But GETTING there was another story altogether. Driving to North Carolina could not be considered a vacation even with extra quotation marks. The drive was supposed to take around 9 hours and instead took 14. Fourteen hours in a vehicle where the car seats are packed so tightly Primo can't even buckle his booster seat belt because it is underneath Terza's infant car seat base and only David, a highly trained specialist, who can basically detach his hand from his wrist to reach under, can handle it. Fourteen hours with children suffering from volume immodulation disorder (and regrettably, the volume is immoderately high, not low). Fourteen hours of fighting over whose turn it is to play 20 Questions, which song we should listen to, which DVD we should play on the DVD player that David and I bought thinking it would eliminate, not instigate fights. Fourteen hours of "I'm hungry!" and "I'm car sick!" and "She hit me!" and "You're not invited to my birthday party!"
And that's not even including the baby.
The baby was actually the only easy going personality in the car, and for the first day of traveling, when we went to DC, and hit only a little bit of traffic, the baby was actually very smiley and patient and accommodating. But on the second day, when we checked out of our hotel in DC and headed straight into the heart of darkness known as Driving To The Outer Banks on Check In Day, well, she was just fed up with the whole scenario. And who could blame her? But the waves of infant screams emanating from the back seat were enough to cause permanent mental damage on all of us.
The second day of driving was just a clusterfuck in general. Traffic everywhere. Diaper Explosions constantly. We had to stop every ten minutes, either to change a diaper, breastfeed the baby, console the baby, bring a kid to the bathroom, get some food or just escape from total insanity. So, although we only drove or 9 hours that day, we were on the road more like 12. The worst part was the total gridlock that we faced before we crossed the bridge to cross over to the island. The cars just wouldn't move, for hours. Finally, we crossed the bridge and I made David stop so I could nurse the baby and then I refused to get back in the car.
"We can't go on," I said.
"Nicole," said David, "we're like 15 miles away."
"Yes, but with the traffic, that's like another hour. I can't. I just can't."
"So what are we going to do?"
"We will just have to stay overnight here. In the parking lot to Kitty Hawk Elementary School."
"What is Mommy doing?" asked Seconda.
"Mommy's having a nervous collapse," I said.
"What's that?" asked Seconda.
"She's just feeding the baby." answered David, "Give her a minute."
Of course, I got in the car and took deep breaths for the last hour it took to get 15 miles. And when we pulled into the driveway of the rented hours, twelve hours after leaving DC, my in laws said we were just in time for pizza.
"We ordered it two hours ago but it just got here, with all the traffic."
And just as I was beginning to recover from the drive down, our vacation came to a close and we had to brave the drive back. But that is a lamentation for a another day. Today, I'm just luxuriating in stretching my legs.