Sunday, June 30, 2013

Road Trips and Sushi ... What Are Two Things That Do Not Go Well Together?

It may go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway:   If you ever embark on a 16-hour all-night car ride with children, and as you leave town you stop by the grocery store to get some snacks for the trip and one last non-fast-food meal, and the person running into the store to buy the food asks, “Do you want sushi, or something else?”   The answer is: something else.  Anything else.

We learned this lesson within the first half-an-hour of our annual overnight pilgrimage to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.   At this point there may be questions.  Let me answer a few.

Yes, we go to Hilton Head almost every year.  My wife’s parents have a timeshare there, which we started visiting when our first-born was little.  It has become something of a summer tradition.

And yes, we drive straight through to get there.  It makes the trip affordable.  And we’ve learned that piling on the miles while the kids are sleeping is the only way to make it manageable.  By leaving at night, and filling their little gullets with food on the way out the door, we’re able to get a solid ten hours on the road before one of them wakes up, usually somewhere in North Carolina, complaining about the sleeping arrangements and asking how much further.    

Sure, it’s a long drive.  But it adds to the mystique for the kids -- at least the younger ones.   On recent trips, Maisie has said, after an hour on the road, “If we flew, we’d be there already.”  My retort, “And if we took the private yacht it would take weeks to get there.”  

Back to the questions:  Yes, our local grocery store sells sushi, as many attempt to these days.   And our local store is a Wegmans.  So it usually passes the smell test.  Literally.

So, as we pulled up to Wegman’s at 7:30 pm on Friday evening, 5 minutes into our summer vacation, and as my wife prepared to run in get some snacks and more substantive food, like chicken fingers, I suggested, “Maybe get me some sushi.  Spicy, crunchy tuna, please.” 

Maisie then shouted that she’d take a California roll.  And Sadie screamed: “Dumplings.”

These little guys are never going with us to Hilton Head, again.
As my wife departed for the store, she asked one more time:  “Who wants sushi, and who wants chicken fingers?”  It was almost unanimous.  Only Drew, who abstained from voting, got chicken fingers – and that was by default.

After she returned to the car, with some bags of snacks and a few trays of Wegman’s sushi, we were ready for our all-night, bleary-eyed, we’re-not-stopping-till-the-sun-comes-up drive south.   And off we went.

Not three minutes later, before we even got past the McDonalds in Lafeyette, we were sitting with our individual sushi trays open on our laps when all hell broke loose.  Okay, that may be an overstatement.   But from the back of the car, Chloe asked for help with something.  Her mother, reacting with the quick reflexes of a supermom, closed her own sushi tray, flipping the lid back on.  Unfortunately, she had already used the lid as a soy sauce dipping vessel.   Soy sauce went everywhere, including her lap, her seat and the pillow that was next to her seat ready for the long night’s drive.  Soy sauce splatter patterns were scattered throughout the front of the car.

She immediately called for the paper towels, as she danced on her seat trying to avoid the pool of soy sauce that had collected under her.  Of course, the paper towels were conveniently tucked in the back of the van behind the seat holding our two eldest children. They scrambled to get the paper towels, and in the process, Chloe’s ginger-infused dipping sauce for her dumplings fell to the floor.  Reports from the back of the van could not confirm whether the container’s lid was still on the ginger-infused dipping sauce when it fell.  And, now, the ginger-infused dipping sauce container itself was missing.  At least, neither properly-seat-belted child could get a visual fix on the sauce container.   I had visions of ginger-infused dipping sauce slowly soaking into our van’s carpet.

So, there we are, screaming down the highway – and I mean screaming, not driving fast – trapped in a van that was smelling increasingly like grocery-store-bought Asian food. 

Luckily, there was a truck inspection pull-off just ahead of us.  That’s where I pulled over and calmly (it's my blog, so my description) … calmly took care of the spill and the missing dipping sauce.  I also collected the remaining sushi containers and pronounced then and there that we would never buy sushi on a car trip ever, ever again. 

Not ten minutes into our annual vacation and we had already learned an important lesson.  When, embarking on a car trip, and asked if you want sushi, or something else, the Answer is ... all together now, "Something else."

Over the next 16 hours, the lingering smell of soy sauce reminded us of this lesson.

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