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The destination matters not. There are a few constants when it comes to piling into the family car and driving an uncomprehendable distance to your vacation spot of choice. When you have little ones in tow, all hell breaks loose when this mode of travel is chosen. So that others may learn from my experiences, I have compiled a list of infallible laws when it comes to driving across the country with a family in the year 2012. Consider yourselves warned.

Let’s just call this what it is; an excuse to show off a few of my favorite vacation photos now that they are uploaded from my camera. If you’ve seen enough, no hard feelings.

The Law of Finite Provisions – There are never enough paper towels. There are never enough plastic bags. There are never enough baby wipes. I don’t care how many rolls of Bounty you pack, inevitably the dog will puke just after the last roll was exhausted cleaning up the SECOND entire extra-large Dunkin Donuts coffee that your husband left precariously perched on the edge of the countertop in the camper. And a plastic bag to put all those coffee-soaked paper towels in? Yeah, you used the last one to wrangle urine-soaked Spiderman pajamas ten minutes ago. Oh, what’s that you say? The baby’s tush decided to blow a gasket after 24 hours without pooping? Where are those damn baby wipes? I think you know how that story ends.

The Law of Canine Vocalization – First of all, let me explain to those who have never experienced the frustration joy of camping in a trailer. When we pop the pups into the camper in 85 degree Vermont heat, open the windows and turn on the fan, it is not the same as leaving them in a car with the windows cracked in the same conditions. They have it better than we do. It stays cool, dim and breezy in that House with Wheels. But, if you are a college kid employed to direct traffic in the Ben & Jerry’s parking lot, you might not know any better.

I’m so glad that the dogs chose to bark incessantly THE ENTIRE FUCKING TIME we were in Ben & Jerry’s enjoying our Mint Chocolate Chunk samples. As soon as we got out of the building, we could hear them over a block away. The poor college girl was so worried about them that she was about to call Sarah McLachlan and the ASPCA on us. Those damned dogs were totally peachy in there; the little bastards. They had water, shade, a breeze and a soft, comfy queen sized bed to themselves. We treat our dogs like little people, so we were a little nonplussed that they sat in there acting like we were chaining them up in the yard. It was the doggie equivalent of screaming “No, Mom!! Please just hurt me gentle!” in the middle of Target. (And Finny, thanks for that. Mommy loves you.)

The Law of Inaccessibility – Whatever you may need, it is always stowed in the bowels of the ship. I try my best to anticipate what we might need to get through the day and pack it in the most accessable place; that means Alice’s suitcase is at the top and Finn’s is right next to it. It doesn’t matter worth a damn, because you are about ready to go to the beach and the sunscreen is at the very bottom of the pile, in the back, underneath the avalanche beacon and the personal floatation device.

The Law of Slumbering Beasts – When dealing with vacationing children, sleep is a precious commodity. Just as I breathe a sigh of relief that both of them are finally asleep in their car seats (as the same time; WIN!), it NEVER fails… Ding! You need gas! Your husband needs to pee! The most amazing scenic overlook is coming up on the left! You pull into the Sesame Place parking lot!

The Law of Repetition in Catch Phrases – Go ahead, listen to the audio of Megamind six times in a row and try NOT to speak like Will Ferrell. I haven’t even seen this movie, and I already know all the dialog by heart. It was all Nathan and I could do…

“Ollo!”

“Revaunge is a dish best served cold.”

“Get back, you savages!”

Which is all better than me belting out a few bars of “Hiiiiiii! My name is Zoe!! And I’m proud, I’m proud, I’m PROUD!” in the middle of a crowded elevator in Disney World a few years ago; I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Finn was big into Sesame Street at the time. A nice older lady patted my hand, assuring me that she had done the same when her kids were little, too.

Actually this is not one of my favorites, but this is how I spent much of the thirty-five plus hours in the car. This, and dangling my boob in Alice’s face to try to calm her down when she was hungry. While we were driving. Classy, yes?

The Law of Inexhaustible McMuffins – Breakfast time! What are you in the mood for? You better say McDonald’s, because that is all there ever is for miles in every direction. Drive along any major highway in America, and there is a McDonald’s at two of every three exits at a bare minimum (figures are more like 85% in populated areas). We ate McDonald’s AT LEAST once a day on this vacation. Our sodium levels must be through the roof, but at least we have the entire set of Ice Age 4 toys to show for it.

Alright, alright. I’m done with show and tell. I’ve beat this dead vacation horse long enough. My vacation hangover has subsided and reality has set back in. Back to boring old life on the ranch next time.

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