Friday, August 31, 2012

Rest Stop Roulette

That's the name of a little game I like to play when I'm driving home to New Jersey with the boy(s) in tow. I can remember, quite vividly, the first time I made the four hour trip with Carter when he was just a mere 6 weeks old and Rest Stop Roulette damn near killed me.

In fact, it still gives me nightmares. 

If you're familiar with the beginning of the New Jersey Turnpike, you would agree with me when I say exits 2-4 are absolutely meaningless. With a bazillion miles between each exit and rarely a place to pull off, god forbid there should arise an emergency such as, oh, say, a six week old screaming as if you were slowly ripping off each of his tiny fingernails, the beginning of the NJ Tpke is the bane of my existence. 

As I embarked on that fateful trip, I can recall driving past both the Maryland House and Chesapeake House Rest areas with a tiny voice in my ear that whispered, "I know you're new at this mom-thing, but be a smart Mom. You really should stop here. Who cares that you've only been on the road for an hour?" That voice was quickly subdued by an overwhelmingly naive snicker, "But you've only been on the road an hour. You can surely make it to Delaware.. And maybe even New Jersey! C'mon, be a rebel!" 

Play a little Rest Stop Roulette.

Needless to say, that trip? I made a dire First Time Mom mistake. I chose to be a rebel. Carter's screams continue to haunt me to this day. As he screamed and yelled and cried his little heart out, I could have sworn the walls of my mid-size SUV were closing in on me. 

For ten whole miles. TEN MILES. 

I was never so happy to see a road sign for Camden, New Jersey in my entire life. Those of you familiar with Camden know exactly what I mean. The end of the story? I pulled off the turnpike and into the parking lot of a hotel where I proceeded to lock the doors and climb into the backseat with Carter. I'm not sure who cried more at that point. 

Not only did I learn my lesson that afternoon but I also learned that I should stay far, far away from gambling. 

Well, friends. I made the Maiden Voyage with both boys in tow yesterday afternoon. By myself. With a car packed to the gills of baby and kid shit, which in itself deserves a whole post of its own another day. 



By the grace of God, the highway saints, and my Second Time Mom Smarts we made it in one piece and without a single meltdown.

Did I push the envelope a bit? Of course. But I planned ahead with goldfish crackers, cereal bars, pre-filled sippies and an iPad full of favorite movies. I knew my 2 hour limit and made it to the Delaware Welcome Center just in time to feed MacFatty (someone please tell me to stop calling him this!). 

Twenty minutes later, we were on the road and made it to our destination with nary a tear. 

Rest Stop Roulette? You ain't got nothin' on me. Although I sure as hell know we're not leaving New Jersey any time soon.

20 comments :

  1. The DE Welcome Center is where it's at. Glad the trip went smoothly!

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  2. Hahahaha oh, I know that game well, though the name, "rest stop roulette" is the best freaking name I've ever heard it called! Perfect timing, as we leave on a small road trip this afternoon. And another long one is coming in the fall - I think we'll actually be on the NJ turnpike for part of that one, so I will heed your expert warning!

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  3. Yep! We play this every trip to Baton Rouge. After Shreveport there is no where to stop until Alexandria. After than it's BR or bust since there's very little and what is on the road is not somewhere you want to change a baby (assuming they even have a changing station). This past trip I told my husband I wanted an SUV solely for being able to have a flat surface to change a baby!

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  4. Being from NJ, I can only say ohdeargodyoustoppedinCamden! Not the best area NJ has to offer!

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  5. Glad you (and the babes!) survived. Have a great time at home!

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  6. Hysterical and so true!! It never even dawned on me the amount of stops it takes when traveling with children. It took me 2 stops just to get to Ocean City, MD from the Baltimore area and the entire trip I was playing "rest stop roulette" in my mind, seeing how far I could push the envelope.

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  7. I am very familiar with this game as well- those ridonkulous long island trips each month have me playing this game all too often! Now that J is potty trained too, I start asking like 2 miles before each rest stop "Jules do you have to go potty" hoping that she will give me the heads up! Oh the joys of traveling with kiddies!! love ya!

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  8. Glad you made it!! I had to make a 3.5 hour trip by myself with Mackenzie when she was 2 months old. I didn't feel safe being locked in the car at the rest stop so instead I sat in the rest stop and fed her a bottle. And it was a small stop so EVERYONE who walked in saw me first!

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  9. MacFatty! I love it! We call Chase some awful names too. Builds character right?

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  10. funny! I will keep this in mind when the day comes that I make the drive from DC to NH....

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  11. You're a rockstar! Congratulations on making it on your maiden voyage. I have never been near the NK Pike, but I know a thing or two about long road trips with little ones. It's always a wine worthy moment!

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  12. Glad to hear the seasoned mama is better at rest stop roulette. The hubs and I went on a trip when Quinn was 6 weeks old and there was a time he started screaming in the car. I was begging hubs to pull over but he kept looking for a "nice place" to stop. I could have killed him!

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  13. I am a Philadelphia native... currently residing in DE - but I work at McGuire AFB (in NJ). So this post hits home for me. Haha... When I got my license my mom told me never cross over the bridge into Camden for ANYTHING - now as an adult my morning commute is driving across the Delaware Memorial Bridge into NJ on auto pilot until exit 5 - EVERY OTHER morning to get to work. No fun.

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  14. OHM girl!! You are so brave to do that alone! But I"m sure you now have a system! I have not done any road trips with my one baby yet. Just thinking about doing that with ONE child gives me anxiety. But I agree, you are a rockstar! :-D

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  15. You get a round of applause for even attempting such a trip! I was nervous of a 10 hr trip w/one child AND a husband. I couldn't imagine the horror of 2 AND alone! Job well done,mama!

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  16. I love this post. Being from Jersey (exit 8A baby) I totally understand where you are coming from. We are doing a major road trip in two weeks (moving 9 hours north of where we live now) and this is a great reminder to stop before it's too late. So glad your trip went well!

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  17. At least you are honest with us all. I am so glad this trip went so smoothly. I am sure when I am a momma I will understand it even more!

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  18. omg I can't imagine doing a trip like that alone. ps- I hate the Jersey turnpike.

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  19. We're going away this weekend...to Annapolis actually...a little over 2 hours...and I already know it's going to SUCK because my kid hates the car. I've already thanked Jesus a million times that I lost a lot of weight last year because I'm still impressed I can climb back into that little hole between the seat and soothe/feed/etc. But its NOT COMFORTABLE. I need a van. I mean. I didn't just say that.

    Anyway. I feel your pain. Oh camden. The only good thing there is that awesome aquarium :)

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