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Posts Tagged ‘road trip’

All roads lead to Goulburn. At least that’s what the sign makers of New South Wales would have us think. Within a 100km radius of ‘Centre Of The Universe’ Goulburn, Sydney and Melbourne drop completely off all road signs and it’s All About Goulburn.

Is it little wonder that I naturally followed the signs to Goulburn on my way out of Canberra?

In doing so, of course, I added a tasty 70km to our journey that day – a journey that was already overwhelming enough as it was at 665 km.

“Whoops!” I said to my husband, after we discovered our mistake. He had taken over the driving by this point and had been concerned by the number of signs he saw pointing to Canberra two hours after we’d left the place.

“Ah, well,” I said philosophically, “It’s only added half an hour to our journey.”

“Sure. If you were doing 140km an hour…” my husband replied. Which I wasn’t – you know, in case anyone from the Roads and Traffic Authority happens to be reading this post.

“Well, you were the one in the Navigator’s Seat!” I replied. “And you’re the one who’s actually driven from Canberra to Melbourne before. You should have known!”

“I was asleep!” he cried. “Or drunk. Yeah, that’s it: blame the Drunk Guy. Again.”

(I should stress here for my Roads and Traffic Authority reader that he was joking about being drunk.)

“I was only going on the assumption that all roads lead to Goulburn,” I said, before adding “Stupid Goulburn!” for good measure.

(Again, just in case my Roads and Traffic Authority reader is based in Goulburn, I was only joking. Goulburn is a mighty fine town from what I can tell from its surrounding signage.)

We sat in stony silence for a while, until my husband realised we were dangerously close to running out of fuel and hostilities recommenced.

“You’re the one in the driver’s seat,” I was quick to accuse him. “That’s your responsibility! I can’t even see the fuel gauge from where I’m sitting!”

“You, as Navigator, should have asked me about the fuel level,” he replied, angrily. “Anyway, should we go head to the next town or turn back?”

“Let me check,” I replied, pulling out my iPhone.

I tried to download a petrol station finder app through iTunes only to have iTunes inform me that they had changed their terms and conditions and I had to read 58 pages of legal jibber-jabber and click ‘AGREE’.

Yes, 58 pages.

Uh, what part of ’emergency petrol station finder’ did iTunes fail to understand?

In the end, I just clicked AGREE. I mean, really, does anybody else ever read those things, even when they’re not on the verge of running out of petrol on the Hume Highway? We could all be pledging our internal organs or our first born children to Steve Jobs for all we know.

(And for the record, Roads And Traffic Authority person, I would do neither of those things willingly. Although, really, the pledging of organs or children to Steve Jobs doesn’t exactly fall within your remit at the RTA, now does it? Sheesh.)

Anyway, we made it to the next town before I could even download the stupid app, filled the car with petrol and made it to our destination (many, many hours later) without further navigational or mechanical mishap.

On the outskirts of Melbourne, I turned to my husband to remark (over the din of screaming children in the back of the car): “If you hadn’t been asleep-slash-drunk when we left Canberra and I hadn’t been so obsessed with Goulburn, we’d be home now.”

It was a bitter pill for us both to swallow. Not that we were actually popping pills while in charge of an automobi— Oh, never mind.

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Can’t get enough of reading about The NDM on the road? Feel free to read my guest post about ‘What My Children Have Taught Me About… Road Trips!’ over at ‘Maxabella Loves‘.

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“Road Trip” is one of those terms that once filled my head with images of bikini clad girls in a convertible jeep being mooned by a station wagon full of frat boys chugging beer.

Now, it just fills me with a sense of dread. Well, a different kind of dread, not being one to favour bikini tops or college boys’ arses.

Last Friday, I set off on a 900km trip to Sydney with my three kids, my husband and my mother. Since we couldn’t, in all good conscience, put everyone in NASA-issue diapers and drive the whole thing straight,we chose to do it over Two Big Days.

The road trip started optimistically enough. Every time we saw a sign mentioning our destination, my mother would shout “Woo hoo!” and my husband would shout “Spring Break!” and the kids would echo it. That was for the first hundred kilometres. After that the adults fell into a deep pit of depression. The distance felt so great that any sign reminding us of how far there was to go felt like an affront to our very persons.

That night in our stopover accommodation, the adults  turned to alcohol and the children threw mini-soaps at each other until they passed out asleep.

It wasn’t until the final 100km on the second day that the mood became hopeful again. The ‘Woo Hoos!’ and the ‘Spring Breaks’ returned. I was on my way to a two hour hair appointment in central Sydney without the children. Things were looking up.

But then I made two fateful errors.

Since my hair appointment was at 2PM, we only had time for a ‘drive thru’ lunch – yes, I’d become the kind of person to put my hair before my children’s nutritional needs. But then, if you had the kind of three-toned regrowth that I was sporting, you probably would have done the same.

At 11:30am, we approached a McDonalds.

“It’s too early for lunch. We’ll go through the next road services!” I said to my husband.

After all, I had read there were now more McDonald’s along the Hume Highway than there were towns. Why wouldn’t there be another McDonalds in 50km just when and where I needed it?

Mistake Number One.

And then I made my second mistake. I turned to my husband and whispered: “You know, the kids have been great on this trip!”

Look, I honestly don’t know what had gotten into me. I mean, we all know that, as parents, we’re allowed to think these things but that we should never – EVER – say them out loud. It only gives karma an excuse to bitch-slap us.

Turns out my casual remark to my husband was Tiddles McGee’s cue to kinghit his sister and for all hell to break loose in the back seat, shit itself and then rub my nose in it. You see, we went on to drive for almost an hour and a half (with the kids hysterically screaming) without a single Fast Food outlet in sight. An hour at a half. At 110km per hour. That’s over a 150km of food-free hell.

In desperation, we turned off the highway only to find ourselves driving through an industrial wasteland. Meanwhile, the air temperature outside suddenly rose ten degrees  and I started wishing I had worn a bikini top after all and, moreover, I started thinking that chucking a brown eye out the window might just be the best way of showing Sydney what I thought of it and its lack of roadside services.

But then, finally, after ten minutes of driving off the highway, there they were: the Golden Arches of Salvation. All I can say is trans fat has never tasted so sweet – but then, that may have something to do with the sugar they put in the burger buns…

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FOR THE RECORD:

  • I made my hairdressing appointment on time and got to sit around with foils on my head looking like a “Tin Rasta” for the first time in my life. My hair now looks fabulous (Thanks to my sister, Belle).
  • The McDonalds logo will forever more look like a big yellow bottom pointing at the sky and saying “Back in your face, Karma!”
  • We still have the 900km return journey home to look forward to.

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As the comedian Pat McGroin once said about the crew of the SS Minnow on Gilligan’s Island: “A three hour tour? It’s one and a half hours there and one and a half hours back. I mean, how lost can you get?”

I might have laughed at the time, but now I know how lost you can get. I know.

The other day, we set off on the one and half hour drive to my mother’s house in Blinkton after picking up the kids from school.

My husband, made edgy by the school traffic, suggested I take a different route down the freeway to avoid it. He then promptly fell asleep without really explaining what that route was except to say “Follow the signs to [Blahblah]”.

About twenty minutes of hurtling down the freeway, with not as single sign for [Blahblah] in sight, I woke him up.

“Um, I think I’ve missed the turn off.”

Turns out there was another turn off I should have taken before I started following the signs to [Blahblah]. Of course there was.

We decided to get off the freeway and find a road heading north to get us back on track. It didn’t help that we didn’t have the street directory in the car and that my husband was trying to work off a pocket-sized Roads of Australia map book.

“That’s the road!” my husband suddenly shouted. “Take that one!”

“What? West Road?” I said, somewhat doubtfully, as I turned into it. “Wouldn’t West Road, like, take us west instead of, say, north?”

“I know exactly where we are,” he said, pointing to the map book triumphantly. “This road is taking us exactly where we need to be!”

And he was correct – if, that is, you accept that “exactly where we need to be” happened to be a complete dead-end with nowt but the forbidding gates of a Cement Factory to see.

So we turned around and started heading east along stupid West Road. And eventually, we found a road heading north and were back on track. It was at this point my husband decided to put one of his Dire Straits tapes on the stereo.

“They like their guitar bits,” I commented, my teeth slightly gritted, after the fourth track in a row with an extended guitar solo.

“Okay, okay,” my husband muttered, rummaging around for another cassette. “Ah! Here’s one you’ll like!”

And he launched us straight into the middle of an Eric Clapton guitar solo. Lovely. I didn’t get a chance to comment, however, because it was right then that we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic heading into [Blahblah]. And the kids, like some kind of Greek Chorus in the back of the car, all chose this moment to break their silence by simultaneously shouting:

JUSTICE: “I’m starving!”
PIXIE: “Are we there yet?”
McGEE: “Need to do a weeeeeee!”

“Gee, I’m glad we missed three minutes worth of school traffic at the beginning of the trip so we could sit in peak hour traffic here with the kids at their finest,” I remarked to my husband, who merely grunted. After all, I was the one who had missed the all-important turn off in the first place.

In the end, a quick stop at a supermarket solved some of our troubles – and created some new ones. While I did the mercy dash up and down Aisle 5, my husband stayed in the car with the kids and let Tiddles McGee piss out of the sliding door of the Star Wagon in the crowded carpark. McGee then promptly stood in the puddle of his own creation, soaking his one and only pair of shoes for the weekend. Shortly after that, I returned with only two of the five essential items we had needed and a whole heap of other things we didn’t need, shouting “Don’t ask me what I forgot to get! DO NOT ASK ME!”. But of course my husband had to ask me what I’d forgotten, after which I went a little postal and shouted for a long, long time, pausing only to ask “Why does the car smell like urine?”.

Finally, almost three and a half hours after we’d set off, we arrived in the dark at my mother’s house, all of us cold, hungry and grumpy as fuck and Tiddles McGee screaming “I want to go hoooooommmmmme!”. And I found myself thinking how at least on Gilligan’s Island there were coconuts to make cocktails, bras and radios from and nobody ever had to clean piss out of someone else’s shoes. They didn’t know how good they had it, really.
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I’d like to take this opportunity to wish my mother a happy One Year Anniversary of living in Blinkton. May she have many more happy years in her little home there – and may we never make the mistake of taking West Road on our way to visit her again.

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