Category Archives: On the Road

Traveling with the Butterscotch Sundae clan.

Allons! The road is before us!

Yesterday I drove 350 miles and ended up right back where I started. It was supposed to be two days of driving — to fetch Pete at one aunt-and-uncle’s house and deposit him at another — but after a toddler vomited on the floor Pete and I decided to hit the road early.1)Carsickness from 12 hours in the car, as it turns out.

we did not dance this much or at all, because Pete was busy watching YouTubers YouTube

Pete was with me for all of 100 minutes, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner together at a Taco Bell where I was served what was perhaps the freshest Taco Bell taco I have ever experienced. It was at this Taco Bell that I asked Pete, “Hey Pete, what’s that on your shirt?” and he said “Oh, I think that’s chili from the hot dog I had with Papa and Lola,” at which point I realized that my son had been wearing the same shirt for some three days. The rules are different for 11-year-old boys at their grandpa’s for the weekend.

ain’t no dog like a coney dog dog cause a coney dog dog gets all over your three-day old wardrobe

It was dusk when we reached my sister-in-law’s house, and after I met my nephew’s very sweet dog and hugged my sister-in-law and another nephew and bid Pete farewell: It was dark. I don’t like to drive after dark because the oncoming headlights hurt my delicate eyeballs, but the Road So Far had been pretty empty so I onward I forged.

The Road continued to be empty as I made my way through the South Carolina countryside, back to the interstate. My eyeballs were unscathed, but my soul was unsettled by the creeping fog and the long stretches of empty highway. It felt like I was the only person left on the planet for 15 minutes at a time. A quarter of an hour is a very long time to feel like you’ve been abandoned by the rest of humanity, even if sometimes when you read the news you think maybe Thanos was on to something. And then that short-long lonely feeling would be interrupted by headlights swiftly growing larger and brighter in my rearview mirror, and for 45 seconds I would become convinced I was about to be run off the road and murdered.

I shouldn’t, maybe, be left alone with my thoughts.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)2)Thus spoke Walt Whitman

Years later I reached the interstate and was immediately swept away in a river of speeding 18-wheelers, and soon The Machine told me I should get off the interstate because trouble was a-brewin’ ahead. But I am no Michael Scott. I would not drive into a lake for The Machine. And so in my hubris, I took neither the first nor the second nor even the third exit that The Machine recommended. And then the 18-wheelers all came to an abrupt stop and a Jeep Cherokee from the 1980s nearly careened into the back of one and I realized that The Machine had, in fact, known. I took the next exit The Machine recommended.

Again, I drove through empty highway, creepy creeping fog. Again, my dumb brain skipped through a field of the macabre as I drove through small, vacated downtowns and passed by Revolutionary War battlefields and one Shriners’ Club featuring, this weekend only, Mike Bulburn and His All-Star Band.

I listened to a lot of Vampire Weekend and Paul Simon and James Taylor, and then a 6-month-old episode of “This American Life” helped keep my eyes open for the last 30 minutes of my drive. I finally rolled back into the garage nearly 8 hours after I left, and I did not experience a quintessential NPR driveway moment because I was too, too tired for more listening.

I didn’t learn anything new about myself on my epic two-state odyssey, but I did average 34.8 miles per gallon. And that ain’t nothing.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Carsickness from 12 hours in the car, as it turns out.
2. Thus spoke Walt Whitman

What I Did On My Summer Vacation 2017, and Also What I Ate After My Summer Vacation

Hey everybody, welcome back to Butterscotch Sundae Dot Com.

Here’s a TLDR of my Summer Vacation: It started with a theft and ended with a shooting.

I used Priceline for the very first time to book a room. I’d never stayed at a La Quinta before, and for some reason my impression of it was that their properties were a bit run-down and sketchy. But the Priceline thing was nonrefundable, so we were going to stay there. They put us in a smoking room first and then moved us to a room with a moldy tub, and then we got to the car the next morning and discovered that someone had stolen my laptop, Rockford’s headphones, Poppy’s headphones and all of our road snacks. We were not blameless in this situation. We shouldn’t have left anything in the car in the first place, and the lack of damage to the car would indicate that someone forgot to lock the car. But it wasn’t a great way to kick off our vacation, and it solidified my belief that La Quintas are a bit run-down and sketchy.

The rest of the week was a maelstrom of swimming and movies, baseball games and family time, and septic failures and driveway replacements. My in-laws had to break the lock on our storm door to get into our house while we were gone, my dad wrapped up the week with a kidney stone, and Rockford heard a shooting near our house about 20 minutes after we got home.

It was a weird vacation.

Monday: Crunchwraps
Rockford loves them, and we haven’t made them in quite a while. I’m hoping they’re just as good without cheese.

Tuesday: Orange chicken meatballs
This Just A Taste recipe is sufficiently tasty, and it’s a hit with most kids.

Wednesday: Shake ‘n’ Bake chicken
I’m endeavoring to teach Poppy how to make a few meals on her own, so she’ll be making dinner on Wednesday.

Thursday: Undecided
Poppy has a dentist appointment, so she’ll be on Soft Foods for the evening. She’ll probably have mac ‘n’ cheese.

Friday: Pizza
We haven’t been doing family pizza night very often since I quit eating dairy. I bought a soy cheese pizza from the Amy’s collection this week, though. Hopefully it’s decent.

Hungry for more? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie.

How’s your summer going?

A few fun things to do in DC

The kids and I hopped on the Metro and headed in to D.C. yesterday while Rockford worked. Our first and only planned destination: the International Spy Museum.


rockford would have loved the spy museum’s Bond Villains exhibit
Poppy loved it, but Pete was less enthusiastic. I think he would’ve been more engaged had we not been evacuated midway through for a fire alarm. The museum tries to be an immersive experience, and the alarm break broke his already wavering interest.

We went back later to check out what we’d missed, and the kids found a few more interactive bits to play around with. Poppy loved memorizing her cover story and being tested on it — I was impressed that she remembered it all even after the fire alarm interruption — and Pete thoroughly enjoyed crawling through the air ducts.

In a town chock-full of amazing free museums, it was pretty tough for me to shell out $54 for the three of us to go to the spy museum. It’s a fun spot, though, and I think it’s worth the cost for older kids. 

poppy & nam june paik’s “electronic superhighway”
We spent our brief exile from the spy museum across the street at the American Art Museum. Poppy and Pete did a fun little scavenger hunt, and I got in a really quick visit with some of the guys in the presidential gallery. Some of my favorite works were in the gallery of contemporary figures’ portraits. 


 Everett Raymond Kinstler’s portrait of Katherine Hepburn is on display with her four Oscars.

Poppy and I were both fascinated by Robert McCurdy’s portrait of Toni Morrison. It looks just like a photo, and it’s gorgeous.


Kehinde Wiley painted his portrait of LL Cool J for the 2005 Vh1 Hip Hop Awards. It’s ginormous and vibrant, and I love it.

We went to the Natural History Museum to visit the dinosaurs for a bit, and then we went back to the hotel for a swim before dinner. Today we’re going to stay around the hotel, because it’s hot out there and there are 200 billion other people also touristing the town this week.