My maternal grandmother is celebrating her birthday this Sunday. I will refrain from divulging her actual number of laps around the sun because I am a gentleman and she gave life to the wonderful woman who breathed life into me and it would be inelegant, insensitive, and gauche to trivialize such an accomplishment by such an inspiring woman. She will be ninety. Holy shit.
Granny (that’s what she insists we call her, dead serious) lives in a small town in Northeastern Iowa. My mom grew up there and Granny still lives in the family house. I’m not sure when she and my grandfather moved there; remind me to ask my mom next time I see her (this Tuesday). When we lived in Minneapolis (where I was born) it was a not-unreasonable drive South to visit. When we lived in Denver, it was a bit of a haul, but one that we made smack in the middle of the Blizzard of ’82.* I remember playing outside in the snow and asking oh god why does this suck so bad and getting the response because it is twenty below, you idiot. What are you, five? Yes.
Because this is the only time Granny will reach this particular milestone, a large familial contingency is congregating in Iowa this weekend for the festivities. Lest the sarcastic tone of this post be misleading, I couldn’t be more excited. I really only remember two trips to Granny’s house: my grandparents’ 40th wedding anniversary in 198x (Mom, help), and my grandfather’s funeral in 1993, when I was 15. That’s not to say I’ve only seen her twice in the past 25+ years–she’s actually traveled to many of our own milestones. Really there are two primary backstory facts here: I don’t get to enjoy my grandmother’s company all that often, and I haven’t traveled to see her at her house since BEFORE WINDOWS 95, so this is a big deal. A bigger deal than it should be because things shouldn’t be like this? Obviously. A big deal nonetheless.
From Atlanta, the least insane way to get to Granny is to fly into Minneapolis, rent a car, and drive just under 200 miles South. Not a crazy trip for adults, but a ridiculous trip for a two-year-old, one of whom we have. To wrangle him for a flight, and then toss him in a rental car for 3 hours, PLUS deal with all of his “accoutrements” is not an insurmountable feat. Nor is strapping him into his car seat in Atlanta and pulling onto the highway, then not pulling off for 10+ hours. It’s just that “vacation time” is such a precious commodity that I am simply unwilling to commit to either of the aforementioned options, significant family milestone or not.
You don’t think this is a just a long, awkward way to announce that we’re skipping, do you? No, silly. The Duke, Mrs. Jazzbone, The Geester, and I are renting a 36-foot RV because AMERICA. The thinking goes like this: We can pack up as much crap as we want, hit the road whenever we want, take however long we want, get there whenever we want, and then sleep in our car, which is arguably more comfortable than your house.
Before any enthusiasts reading this decide I am talking out of two buttholes, I’ll come clean: I have never rented nor spent any significant time in a RV before. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on chartered buses, but, you know, CHARTERED. It might suck, horribly. I’m sure parts of it will. But here are the facts:
Even in the worst of circumstances, I’m hoping the actual circumstances fall by the wayside, as they should always. Based on what I’ve read, RVing seems like a Flanders-modest middle finger to everything that isn’t an RV. If, after this, that holds true, I will buy six of them.
* This marks the first time I can remember ever referencing something that happened to me, during my life, that sounds like the name of a shipwreck. I have shifted a couple steps closer to something and a couple steps further away from something else.