COCKTAILS AND BUTT-SITTING

I’m writing this post as I sit in an Urgent Care Clinic in Brooklyn, the day before we head home, waiting for a doctor to see the Boy Child.

It’s actually our second visit to an Urgent Care Clinic in as many days, so as well as doing the US tour of rest stop bathrooms, particularly those within ten minutes of our point of departure, we seem to be specialising in US walk-in medical facilities too.

Both kids have needed medical attention this trip. Nothing major, just major enough that we’ve been afraid to stick them on a 24-hour international flight without arming ourselves with all the knowledge and medication.

That said, these visits have been brief detours in the overall frivolity that has been this trip. Really just a blip on the radar of holiday fun.

One of my dearest friends made me laugh the other day when she messaged and said we looked like we were having an epic holiday. “When I travel, I literally sit on my ass all day and drink cocktails,” she wrote.

It got me to thinking – this particular brand of holiday, the long haul travel, the constant sightseeing, the driving of unfamiliar roads and sides of roads, the multiple – shared – hotel rooms, the packing and repacking, the washing, the mere presence of our offspring – none of it makes for a particularly restful holiday.

And it didn’t come easy in the first place either. There’s epic planning, hours of research, the cost, of course, and then the subsequent, perhaps inevitable heartache over the reasonableness of the cost.

I’m absolutely not complaining. I love travelling, as a departure from lying by a pool or on the beach.

We’re lucky enough to have family on the Sunshine Coast where we visit regularly and so we get our fill of idyllic beach time (plus more than a few cocktails) there. I think this is why we haven’t felt the need to do the the beachy/resort thing in a little while now.

But.

As I sit here trying to explain to person after person that I don’t have medical insurance, nor do I have a preferred pharmacy, nor a local residential address and actually, we do birth dates backwards to you guys, I find myself wondering whether we might have erred in pushing ourselves (and the kids) so hard this holiday.

We have a huge few months of life and work ahead of us, what if cocktails and butt-sitting was exactly what we needed?

Nah.

The thought is gone almost as soon as it arrived.

This trip has been incredible and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. And to share it with my family…. There are barely words.

Even if the kids don’t remember it in any real detail, hopefully they’ll remember a few abstract notions.

If not where we went specifically, then maybe what it’s like to emerge from the darkness of a subway station to the streets of the Manhattan for the first time, the overwhelming, slightly terrifying chaos of somewhere new and different.

If not what we saw on Broadway, then maybe the thrill of the lights dimming and the first few notes of an overture.

If not the specifics of Amish life, then maybe the fact that there are whole communities, countries around the world, living a fundamentally different experience to their own.

If not the names of each of the Niagara Falls, then hopefully the incredulity of their mum and dad signing them up for a boat trip where they got totally soaked, fully-clothed, on a mild Canadian autumn day.

If not the regional specialities tried and tasted, then hopefully the surprise and joy in the understanding that mum and dad take a holiday from meal rules too.

Which is fine for a while, but eventually evolves into dinner discussions about which home cooked meal we’d like to eat first when we get home.

Which then evolves into a conversation about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’s protagonist, Ichabod Crane, and how perhaps if the headless horseman would have piffed mum’s pumpkin risotto at him in that dark, instead of a whole Jack O’ Lantern, then maybe he wouldn’t have been so scared.

Or maybe they’ll just recall how mum and dad were there, for the most part, all day, every day, and every night, and we how we did it all together.

Often annoying the crap out of each other but mainly just enjoying living, learning, loving and being together, without distraction.

If I’m honest, that would be enough.*

*Yes, this is a Hamilton reference. As ever – not sorry.

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PASSING THROUGH

We ended up in Rochester, NY, via Nashville, TN.

Kinda.

On our trip last year, Hoff and I visited Nashville. We arrived in town, dropped our bags and jumped in a cab to go to the meeting point for our ‘Nash Trash’ tour.

“Wow, that tour’s supposed to be fantastic,” our cab driver said. “You need to book tickets months in advance.”

I looked at him blankly. “Is there any other way to plan holiday activities?”

On the tour, only one other couple and us appeared to be under the age of fifty. As such, the four of us were quite the targets for our hosts, Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay.

Particularly the boys, the horny old cougars.

The other couple was Bryan and Julie, from Rochester, NY, and we chatted during a tour stop. They were (and still are) driving their RV around the US and Canada (www.cruisinwiththecareys.com) and they were kind enough to give us their contact details.

So when we decided to drive from NYC to Niagara Falls this year with the kids, I reached out to see if they had any advice, and they enthusiastically recommended their hometown for a visit.

Rochester is not a place I knew much about – only that the founder of the Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith, – and indeed the church itself – were born there.

(I’m not a religious scholar, by the way, I’m a musical theatre fan. If you’ve seen The Book of Mormon then you know what I mean. And if you haven’t, I’ll ask you again, what are you doing with your life?)

So, as we needed a stop to keep our driving time to kid-friendly maximums, we thought we’d give it a go.

And we’re so glad we did.

What a picturesque, friendly, unassuming place.

I mean…

We had a beautiful dinner that involved actual real-life vegetables.

We walked tree-lined streets with leaves of shades of orange and red that I didn’t even know existed outside a 72 set of Derwents.

We saw beautifully preserved historical buildings.

We went to the The Strong Museum of Play and visited the Toy Hall of Fame.

We had breakfast at a dedicated cereal and comic book shop, and had an exchange with Malcolm, who worked there, that went like this:

Me: Can I try the Reeses Puffs please?

Malcolm: What do you mean ‘try’? You’ve never had them before?

Me: No, we don’t have most of these cereals back home. Also, I’m 36.

Malcolm: (Incredulous) I mean…  I know you guys were a prison colony once, but I thought those days had passed?

You know those Instragram posts with exposed bricks and aesthetically pleasing coffee cup stains which spout earnest #inspo like, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”?

I hate those.

But I hate them even more when they’re right.

Rochester was never meant to be a destination, more so a necessary stopover on our journey to Niagara Falls.

But it was such a beautiful antidote to the mild stress of fighting the tourist masses to catch that elusive glimpse of something a little higher profile, that we left feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and also pretty darn chuffed that we’d given it a go.