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Local Treks

Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Wheels on the Car Go 'Round and 'Round

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Like most every other person in the Northern Hemisphere, come January and February, I dream of travel. Preferably to some place with some warm weather, a little bit of sand, and endless hours of sun.  Unfortunately, with a 10-month-old in tow, I can guarantee that the trip won't be happening soon enough.

(Why is it that pre-baby when I could take afford to take a vacation, I needed it much less? Now that I have an actual urge and good reason to get away, I don't have the cash.  File that one under ironic.)

The kind of trips that do happen these days tend to be my partner and me and baby-makes-three in a car. It's not exactly a Kerouacian On the Road experience; our trips are less a care-free alcohol and drug-infused romp and more an over-packed possible militaristic-style slow trudge.  Yet, still worthwhile.

Most recently, we drove from Los Angeles to San Jose for a weekend trip.  Five hours in the car is not quite long enough to make all of us batty, but it is long enough to be inconvenient. How did we survive?  Some easy tricks:

1. Bring a thermos of hot water. Actually this is an at home trick too. The instantly available hot water makes it much easier to have formula on demand or heat up solid foods.

2. Move the car seat to one side of the other so the passenger can crawl in the back and feed or entertain the baby. I'm not sure about the safety of the crossing-to-the-back-while-moving technique, but we do it anyway.

3. Diaper changes happen in the car while the other adult is either in the restroom or pumping gas.  This is especially true if you are downwind of the feedlot at Coalinga and it's only 34 degrees on a cold Saturday morning.

4. Anticipate that the baby will be a pill upon arrival at your destination.  It's also possible that he'll be a charmer and meltdown the next day (as happens with us). Either way, 5 hours strapped in the car seat will not go without some sort of cosmic payment.

5. With older kids, you'll probably need to break the trip into bite-sized pieces. If you've ever driven I-5 between LA and points north, you know it's a long road of giant farms punctuated by truck stops, fast food places and really expensive gas stations. The rest stops, particularly the one near Avenal prison, are horrifyingly bad.  If you can survive it, I'd just plow through. If you have to stop, and you are cutting across to San Jose instead of driving all the way to San Francisco, I can't recommend Casa de Fruta enough. The bathrooms aren't diaper-changing conducive, but there is Casa de Carousel and train rides and fun things to crawl all over. Plus, an enterprising, non-driving adult can slip away to Casa de Wine and have a glass along with a delicious deli sandwich.  Just be careful not to take your sugar-addicted child into Casa de Sweets.
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Sure, a road trip takes significantly longer and has a bigger ecological footprint than getting on a plane. But road trips mean you can bring comfort items for you and your little one, such as your stroller, carrier, a bassinet. They also mean that you can go at your own pace and stop if you need.

I'm sure we'll be packing up the baby and getting him back on the road soon enough.

Posted in Americas : Infant by Kat G at 8:23 AMPermalink

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