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.