The Captain is off again, and this morning we all got into the car to drive him to the airport in Capital City. I only make it to the big city about twice a year on average, so the road trip two hours down the highway is something to look forward to. I optimistically see myself dropping him off and then blissfully shopping while my children follow along behind me, smiling and behaving themselves. This, of course, never actually happens, so I've learned to set the bar a little lower. Today's goal was to leave the airport, make one stop at the giant Superstore on the way back out of town and head home for a relaxing evening. Does that really sound like too much to ask?!
We hit the road at around 9:30 AM and argued a little over which radio station to listen to. The Captain prefers what I like to call "unnecessary noise" at an ungodly hour of the morning, and I like something a little more mellow, like 80's new wave, or disco from the 70's. We compromised with classic rock, and the trip was off to a merry start.
On these trips, I like to pack snacks for the kids, and coffee for us. Less than an hour into the drive, I realized too late that this coffee thing was a big mistake. The Captain, being of a military mindset, wanted to be on time for his flight (AKA two hours early). I didn't want to stress him out by requesting a bathroom break, so when it became clear that my bladder was moments away from exploding, I just shifted in my seat every three seconds in the hopes that I'd find a more comfortable position. By the time we were approaching Capital City I was gazing longingly at trees on the side of the road, wishing I could jump out of the car and pee behind them. Finally, to my immense relief, the Captain got the hint and pulled into a gas station, saving me from an embarrassing accident two hours from home.
After dropping him off and getting behind the wheel, I promptly realized that I was completely turned around and had no idea if I was driving north, or west or any other direction, real or invented. I have a fairly decent sense of direction (you know, for a girl) but I swear, I have never made a trip to Capital City and not gotten utterly lost at least once. In retrospect, I suppose buying a map might help.
Anyway, after finding myself at a deserted crematorium with a view of an overgrown field and the distant sound of planes taking off, I briefly considered making an expensive long-distance call to my father, who lived in Capital City some 30 years ago, for directions. Instead, I decided to head towards the city centre and try to find my way out from there. Meanwhile, Firstborn and Rosemary's Baby had been sitting in the back seat for close to three hours, and were starting to get a little antsy. I was, by this point, somewhat frazzled, so I irresponsibly offered them treats and toys if they just kept quiet back there for a few minutes longer. The end result of this was Firstborn taking a fancy to a game of Twister and me buying it for him.
When you're in an unfamiliar city, it's never a good idea to drive too fast in case you miss your turnoff or destination. In Capital City, you don't want to drive too fast because the place is crawling with people who like to take walks in their pyjamas. If you pick up too much speed, you miss the culture and ambience you won't learn about in the tourism brochures. So, I'm sure every car on the road was sick of being stuck behind me by the time I figured out where I was and turned into the parking lot of the Superstore.
This particular Superstore is like no other I have ever visited, and I've lived from one end of this country to the other. They have this bizarre underground parking garage with an entrance situated smack in the middle of the regular parking lot. And when you go inside, there's a strange, bus-station-like concrete walkway with a ramp leading down to the aforementioned underground lot. When you finally reach the grocery store's automatic doors, they're not marked. You have no idea if you're going in the "in" or "out" doors, so you just kind of wander in aimlessly. The layout of the place is, to put it mildly, bizarre.
But things got better when I hit the store pharmacy and proceeded to stock up on every over-the-counter painkiller you can imagine (a combination of weird weather, hormones and barking dogs sent me back to migraine territory this past week, for the first time in years.), and then I went about the business of grocery shopping for the next 40 minutes or so. The kids were great, and the one time they did start to get a little restless, a woman in a lab coat popped out from nowhere and handed us all ice cream samples. She was gone as soon as she'd appeared, but I'm pretty sure she had wings and a halo. Even going through the checkout was a treat. No long lineups, and the very nice lady in front of me in line gave me an extra bag she didn't end up needing. A pleasant experience all round!
But the pleasantness pretty much ended there. After loading back up, and having to make a second trip through the McD's drive-thru because they forgot to give the kids their happy meal toys (the kid in the window was not the sharpest tool in the shed), we were on our way home. Firstborn insisted on listening to the kids' station for most of the trip, until I finally couldn't take it anymore and switched back to mine. He is, apparently, picking up some of his father's more annoying habits.
When we finally made it home, I unloaded the groceries and proceeded to immediately break my half-assedly chilled club packs of ground beef, chicken breasts and sausages into smaller portions for the freezer. The beef, sausages and one pack of chicken were no problem. Then I opened the second pack of chicken. I am no wimp where smells are concerned. I've changed the diapers of two very stinky boys, one of whom still occasionally makes "art" with his poop. I've lived with dogs for years, and I live between two cattle farms. Smells are rarely an issue for me. But when I opened this chicken, the stench was like nothing I have ever experienced. I will save you the details, but after consulting google on the matter, I tossed it. I may be imagining it, but even after cleaning the counters with bleach, I can still smell it throughout the house.
But the day isn't over until it's over, and I'm determined to finish up on a high note. So, how do I salvage a day that included listening to music I didn't want to, nearly peeing myself, getting lost in a strange city, eating cold McD's while I drive, and almost giving my entire family a case of botulism?