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Road trips are in my blood.  My family has been taking them – driving to North Carolina to visit the grandparents or heading out West to see some of America’s treasures – since before I can remember.  We had a routine.  My dad was the primary driver, and he liked to start the trip at night – midnight or later.  I guess that made him – all of us, really – feel like we were getting a jump start on the day.  So he’d go to bed early and my mom would pull one of her old suitcases out of the attic for my sister and me to use.  (FYI – man, I wish she still had that set of luggage.  It was totally retro cool 1960’s.  I would love to use it today.  Sigh.)  Anyhoo, my sister and I were usually too excited to get much sleep.  Round midnight, Daddy would wake up, he’d pack up the car, and we’d be on our way.  Down through Oklahoma, cross Arkansas, up through Tennessee, and into North Carolina.  The Smokies are absolutely beautiful.

I was – literally and figuratively – the baby of the family.  I’m the youngest.  But I was also usually the one calling for bathroom breaks (or being too embarrassed to call for a bathroom break since we’d just stopped 10 minutes ago), or asking how much further or whatever.  Hey, I have a small and sensitive bladder!  Don’t judge me!  I’m sure I drove my mom and dad crazy.  So I was sort of a “road trip baby” in that respect.  (Seriously, to this day whenever I have to go on a long trip I cut off liquids the night before.  One of these days I’ll have to tell you about my first road trip in Albania!)

But I recently had a new and completely different road trip experience with a real road trip baby.  My sister, her six-month old daughter, and I drove to North Carolina to visit our parents.  It takes about 6 hours to get from here to there.  Maybe you stop once for the bathroom and once for food.  Or if your bladder cooperates, you take care of both at the same time.  Not so, with a baby.  Of course you have to stop when she gets hungry.  You have to stop when she needs a diaper change.  You have to stop when she gets cranky.  (She gets tired of being strapped into that car seat – wouldn’t you?)  So, obviously, all these stops lengthen the trip.

I love this baby.  She gorgeous, smart, funny – everything you’d want in a niece.  And she burps like a champion.  Because of all of this, I’m willing to put up with the frequent stops.  But I have to draw the line somewhere.  Here’s where:  we stopped at a rest stop in Virginia and I’m holding my niece while my sister goes to the restroom.  My niece has had some milk, she’s burped like a champion, so now we’re just hanging out and chit-chatting.  She’s sitting on my lap, of course.  Out of nowhere, like some sort of alien being, she lets out a heavy stream of milky spit-up right. on. my. lap.  Nice.  And really comfy.  I immediately order my sister to take. her. child.  Ugh.  Babies.  Suddenly, I’m the road trip baby again!  Let me tell you, driving the rest of the way in wet, milky jeans was not fun.

That said, I’d take another road trip with those two any day.  I love that kid.  And my sister is awesome.  Next time though, I’ll wear a raincoat.

Do you have a crazy/funny/wonderful road trip story?  Were you the road trip baby in your family?  Tell me all about it.

Oh – by the way, I finally decided to get with the program and get a Twitter account.  Follow me…@DiploStatus.

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