Ah, another adventure driving across the great state of Ohio.
We started in Pennsylvania with the high hopes of making it back to Cincinnati before dark. The "before dark" part was very important for two main reasons-1) To keep the sleepy infant awake as much as possible so as to not have a long night of awakeness and 2) We were carrying our freshly cut Christmas tree on top of the van and were hoping for sunlight as we unloaded it.
Alas, our plan of being home within five hours was not meant to be. Seven hours turned out to be the magic number.
It started with not getting on the road until an hour later than I had planned. I blame my mother and her amazing cooking. If not for her delicious breakfast that kept us at the table for seconds (and thirds), we could have left earlier.
Then, we hit some traffic. It was because of an accident so it was hard to complain when those involved were clearly having a worse day than us.
Nick still managed to make good time, even with the traffic and the weight of the tree slowing us down. He kept on going to make it to our favorite exit. Yes, we have a favorite interstate exit. The gas is usually cheap (well, cheaper than most, anyway), they have a Starbucks and the family bathrooms are always clean. You parents of young children know the value of the family bathroom-wonderful invention.
Anyway, we were nearing our exit when the gas light came on. Nick checked the mileage count and figured we had enough to make it to our exit. A little over a mile before the exit, with Abby in the back announcing she needed the bathroom and the clock showing it was almost time for Noah to eat lunch, the van ran out of gas.
Now, I have heard of such a thing happening to other people and was always confused on how it could actually occur. Who runs out of gas? When it gets low, you fill it up-not too complicated. Most vehicles, like ours, even give you a big warning sign as you near the empty point.
Apparently, our van was not giving the resistance of the tree enough credit. It clearly drained our gas in a quicker time than anticipated, thus leaving us stranded.
Fortunately, we were within a half a mile from our exit and even better, a driver going 88 mph got pulled over by the police right near that same exit. (Warning to all Interstate 71 drivers-they clock you from the air.) After I offered to run up to the police car to get some help and after Nick gave me a "Are you crazy?" look at my idea, he then left us and ran up to the car. The kids thought it was hilarious. Abby even saw the bright side when she said, "Daddy's getting some exercise!"
The police officer gladly drove Nick the rest of the way where he purchased a ridiculously expensive gas can, filled it up, then caught his ride back to the van. As I watched them take the turn around in our rearview mirror, I could imagine Nick's feeling of power as the cruiser turned on its lights and merged into traffic. It was fun for me to watch the drivers go past with a look of panic upon their faces, thinking they were about to get a ticket.
We finally reached our exit and filled up (along with every other person driving home that holiday weekend). As Caleb had already relieved himself on the side of the road during our wait, Abby and I used the bathroom (love that family bathroom since it kept us from waiting in a long line), I fed a screaming Noah, and over an hour later, we were on our way.
Three accidents and traffic jams later, we gave in and pulled over again. Little Noah just did not understand that he was supposed to wait more than three hours to eat and the kids were getting restless from sitting for so long. Nick pulled into a McDonald's parking lot, toward the back and away from everyone else, giving me some nursing privacy. He took the kids in while I had some alone time with Noah.
Our peace was interrupted by the roaring engine of a pick-up truck. Of all the parking spaces in the lot, these two men decided to back up right next to our van. I am sure they both enjoyed a lovely shot of my boob while they parked the truck and had a great view from up high. It must have affected the driver because as he was backing into his spot, he managed to knock over the garbage can on the sidewalk. You know, the really big, cement cans they have connected to the ground? Yep, he pushed one over with his truck.
I have to give the guy credit-he at least took a glancing look at the back as he got out to see what he hit. Then he walked into the restaurant, bought his super healthy food, then got back on the truck and drove away without another thought about the mess he left.
Wow, what a classy guy.
We finally made it home without another incident. Even managed to bring the tree in without too much of a mess. Cereal for dinner, baths for all three kids, and we were finally able to sit down and relax. Yes, our house looked like a tornado hit it, but oh well-at least we finally made it home.