It was Road Trip time again for the four youngest members of Team Odette this past weekend. Rob couldn't go, because he had duty and had to stand watch. Suck. I was hoping he'd be able to join, but alack and alas, no such luck this time. I'm going to present the 36 hours in chronological, timeline format, which I hope is interesting and not dreadfully dull. If it is, be sure and tell me, and I'll go weep in the corner with self-pity. Um, yeah. So away we go!
1230: The children and I set off from our home in Portsmouth, VA, to points northward. Washington, D.C., to be specific. The trip should've taken 3-3½ hours, but ends up taking a little longer because of some heavy duty weekend traffic out of Hampton Roads.
1630: We arrive in downtown D.C. Because I've been chugging beverages all along the route, and despite a rest stop, my enormous bladder is full to burstin'. I finally find somewhere to park and then realize I have zippo change for the bloody meter, which doesn't take the $1 coins I received for change from my $20 bill at the rest stop vending machine. Arghhh!
1630-1700: We race around, finding plenty of signs like the above, first to get change for the meter (18 minutes' worth for a buck, ugh) and then find a place to make weewee. Nowhere. Nowhere to GO! Finally, at last, and por fin, I found a restaurant that would allow us to use the facilities. How do you spell relief?!
Relief. Get it?!!
1700: I now have exactly one hour left to complete the mystery shop I'm there to do, which necessarily has to take a full hour. I'm cutting it short on time. It takes me five minutes to find a parking space in the zone of my shop, which I'll explain more about later, and it is a pay-by-app or -phone spot. The app won't download - no signal in D.C.? Really?! - so I call the number. I have to give my license plate info first: CARE PKG. I spell it once, twice, thrice, and the system hangs up on me after successive failures. Repeat once more. The third time, I get smart and spell it phonetically: Charlie Alpha Romeo Echo Papa Kilo Golf. Success! But then... after setting up my credit card number and getting an account established, I input the parking meter number, and the system tells me that I cannot park there after 4:00 PM on weekdays. Then,
LOTS of them.
1725: I call my scheduler, give him the lowdown on the sitchy-ation, and ask if I can come back to do the evaluation on the 'morrow. He shuffles around some assignments, 'cause it matters whether it's done on the weekend or a weekday, and gives me the green light. Whew. We head out of the District, north to Maryland.
1820: We make it to the hotel where I'm doing a mystery shop that night, check in, throw our stuff in our room, and head back out to go do yet another mystery shop.
1955: After stopping at McD's to grab the kids some dinner and getting lost a few times, we arrive due west for our next mission: three games of laser tag! The kids are overjoyed; I've surprised them with this gig. They LOVE laser tag, having played it for shops twice before, and are now downright giddy. I have another surprise in store for them, too:
My old college pal Play-Doh, from our joint alma mater,
works nearby and met us there to play, too! The kids LOVE Play-Doh, and now they were brimming with the energy of crazed children that only comes out when the excitement is extreme. You parents know what I'm talkin' 'bout! They were all over him, jumping on him, climbing on him, etc., in a heartbeat, and I could barely get in a hug. The five of us had a blast playing laser tag (I kicked PD's arse 2 out of 3 times, woot), arcade games, snacking, and hanging out, until my shop was complete.
2215: We parted ways with PD and headed back East to the hotel. I got lost again a few more times. Dang, I miss Sue, my GPS! I had my iPhone GPS, but it just ain't the same.
2330: Tired - nay, exhausted - and gross from the long day in the car and games, I quickly do what I need to for the shop that night, before plopping the kids in front of the tube (because they're waaaay too wound up to sleep at this point), while I go soak in the tub. Ahhh.
0015: I'm still working on getting my as-yet-hyper babes to sleep, while trying to get some work done on the laptop. I'm unsuccessful at both, so I give up trying. All the lights get turned out, I set my alarm, and crash. I assume the kids do, too.
0830: I wake up just in time to go have breakfast before they shut it down, then head back to the room and crash some more. I'm soooo tired still.
1200: The kids and I finally rouse ourselves, an hour past check-out time. I've totally slept through my alarm and wake-up call. Whoops! We take 15 minutes and race around the room, getting dressed, packing up, and movin' on out. I go check out at the front desk, where I obviously don't look as shabby as I think I do, because the clerk is practically undressing me with his eyes. He's cute, so I let him. Ha.
1340: We arrive back in the zone of my evaluation of the streets of D.C. and park. I can't really tell you too much about it, other than that I'm basically mystery shopping the city itself. Yes, I'm that badass. I kid, I kid. We walk around my assign streets, doing what I need to be doing, and the kids all develop blisters as we go. The streets are clean enough, so I let them go barefoot. In downtown Washington, D.C. In the summer. On hot sidewalk granite. I'm an excellent mother. :\ We come across this little pond, an oasis in the desert city, and they look longingly at it. I look around, see no one in authority to stop us, and quickly let them dip their feet in the pondlet. They gab on and on about how good it feels. On we march, to finish the job.
When we come back across the Washington Monument, which the kids easily recognize in such a monument-filled ciudad, the kids insist on having their picture taken in front. Note that I'm still camera-less, save my iPhone, so quality is less than awesome.
1520: I finish my assignment, and we get back to the vicinity of the car park where Penelope is waiting. I know Play-Doh is busy studying in Georgetown for a major upcoming exam, so I call him up and offer to bring him some lunch for a study break. He happily accepts.
1610: After getting lost a few more times (!!!), we finally find la escuela where PD is studying. Immediately, the kids jump out of the car and begin climbing all over him again. PD is child-free, so far, so I offer him a few of my own. He laughingly declines. I try to get a decent picture of the kids and Play-Doh and end up with this lovely work of art:
Gee, thanks for putting the sammich down for 30 seconds, Jack! Sheesh!!
A little more chit-chat, a few more hugs, and PD is off to get back to studying.
1630: We head back out of the District, back into Virginia, for our next destination in Williamsburg, for another surprise mystery shopping assignment for the kids.
1845: We arrive at our destination at last, to the kids' total excitement. They are having way too much fun on this trip! We head in and go look at a bunch of weird, wild and wacky shiznat.
Like, this maneless, albino male lion, which the kids insist over my protests is a tiger...
... and this two-headed calf, which Sophia obviously thinks is wicked crazy.
I let them play the target-shootin' game, and it turns out that Jack is quite the ace with a BB gun! The girls each get a shot or two in, but Jack manages about ten! Nice. Maybe he'll grow up to be an expert marksman like his daddy is.
Sophia was busy looking at this slow-fast-slow-fast motion demo, when Chloë hollered at her to come try the laser obstacle course room. Oh, and we went through this groovy tunnel on a bridge, made with an optical illusion effect so you think you're spinning around and going upside-down instead of just walking straight through it. I loved it; meanwhile, it made all three children CRY. Yes, cry. Group hug time.
Feeling badly, I let the kids do the claw machine, which we all know never works. You never win these things. Ever. But guess what?! On the first time, Jack and I tag-teamed that bad boy and won these kids a one-eyed stuffed puppy they named Ripley. Woot!
Before we leave to go next door and watch the 4D movie, I insist we all get in the photo booth for a group sesh. Here's the result. We so crazeh!
2020: Finally, we're done with our shops and are ready to head home. I text Rob and tell him that we'll see him in about an hour. Ha. HA! I say.
1159: Over 3½ hours later, because the main Interstate (64) from the Peninsula down to the Southside of Hampton Roads is closed for the weekend at the same time as another alternate route in what can only be described as the most brilliant fecking move EVER, leaving the entirety of Hampton Roads to bottleneck through the last remaining resort, we get home. That, up there, is a full bladder. All of us had one, though mine had to have been about 90x that size, I swear. I barely made it!
That brings us to the end of our journey. But one more thing. You may have read a recent Friday Fragments post in which I challenged you, my readers, to play me on Words With Friends? Well, one such soul decided to take me up on that, and I spent the weekend being positively TROUNCED by such individual. My pride is wounded. I rarely get beaten, and never so badly, so I have a message for you, KO:
Imma gonna getcha! May take me 100 games, but when I do, well... Imma put a hurtin' on ya! ;)
Have a great week, pals!