good plan, and mostly worked out as we had hoped. We did borrow the portable dvd player and put it to good use watching Elmo (so annoying and not so appealing to Sam), the Wiggles (captivates him), and Sesame Street Old School (he likes and we like). We took long lunch breaks during the day-journeys, giving Sam ample time to run around while we tried to feed him our picnic lunch.

Was it fun? No. Not fun. Crying, whining, even screaming, and difficulty car-sleeping about half the time. Worth it? Yes, absolutely. As one seasoned mom friend of mine looked at it: we're conditioning him for future long car rides. And believe me, there will be future Portland roadtrips...My new niece? I love her already! So tiny and cute and sweet. So many facial expressions, changing by the second, arms and legs waving, dropping off to sleep at all hours, so portable and compliant! She even smiled at me a few times. Sam showed some of his darker sides during our visit, but when he first met his new cousin, he gently laid his head against her. In the photo above he is gently touching her arm with his finger. I'm imagining lots of cousin-fun in the years ahead.

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