Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Westra's "Griswald" adventure.

I've been excited to go for so long now. Somewhere. Away. To recharge, regroup and renew. With teacher conferences and almost a week off from school its our last hurrah before winter descends upon us permanently.

What started as a "we'll get up and go" directive from my dh turned into a five hour delay. With the rest of us packed and watching out the window, "I'll be home soon" became interminably long. The business doesn't stop because we want to leave. Several hours into our wait, I begin to think of folding. I can't keep up the house of cards charade with the boys. They don't have a grasp on hours and minutes when they just multiply into "too long."

Finally in the car, I always fall for the last ploy... "I just need one last stop at the office, it'll take a minute." "Mutiny" crosses my mind. By now, at 4 in the afternoon, we're starving, tired and I have used up an exhaustive supply of patience.

We stop for dinner at 9:30 pm. Whether it was the spicy and heavy food or the long day of hurry up and wait, we arrive exhausted at our hotel and settle in for one of those really long nights of little sleep.

For some reason, Nolan can't sleep. He is up poking one of us every few minutes. I give up trying to sleep after 2 am and we all acquiesce to getting up shortly after 6. I begin dreaming of home and my bed.

Realizing McDonald's would be one of the only places open and serving breakfast, we jumped in the car. We plugged the name into our new GPS and started looking for the closest one. A list with many locations popped up. So we jumped on the highway and began driving. Several minutes later we realize our GPS has routed us to the airport! We void the directions and begin again for the next location which is back the way we came from. We quickly discover its the airport McDonald's again. Now traffic is beginning to pick up for the morning commute. I'm beginning to crave my morning bowl of shredded wheat and fresh ground coffee. We pick a suburb and head off in a new direction and this time its a long drive. Finally after many turns and confusing directions we arrive at a location that is no longer a McDonald's! I don't think any of us were even talking to each other by the time we finally found breakfast at yet another McDonald's. (The next day we discovered one just 6 blocks down on the same street as our hotel.)

Next we decide to go to the Mall of America. Ah the sheer number of stores is staggering. If you can't find it here, it doesn't exist. I am thrilled to begin tackling this long list of winter items we desperately need. We are shopping for winter boots when one of the boys has to use the restroom. Sounds harmless enough. Since I am off in another part of the store looking, my dh decides to take the boys on his own. Without telling me. Of course, minutes before I had warned him I didn't have my cell phone with me, but it fell on inattentive ears.

So in true Clark Griswald fashion, what should have been a 15 minute excursion, quickly developed into another 5 HOUR separation. At the Mall of America. Did I mention how many stores there were?

I tried everything I could think of to find them. I walked to all of their favorite stores. I sat and waited by the car until I was shivering with cold. I found a pay phone that took credit cards, but my card was new and I didn't have the new pin number memorized. So I couldn't use an ATM or the phone. I had two dollars on me. However the stores are not allowed to open their till to make change. So I had to find something to buy that left me with enough change for a phone call. Just try finding that "item" when a 12 ounce diet coke is 3 dollars, because you are at the Mall of America.

Finally, the Nestle cookie guy took pity on me. He broke policy and made change for me after I bought a cookie. I had enough change to make a phone call. I don't know if my dh was really happy to hear from me or not :)

When I say I was apprehensive to take the boys to the water park alone that night, can you blame me? I would have to say though, it was the highlight of our trip. For two active boys with some pent up excitement and energy this was the place for them. For 4 hours they swam, and tubed and sat in the hot tub and ran through the sprinklers. Fortunately sleep came quickly to us all that night. It seems we were going to need it for day two of our adventure...











  1. Hi Vicky: I don't know about recharging and renewing - but it seems like you had to do a lot of regrouping!! Sometimes certain holidays just seem like a comedy of errors and you wonder what ever made you leave home!

    Your boys certainly seem to be enjoying the water park. Hope a good night's sleep changed things for the better!

  2. Oh WoW!
    First of all, I've missed YOU!
    Second, when I saw your title, I knew I was in for a treat...and I was right!
    You can write, girl!!!
    As one teacher to another that looks for any moment of R & R, I say, "Bless you..." (and those moments are few and far between.)
    Next: Mall of America! My dream is to go there! You should have called ME!!! :)))
    The photos are great....and I especially love the smiles (grins?)
    on the faces of the boys.
    Well done, my sweet friend.

  3. simply beautifully captured shots...lovely!

  4. Sorry your trip got off to a rough start! Hope things are looking up for you now! Take care friend, and travel safely:)

  5. OH!!! I wanted to BEAN your husband for you! Do you KNOW how many times I've lost Grizzly (who NEVER takes his cell phone!)? He just wanders off. Bo and I were ready to call the police one night. I'm serious. We were convinced he must have been beaten and kidnapped. When I finally found him I was ready to choke him and PAY somebody to kidnap him.

    YOU POOR THING!!!! GOOD for you, though, for pulling it out of the fire and taking the boys to the water park. What GREAT photos!

  6. The 5 hour separation is what sounded the scariest to me! Been there done that and I know how horrible that feels!!

    GPS systems should ideally give correct information. It's sad it did that to you! Here in India where GPS systems aren't that common we always ask passersby with directions. Works beautifully :)

    And this is something that I have in common with you. I loathe waiting. And absolutely hate delays! But I am glad the highlight of the trip saved your day :)take care :)

  7. Thank Goodness for the cookie man! Glad you found them and braved the water park. Beautiful pics of the skyline. I especially like the one with the hill and trees in it.

  8. This was too funny although so true! I've been to the Mall of the Americas and only envisioned what the "I have to go to the bathroom" scenario would play out like! Glad at least the theme park was fun! Brings us back to the old saying, "There's no place like home!"

  9. Bonnie, in some ways yes and in some ways... well I'll let you all decide :)

    Jackie, MOA is pretty amazing :) Still haven't seen it all I am sure but I have been there many times :)

    Flying stars, thank you :) Good of you to stop by!

    Robynn, I can only imagine how YOU would have told this story, I'd love to see your take!

    Anita, thanks... not bad photos considering most of them are taken while I was in motion of one kind or another :)

    Tranquility, oh there used to be a McDonald's at that address... the GPS was right in that aspect... it was just not a Mickey D's anymore :) still was frustrating though!

    Alicia, we travel fairly often and the boys are pretty seasoned but this trip we just couldn't get things together :)

  10. I don't really like shopping, but I've always wanted to go to The Mall of America!
    It seems that almost all of our trips have had Giswaldian twist:-)

  11. I've always wanted to go to the Mall of America!!!
    This post is delightful on so many levels~! I love the word I thought your sky looked a lot like ours here in The ATL this past weekend...and seeing the boys in swim shorts! (I've never seen an indoor waterpark!) It all looks like a wonderful adventure but I've been giggling at the antics! I can very much relate:)
    Love to you...what happened on the second day???

  12. true vacation memories....and I'm sure the best part was the water park....

    I have never been to mall of america and those who know me well, tell me to never go.....

  13. Libby, I can only imagine what a trip with your crew would look like! I think ours was a bit of a surprise because we do actually get away on short trips quite often and do just fine :)

    Robin, part two coming right up :) Even I am giggling at the antics (now that they are past!) Love to you Robin :)

    Beth, yep, I do much better at the big mall than I used to, but the crowds and the noise and congestion and sheer amount of time it takes to get somewhere is a bit overwhelming if you don't like to shop in the first place :)

  14. Oh goodness I think that separation would have freaked me out too :) Glad you all found each other!

    What a cool hotel...I think I could of spent the weekend there!

  15. HOLY CRAP! :)

    First of all, LOVE LOVE LOVE the Halloween look for the blog...

    Second of all, i can't get the tune "Holiday Road..." out of my head now :)


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