Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Melody's First Big Trip

No real rhyme or reason, but here's another essay, this one from October 11, 2005, describing the first trip I ever took with Melody.  Enjoy!

I wanted to share with you the details on my first trip with Melody, just the two of us. It was very eventful! It was an overnight trip to Ocean City, MD. I made reservations at one of our favorite hotels on the boardwalk and Melody and I would plan to leave following work on Friday, with a return on Saturday. Unfortunately, as the day got closer, the weather forecast got worse and worse. On Friday, it was supposed to rain all day, but there was hope it might clear out by Saturday morning. We went ahead with our plans. I thought we might be able to visit with my first boss, JB and his wife, too.

The day started on Friday with Lauren bringing Melody into my office. It was raining very hard, so I met them in the parking garage and I brought Melody in, giving Lauren the afternoon off. We had to go to the Security Desk in the lobby so Melody could get an "official" visitors pass (we spent the rest of the day calling it her "badge"). We went around to see several people and say hello, then we had lunch at my desk. She had french toast, her second french toast meal of the day (Grammy made it for her for breakfast, too).

We left the office at 1:30, about 30 minutes later than planned, but everyone at work wanted to see Melody before we left. We hit a wall of cars on Colesville Road heading out of downtown Silver Spring, so I phoned the office to let everyone know that rush hour might be bad. Gary answered and confirmed the traffic problems and said the power was out at several signals. I immediately headed for the back streets and made our way over to Piney Branch and New Hampshire Ave. to get around the traffic and onto the Beltway.

Melody had fallen asleep at this point. That's when I began to worry. I should have used the bathroom before we left the office. I knew I wouldn't make it all the way to Ocean City without needing to stop, and I wondered how I might stop with Melody sleeping. I didn't want to wake her, but I certainly didn't want to leave her in the car by herself. I decided to head for home. It was a little bit out of the way, but as long as traffic was moving, we should be able to stop and hit the road again with only a short delay. Unfortunately, traffic was very heavy on I-95 north and it took much longer than expected. When we got to my house, Melody was still asleep, so I left the radio on with the engine off and rushed in to take care of business.

Back on the road, we headed for the Bay Bridge and the Eastern Shore. We hit a major traffic jam at the bridge, right around 3 p.m., just as JB called on my cell phone. He was surprised we were only at the bridge, and doubly surprised that I actually went to work this morning, but we planned for me to call him after we checked into our hotel and Melody and I would go out to visit with him and his wife this evening. Melody woke up from her nap at about this time, too. Her first word was, "Monkees." She really likes the Monkees music and T.V. show, and she's been watching the DVDs a lot recently. So, I put in a Monkees CD for us to listen to. Traffic began to clear out and we crossed the bridge and went on our merry way. Melody was in good spirits and we talked and sang all the way to OC.

We arrived in OC at around 5:30 or so and made our way to the hotel. I pulled in, parked, and got out my paperwork for the hotel. This was the first time I noticed a problem: my reservation was for Sunday night, not Friday!!! I screwed up! After traveling through 39 states, 3 countries, and 5 provinces, this was the first time I had ever made a mistake like this. I panicked a little, wondering what we should do. Melody was oblivious and seemed to be quite happy, though after 4 hours in a car seat, I could see she was anxious to get out. I checked and found out the hotel was booked solid, and there was a classic car show going on in OC for the weekend, so rooms might be scarce.

I figured we first needed to get some dinner. Melody and I were both hungry. I stopped at the Bull On The Beach and we went in and ate. Then I phoned Expedia, with whom I made the reservation, to see if they could help me find another room (and cancel my reservation for Sunday). I got lucky and we found a room at another hotel, though it was going to cost twice what the first one cost. We worked our way through OC to our new hotel. Everything went smoothly at check-in and we unpacked and got comfortable in our room. It was now after 7 p.m. I knew there was no way Melody would be able to handle another ride in the car tonight, so I called JB to let him know we would not be able to make it over. I think they were disappointed, as were we, and I shared my story about messing up the reservation. He told me that we should have called him, since they have a very nice, very large home and we could have stayed with them, but I really didn't want to inconvenience them. Unfortunately, he had to work all day Saturday, so we would not be able to see them on this trip.

Melody and I decided to take a walk over to the attached mall and get some ice cream, so off we went. The mall seemed to already be set up for the off-season, as a lot of stores were closed, including the ice cream place, so we went back to the hotel restaurant, a Denny's. We walked in and noticed right away that it was not very busy. Everyone looked at us as we walked in, including the staff, making me just a tad uncomfortable. We waited for a table, but, after 10 minutes of waiting, no one came to seat us. I told Melody in a moderately loud voice that we would go somewhere else, and nobody stopped us from leaving. We found some ice cream in the lobby snack store and went back to our room.

We watched a little television until I noticed the clock said 10:05. It was later than I thought. So Melody and I got ready for bed. Another disappointment from the reservation mess up was that, instead of a nice, big King-sized bed that I had reserved, we were stuck with 2 double beds. Because Melody is a gymnast while she sleeps, and I needed to sleep on one side of the bed to keep her from tumbling off, we were looking at some pretty tight quarters. I placed two chairs next to the bed on one side, and laid down on the other. Melody wouldn't be able to fall out unless she did a pole vault. I took off my watch and discovered that either my watch was an hour slow (doubtful), or the hotel clock was wrong and we were in bed much earlier than I thought (likely). Oh, well, we needed the sleep after the long trip in the car. We washed up, put on our PJs, read a few books, said our prayers, and went to sleep.

I woke up at around 1 a.m. with a foot in my face. I woke up again at 2:30 with a knee in my stomach. At 3:30, the blankets were gone and I was literally on the edge of the bed, clutching my pillow to keep from falling. Melody was still sleeping soundly, sideways in the bed. At 7 a.m., I decided I had had enough sleep, and so I grabbed a shower and got dressed. Melody awoke a short time later and seemed very happy. We had a leisurely morning, got ready, and headed out for breakfast. We decided to skip Denny's and look for something a little nicer.

Outside, it looked like a hurricane! Wind and rain beat down on us and we ran to our car. Melody clutched her hood in her hands to keep it over her head, as the wind tried to grab it all the way to the car. Once there, we headed out to the Dough Roller for breakfast.  Melody and I enjoyed our french toast (again!) and omelette, and the friendly attention of the waitress, a result of Melody's "cuteness factor", I guess. At least, that's what the waitress kept saying. After we ate, we went back to our hotel. It was still raining hard and the wind was howling. We had to park pretty far from the hotel, since everyone eating at Denny's was taking up all of the closer parking spaces. This time we used the umbrella, though we almost lost it due to the wind and it didn't really keep us very dry. We packed up and checked out, rushing back to the car to keep from getting too wet.

Rather than just head for home, we decided to make the best of the situation and go to the boardwalk and see what was open. Unfortunately, not much was open. We went to one of the arcades and spent about an hour in there. Melody won a bunch of tickets playing skeeball, so she traded them in for a little plastic bracelet. The girl working at the counter gave Melody a noise-making rattle, too, another result of the "cuteness factor", I guess. We also had a few cheesy pictures taken in one of those little photo booths, which will be a nice souvenir of our weekend.

We braved the elements once more and found that the kiddie playland indoor rides were open. This meant we could ride on the carousel, which Melody enjoyed a great deal. However, I lost her pacifier when I wrestled it out of her mouth for a picture, and it landed somewhere underneath the ride. Melody was distracted enough by her enjoyment of the ride to notice. We rode a few more rides before deciding we really needed to get some lunch and hit the road before we got too close to nap time.

Too late! We got in the car and drove over to Applebee's for lunch. Melody decided she didn't want to go in. I said we were going in. She said no. This set the stage for a battle of wills that became quite ugly. We went in to the restaurant and the hostess took us to our table. Melody would have none of this, and began to yell quite loudly, bringing every eye in the place squarely on us. I apologized to the hostess and told her we would not be staying. We went back to the car. Melody said, "No! Eat lunch!" I said, "No, we're leaving." She began to physically fight me to keep me from putting her back in her car seat. It was quite a struggle. I knew we couldn't go anywhere unless she was in her seat, and she knew it, too. After a few kicks to the face (mine, not hers), I got her buckled in.  Then we hit the road for home.  I was wiped out! A few minutes later, I looked in the mirror and she was fast asleep. I knew that this episode occurred only because she was so tired. She is such a good little girl!

The rest of the trip was uneventful and we headed for home. Overall, it was a nice trip, despite the poor weather and hotel situation. I was very encouraged by Melody's ability to travel in the car for such a long distance, too. I look forward to many more trips

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