I'm sure I've already conveyed my Willy Nelson-like enthusiasm for being on the road. So I was surprised at myself when I realized that it had been so long since we have taken a trip as a family, that Sophie, who just turned two, had never been out of the state of Utah. That seemed unfathomable to the older children, some of whom had been on as many as three continents before their second birthdays.
I also realized that on previous road trips I was lacking something that I am now not..teenagers.
So the whimsical, enthusiastic, easy going travelers of my memory, I realized, had perhaps grown past that stage and progressed on to the it's a holiday, can't we stay home and sleep phase. Nonetheless, Thursday October 11, Granddad and the kids and I loaded up the van and were gone by eight o'clock, only slightly behind schedule. We were headed to visit Anne and Eric in Alamosa, Colorado.
As I said before, when I travelled that way in April, I love that drive. I am so taken in by the beautiful streams all throughout the state. They make me wish I owned a tackle box and boots.
The first day of driving was the most challenging day of the trip...getting re accustomed to hours and hours in a small space with siblings breathing and doing other objectionable things. Between the inter familial tension, and the stress of really not being sure if there would be any desk clerk crazy enough to allow our family to stay in their motel, and if so would it result in my financial ruin, somewhere at about ten thousand feet elevation I really started to question what strange notion had inspired the weekend's endeavor.
I tuned in to the music playing over the van speakers. We had arrived at Billy Joel, neutral territory, finally something agreeable to preteen girls and their teenage brothers. There is a moment in New York State of Mind,
It comes down to reality, And it's fine with me 'cause I let it slide
Don't care if it's Chinatown or on Riverside...
that makes me feel that it is impossible that I was not a New Yorker in another life. Suddenly it was easier to let of the ridiculous expectation that my children would actually want to be in a van together for eight hours, without trying to kill each other. My New Yorker fantasy is one of my cerebral alternatives to giving in to the temptation to become... beyond discouraged.
And so when I returned to the muted sage and red-brown earth and beautiful explosions of golden leaves, I felt a renewed sense of we can do this.
Granddad and I decided that we would investigate at the smaller, local motels to see if they would allow our large group to rent two rooms for three nights. We found the Valley Motel in Alamosa. The owners, a family from India, were very hospitable. They allowed us to see the rooms before. We rented two suits, which included a full-sized kitchen that were very large and only sixty-five dollars per night. We were so relieved! The facility is aging and rustic, but the staff is friendly as were the other visitors. It reminded me of family trips of my childhood. We often stayed in locally operated places along Route 66, or on the way up to Maine, sometimes in Canada.
After dinner, the big boys camped out in Granddad's room and I had the rest in mine. We slept three or four to a bed, with some spilled out on to the floor, but everyone was happy because there was Disney Channel. As I squeezed into an open spot at the foot of one of the beds, the little ones engaged in that favorite motel pastime, jump from one bed to the other. The resulting vibrations took me back to 1980-something again, when I would beg my parents for a dime to put in those little boxes by motel bedsides. If you were lucky, and the box was working, the bed would shake for a good five minutes or so, at which point you were just as happy to have it stop. I wonder who invented those, and what else they came up with.