Long car trips can be a traumatising activity whether driving to the other side of city or like us this week, another state. 3:30am, bags in the car, three sleepy children and we are off ready for the 16 hour drive to Nanna's house. Playground stop set into GPS, only five hours left to go. Are we there yet? The one question I do not want to hear, especially when we haven't even left our suburb yet! Go to sleep, it is the middle of the night. I feel this may be the beginning of a nightmare trip.
Thankfully a very warm car makes for sleepy children, well in my family anyway. We hung blankets up over the side windows to keep the back darker, and after half an hour of feeling confident of some interruption free time, I got myself and pillow set for some shut eye. 7:30, the sun is up and no amount of blankets will keep the kids from beginning their day. An hour away from stop one and the goal is to keep them distracted to not need the toilet and food. Out come the drawing books and I make everyone sketch the animals we can see until we get to the town. There's a lot of cows and sheep!
Thanks to Google I managed to find the best playgrounds at all our stops but forgot it is the middle of winter, about five degrees and pouring with rain. The kids were in their pj's and the playground was soaking wet but we were about to hit our second leg of the trip, a straight 6 hours worth so I told them to go for it.
You see it's all about wearing your kids out as much as you possibly can. Healthy foods go out the window for car trips and any food worthy of a bribe is packed. Cinnamon donuts for breaky with chocolate milk, a change into dry clothes and off we go.
It's my turn to drive and now I feel like I just want to sleep. I have the AC blowing freezing cold air into my face and I throw biscuits at Franklin every time he makes a noise. This is going well. Oh look, their is emu's on the side of the road. Now this is where things get frustrating for me when it comes to male and female. Eva and I spot them straight away and are excited that we are actually seeing something interesting, sorry sheep. Eight emu's later and Cam and Jack are still trying to spot them. Granted they look like the bushes they are standing around but who can miss a long neck with a head and beak on the end. There's one..... Where? ...... There's one ....... Where? ..... Forget it.
My back is killing and I'm driving along roads surrounded by nothing but Australian plains as flat as your hand. The whinging is becoming more frequent and the desperation for the toilet peaks, so annoyingly I have to make the side of the road stop. That is going to set back my arrival time I have been watching on the GPS trip so I make everyone run. We get out the car and I watch all the trucks I overtook pass us. Well that's depressing but nothing compared the the offensive smell that is coming from the direction of the toilet. Jack goes in first and starts screaming what he can see. Kill me now, it's a long drop and he can see everything. 40 long seconds of us on the side of the road with one commentating what he is peeing on down the big hole, me bent into a bush dry reaching from the description of the toilet, a husband chasing our toddler into the outback and a daughter having a meltdown about germs. Everyone get back into the car now!
A stop off to Maccas to end the long drive so far and Cam and I prep for the final part. Four hours yet this will feel longer than the whole trip so far knowing we are so close. Looking back now I can say it could have been worse and it could have happened early into our trip but at the time of this next epic event of our car journey the only thing that was on my mind was .... I have spew in my hair.
The end is in site, the kids are calm and churning through movies snuggled up in blankets. The stars were becoming fewer as the lights of our destination were upon us. Feet up on the dashboard and a marathon of Revenge episodes, I was actually really enjoying myself until a ghastly scream followed by a sound and smell scarred into my brain for every road trip to come. Like I said, our car could have been sprayed with the contents of Eva's stomach early in the trip and I most likely would have turned around and gone home so because it happened with just over an hour to go, it could have been worse. I couldn't be anymore organised and I was prepared for anything ..... Except projectile vomiting. The arrival at my mums house holding bags of covered toys, DVD's, colouring books, clothes and blankets was not quite the reunion I had pictured going on in my head. However we couldn't have been arriving at a better place than that of my mum. She opened the door with a mix of sympathy and excitement and hugged us all anyway without care of us wearing our recent accessory addition. A cup of tea and a shower later, we were ready to start our family reunion and not think about the drive back home.