Gypsy Truck Diaries

So most of you have figured out by now through my posts that I’ve ditched the 90+ degree heat wave in D.C. for a summer at the River at my parents’ house.

In some ways, I can’t believe I just said that. I’m actually living with my parents and I’m in my 30s. I’m just glad it’s summer and I’m on maternity leave or I would’ve hit a personal low.

At any rate, getting here was a total project. I have to thank my very good friend Lesley for being such a trooper. She’s been an amazing friend through my pregnancy and beyond. You know you’ve got a friend when she’ll come for the weekend to help you clean out your basement or pack up your car and make the day-long drive to your parents’ with you.

Neither were easy feats to accomplish, but the latter is really worth spending some time on, especially for the benefit of newbie parents who no doubt will grossly underestimate the amount of baby gear is required for a weekend trip much less on that would last several months.

We have what would qualify as a large car; it’s a Toyota 4-Runner. However, I had known packing up the hubbie, myself, baby, the Doberman, and two cats for a summer at the River was going to be a challenge even with an SUV, so I had convinced my parents to buy the hubbie a roof rack for his birthday.

But as Lesley and I sat in my house the night before the big journey with all the bags and boxes and contraptions, I wondered if it was all going to fit, even with the roof rack.

Baby got me up around 6am-ish, so I was up and showered by 6:30am or so. Lesley wasn’t far behind me; I think she was up and in the shower by 7am. I swear we were maneuvering the obstacle course that way my backyard by 8am, at the very latest.

Construction on the deck in our backyard had begun the day before, so we had a deck frame and no stairs leading to our backyard. It was a bit of a balancing act to get to ground level. You either had to do a bit of a balance beam routine along a long board and then jump down to the grass or sort of lower yourself down to the ground from the door and then climb over one of the main supports a few feet away. It wasn’t pretty either way, but it seemed like the more sensible option versus a fairly long trip down the seriously steep stair in the front of our house. Plus, with the car in the back, it felt a bit more secure. This was D.C. after all; I don’t trust anything not to walk away on its own.

Now the weather… The month of May started out a little on the chilly side, but it was heating up fast as the days ticked by. And on the morning of our big pack-up, the D.C. weather didn’t disappoint. It was sunny and steamy–a two shower before noon kind of day.

Between lugging the stuff outside, making sure baby was (sort of) happy (he definitely screamed a lot that morning), and strapping it down (damn those ratchet straps), it took us four hours–four hours!–to pack the car. And when I say pack the car, I don’t mean pack my stuff. That was done. It took four hours to make sure all of my bags, boxes, bins, and stuff (including live animals) fit into the car.

Truth be told, we probably could have done it in three and a half hours, but two friends stopped by to give us a sweet send off, complete with yummy pastries that were scarfed down within a few blocks of home after we finally set sail. So, in my mind, that extra half hour was totally worth a buttery, flaky, dark-chocolate pain au chocolat.

At one point during the packing session, I was sure the stuff wasn’t going to fit. Lesley and I were standing there with the bouncer seat, turning it every which way and trying to flatten it to figure out how we could shove it in the overflowing car.

Finally we made it work, and the pack job was complete. The cats were in the car, panting in the heat; there was a small space carved out for the dog; the pack ‘n’ play, my bag of clothes, and the stroller were seemingly secure on the roof; and nothing appeared to be threatening to topple over onto the car seat in the backseat.

It was a freaking gypsy truck. All that was missing were the tambourines. Check it out.

Damn Bouncer Seat

Roof Rack Saves the Day

Poor Joey

Even the Kid Was Crammed In

But everything was in the truck and we were off. Nothing appeared to be ready to fly off the roof, so all was right in the world.

Until it started raining.

I had considered throwing a tarp over everything on the roof when we were packing up, but given that the ratchet straps nearly got the better of us (yes, they can go on upside down), I figured I’d skip the tarp and save our sanity.

And at first, I wasn’t too worried. It was only sprinkling. The stroller and pack ‘n’ play would dry out just fine, and my clothes were in a military-grade, water-resistant tactical bag. But whether the bag could keep out the torrential downpour we encountered in York, Pa., that lasted through Scranton, Pa., was another question.

Amazingly enough, when I pulled into my parents’ driveway, my stuff was pretty much dry. (Darn good tactical bag, if you ask me.)

But even more impressive was the fact that I had made it from D.C. to my parents’ house in about 8.5 hours. I’d say that the whole trip in the gypsy truck took only about a half hour to 45 minutes longer than usual. Not bad considering the roof ornaments and the fact that we were transporting three animals–well, four if you count the breastfeeding baby.

But we made it–many thanks again to a friend who definitely earned her stripes–and couldn’t be happier. And good thing, too, because I don’t think I have the heart to try and pack the truck up again. It might take me all summer to figure out how to do it again.

My advice to soon-to-be parents is simple: Get yourself a roof rack or roof-top carrier. You’ll need it.

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Filed under daily life, newbie parents, newborns, organizing

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