Thursday, July 1, 2010

Land Yacht

Do you remember referring to certain large make American automobiles as "land yachts"?  The LTD's, the ginormous Caddies, the long heavy steel carriages that floated down the highways like hippo-weight marshmallow clouds?

As a kid, riding in the back of a Pinto station wagon, I'd check out those land cruisers.  I'd feel sorry for their hog-ness.  And I'd wonder if maybe people who rode in those didn't get car sick.

Who knew that one day they'd turn a truck into a passenger vehicle, and the whole game would change?

It's road trip time.

For reasons not quite vacation, certainly not business, and everything having to do with family and moving toward independence, I am pointed east.  With a driver's permit equipped teenager, a slew of Google maps, and a loose plan that has two firm pin-points on the agenda.

Yesterday's miles took us onto tollroad and Turnpike.  And the layers of memories started to lift up like calendar pages in the "time passes" montage from old movies.  Roadside sign symbols.  Place names.  Sounds of voices.  Proximity of people.  An odd, triangle on its side shaped back window that you could only pop out a little bit.

And then, not at the Knute Rockne traveler's station, but at Falling Timbers, a move out of my experience to my mother's.  For in that outdated "oasis," a paean to things 1950's, in the worn at the heels women's restroom, was what at first glance seemed to be a standard issue feature.  A diaper changing room.  With a groovy light up sign mounted above the door directing you to it, mind you, but still; we've all seen a changing station before.

Except that as I paused to look, feeling an odd mix of curiosity at the janitor's closet ambience and the requisite wondering if the men's room had one and a touch of nostalgia at the fact that the one of the subject/objects of diaper changes in my parenting life was taking his turn driving.  And as I paused, my mind tracked back to one of those impressions.  Why janitor's closet?  Oh, right, there's a sink in there.  These days, you get a fold down piece of plastic with a picture of a koala and an empty wipe dispenser inside and hope to goodness the hinge will be strong enough to support your baby.  Okay, walk by.

Come again?  No, that wasn't it.  Look back.  Step fully inside this time.  Ah, it's that the sink is oversize.  Large enough wash a diaper out.  Holy freakin' cow.  And that drain at the bottom?  It's not a metal-flower covered 2" opening.  No, it's a genuine, rock 'em sock 'em toilet exit type egress.  So now I am frozen for a moment, trying to take in a) one giant sink, at just below waist level, b) the fact that it is plumbed like a toilet, sort of, and c) omg, this is the kind of thing that would have made life easier for my mother.  Because don't know how awful family road trips are until you try to pack food for a day and travel with a baby and if you're the passenger up front you have the diaper pail between your legs.  

And with that, my mother persuaded my green self to use disposable diapers while on the road, and convinced me my harried life as a young parent would never have the same flavor hers did.

Janitor toilet sink with a faucet and hot and cold handles.

So, flooded with more memories than perhaps even the janitor toilet sink could dispose of, I headed back to my vehicle.  Climbed into the passenger seat.  And held my breath as my son backed out of the parking space and accelerated onto the turnpike.

For those of you keeping track of the perfume score, I hit the road wearing--but of course--Normadie.  I put it on, thinking it was pleasant enough, kind of cologne-y, but was too distracted by the hubbub of getting ready to hit the road to think much about it.  Perfumista mistake, of course, since I was trying it for the first time.  So much for thoughtful notes.  So much for even just taking it in.

Two hours later, I regretted not paying a little attention, because I thought it was gone.

Three hours later, I smelled something that smelled good.  On my wrist.  Well, I'll be.  WHOOPS there's a situation to talk new driver through....and again, distracted.

Five hours later, it's still there.  And now I've been on the road long enough I'm started to rethink the idea of applying scent for a car trip.  Which I knew, I KNEW, would potentially be a something to take into account.

At eight hours, and nearly to our stopping point, it was nearly gone.  Irony, irony, irony.  I am going to pause by Lake Erie, my benchmark for least retention time, and Normandie is a disappearing/reappearing tenacious quiet lovely thing.  I think.  I'll pay more attention next time.  For sure, it was more a Huron or Michigan on my wrist, even as I looked out onto Lake Erie.

About to head out for Leg Two.  With Amouage Abyadh attar on my wrists.  Which I will report on next.


March said...

Oh I'm laughing! Because I'm so careful about what I apply in the car, for a trip! It'd totally have to be something I'm intimately familiar with in this case, very calming ... I have no idea why, but some of my worst scrubbing situations have been me feeling like I was "trapped" in the car with a fragrance. Not overpowering scent, just annoying...

Rose said...

I haven't driven in the USA but I'd love to do a road trip! In fact I was in a car driving from the US to Canada which took about 6 hours. The others- who live there- were bored but I was fascinated- and the places to stop for food are very fun. We also randomly stopped at an antique shop in the middle of nowhere which was great!

La Bonne Vivante said...

enjoy the drive, and have fun creating new memories with your family!

Vanessa said...

I am not sure exactly where you are headed, but I can picture you on the leg between Detroit to Cleveland and into Pennsylvania, having covered that stretch a few times - now of course, as I have come to learn, with added Bloody Frida! : - )

That was a poignant tale of nappy changing down the ages. My father baptised me in a janitorial sink on a caravan site, or so he claimed.

I envy you being able to stop in Dennys! The omelettes! The cups of fruit!

Musette said...

oooh! road trip! have a GREAT time.

Most of my actual 'road' trips are on two wheels and I really enjoy them - especially when I get to do them alone. Those are Mitsouko trips. My next 'trip' involves hauling a 30' high loader to Iowa. I'm thinking Mitsouko - and Eau de Stoli - for that one. Or maybe just the Stoli.

have a lovely, wonderful, safe trip!


Mals86 said...

Road trips... I've never enjoyed them, to be honest. But then, I've never been in charge of one, only a passenger or occasional driver, and that might make a difference. Stop when *I* want? Create my *own* itinerary? How novel.

Thank God for disposable diapers.

I wanted to love Normandie, I truly did - a carnation/wood scent? Ooh, for me. But it did not love me: it sat sour, purse-lipped, nose in the air.

Safe journey, S, you and your grown-up baby.

Mals86 said...

Meant to say: those land yachts? My grandmother drove one, an enormous white Buick with fins. This would be the grandmother that lived with us - 4'11" on a Tall Day, glasses, loved to wear her big red Mack Truck cap and flip-down sunglasses when driving. She could barely see over the steering wheel, of course.

And of course she'd come pick me up at school in that boat. Wasn't so bad when I was nine, but by the time I was in high school it was excruciating. She'd roll down her window and call my name in that hillbilly accent of hers (this was a woman who never washed, rinsed, and drained her dishes - she "warshed, rinched, and dreened" them), and I'd just DIE of shame...

I miss her. But not the land yacht.

Rose said...

ooh and happy 4th of July- belatedly!

ScentScelf said...


So nice to find you all here...

March, I know; LOL at myself, right? Shake my head and cluck...but wouldn't you know, after being very careful for the past few days, I'm about to hit the turnpike in a a note that has a widely varying history with me...{shaking head with rueful chuckle AGAIN...}...I am prepared for pulling over for scrubber.

Flittersniffer, you *do* have a good knowledge of the highways and byways on this side...have avoided Denny's to date, but might not make it home without. ;) If I pass another changing room/janitor's closet, I shall give a reverential nod in its direction.

Mals, 'twas my father's mother with a similar cruiser. And she put all those horses through their paces on the open road... Very evocative, you sentences. I would know your grandmother if she showed up outside the door today. :)

Thanks, all; about to post a dispatch before putting some more miles under the wheels. (Yup, soon I'll be lapsing into CB talk...breaker breaker 1-9....