5000 miles with the wife, baby and dog.  And a breast pump.  It was a blast.  October 16th through November 1st.


Clarendon, TX to Denver, CO

Google Travel Time: 8hrs 22min

Quin and Paco losing it in car time: 11 hrs

People often tell me that I'm funny, but only when I'm not trying to be funny. Thank you. And I have to report success in this department. I wasn't at all trying to be humorous when I asked the young kid at the convenience store if there was any place to get a beer in Clarendon. Everybody hanging around the counter got a kick out of that. Clarendon is in a dry county. I tried to look as uninjured as possible and laugh along with my audience.

I almost bought some cigarettes instead. Allsup's Mini Mart had packs of Broncos on special. Good thing those aren't wet or they'd be dangerous and banned.

No booze might be a good thing for me. Or so I told myself as I wanted to like Clarendon. It's a cool, little town with actual local restaurants and other small businesses thriving. It even has trees. And the coolest radio station ever in 99.3FM KEFH. In trying to please every demographic (old and white, younger and white) in the county it played gospel, disco, country-rock, pop and Elvis. Clarendon even has a junior college. I asked the same kid who broke the news about the booze if I could get a job teaching there. He said "maybe", but it's pretty small. "In my history class it's only me and my friend, Ryan."

That'd be a great teaching gig.

Despite staying at the best Best Western ever, Sarah and I plied ourselves from the luxury of our room with a jacuzzi tub (Paco loved it), and finished the last leg of our journey.  When you've been gone so long that the Rockies have made it to the World Series, it's time to go home.

Quin had spent one quarter of his life on the road. Paco was getting agitated and mauling his pillow. For some reason Sarah and I were feeling pretty good. I don't know why, and I haven't been able to articulate it, but even though most of our trip was either leaping about like fairy princesses trying to keep our baby quiet at a hotel, or plopped on our butts for hours of driving, we had one of the best times of our lives. It helps when you can't do anything but get to Chicago or stare out the window for mile after mile. There are no distractions, just destinations, and absolutely no obligation to get there. Paco and Quin weren't liabilities. They were our credibility. Anyone without a kid and a dog who calls and says it's 8 hours to get there but it could take fifteen would make you wonder if they were pulling Larry Craigs at every rest stop between Cleveland and Baltimore. We just cruised along...singing to the baby and petting the dog. The windshield was our fireplace. The hum of the motor our pattering rain.

It probably helps that Quin isn't old enough to ask if we're there yet.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was driving and listening to Sarah talk to her son.

One day, I think it was about one week into Quin’s existence, I came home from one job before going to another. I walked in to baby screams.   My weary wife was slumped over the source of the noise. The front of her shirt was pulled over her head in a way you see tired marathon runners cool themselves. I think, though, that Sarah would rather have run 26 miles, or 126, because frustration is not at all an exhilarating kind of exhaustion. No one ever pours Gatorade over you for raising a kid.

Back in reality, Sarah sat in our half-remodeled house. One side of her nursing bra was open. She wrestled with our baby's flailing hands. Quin was still figuring out breast feeding and more apt to swat sensitive areas than suckle them. The same cute little fingers we had not long ago held and rejoiced were now a nuisance.

Sarah was topless and I didn't say one crude remark. Not one. I just felt bad for her.

Parenthood had arrived.

She looked up at me and gurgled something about being a milk machine. I told her I wanted to stay and help. Such the wrong thing to say when your own breasts can't produce milk. She wanted me gone. She wanted at least one of us to live a normal life, to see the sun.

Before I closed the door I told her not to kill the baby. I was joking, of course. Kind of.

She told me she'd try not to.

She did well. And a few weeks later, on the last day of October of 2007, she sat in the back of our Corolla and told Quin about tumbleweeds. She sounded beautiful. So many times she spoke so real, no baby talk, but like a much-needed friend to a new kid in town. As we pulled into Baltimore, she shared with Quin her childhood stories. She told him about how the community pool was gone and in its place were new McMansions. She held his hand and told him about her walk to and from Randallstown Elementary School. Sometimes he'd get restless and find nothing better to do than cry. Sarah would dive into another story, or as she had to do so many nights, break out a book and soothe the child with her reading voice. Often he'd burst into full-fledged air raid screams. She kept on rocking and reading. At my brother's place she grabbed a random detective novel and somehow, while holding an angry badger, would lift each word with the steady timbre of a guiding tone. A trusted voice in a dark place.

Every night the approaching traffic filled the back of the car. It lit a silhouette stage. I could glance in the rear view mirror and be entirely comforted by everything that lay ahead.

This last section of the video journal is a bit long, so here are some highlights: Giant Weeds -- :29 Jared Naked -- 1:30 Sarah/Paco sleeping -- 1:42 Sarah Annoyed -- 2:37 Cute baby -- 4:41 Cute baby -- 6:20

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