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Don't Forget to Pack the Axe Handle

    The kids are out of school now and we are preparing for our Summer Vacation Road trip.  It will be like a scene out of a Chevy Chase movie.  Even though there are only four of us,  when we travel, we take two vehicles.  My husband follows me in his truck happy as a lark for the peace of sailing down the road behind me without a worry in the world.  I can look behind me and see half of our belongings piled high in the back of his truck...   bikes, rafts, kites, coolers, all things beachy.   We’ve traveled together, but he likes to tease the kids, the kids pick on each other, chaos begins and before you know it, someone’s hair is rolled up in the window, tears are flowing  and I have slipped into insanity.  It is cheaper than going to a therapist, so we gladly pay for the extra gas and wear and tear on the car because “it keeps mom sane.”  That last phrase is usually whispered in hushed tones to our neighbors when they ask the kids why... “Why do you take two cars?”   


    The kids spend days preparing the car for their own entertainment needs. My daughter’s side will be filled with pink furry pillows, cushy blankets and Disney DVDs.  She’ll have a box of Sharpie permanent markers that will end up on the leather seats before the trip is over along with a book of horse pictures, a plastic axe handle, and an assortment of left over Halloween candy that I’m certain I threw out months earlier.   The axe handle is an odd  item to pack.  It’s left over from one of those toddler plastic tool kits, but it has traveled with us for years.  We crossed Europe with juices boxes, a beanie baby platypus, and the axe handle.  If it brings her comfort, who am I to ask?   You never know when a gal might need to whip out an axe handle.    


    My son’s side of the car will be a grid of wires and cables connecting iPhones to speakers to mini-micro processors, tiny cameras and anything with an apple on it.  He will have a bottle of Pellegrino Water, a retractable plastic coat rack that can reach his sister's head from across the car,  a secret stash of pretzels and be able to view the traffic lights at all major cities on the Eastern seaboard as we sail across the Mississippi delta.  The kids will text each other from one seat away.....”I’m bored”...”K”  “A 4 door sedan just ran a red light in Connecticut”... “Kewl”.     


    Often, my mother will travel with us and this is assurance that not only will we eat well upon arrival to the beach, if we are hungry on the way there we need simply to reach over and dive into a tin of cookies, baked ham or a pan of lasagna that are all traveling on her lap.  You just can't get those things through airport security anymore.  So off we go in our two cars and rolling deli.   


    I believe when you are traveling  it is important to torture your kids with the music of your generation and Time Life Classic 70’s CDs were made for just such purpose.   Oddly, my kids now know every word to “Knock Three Times” and every Dr. Hook song ever written.  We actually fight over which vehicle gets the 70’s CD.  When we stop for gas, my husband will steal the CD from my car and then pass us on the highway making gestures that the kids know mean “Knock Three Times.”  I believe we were  in Pascagoula, Mississippi last as the 70’s tunes blared from my husband’s truck and my daughter shook a plastic axe handle at him through the rear view window.  But is was all okay, because people forget that 30 days after you get your first CD, along comes Time Life Classic 80’s and “Relax, Don’t Do It” is just the song for cruising down the highway drawing permanent pictures of horses, mapping out control of the East Coast traffic cycles, and dreaming of how relaxing it will be once we get to the beach.


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