We have a carsickness-prone kid. Fortunately, we do not have to drive very much in our car-free, city-centric life but our vacations typically involve some car time (which I personally do not mind, because I love to drive). Felicity doesn't get sick every time we're in a car, but it's happened enough that I have a stash of air sickness bags in my travel tote and if I suspect a ride will be especially winding or a lot of start-and-stop traffic, I give her Dramamine before we head out.
(Last fall when we went apple-picking, we had an especially enjoyable time because (1) the Zipcar I had reserved wasn't at the garage so after I had a lengthy and rather shouty exchange with the garage attendant, I called Zipcar and they had to find me another car, which took forever because every other wretched person in Manhattan has to go apple-picking on any give autumn Saturday, and which delayed us by over an hour by which point I was about to give up on the whole trip because, thanks to all those apple-loving Manhattanites, if you don't arrive at the farm early enough, you will end up in a line of cars that is many miles and several hours long at which point we would simply drive on back home with a hysterical and disappointed child because no ma'am; (2) the replacement car was a Mini Cooper two-door, which is basically a clown car when you have three long-limbed family members, so my head was practically poking out the sun roof and Felicity's feet were stretched out up to the gear shift, making driving a bit of a challenge; (3) I got pulled over for speeding (THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE) before we had even gotten out of the city, and when the officer approached my window I rolled it down and promptly burst into tears (I wasn't even trying to get out of the thing, it was just that kind of day -- but! I did get off with a warning so there); (4) about ten minutes after we got back on the road following my brush with the law, I could sense that Felicity was kind of writhing around in her seat and I glanced back and she was white as a sheet so I yelled, "BAG! BAG!" and Joe was scrambling around so I somehow used my supermom powers to manifest a Ziploc bag and hand it back to her just in time (to her credit, she was very neat about it); and (5) it was frigid and raining the entire time. But I will say that when Felicity talks about the day, the only thing she remembers is how we picked out six pumpkins and I told her we had to put one back so she did, but then when my back was turned she snuck it back into the car. Memories: made.)
Ah, where was I? So we're on our way to JFK for spring break a couple of weeks ago and we're all so pumped for this vacation. It's been a long, cold, crabby winter and work has been grueling for both of us parents, and some Arizona sunshine is all we can think about. Felicity is fine until we are, no exaggeration, two minutes from pulling up at the departure terminal. But she can't make it. I whip out one of my trusty airsickness bags but...well, someone had given her a breakfast of BLACKBERRIES while I was in the shower that morning, which I would have not personally chosen since I am aware of the propensity of this exact type of episode. I don't know if she ate a world record-breaking amount of blackberries or what, but it was not something that a mere airsickness bag could handle. It was A Situation. Five minutes later, I have her stripped to her underwear in an airport restroom, and I am washing her hair in the sink and she is shivering violently and her creamy skin is STAINED all over from everything that soaked through her fleece and went down her shirt and...well. It was a HORROR SHOW. There's only so much you can do with no shampoo and a kid bending over a tiny sink, but we did our best. I put her in a change of clothes and bagged everything up and we went on our way. So glad we're done with the car for the next seven hours, I thought! Except it wasn't over. Long story...less long, she was sick about every hour on the plane and it became clear that this was a virus and not just motion sickness and then I rent my garments and wept over the injustice of long-awaited vacation + stomach virus, noooooooo.
We endured a small comedy of errors at PHX when we took the rather endless shuttle out to the rental car hub and got on the unbelievably long line there, and then realized that we didn't have Felicity's suitcase; it was still on the shuttle bus. So Joe went sprinting out of there and handled that, and eventually after we had all aged about ten years we got to leave the airport in our car. You know how GPS often dumps you in some weird outbuilding of wherever you're trying to go? Like you want to be at Disney but the direct you to the Disney power plant? Well, GPS did that to us for our Phoenix hotel and while I was yelling at the world about that, Felicity got sick AGAIN and Joe went off to figure out where we were and my, isn't it just so fun to travel? I was really enjoying myself so much.
Eventually we made it to the front desk and to our room, and the little lady was suddenly full of energy so we took her to the pool, which was absolutely JAMMED with people and had a DJ cranking tunes at exceedingly high volume, but it was a pool and there was a bar so we rolled with it. Felicity had a grand time splashing around in the pool and probably infecting an entire population of travelers with norovirus (plus those on the plane with us!), but she seemed a-ok! Oh, it must have just been motion sickness (car + airplane). Hallelujah! Let's get some dinner! Gosh, she's not eating very much, which is certainly unusual for her. Yes, I WILL take your margarita special, thanks very much! Oh, isn't it fun to eat outdoors and feel warm and look at all these lovely flowers! Hooray! We're on vacation! Yippee! Oh, little miss is so tired, it's past her bedtime on the East Coast, let's walk through the grounds and oh, yes, Daddy will carry you. Look, they're setting up for a wedding on the lawn! Look at all the beautiful lanterns! Look, some very fancily-dressed guests are arriving. Oh, what a lovely night for a wedding! Look at the moon! Oh, honey, are you oka--
Right. So. Definitely a virus, then.
Well, the next day she really was fine and after some more pool time we headed off to Sedona. She was even fine in the car (after a significant dose of Dramamine, which makes her sleep basically sideways but hey, she's still belted in (#chestcliptoolow) so it's fine) and we got to stop off at what was billed as a ghost town but instead was mostly just a kind of depressing hillside town (great view, though!) -- not depressing because the shops were terrible or anything; there were some cute galleries and Felicity wanted to look at every single item in every single store, which wasn't at all tedious, but I get this anxiety about visiting small towns whose sole economy is tourism. I feel personally responsible for keeping the shops and cafes alive and I get disproportionately upset about all the people wandering around and NOT buying anything because I imagine these kindly shopkeepers having to close their doors after 25 years in business or whatever and it's really just too much to bear. I got the feeling that drugs are a not-insignificant issue around those parts.
So eventually we got to Sedona, which certainly is one of the most spectacular places I've ever been. The landscape is incredible and there are these crazy red rock mountains everywhere you look. We stayed in this really fun place with themed rooms (ours was the French Quarter) where they bake bread for you in your room so it smells just heavenly when you arrive, and there was a fireplace next to the jetted tub in the bathroom. Felicity was in heaven. She made a little bed for her doll next to her own little daybed in its own little nook and we soaked up the red rock views.
The next day, illness/recovery be darned, we went to a state park to do some hiking. As we're pulling up to the entrance gate, and this very kind and extremely enthusiastic gentleman was telling me all about the park, I hear a distinctive sound coming from the back seat. Felicity is repeatedly hurling into another airsickness bag (no blackberries this time, to everyone's relief), but as discreetly as she can. So I'm trying to carry on a normal conversation with this guy while she's being ill, and eventually he releases me and we drive up to the main visitor's center. It turns out that this park does not have ANY TRASH CANS WHATSOEVER, not even in the bathrooms, because it is a "pack in/pack out" system. Oh, but we really NEED A TRASH RECEPTACLE for this biohazard we have that really should not be left in the hot car for several hours. A ranger-woman VERY GRUDGINGLY produces a trash bag and we are set free to hike. But first, we are hanging around the visitor's center filling up our bottles and using the facilities, and Felicity kind of dawdles like one toe off of the sidewalk. The ranger-lady appears OUT OF NOWHERE and says, more harshly than was necessary, "STAY ON THE SIDEWALK!" So for the rest of the vacation and probably the rest of our lives, we joked that if any of us did anything the slightest bit wrong, the ranger-lady would appear in front of us and yell, "NO [WHATEVER IT IS]!" We're doing well to instill proper respect of authority in our daughter, I think.
Right. So Felicity has just lost her entire breakfast and then some, clearly still is suffering from a terrible virus, is already sweating from the morning heat and direct sun, and has been yelled at by a ranger. Seems like a perfect time to drag her on a five-mile hike, right?
I thought so.