I lived in Austin for a year when I was 22 – um, wow, 23 years ago!? And I absolutely loved every minute of it. It was pretty easy to love, what with the mind blowing music venues, Barton Springs, Riverfest, Zilker Park, Magnolia Cafe’s Gingerbread Pancakes and driving out to the lake on a blazing Texas day. Pure magic for a young English kid taking a year off from the madness of NYC.
I had a bumper sticker on my car that said, “On Earth as it is in Austin,” to give you an idea of how enamored I was with your lovely city. And just because it’s too cool not to mention, my car was a white 1966 Plymouth Fury 2 – a proper Texas-sized Steel Beast. Oh, and my other bumper sticker said, “U.S. OUT OF TEXAS NOW!” Really good times.
Right, I think that’s enough of the arse-kissing and introductions. Let’s get rolling.
So, over July 4th weekend, me, Mrs. H, The Spazmatician (my 13-year-old boy), and our little 2-year-old girl drove down to L.A. from our home in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was our first “big” family road tip. “Big” in the sense that it was the first time we’ve done a four-person trip since the birth of our daughter.
Yes, that’s right. On the road with kids. Men better than me have shaken with fear and foreboding before leaving on a car journey with their children. There could be tantrums, and fights, and explosive poo all over the place. Gulp. Perhaps if they’d planned better, or were able to master some kind of driving-safe-meditation, they could have overcome their impending sense of doom.
But I think it’s really all in the planning, because we had a totally smooth and exceptionally fun drive.
Let’s hit some of the important points, shall we?
Important Point #1 – We left at 5:45 am
It was July 4th morning, so Mrs. Huttsez and I were eager to cruise out as early as possible. We had hopes that our daughter would sleep for the first few hours of the trip and that we’d arrive in time to enjoy the festivities (more on that in another posting). Plus, there’s practically zero traffic at that time, so getting out of Dodge was a piece of cake. The open road at sunrise was pure driving joy. It set a really cool tone for the whole journey.
My daughter didn’t sleep at all, she was far too excited. For the most part she seemed to just revel in the early morning sights rolling by her little window. I should mention that we were in my truck, which is one of her favorite places to be.
The Spazmatician, however, slept hard for three hours. The start of the “teenage hibernation” I suppose.
Important Point #2 – We have an iPad
I know they’re expensive – we got ours as a gift. But it was an absolutely essential element in keeping the mood mellow. A toddler with an iPad isn’t going to get bored, and boredom is the first step to freakout land. So, save up if you can! It’s such a great tool to have.
Important Point #3 – We got one of those huge sticker books with 1,000 stickers in it
Toddler + Stickers = Happy. Nuff said.
Important Point #4 – Snacks, lunch, drinks and wipes
Think ahead and pack well. Hungry kids are no fun. And please, do not forget the wipes. Trust me.
Man oh man, just doing those four things made our journey, well, the perfect first road trip. It bodes well for the future. Leaving super early was mega-crucial. Give it a shot sometime, you’ll see.
Right. Here’s a few of my favorite moments from our long weekend in LA:
- Walking down to the Santa Monica Pier with my friend, his 3-year-old boy, me and my kids while the mums went out for a Los Angeles lunch. My daughter rode on my shoulders, and I swear, she is an absolute champion shoulder-rider. She puts her hands on her knees and centers herself effortlessly – balanced in comfort for both of us. There’s no forehead squeezing, eye gouging or nostril tearing with this one. If shoulder-riding were an Olympic event, she’d be representing the USA.
- The pier was great, we went on the little coin operated rides. A cute fiesta.
- I must add, for most of the walk down to the pier my daughter was farting, basically on my neck, with an alarming frequency. While she laughed. Because of that, I wanted to call this blog entry Farts and Laughing in Los Angeles. Sadly, this is the only thing I’ve written in the last 6 months that me laugh out loud. What can I say, farts are funny.
You can read more of my stuff by checking out my blog. Just know that I tend to get a little sweary and saucy at times. I blame the swearing on being English – we’re really good at it. The sauciness is because I’m a man, and…well, you know how we are. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not some expletive-ridden orgy of swearing. It may just not be for the faint of heart. Cool?
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Thanks for reading. Hope to see you soon.