The Herd and I are just back from a visit to my parents’ in super-hot Phoenix. If one more person tells me, “But it’s a dry heat!” I might punch them. 115 is too darn hot, dry or steamy. Trust me, we were indoors, or in the water, 95% of the time. We drive there, because it’s just a short 5.5 hours, and it doesn’t save any time, much less money, to fly. The kids were great, minus Big Man once again finding the sweet joy of antagonizing his brother to near-tantrum status. He lost pool time and technology as a result. Other than that, it was an awesome trip. I realized we’ve been taking the kids out there for over 14 years. Big Man and the Princess both had their firsts tastes of swimming pools there. And the Diamondbacks ballpark was among their first Major League experiences, even though they don’t remember.
As I was driving home yesterday, I was mentally marking off things that happened along that road…..a trip to the urgent care in Yuma when Big Man was just six months old and developed a raging double ear and respiratory infection; the spot Spouse was pulled over for speeding in what must have been close to the middle of the night, with two toddlers and an infant in the second row, and we couldn’t find our insurance card; the many off-ramps which became bathrooms, much to the boys’ delight, when potty training and traveling; the exit we almost always get off in Yuma for gas and food; the point the kids realize we are almost to Papa’s; the area in the mountains we get zero cell reception, and our phones ping that we’re in Mexico; the places that still have Border Patrol checkpoints, and the places that used to have them (there was a stretch there we used to go through three going out, and five coming back); the “Below Sea Level” marker on the water tower in El Centro which even now intrigues the kids.
There are so many memories tied up in that road, that path to and from family. The getting there is so much a part of the trip. It reminds of the days I thought would never end….when they were so little and traveling with them involved so much work and so much stuff. I remember the years we spent hauling exersaucers, pack-n-plays, diapers, baby toys, bottles, sippy cups, baby food. I remember the crammed-to-the-top back portion of our old Exhibition, and when we even had to strap stuff to the roof. These days, the kids help pack, load, and unload. And we all fit in our smaller SUV, with room to spare.
I wonder what they’ll remember of that road when they’re grown and gone, what they’ll remember of these road trips to Papa and Grandma’s. I know every time I drive that stretch, their little toddler voices will echo in my mind, along with all the memories the road carries.