The end of our Griswold journey was near. We got our stuff packed up once again (for what felt like the 100th time!), climbed back into Grizzy, grabbed a quick to-go breakfast at the Burger King drive through, and filled up with gas. At the gas station I decided to use the restroom one more time before we got back on the highway. That baby inside, small as it is, has a way of squishing my bladder like and elephant squishes a marshmallow! I had our first Griswold moment of the trip when I went in and asked for the restroom.
The lovely clerk at the counter looked at me with sadness in her eyes, shrugged her shoulders, frowned, and wrinkled her brow. She responded, “Well… first, you have to use the men’s room. And they tore the light off the ceiling over the weekend.” “Oh,” was all I had a chance to say. She went on, “You can use it though. The light still works. You just have to watch your head.” I thought, “You know, I don’t think I need to go that bad, ” but instead, I took the key and got myself mentally prepared for the adventure ahead. It ended up not being that bad, but I did wonder why I couldn’t use the ladies’ room. She never explained that.
Our next Griswold moment happened when we made our lunch stop. We had to return to the hotel we stayed at on the first night to pick up Doodlebug’s pillow that got left behind – our Griswold adventure from day one. Luckily, they were able to find it. I would’ve felt awful if we’d lost it on the trip. We decided to eat at a unique little diner/deli next to the hotel, Egg on Your Face/Deli in Your Belly. From the ceiling hung banners with various things famous people have said that were, at best, embarrassing and, at worst, just plain idiotic. It was a fun idea for a restaurant, but the service was slow. Super slow. Molasses in January slow. I’m saying a turtle could have baked the bread for our sandwiches, made our meals, and delivered them in less time than it took the people working there. We were one of only 4 tables of people in the place and it took nearly an hour for us to get 3 sandwiches and 2 orders of pancakes. The food was just ok. The upside is that we got 25% taken off our bill. I guess that’s something.
After lunch it was my turn to drive. Somehow, I always managed to be the one driving in traffic. I drove through Chicago on the way to PA, and through Chicago and into Madison on the way home. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I think it was great planning on Jim’s part. I’ve always said he is a very smart man.
We got to our hotel in Madison, got Grizzy unloaded (yet again!) and found a Rocky Roccoco’s for dinner. YUM – pizza!!! I miss Rocky’s. They had one in Duluth when I was growing up, but it closed long ago. I don’t think there are any more in Minnesota. This one was really fun. It had a huge arcade area and its own movie theater. Unfortunately, the theater had been reserved for a private party, so we didn’t get to have dinner and a movie. The dinner was very good, though.
The only other mishap of the day happened when we left Rocky’s. Van was excited to get back to the hotel to go swimming, and as he ran by Grizzy, he tripped over the trailer hitch. He got quite a road-burn on his elbow. Mommy had just kissed that pain away when, as he walked to the side of Grizzy, he tripped again. This time his knee took the hit. Ouch! Poor kid apparently had temporarily forgotten how to walk. We got him in the car and got back to the hotel without another incident, fortunately.
We spent the evening in the pool. I think all of our kids are part fish. They all love being in the water. After the pool, we got settled into our beds (no air beds this time) and fell asleep. I dreamt of being home in my own bed. I love vacation, but knew it would feel so good to be in the familiarity of my bed with my pillow and my blankets.
The next morning we began the final leg of our journey. Our adventure was coming to an end. We grabbed breakfast at the hotel, packed up our stuff (for the LAST TIME!!!), and headed out on the highway. It was an uneventful, peaceful trip. I did see some interesting license plates on this part of the trip. I saw an RV with the license plate MYDGHSE (I don’t think I’d mind being banished to that), and a car going well under the speed limit had a plate that read GSUSAVS (apparently not if you’re speeding). I also saw a tractor crossing sign… and a tractor crossing near it. I guess tractors are better at following directions than deer are. I never see deer crossing at their signs, but see them everywhere else!
We made a stop for lunch, and driver change, at a place we’d stopped at a few times before, Moe’s Diner. Moe’s is in Osseo, WI. According to its sign, it is almost world-famous. We always enjoy stopping there. It is a 50’s style diner, the staff is always friendly, and the food is good. Perhaps it isn’t the best food we’d had on our trip, but the menu variety is fantastic. There definitely is something for everyone and the prices are reasonable. We talked about submitting Moe’s to the DDD show. It would be Guy’s kind of place. The day we stopped was a big day. It was our server, Marcella’s, 40th anniversary. Not wedding anniversary. Her 40th anniversary of working at Moe’s! Congratulations, Marcy!
While at Moe’s, we ended up talking to a father-son duo who were headed to Minneapolis for the White Sox-Twins game. The dad was wearing a White Sox jersey and the son was wearing Twins. I figured it was a long trip for them and imagined them arguing about their teams all the way there and back. Luckily our trip had been relatively argument free. Given one more day, though, anything could have happened.
We made it the rest of the way home without incident. Once again, I was the one driving through traffic, but at least it was just construction traffic on I-694 and not rush-hour traffic. We we turned onto our street, Doodlebug started yelling excitedly about seeing our house. I think we all wanted to yell and scream and jump up and down, though jumping in a moving van is not recommended.
We unloaded Grizzy for the final time (at least for now) and we all picked our favorite spots in the house to veg out. The kids each went right to their rooms. I think Van touched every one of his toys in the first 30 minutes we were home. Jim and I landed on the couch. We sat for a while, then started discussing dinner. After all the restaurant food we’d had on the trip, I didn’t want to eat out (nor did I want to get back into a car for at least 24 hours). I didn’t want to cook either. We took the lazy way out… everyone was on their own. Some of us had cereal, some of us had sandwiches, but we all found something we could call… well, maybe not dinner… but at least a meal. I figured I would take advantage of a few more hours of “vacation.” Tomorrow I would return to the regular family routine – cooking, cleaning, running errands. For now, it was my time to relax!