Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Midwinter in the Middle of Nowhere

This is one Mid-Winter Break where we did, indeed, need a break. Space to roam, or at least a change of scenery. The trouble is, that costs money. Then a Mommy friend of mine told me about this overnight trip she likes to take with her three kids and husband about twice a year, to the middle of no-where New Jersey. I know, the location doesn’t sound tremendously appealing but located an hour and a half away from the city in the middle of no-where is a business hotel with cheap-o weekend rates on suites, which means a bedroom for parents and a separate living room with fold out couch for the kids. The suite set-up is absolutely key for us, as I can not tolerate being present for the whole three hour process of my kids winding down for sleep. The hotel also features a large indoor pool and hottub and –dealbreaker -- is a ten minute drive from a Funplex. For $130 bucks, two days and one night of funplexing, swimming and not cleaning up after ourselves could be had. I was sold.

On our way to middle of no-where Jersey, I told David, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t marry someone with more refined tastes?”

He said, “When we were dating and you told me your idea of a great vacation was to go to a motel and read Tolstoy all night, I knew I wanted to marry you.”

We didn’t quite read Tolstoy all night, but, I am happy to report, it was still a resounding success.

The great thing about kids is that they need so little to have fun. I am learning to take advantage of this, the way you learn to travel a lot during your baby’s infancy, but only with your second child.

The kids spent a good ten minutes just running around and shouting with joy and jubilation at all the things they’d found.

“They gave us shampoo!!!” shouted Sec from the bathroom, “Look at all this lotion!!”

“There is a COFFEE MAKER!” shouted Primo, “And they give you your own coffee! And sugar! And Splenda!”

The enthusiasm was contagious, “And there are tea bags too,” I exclaimed. “And they’re HERBAL so you can drink them! We can have a TEA PARTY!”

Once we discovered everything we’d been gifted in the room, I called the front desk to see if there was more shit they could give us for free. I didn’t even need anything; I just wanted to continue the feeling that I was getting an incredible bargain, making out like a bandit.

“Do you have a DVD player you can send to the room?”



“What about free wireless?”


“Do you have a brush? Or toothpaste?”


I hung up and told David, “OK, we’ve got everything. Let’s hit the pool.”

Though the pool was about ten degrees too cold for my taste, the kids had a ball of a time splashing around and showing us how they “swim.”

“Good God, don’t ever let them out of your sight,” I said to David, “These kids can’t swim their way out of a bathtub.”

Upon returning to our room, the kids spent at least a half hour playing hide and go seek in the hotel room which turned out to be an ideal site for this game, since it had empty wardrobes, empty under-the-sink cabinets, and empty spaces under beds, coffee tables and armchairs.

Then we ran around the lobby for the better part of a half hour, sitting on all the different couches. While I was ordering a pizza delivery, Sec pulled the leaves off a plant and stuffed them in her underwear, where she hides things when she’s about to be caught red-handed. That’s when I thought we should make a hasty retreat back to our room, where we feasted on pizza and my children had their first taste of buffalo wings.

The room was spacious, a three bedroom by New York standards. Primo fell asleep in the fold-out sofa in the living room, Sec fell asleep in the carpeted area under the sink in the bathroom antechamber (don’t feel sorry for her, she loved it), and we watched “Just Married” in the master bedroom.

The night morning, Primo complained that he felt “nauseous,”

“I don’t even think you know what nauseous means,” I said annoyed after hearing it for the ten or eleventh time. The kid complains of something or other all the time.

Finally, I told him to just go brush his teeth with some minty toothpaste, the which he did and promptly threw up into the sink.

“I told you I know what nauseous means,” he said, piteously, wiping his mouth.

Did this stop us from going to the Funplex, driving bumper cars and riding in the motion simulator?

Of course not.

I fed the kid ice chips for an hour, then we went to Cracker Barrel where he ate a piece of toast with nothing on it while we ate chicken n’ dumplings, fried apples, country-fried steak and every other menu item under “Fast Track to Heart Attack”. Thus fattened up, we headed to the Funplex.

Neither the children not I had a good idea of what the Funplex would encompass. Would it be like Disneyland? Great Adventure? Coney Island?

Sort of, if Disneyland and Great Adventure and Coney Island consisted of bumper cars, a video arcade full of shoot-em-ups and one very terrifying room called “Foam Frenzy.”

The children of course, raced right in there, totally undeterred by the thunderous din coming out of the room. It sounded like some warlock was cooking up a hurricane in there, or a tornado, some kind of condition which involved high-velocity winds. Actually, it was just the sound of dozens of massive air tubes which shot foam balls everywhere, but mostly at your face. There were tubes that shot the balls out indiscriminately and guns which children could load with balls and fire directly at your eye. Primo hesitated at first, but once he loaded his Mega Blaster, there was no turning back. Sec meanwhile just lolled around on the ball floor like foam roadkill.

Then it was off to the bumper cars, which was another new experience for my little ones. Primo and Sec jumped into one together with Primo manning the wheel. That car didn’t move for two whole turns. David and I just stood on the perimeter yelling “Press on the pedal! The pedal! Do you know what that is? Is a big flat button, on the floor! Yes, that’s it, but now, steer with the wheel? The STEERING WHEEL!”

Its worth noting that the kids’ Tennessee cousin, who is five years old, is literally driving her father’s Gator and my kids don’t know what a steering wheel is.

Four or five rides in the motion simulator later, and we were done, Popped the “Robin Hood” audio book in the car’s CD player and drove two and a half hours to a totally different but equally in the middle of no-where place in New Jersey, to my parents’ place. Which is where we are now. Making a piƱata. More on that, of course, next time.

Happy mid-wintering, readers, and may your days be foam-frenzy-free.