The plan was this: Cap’n Pea would spend the afternoon packing the cooler and some sundry bags, then loading the car. I would get off work (4PM), drive home (20 mins), get everyone pottied, then be on the road again by 4:30. We would eat dinner around Cleveland and get to Chautauqua around 9PM.
What actually happened was that I arrived home to discover that several bags were still unpacked, so I spent the next hour nursing the Wee Boatswain, sniping at the Cap’n, and trying to keep Granuaile from unpacking all the bags. We were on the road by 5:30.
The Wee Boatswain is a particular little boy–maybe all 4-month olds are, but he likes to eat for the last time at 5:30 and be in bed by 6PM. He let us drive for an hour without feeding him, so when he started wailing, we immediately pulled into a Bob Evans, thinking they’d be more tolerant of a rambunctious girl and a weeping boy.
Dinner was uneventful, though there were long discussions about whether syrup was good for Critters and Granuaile managed to fall over backwards in her chair, scaring the dentures out of the diners behind us.
Back on the road, we tuck the Wee Boatswain in, and hope for the best. Amazingly, he sleeps. We set Granuaile up with a movie, and she stops mooing loudly into his car seat. I text my dad as we pass through Cleveland, “Love you, but can’t stop, on our way to Chautauqua. Imagine us waving.”
Twenty minutes later, near Geneva-on-the-Lake, we hear a horrific sound, like a jet engine landing on our roof. Flat tire, we say. The Cap’n pulls over, but due to construction, there’s no berm. It’s getting dark; the Cap’n worries that if one of the semis roaring by on I-90 doesn’t see us, he’ll lose his whole family, so orders us out of the car, while he unloads the luggage from the trunk (so he can reach the spare), and I call AAA.
I make an ersatz bed out of a few picnic blankets and Granuaile’s IcelandAir pillow; I tell her to lie down and put her head in my lap, which she does, for at least a few seconds. We’re in a field, sort of an entry to a larger field, rutted with tractor tracks, and maybe 25 feet from the road. The mosquitos come out, causing Granuaile to worry that they might eat her or carry her off somewhere.
Then Granuaile exclaims, Look! The moon! I’ve never seen the moon before! She has, for the record, but this wasn’t a moment for accuracy. And she goes on–Look! I’ve never seen a light through a gate before! I’ve never seen the planets before! I’ve never...and so on. Meanwhile, the Wee Boatswain sleeps blissfully through it all, his dreams slightly flavored with exhaust, I would imagine.
AAA arrives, changes our flat, recommends that we head straight back to Cleveland where we can get our car into a shop tomorrow to deal with the tire and the alignment issues (whee!), so we call my parents, coax them into letting us crash for the night, and turn around, discouraged.
We’re tired, cranky, and extremely disappointed. We start wondering whether we’ll even make it to the wedding by Saturday. Granuaile, who we’re grouchily ignoring, hoping she’ll sleep, says Mommy? This was the best night ever, and my toes curl. The best night ever.