We leave tomorrow on a two-week family vacation. We are taking a road trip halfway across the United States to Yellowstone National Park to see hot smelly water shoot out of the ground at inexplicably regular intervals.
I’m really not sure what we were thinking. I mean, Yellowstone sounds amazing, but we have to get there first. And we have to get home. And we’ll all be in the same car. Together.
We’ve been home, all together, for the past couple weeks, ever since the schools were rude enough to tell us not to send our kids there anymore. Our house is over three thousand square feet in size, not including the garage and backyard, and yet our children cannot seem to find enough space to stay off each other’s nerves. Or ours.
They are, quite simply, really annoying. Two of them are teenagers, which means they are permanently in a bad mood. The other one is a teenager catalyst. Son Number Three is the vinegar to their teenage baking soda. It’s a burbling mess when they are together.
So, in a moment of complete stupidity, we have decided to reduce their available square footage from three thousand down to roughly ten. That should go smoothly.
Since I will probably be a sobbing mess, or heavily medicated, during the non-driving hours, I anticipate being unable to keep an accurate travel log. Instead, I have once again channeled my psychic powers of clairvoyance to envision exactly what the trip will be like, in order to write the travel log beforehand…
Day 1 – Rocklin to Winnemucca, Nevada – We threatened the children with their very lives seven times before we even reached I-80 (six blocks). We stopped the car in Reno and made the kids run laps around the Atlantis Casino while my wife and I went inside and ro-sham-bo’d to see which one of us got cocktails. I lost. Nevada is hell. Winnemucca is every bit as magical as it sounds.
Day 2 – Winnemucca, Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah – Correction: Nevada is worse than hell. The boys are taking turns to keep up a continuous stream of complaints and everything is ugly and brown. During a lunch disagreement I was hit in the back of the head with a flying turkey and cheese sandwich. Eventually the three boys got into a full-on fist fight in the car and we just let it go, because it was our only hope to break up the soul-crushing monotonous boredom of I-80.
In an unforeseen turn of events, Utah is even worse than Nevada because the road is completely straight. There is literally nothing to do - not even steer. I set a Chevrolet Suburban land speed record while everyone was asleep after the melee. An hour later, I fell asleep for fifteen minutes and it didn’t matter. The road is that straight. Boring is no longer an adequate word. After approximately three months of driving we made it to Salt Lake City. Mormons everywhere. We fit right in in our Suburban.
Day 3 – Salt Lake City, Utah to West Yellowstone, Montana – We have left I-80. We are now on I-15. That is the single most exciting thing that has happened on this trip so far. My wife bought a blackout sleeping mask and $8,000 noise-cancelling headphones from a Best Buy in Salt Lake City and has completely checked out of the vacation. I do not blame her. It’s every man for themselves now. We made it to West Yellowstone by making two of the three boys ride on the roof rack for the last seventy-five miles. It was the only way.
Day 4 – Yellowstone National Park – We drove directly to Old Faithful, which only took eight hours, since our line of six thousand cars drove three and a half miles an hour in between bison traffic jams. The boys complained that the buffalo weren’t exciting enough. We took a picture of an elk. Everyone fought over the camera. The camera broke. We missed Old Faithful by three minutes and had to wait sixty-one minutes to see it again. Those were the nicest sixty-one minutes of the trip, because we were all waiting one hundred yards apart around the perimeter of the geyser.
Old Faithful was amazing. Then we had to get back in the car. Two million buffalo later we were back at the hotel. My wife and I had a long talk that lasted thirty-five seconds, and we decided that we had definitely seen all the good stuff already.
Day 5 – Yellowstone National Park to Idaho Falls, Idaho – After a drive that I have permanently blocked out of my memory, we sold the Suburban for well below market value in Idaho Falls and purchased plane tickets home, with all five seats in different rows.
The boys are home now, and my wife and I are at an undisclosed hotel where they can’t find us.
Happy summer travels, everyone!
See you soon,
Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen
Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!