Somewhere between Chicago and Indianapolis, I asked Mom what "hiccups" she thought we would encounter during our trip. After all, we were talking a rental van, some 2,500 miles across country, four adults, one child, a luggage rack strapped to the top of the van, and a cabin purchased on ebay in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. It wasn't a matter of whether we would run into a few hiccups or not, but the extent of how killer the hiccups would be.
Every now and then, we would laugh and refer to something as a hiccup, although we were thankful they were small and laughable. My near-fainting experience, Cruz's near-accident melt-down near Indianapolis, and our hour and a half trek to the 'pavement ends' sign in the Smoky Mountains all counted as hiccups; however, we all escaped unscathed, happy, and fortunately, dry. We counted ourselves lucky and as the last day of our trip approached and we began to wrap our minds around the fact that we were about 1,200 miles away from home, we thanked our lucky stars for good health, safe travel, and lots and lots of happy memories.
And then Dad woke up deaf.
There we stood, Mom, Beau, and I, talking over Dad's bed to see if the water that had got stuck in his ear the day before had drained out. He could see our mouths moving, but couldn't hear a word we were saying! It didn't hurt, but the thought of traveling some 20 hours home unable to hear out of one ear was enough to make us all suggest he try an urgent care clinic before we left. We had plans to leave at 9 that morning, but instead, Beau drove Dad to a clinic by Tybee Island to see if they could drain the Atlantic Ocean out of his ear.
Three hours, one Five Guys burger, and about sixty-six rides up and down the escalator later, and our two guys returned, my dad's hearing back to normal. Beau said that if dad really wanted to hear the ocean in his ear, he should have just bought a sea shell!
A little behind schedule, we said goodbye to Savannah and found ourselves on the road again, taking a different route that would lead us through Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, St. Louis, and eventually, home. Although the road home is never as fun as the ride there, we all did well and made some final vacation memories after a very full, very fulfilling week away...
...Mom and I finally got our wish to eat at a Cracker Barrel. We had never been to one before, but it seemed like the right thing to do on a road trip like this. We had semi-mediocre food, relaxed in the rocking chairs outside, and watched Mom and Dad play a game of Checkers.
...We listened to Cruz happily read his new book, Cars Galore, as the sun set somewhere in between Nashville and Kentucky. He was such a happy, content boy for almost the entirety of the trip, and his little animated voice reading this book and making up sound effects just kind of captured his presence in the car. I was so proud of him and will never forget what a joy he was to travel with.
...We finally called it quits at a Super 8 motel in 'who knows where.' We had no idea what town we were in - it was just one of those we're-tired-let's-stop-at-the-next-hotel-we-see-on-the-interstate things. It wasn't the Hyatt, but it had a bed to stretch our legs and a nice continental breakfast awaiting us the next morning.
Did I mention it was no Hyatt?!
...Stopped to 'go potty' at an endocrinology clinic at a hospital in St. Louis. We know from experience that when Cruz says he has to go potty, he really should have went potty 20 minutes ago. So, Beau pulled over at the closest place he could which just happened to be a hospital. I took Cruz in, only to discover that he had figured out that telling us he had to go was a surefire way to get us out of the car for a bit. After two more stops within the next half hour, our little boy who cried wolf settled for Wreck-It Ralph and forgot all about his bladder.
...At one point, we were all getting a little tired of being in the car (ahem, Beau), and I just happened to tattle to a two year old in a bathroom stall. I said to Cruz, "Daddy's crabby, Cruz," to which Cruz replied, "He's not crabby, Mommy, he's just fine!" Thanks for the support, Cruz!
...We saw the St. Louis Arch, the Grand Ole Opry, and finally, Chipolte in Iowa City. We had dang near made it home, survived with clear ears and full hearts.
And not enough peaches! It was our one regret leaving Georgia. There's nothing so sweet as a Georgia peach.
We made it! 48 hours on the road, 2,600 miles in the car, and seven days of happy memories I will never forget.