Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Glamorous Life on the Road

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself with a dilemma.  I had a show in Chesapeake, VA, and the following weekend in Atlanta, GA.  I live near Cleveland, Ohio.  That would mean traveling for four days, being home for two, and then away for another four or five.  More than that, I would be exhausted from all of the driving and useless for the two days at home.  Wayne and I decided that, rather than hire baby sitters for the duration of my absence, the boys might be old enough to travel with me.  They are now ages 7 and 12.  With a vague plan of inviting ourselves to stay at friends' houses somewhere in route from Chesapeake to Atlanta, we packed the van.  As an afterthought, I threw in some sleeping bags and a tent.

Day 1: Drive to Chesapeake.  The boys sang Jason Mraz tunes.  They are very good.  They also sang several raps that I'm not sure I approve of.  13 hours later, after some very bad traffic, we arrived.  I had the boys in bed by 11:30 pm. (The plan was 9 pm.)

Day 2:  Woke the boys up at 6:15 am.  They helped me load in and set up the show from 7:00-10:00am.  Underneath the table, we created a nest for the boys with computer games and DVDs. It was a new location for the bead show, unfamiliar to both buyers and sellers, and the show was slow.  The power gave out several times.  A customer's child joined my boys under the table for a couple of hours while his mother shopped.  We covered the tables at 5 pm and went for KFC.  In the evening, at our hotel, there were small children crying outside our door.  Then we heard criminals talking about smashing heads and beating people senseless and discussing all of their friends in prison.  They were having this conversation by shouting, one from the parking lot and the other up on the balcony in front of our room.  The kids wanted to call the police, but the men weren't actually doing anything, just talking trashy.  I decided not to confront them.  Too scary.  By 11:00 pm they left with their crying children to "get the kids some dinner."

Day 3:  We slept in until 8:30 am.  The boys played Roller Coaster Tycoon under the table and I did my best to sell beads and jewelry.  Sunday was twice as active as Saturday and still it was a money loser.  We had to pack everything out in the evening.  I promised to take the boys to the beach, so we drove to Virginia Beach at 6:30 pm and swam until after dark.  I left a big salty wet spot on the seat at the IHOP where we had our dinner.  On the way back to the hotel, we got lost and a policeman pulled me over for a broken head light.  He gave me directions but no fine.

Day 4: We fixed the headlight and drove to the Outer Banks.  Gorgeous!  We set up our tent and went swimming. Yeah!  Pizza for dinner, Whoo Hoo!  It was a great day.

Day 5: We got up and swam early then visited the tallest lighthouse in the US, Cape Hatteras Light House.
It was hot, but the scenery was breathtaking; so were the stairs.  That evening, I drove the boys up to Roanoke Island to see a production of "The Lost Colony," at an outdoor amphitheater.  It was absolutely fantastic, a very exciting and professional production.  We brushed teeth and climbed into our sleeping bags at 12:30 am.  (Bed time is going in the wrong direction.)

Day 6: More swimming. We showered and vacated the camp site by 12:00 pm.  Having not heard a reply from our friends who might have taken us in, we decided to go to Asheville, NC, on the way to Atlanta, GA, and see Biltmore.  North Carolina is a big state to cross!  We had a leisurely drive, but not too far after Raleigh, NC, I realized that we were not going to make it to Asheville by nightfall. We set up our tent at a private camp ground south of Raleigh and an hour later there were loud cracks of thunder and it started to pour.

Day 7: It was a loud rainy night but we stayed dry until about 8 am when I felt water trickling below me.    The kids helped me quickly roll the sleeping bags and we moved the entire tent to a shelter where we shook off the water and packed the tent.  We bathed and were were ready to go by 10 am.

Biltmore was incredible! We got the MP3 player tour and the boys listened to everything and were absolutely fascinated.  We stopped at the end of the day for ice cream on the grounds of Biltmore, where two young women tending the ice cream shop went online for us and got the directions to Sliding Rock.  We arrived at the Pisgah National Park campground in time to make a camp fire.  I had to use the inside of a roll of paper towels and a Cheerios box to get it going.

Day 8: We woke late about 9 am.  There were tons of kids at the camp ground.  The children borrowed inner tubes from the camp hostess and rode the creek downstream to the swimming hole over and over again for two hours.  Then we headed up to Sliding Rock and slid down the rock for another two hours.  Yes, I did it too.  We left directly from Sliding Rock for Atlanta, GA.

Day 9:  Up at 6:15 am again, the boys helped me load in and set up the show.  I bought them Internet access and a creative game called 'Spore,'  which kept them fully engaged the entire day.  The show was packed and sales were great.  We celebrated with other vendors at the Cho Won Korean Buffet.  The kids loved the octopus.  (Really.)

Day 10:  We got up late and missed the morning vendor meeting.  It was slower paced but still a very good day.  The kids played with other vendors' children and customers' children.  I had a lovely discussion with a woman who was going to a Dalai Lama seminar.  I told her how to present him with 'khata,' a scarf blessing.  It was a very good day until the very end when someone stole 3 of my pendants.  We did not catch the culprit.  We packed out by 7 pm and had to drive 3 hours toward home before we could sleep.

Day 11:  At breakfast, the boys got to meet two teenage mothers and their infants who were living at the Comfort Inn where we stopped.  Josh, age 12, said he didn't think they were very well educated because their speech and manners could have used some improvement. Hmmm.  I think my boys may have learned a great deal on this trip.

We drove from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Day 12:  First Day of School.


  1. phew! do you wonder what your kids will take from this journey that will show up in conversations years from now! steven

  2. Incredible. I bet they remember this trip fondly. It sounds like ya'll actually had quite a bit of family fun! I'm sure you're right-they are bound to have learned a great deal from this trip. My dad used to take us to homeless shelters in Atlanta. We would help out with dinner and spend the night, help with breakfast and then head back home. It made quite the impression. Perhaps these young girls with babies will make that kind of impression on your boys.

    I'm sorry you had merchandise stolen. That's unfortunate.

  3. What a great experience for your boys. they will remember this all their lives. And it sounds like you had a great time with them. Sorry about the thievery at the end though.

  4. Looks like you have produced a good road crew and traveling companions. What memories they will have of those days! Wish I could have come too!

  5. We have some theft at almost every show. I usually don't let it bother me unless it's one of my favorite pieces. At one show security caught a true kleptomaniac with the classic 'relief,' response when she was caught. I do believe that bad choices, like stealing, lead to very bad lives.

  6. Love hearing about your trip. I agree, NC is a huge state to cross. The Biltmore was one of my favorite stop. It's supposedly haunted - did you smell tobacco smoke in the lobby? A guide said it's the ghost!

    Sounds like your boys are hearty travelers!

  7. You had adventures and bonding and a real road trip to talk about for a long time.

  8. Your children sound wonderful. I cannot imagine having mine be that good for that much time in the car and then while you were working. What great fun you had, even with all the packing and unpacking.

    So sorry about the theft.