The parking lot.
The 405 parking lot, to be precise.
That is where we spent the majority of our trip from Carlsbad to Santa Barbara. Now if you’ve never had the joy of experiencing daytime standstill traffic for hours without reprieve on a SoCal freeway, let me be the first to tell you it is in no way joyful at all. A journey which Google Maps told me would take three hours (lies) turned into seven. To be fair, we did have about two hours worth of stops. But that still equals two hours of extra time in the car. Once again, God bless DVD players.
There were three stops total on this seemingly never-ending trip and they are all worth mentioning.
The first was lunch at In-N-Out (obligatory), where Naomi was nearly blind-sided by no less than three cars in the parking lot as she danced and pranced about, blissfully unaware of all impending danger (trying to teach country kids about city life is a junk show).
The second stop was an added bathroom break for exactly one person at a Chevron on the 5 (this was before we came to a screeching halt on the 405). In general, we have a very strict rule about bathroom breaks on road trips and it is this: if one person goes, WE ALL GO. This works well except that I have one kid who runs on his own program. So he didn’t go last time. So he really really REALLY has to go now, and I am seriously re-considering why I was in such a rush to potty train everyone. Nevertheless, concessions were made for this special child and we pulled into the gas station parking lot. As I rounded the car to take him inside, I discovered I was too late. He had already dropped trou’ and was going for a world record in distance. In the parking lot. And he was not quiet about it. “Mom! I’m watering the plants! Mom, did you see how far it went? Whoa! I just hit the fence!” Mind you, this was a very urban area, with lots of people and roads and cars. So I did the only thing I could: I casually stood behind him as a human shield to would-be onlookers and hoped to high heaven we would avoid any run-ins with the law for indecent exposure. Apparently I am raising feral children. My apologies, California. We are from Wyoming and that’s the only explanation I have to help you process this.
Moving on, then.
So, you know how you can be driving along and thinking to yourself, wow, I’m really nailing this. Everything is going great! Solo parenting whilst road tripping is a snap.
And that’s when it happens.
You realize you’ve reached the breaking point for one of them.
You realize it because, right there in the middle of a grocery store bathroom (third stop) and about 6 hours into this marathon jog up the coast, your son decided to lay down. In that disgusting, smelly, unsanitary bathroom he laid down. FACE DOWN. On that dingy tile with those bits of dried toilet paper stuck to it and those mysterious puddles haphazardly scattered about. And he just shrieked. And shrieked. And SHRIEKED. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But I did know one thing: he was about to have hand sanitizer rubbed all up on him. And Mom would be having wine poured all up in her glass later because there is just no other way to cope with that.
With that final round of drama behind us, we soon rolled into Santa Barbara. Sweet sassy molassy, we made it! With glee, we emptied the dumpster fire of crap from the car into my friend Mel’s beautiful and kid-friendly home. The kids proceeded to explore every nook and cranny while I slapped together the quickest spaghetti dinner possible.
You guys. I have a confession to make. I have a total crush on Santa Barbara. It is charming, it is outdoorsy, it is a total foodie and it is just so darn cute. Did I mention it has both beaches and mountains? I was hopelessly and completely smitten. If I wasn’t already married I would ask it be my boyfriend.
The goal for the the next three days: to cram as much fun as possible into every moment. We accomplished this with a little help from the children’s museum, parks, picnic lunches, the zoo, the beach, bike riding, ice cream, and more parks. The result: wiped-out kids who asked to go to bed each night and fell asleep within thirty-two seconds of lights out. Mommy for the win. *sparkle fingers*
An added bonus of being in SB was spending time with some of our best good friends Ian and Mindy and their crew and getting to meet some of their best good friends. This proved to be equal parts awesome and problematic, because of course these good friends live in Virginia and California. I already have too many awesome people in my life that live way too far away. I don’t have the bandwidth to add more. All attempts to resist being sucked into the soul sister vibe which was so very prevalent were eventually thwarted. (that was worded a bit strongly. By “resist” I mean I basically jumped in feet first). The force was too strong. We ended up bonding over wine and NICU stories and common parenting styles on Easter Sunday. By the end of the evening I wanted us to all buy houses on the same street and be neighbors forever, complete with summer block parties, spontaneous backyard BBQs, and regular kid swaps. *sigh* *pout* *lament*
After three days in this impossibly hip place, it was time to pack up and leave. If it weren’t for the fact that we were about to swing into Venice Beach to pick up my baby daddy and head to hot and sunny Palm Springs, I’d have found a variety of excuses to stay.
As we headed south on the 101, I glanced wistfully in the rear-view mirror back toward Santa Barbara one last time. Bye, bae. Call me.
Stay tuned for the the last installment of this series, Part Four, coming soon!