You may remember from day one of our most restful and enjoyable of vacations, that Guinness has an extreme prejudice against two-wheeled vehicles of all kinds. As we drove along the New Hampshire highways, the first group of biker’s passed us. Like beaten prisoners we all flinched in preparation for the onslaught of barking and general carrying-on that always accompanied the drone of oncoming motorcycles. Only this time, nothing happened.
We all peeked out from eyes clenched in fear. It was as if a grenade had just been tossed into the van but didn’t explode. We all seemed to be wondering why we were still alive. I looked in the rearview mirror and witnessed the impossible. There was Guinness, calmly looking out the window, watching as the bikes rumbled past. Annie sat with him at his side, and together they watched in silence until the pair of Harleys drove on.
The entire family looked nervously at one another, still wondering what had happened that would so upset the normal order of things. Was this a dream? Were we actually all dead and heaven was nothing more than a minivan full of immediate family with a big dog that didn’t bark at motorcycles? I thought about that for a moment, and decided that if indeed that were the case, I would need to make an appointment with whomever was in charge. After the week I’d had, I felt that I was clearly entitled to an upgraded room.
Once we figured out that we were still in the same reality, and that Guinness had not gone bike-mental for the first time in recorded history, we all raved about what a good boy he was. I’m sure he thought we were all crazy, but hey, you try spending eight hours in a minivan with four people, all their luggage, and three hundred pounds of neurotic Newfoundland dog. Non-events like this become worthy of excitement.
Colleen played her ukulele for part of the trip—oh wait—no she didn’t. I packed it so she couldn’t get to it. There was no way I was going to listen to that for eight hours! She did ride with Fimbo, who loves Colleen as much as Winky loves Meghan.
We all sang songs together to pass the time on the long drive home. Actually Lauren and I listened to music while the kids listened to their iPods. Welcome to vacation in the 21st century. When I was kid we were lucky if my dad would even turn on the AM radio while we drove cross-country and back, which was indeed, uphill both ways.
All in all, our trip was pretty uneventful. The dogs enjoyed their Burger King lunch, and everyone was good for the entire ride. Never was a dog so happy to be home as Guinness was that night. He nearly jumped from the van and ran inside when we got home. He wanted to jump, but he knew his limitations and slowly walked with me to the house, his body bouncing with glee as we neared his one true home. Perhaps now he will believe me when I tell him that he’s staying with us forever.
A quick word about the minivan is in order. In order to avoid the $100 pet hair fee, Lauren and I worked to make sure the minivan was clean. For three hours we cleaned the van. I actually had to brush the carpet with a slicker brush to loosen the fur so that the shop vac had a fighting chance. Mostly though, I had to pull up tufts of hair by hand. There’s a surprising amount of carpet in a minivan.
I also had to brush the headrests in the second row of seats. I hadn’t thought to cover them, and both Annie and Guinness used them both for their intended purposes, which apparently was to absorb roughly three gallons of drool over the course of eight days. The caked-in slobber was easily worth 45 minutes of scrubbing, but dammit, I got it out.
As the kids climbed in for the ride back to return the van, Meghan calmly said, “Daddy, there’s drool in the cup-holder.”
Indeed there was, and another 10 minutes was spent wiping down every square inch of plastic in the van. For all our hard work, the inspection amounted to a quick glance in the window resulting in a “looks good” from the attendant. Just like that, our vacation was over, with one small exception.
Back at home, I quietly grabbed my treasure from the desk in the office, and brought it into the family room where my two cohorts eagerly awaited. We had to be quiet lest we incur the wrath of Mom. I pulled the last Whoopie Pie from the wrapper, broke it into three equal pieces, and we each enjoyed the last taste of New England. With the last Whoopie Pie consumed, Vacation had officially ended. Unless you count the secret one I had stashed in the gun safe, in which case vacation officially ended the next day at around midnight while I watched movies in the dark with Annie and Guinness at my feet. Either way, vacation was finally over. We were home.