Carson’s First Vacation, part I

A view like this is enough to relax anyone

It’s five thirty-five in the morning here in Destin, Florida, and I’m up, blogging. Does that qualify me for nerd status? In my defense, I’ve been delegated to the fold out sofa bed for the duration of our stay, so it’s not like I’m getting quality sleep every night. My legs are higher than my head, and I can feel every single spring in the mattress. But, who needs sleep when you’re at the beach?

We’ll start with the drive down here. I had drill this weekend past, so Mom stayed behind to baby-sit Carson for me while the rest of the family headed out to Florida. As soon as we were dismissed, I jumped in Dad’s behemoth truck and headed north to pick up Mom and Carson. We had land navigation earlier that day, and I had been picking ticks off my clothes ever since. By the time I made it home, the running count was in the upper twenties. While I stripped down to shower, Mom…well, I’m not sure what Mom was doing. In the shower I scraped a few dozen seed ticks off my legs, and picked another three regular ticks that had already started feasting. By this time, I had lost count.

I threw my wet hair into a ponytail, and switched my contacts for glasses. I knew it would be late when we stopped, and I wanted to be able to go straight from the car to a bed. I threw the last few things into the car, strapped Carson in his seat, and less than an hour after I had gotten home, we were on our way south to Florida. Luckily traffic was light, and we made pretty good time. Carson pulled his usual stunt somewhere around Dumas, Arkansas, though. In the middle of nowhere–cornfields surrounding us on both sides of the road–he starts screaming. Then he went back to sleep and slept right through the next town. Five minutes after we passed through, he started screaming again. Then, like an oasis in the desert, there was a random co-op gas station in the middle of nowhere that had a gravel lot. I pulled in so I could nurse. As we sat there, surrounded by soybeans, I figured we’d have plenty of peace and quiet. Suddenly I heard the crunching of gravel. I looked up as a truck pulled in. I figured it was a farmer coming to check his fields, and he’d probably wonder why we were parked right next to his soybeans. Luckily, it was just a random passerby stopping to fuel up his truck. We hit the road again when Carson got full, and he was back to his happy, giggly self.

We soon crossed into Lousiana, and the billions of insects slamming into my windshield sounded like rain on the glass. It was around nine o’clock, but I was wide awake and going strong. Mom and Carson, however, were ready for bed. I wanted to make it as far as Jackson, but Mom and I decided we’d make it to Tallulah so Carson could get out of the car seat. As we drove into Tallulah, however, we quickly decided we’d go a little further. The word ‘ghetto’ comes to mind…

Once on the interstate heading into Mississippi, I felt like I could make it a few more hours, but Carson just couldn’t sleep in his car seat, and it was way past his bed time. We got as far as Vicksburg, got a room, and put Carson into bed. I wanted to unload his pack ‘n play, but Mom disagreed. She put him in my bed (wasn’t that sweet of her), and took the other queen-sized mattress for herself. By three a.m., Carson had wiggled his way all the way over to me. I tried sleeping on the edge of the mattress for awhile, but I was right next to the air conditioning unit, and my legs were like ice cubes. I moved Carson back to the other side of the bed and went back to sleep. An hour later, I woke up to Carson inching his way back towards me. Fifteen minutes after that, he was pushing me off the bed again. Wish I could blame that on Ryan, but I think he gets that from me. I dozed intermittently hanging off the side of the bed with the cold air blasting my legs. At six a.m., when the alarm clock went off, I jumped up, woke Carson to nurse, and told Mom to start getting ready. I wanted to be on the road by seven. By the time I changed two dirty diapers, Mom showered, we ate a quick breakfast, and fueled up the car, we were back on the interstate by seven twenty-six. Not bad, I guess.

Dad had told me that the route his GPS had taken him was no good, so after some map consulting, he gave me an alternate course. In Hattiesburg, we stayed on Hwy 49 instead of following the GPS. And when we hit Camp Shelby, she started telling us to turn around at every street. It got a little annoying. Finally, we hit I-10 and were back to smooth sailing. And, suddenly, Carson started screaming. He had just nursed in Hattiesburg, but he was hungry again, and of course, we were nowhere near an exit. So, I let Mom try giving him some water to tide him over. Amazingly, it worked, and he went back to sleep again. In fact, he slept all the way to Mobile, Alabama. We needed to eat lunch by this time, anyway, so we stopped at a Hardee’s (so much for my diet). I sat in a corner booth so I could nurse, and Carson was happy again. I had wanted to bring in the car seat, but Mom deemed he needed a break, so we had to alternate eating and holding Carson. Mom took him to the bathroom to change his diaper as I finished eating, but she came right back. There was no changing table! How could a fast food restaurant right off the interstate not have a changing table? So, we changed his poopy diaper right there in the booth. That’ll teach ’em. Yes, I put the changing pad down.

We were close enough to Destin, now, that Mom and I were starting to get itchy. We were twenty minutes away when Carson started crying. Mom tried the water again with no luck. At this point, I was determined to make it to the condo, and I figured Carson would go back to sleep for a few minutes. Not so. He cried progressively harder the closer we got to the resort. Mom was starting to cry with him, and I was about to pull out my hair. Then she started to give me the play by play, “Courtney, his little veins are popping out on his head.” It was all I could do not to tell her to shut up. I drove twenty miles an hour over the speed limit, passing cars, flying over speed bumps to get to our resort. Dad had called and said they’d meet us at the gate so we could follow them to the condo, but when we got there, they weren’t waiting. We called and got no answer. Meanwhile, Carson was screaming his head off by this point. Mom got Carson out of the car seat and attempted to comfort him while I tried again to reach Dad. Finally Tara answered, but it was like trying to get directions from a blind person. I gave up, handed the phone to Mom, got into the backseat, and told her to drive. I started nursing Carson, who calmed down immediately. However, we still needed to find the condo, and apparently there was an issue with Mom’s SUV. I got back on the phone with Tara, who was asking if we saw a lake. Seriously. I told her to give me directions in lefts, rights, and straights, and somehow she managed to effectively guide us to the parking deck, where a super frustrated Dad was trying to get a car alarm shut off. Turns out he had accidentally gotten the all-in-one key wet, and now the car wouldn’t recognize it. They were in the process of attempting to disconnect the battery without tools without much luck. I found a Gerber tool in my trunk and gave it to Dad.

At last, we made it upstairs to our room. Carson was happy, I was calming down, and the view was gorgeous. Sigh. I missed you, Florida.

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