Sand anyone?

We went to FLA a few weeks ago to see JewelrySlut’s father. He’s doing progressively worse. I’d love to write about what his saint of a wife is going through and how it’s impacting us and the greater family dynamic, but you don’t come here for feelings and shit, do you? No. You come here for stories about shit.

The plan was to leave here on a Wednesday afternoon, drive to Savannah, stay the night and finish the drive in the morning. Savannah’s just about half way to their house and the hotel complex we’ve chosen has everything we need.

We left a few minutes ahead of schedule and were streaking across the highway in no time. This was Moo’s first major car trip and we all had doubts. She’s not a great passenger. Her sister, on the other hand, when not vomiting on the sides of Caribbean mountains, is a great passenger. She’s more than content to play her DS, read, listen to music, take pictures of the back of my head, and generally be well-behaved. Her younger sister likes to yell.

Stupid people that we are, we had to stop at South of the Border. We’re sorry…we can’t help it. The plan was to push on from there to a little hole in the wall along 95 called Santee, SC. My estimates had us arriving between 6:30 and 7:00. We chose Santee because it has a Cracker Barrel. While Cracker Barrel is no Michelin-starred restaurant, it offers what we need; quick service, clean bathrooms and consistent food.

That is…with the exception of Santee.

What a mess. The place was dirty, our waitress was awful and the food was bad. And, no top of everything else, we asked to be seated in the non-smoking section and they sat us right on the edge. This gave JewelrySlut an instant headache. Did I also mention that Moo was yelling? We managed to feed her something, but she mostly threw food on the floor.

We ate and, rather unhappily, got back in the car. Off we went…back onto 95. Shmuppie was watching a movie on her DVD player, and for once, Moo was quiet.

“At the next exit, we need to stop”
“What? You’re kidding me. We have an hour to go until we reach Savannah. What the hell?”
“Stop. The. Car”

Luckily, there was an exit…and, as luck would have it, a Cracker Barrel. JewelrySlut decided to make the poor people in Walterboro pay for the sins of Santee’s kitchen. We made it in the nick of time. If there hadn’t been an exit, she had planned to either hang her ass out the window at 80MPH or go alongside the road. Hell…we had plenty of baby wipes in the car. Cleanup would have been a breeze… Thanks Cracker Barrel.

The night in Savannah was mostly uneventful.

The drive the following morning, while annoying as all getout, was also uneventful. We did have one acrobatic diaper change in a Hardees’s parking lot in Bumfuck FL, but that was it.

(This is where I skip the part about me having to work while in FLA, my father in-law’s deteriorating health and the 60lbs of rotting food we pulled out of the fridge)

On Saturday, we needed to get out of the house. A few weeks back, anticipating this, I’d gone looking for a beach to go to. The local beach in Crystal River more or less sucks. It’s a protected gulf-side beach so the ocean is more like a lake than anything else. It’s shallow, flat, mushy-bottomed and has odd plant life floating in it. I don’t care much for it.

I found a little speck on the map called Pine Island Beach. It would be about 45 minutes away and looked nice enough. So, off we went. We piled into the car and headed south.

I hadn’t done my full due diligence on the beach…or the weather. I’d forgotten what happens to Florida during the month of September the love bugs come out to play. The little shits are everywhere.

Well, we arrived at a cute little beach and were instantly set upon by 47 billion bugs. Also, Moo decided to freak the hell out. She’d missed her morning nap because we’d been stupidly convinced she’d sleep in the car. WRONG!

Shmuppie and I ventured out into the muck and found a family who was hunting for blue crabs. Shmuppie had a good time trying to catch crabs. Al the while JewelrySlut and Moo were back at the beach fending off bugs. Moo was none too happy. I went back after a while to see how things were going. Moo was in a better mood, mostly because she’d decided to eat the beach. Fistful after fistful of sand was shoveled into her mouth. We couldn’t contain her and keep the bugs off of us. It was A: have bugs rape every hole in your body or B” have the child eat sand. We ended up being successful at neither.

We gave up a little while later and grabbed lunch. Then, we went home while Moo barked at us from the back seat.

Sometime later, we smelled a familiar smell. Moo had pooped.

Ever want to know what happens to the digestive tract of a baby who’s been eating sand? Trust me, you don’t.

From her, a foul-smelling pile of gritty shit had emerged. Couple this with Grandma’s odd decision to buy Activia yogurt, and we had ourselves a 4-alarm fecal disaster on our hands.

Gritty Activia shit is like nothing else on Earth. It clings to everything (especially the hands of a baby who for reasons unknown does NOT enjoy being changed and uses that opportunity to roll about on whatever surface she’s being changed on) around you and is nearly impossible to clean. It was not fun. We also knew that this was setting up for a bad ride home.

So, Sunday rolled around and we continued to rue the beach trip. The plan was to leave FLA between 2-3 and drive straight. That would get us home at around 1:00 AM (With a dinner stop).

We managed to leave at 2 and JewelrySlut took the wheel. I don’t normally let her drive, but I was going to take the late leg of the trip and was now free to radio surf and get football updates on my BB.

The plan was to get back to Savannah and visit…you guessed it…the Cracker Barrel at that exit. Why tempt fate again? Because along 95, your options at nearly every exit are McDonald’s, Burger King, locally-owned scary place and Cracker Barrel. As much as I hate chain places, at times, they’re your safest bet. I don’t know about you, but as I’m somewhere in northern GA/southern SC a Chinese buffet does not appeal to me. No person in their right mind made the journey from China to be slinging food along the side of 95 in the American South.

We arrived at the restaurant with a familiar stench wafting out of the backseat. Oh shit…quite literally.

We chose to redneck it and parked in a secluded section of the lot. We found some grass and set up a changing station. There, along the side of a road, in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel in Savannas GA, we changed an epic diaper. It was awful. Moo had crapped all through her clothes. So, not only did we have to wrestle with her to get her cleaned up, but we also had to surgically extract her clothes and get her dressed.

JewelrySlut barely touched her dinner. She was too afraid to eat. I’ll add that the bathrooms were appalling (Faithful readers know where this is going).

Back in the car, Shmuppie had a movie on and we bit the bullet and squirted a few drops of child’s Benadryl in Moo’s mouth.

Don’t look at us that way. Don’t do it. You either have or will do the same someday. We just needed her quiet for the 5-hour run home. I was not going to be able to deal with 5 hours of yelling and not drive the car into a bridge abutment.

The ride wasn’t bad…mostly quiet. Until, of course, we hit the NC state line.

Now, I enjoy my GPS. Annette gives good directions but she also gives me an estimated time of arrival. There’s no better feeling than watching those minutes tick downward as you drive along “I’m winning!” I exclaim to nobody in particular. Well, between Savannah and South of the Border, I’d shaved like 45 minutes off the trip. I was estimated to make it home by midnight. SC line to home should take 1:37 – 1:42 depending on how many lights I hit in Raleigh. I was smokin’.

BAM…Rain. And not any nice rain, a Biblical flood unleashed itself on the lower half of the state. What did our fine Tar H ell drivers do? Well, they, as expected, started crashing into each other. Every 5 miles or so, there was another impressive wreck. Card in ditches, cars on top of cars, pieces of cars everywhere. Between the debris and the rain, I was forced, at times, to slow down to 50 or so. I watched in horror as the ETA crept upward. I was powerless to stop it. I was Ok driving in the rain…not happy, but OK with it. The people around me thought his was a perfect time to slow down to 25 or so. Folks, 25 on an interstate is never a good idea. If you’re that afraid, get the fuck off the road.

We made it home at about 12:08 and changed gritty mcshittypants once again and collapsed into bed. We’d survived a much-needed visit to FLA (Perhaps the last time we all visit before the funeral) and were ready to tackle another week of at-home madness.

PS: After my letter was sent to Cracker Barrel, I got a Golden Ticket entitling me to a meal for 2…on the house. Who’s sexy?

I am.

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