We just back from a family vacation, and I want to tell you all about it. But I have to warn you, this story is not for the faint of heart. In true Tanory fashion, this tale involves a few wrong turns, naked roman soldiers, an explosion in outer space, a lost tooth, the most dangerous bridge in the world, wild horses, a pirate's hook, a giant graveyard, and a pack of $4 Skittles.
But let's start at the beginning.
Betty and I wanted to take the kids to see her aunts up in Dover, Delaware. Delaware, besides being the first state to ratify the constitution, is also famous for that Wayne's World sketch where they can't think of anything to do in Delaware. I was up for anything, especially since we love Betty's aunts and I had never been to Delaware, but Betty's aunts offered to meet us instead at their beach house near Ocean City, Maryland. Who could say no to that? So off we went!
On our way up to Maryland, we made a multi-day pit stop in Washington, DC, where we stayed with my beautiful, smart, classy, good-at-dominoes, she-let-all-of-us-stay-at-her-place-for-free cousin Elizabeth and her fiance Dino. You may remember Elizabeth from her blog Liz in Mali, which is a fantastic read if you haven't checked out her blog. (It's definitely worth your time!)
To get to DC we flew non-stop with Southwest. When we landed at Reagan airport, another flight to Chicago had just been cancelled, and their plane was still sitting in our spot. We had to wait thirty minutes for the plane to move. And during that time, my youngest daughter soiled her diaper with a stench so terrible that we almost had to evacuate the plane. The oxygen masks almost dropped. People thought there had been a gas attack (there kind of was) and were sucking air from the top vents, but lucky for us, the plane started taxiing before the flight attendants could unfurl the emergency exit slide. (Pooping on the plane is a recurring theme. It's a Tanory thing.) We blamed the stench on a couple of foreigners who didn't speak English, and stormed off the plane as if offended.
We needed a car on our trip, so we rented a Dodge Grand Caravan. I'd like to suggest that you get a Grand Caravan if you ever anticipate driving near DC, just because the thing is like a tank and DC traffic is horrible. Seriously, according to the TomTom Traffic Index, DC's traffic congestion is the 9th worst in the US (only a few spots above Baton Rouge - although we think BR's traffic is more annoying). We could have done with a smaller vehicle, but we needed the back row so our kids could sit in separate aisles. It would have been a much longer trip with them sitting next to each other. Whenever we needed to hop a curb or fit through a tight space, I'd yell, "It's a rental!" Kudos to my Uncle Jim (Elizabeth's dad) for creating that catchphrase years ago in Seattle. I still remember it and love it, and have been patiently biding my time to use it. I used it early and often.
Driving in DC aged me. Apparently the way to my cousin's house took all the left turns possible in DC, while only a third of them had left turn lights. I also took several wrong turns. Betty was navigating and told me the correct way to go, but I either didn't feel comfortable changing lanes fast enough or was too worried about hitting a pedestrian or person on a bike / scooter / skateboard / Segway to make the turn, that I sent us on unexpected detours more than I'd like to admit. I think we went into Virginia at least twice. But it was cool, our Grand Caravan had unlimited miles.
While driving on Piney Branch Road - which may or may not have been on the original GPS path to Elizabeth's house - Peter lost a tooth. He wanted to know if the tooth fairy would be able to find him. I told him that of course the tooth fairy could find him! And once the tooth fairy found us, he or she could tell us how to get to Elizabeth's house.
Finally Betty yelled, "Just drive like you're in New Orleans!" and then I snapped back to reality, making several left turns from the right-most lanes, sometimes when the light wasn't red, and often but not always on all four wheels.* Our Grand Caravan had a California license plate, so my apologies to the Californians who are now derided as idiot drivers in DC.
Despite the lack of left turn lights, the street layout of DC is magnificent and we really enjoyed our driving tour of the city. We learned that Pierre Charles L'Enfant was tasked by George Washington to design the basic plan for Washington, DC. He designed a grid with long, cross-cutting avenues, which makes it possible to see beautiful architecture and monuments from a distance. L'Enfant was eventually fired because he couldn't get along with anybody, but the city he designed is fantastic. I'm sure he didn't realize that left turn lights would be the bane of the city hundreds of years later, so we'll forgive him.
After making it to Elizabeth's house, my kids went into "What have you done for me lately?" mode and demanded food. It's like they think they need to be fed every day or something.** So we put my two year old Rosie in one of those leashes that were all the rage years ago but are not in vogue anymore, and headed out to Timber Pizza. It was our first time to use the leash, and we got a lot of weird stares from people, but as I explained with a grin and a shrug, "We're from Louisiana." That seemed a good enough explanation to most people.
You can't have pizza without ice cream, so afterward we went to Lulabelle's Sweet Shop. I got the pistachio ice cream, and despite my kids yelling, "Ugh! Pistachio ice cream?!?!" they loved it. It's literally all they talked about for the rest of the trip. Everywhere we went, they'd go, "Do they have pistachio ice cream there?" It almost became our trip's catch phrase, so I had to keep yelling, "It's a rental!" to make sure that stuck.
On our way back from ice cream, we played at one of the many public playgrounds in DC. It was beautiful: The sun was just setting, fireflies were lighting up the playground, and the smell of our leftover pizza was wafting through the air. Back at Elizabeth's house, I met one of her neighbors and asked what I thought was a witty question, "Are you a Republican or a Democrat?" I was just kidding of course - I was trying to be politically humorous although I realize that's a terrible joke. But the joke was on me: 76% of people who live in DC are Democrats. (17% have no party affiliation, 1% are Green, Libertarian are a fraction of a percent, and the other 6% are the Trump administration.)
We ended the night with a game of Dominoes. I've only stacked Dominoes and knocked them down, but apparently there are actual games that you can play. Elizabeth kicked our butts. I came in last, but not for a lack of trying. The Dominoes came to symbolize our trip. We knocked out items on our To Do List just like we knocked down Dominoes (read: Betty kept everyone in line and we only got anything done because of her elite time management skills).
Here are the day's footnotes, since some jokes need to be explained (which makes them less funny). Such are the times that we live in.
* Mom and/or any rental car claim agents reading this, it's a joke. We drove very safely and never ran any red lights. We only almost hit someone once, and it was their own damn fault, because who doesn't cross a road without looking?!? (Apparently everyone in Washington, DC.)
** Mom and any government officials reading this, that was also a joke.
Stay tuned for Day 2.