Roadtrip to my (other) Homeland

I wasn’t really sure what this summer was going to bring for our family.  Last year, we spent the long days packing and preparing for our big move across the country.  The year before that, Justin was cramming for the DAT (Dental Admissions Test) and we were all getting ready for the birth of our baby girl.  No matter how busy we got doing other things, we always  spent days and weekends with family and friends either at the beach, pool or bbqs.

This year is different.  Our familys are in other states and our friends have either hunkered down with new babies, summer school, or done what the rest of NYC residents do during these months: LEAVE.  Well, since Justin started back to school a couple of weeks ago, I’ve gotten a bit bored.  Parks and spray grounds are tons of fun, but even those get old every single day.   So when the opportunity came for us to take a road trip, I didn’t think twice and booked it.

Things that I didn’t take into consideration:

  • I would be alone
  • For eight hours
  • With two toddlers
  • Who get very carsick.

I’ve always been the spontaneous type -to a fault– so I just figured whatever happened I could deal with it. I’ve astounded myself by my ability to deal in unexpectedly *craptastic* situations lately so I didn’t think that it would be a big deal.

I was generously given a fantastic minivan to test drive on the road trip to Ohio, where I was born and where much of my family still lives.  The 2010 Volkswagen Routan is a dream.  Being that I owned a Volkwagen Jetta for many years and loved that car to bits, I was more than thrilled to test drive the Routan.    I can honestly (no really) say that I will consider purchasing a minivan when we leave NYC in a few years.  With all the features that it offers, it seems silly to go any other route.

It didn’t really occur to me either that I would be driving for the first time in nearly a year and straight through the middle of Manhattan.  That made me a little anxious, but it was actually quite easy.  Both kids were very cozy in their new car seats, also generously provided for the trip by Safety 1st.  Birdie was snug as a bug in the Complete Air Convertible Car Seat while Bubba was feeling like a big kid in his first booster, the Go Hybrid.   I plugged them into some new Juno Baby DVD’s and we were off.

It only took about twenty minutes before we had to pull over.  One of the features of the VW Routan is the power doors.  They really came in handy on the side of the road. Those two ate and puked NINE times in three hours.  Insane.  All was finally well about 6 hours into the trip when we met up with my dad and stepmother in Pennsylvania.

The visit home itself was really nice.   It was great seeing family, playing outside in the grass, and going to Target 12 times.  I even got to see my oldest friend and our children played together at a lake that her grandfather built.  The kids caught their first lightning bugs, learned that you can’t piss off a cat with no claws, and had ice cream cones nearly every day we were there.  They were in heaven.

On the seventh day when it came time to leave, I wasn’t worried about car sickness.  They went the entire week riding in the van without getting sick.  I stocked up on bags and wipes regardless, but nothing could have prepared me for the nightmare that ensued.

They made it about 6 hours in the car until I realized that I had taken a wrong exit and backtracked for an hour. Then Birdie puked, and almost immediately Bubba went, too. By the fourth stop (we were in Jersey at this point) I entered a full-on panic.  It was dinner time, and I was already late meeting the man who would pick up the Routan from us. They were both stripped down to their diapers, and completely wiped out. The screaming in the car was the least of my problems when I entered the dead stopped traffic heading into the Lincoln Tunnel.  I peeked into the rear-view mirror and both of them were simultaneously throwing up. I couldn’t pull over, I couldn’t help them.  I remember muffling my laughter, but not happy laughter. The kind of laugh where I know I’ve gone off the deep end.  I immediately started to cry right along with them.  It was the most ludicrous situation I have ever been in… One that I felt that I could control but I really physically could not.

An hour later they  had both fallen asleep and I entered Manhattan. By the time I pulled up to my building, the nice Routan man was there to greet me.  I sent the kids upstairs for some daddy therapy while I unloaded the van and cleaned up the massive mess. THIS IS THE BEST PART.  By the time I had gotten everything upstairs, I realized that my camera was missing.

Security cameras showed a man picking up my camera from where it was sitting on a planter near the minivan and walking inside our building.  Everyone has a magnet card entry for the doors here, so his ID was pegged immediately.  The next evening,  after we plastered the area in “Missing Camera” posters, the man called to return my camera.  I’m not sure if security had gotten to him first, but I really don’t care.  My camera, and most importantly my pictures, were all in tact. If that isn’t a glorious New York City story, I don’t know what is.

In the end, everything was fine (aside from a slight case of  PTSD- nothing a little wine couldn’t fix).  My kids were healthy and elated to be back home in our city with daddy.  I had a week full of beautiful memories and the photos to document them.  My faith in humanity had been given a bit of a jump start, but ended in the best way possible.

The day after we returned home, Jack asked if we could take another road trip to Papa Tim’s.  Kids are so fantastically resilient, aren’t they?

The Volkswagen Routan was lent to me for a week to test drive on my road trip.  I was astounded by the gas mileage, the amount of storage in the vehicle, all of the bells and whistles (GPS Navigation, headphones for the dual-dvd screens, climate control) and the way the third row of seats disappeared with the push of a button.  In a word: Dreamy.

Safety 1st provided us with the Complete LX Convertible Car Seat with Air Protect Side Impact Technology (accommodates rear-facing infants from 5-40 pounds and forward-facing toddlers from 22-50) and the Go Hybrid Booster (converts to regular booster and comes with it’s own carry bag).   We put those seats through the ringer, and cleaned up perfectly. I removed both seat covers and washed them thoroughly.  I was really impressed by their ease in adjustments, buckles and comfort for the kids. The safety features were the reason why we went with the company though.    We saw a demonstration at an event and it was pretty incredible (video demonstration provided with the Air Protect Side Impact Technology link).

Join the Conversation


  • Great Post! Glad you got the camera back and I love your descriptions. I couldn’t do a 4 hour road trip alone, let alone 8 hours!!

  • Man, I bet when Volkswagon and Safety 1st asked you for a ‘test drive’ they had no idea how thorough you would be! I am so glad you got your camera back and more importantly you all three survived the drive!

  • HOLY SHIT. I’m buying you so many rounds of drinks when I see you next week. I can’t believe that horror of a story on your way back… OMG. I would have been laugh/crying, too. That’s too much. Poor you. And then after all that to have your camera stolen…

  • … but thankfull returned… phew. My Christos threw up twice on our road trip to Tremblant, on the way there. On the way back, we gave him Gravol right away and he basically slept the entire drive back.

  • I’m SO GLAD you got your camera back! I was following your day on Twitter and felt so bad when you said it was stolen. I would have been devastated as well. Did you hug it? I have been known to hug my camera before . . . don’t tell anyone.

  • Toddlers in a car on a road trip are fun, aren’t they? lol So glad you got your camera back.

  • Odd how the kids didn’t get sick the four hours your dad took over driving both ways, isn’t it? Maybe they prefer Ohio/Pa. air over NY/NJ air, haha! The important thing is you made it safely home and of course that your camera was returned! Miss you all!

  • goodness, girl! what a story! what a trip! you are such a trooper, seriously! i don’t know if i would have or could have done it.

    we are in process of buying a minivan right now- we just sold our car. i never really considered the Routan, but now we may. 🙂

    hope you are enjoying the rest of your summer!

Follow @mommasgonecity on Instagram