Thanksgiving was always the holiday that we drove from CT to northern NJ to spend time with my parents. It was a three-hour trip in those days and with the three girls it was even a longer journey of “Are we there yet? “ and “I have to go to the potty!” and a few other gems that made the trip unusually long.

We owned a 1976 Plymouth Volare station wagon in those days. Sort of like an SUV that had been squashed from the top down, and since it was getting on in years when we took this particular trip we always prayed that it would keep running. (As a matter of fact, we did that with a lot of our vehicles!)

So we are driving up the Merritt Parkway when all of a sudden the car dies! It was a standard transmission (yes, I know how to drive one) and the car just dropped dead! No cell phones in those days, so we were lucky enough to have a cop see us and took us all to the police station in Harrison, NY.

Now I was always famous for making the squash pies from scratch for the holiday dinners and so we took the pies with us to the police station. It was Thanksgiving Day and we were at least two hours from my parent’s house. We called my dad to give him the news and then he had to drive all the way up to Harrison to get us. Since it was a holiday weekend, the car wouldn’t get fixed until that next Monday if we were lucky, so the police had it towed to wherever they could find who would take it and we waited for my father to come and get us.

Meanwhile, my mother’s delicious turkey dinner was getting drier by the second and it wouldn’t be for another four hours that we would finally arrive at her house. With no restaurants in the area open and three kids getting really hungry really fast, our Thanksgiving Dinner became the two squash pies that were supposed to be dessert! To this day, every time I go down the parkway and see that sign for Harrison, I remember the trip on that Thanksgiving Day. I remember the $400 car repair and the kids eating the squash pie like there was no tomorrow.

But that my dear friends were not the most memorable of all road trips we ever took!

No, no… that was a trip that we took to North Carolina one year! That was the year of the potty seat! That was the year that my oldest daughter, Lynn, had just been successfully potty trained and I wasn’t willing to go back to diapers for this trip. So, what did we do? We still had the Volare wagon and we put her potty seat in the way back part of it. We figured that this was a precautionary measure in case we couldn’t stop and the kid had to “go!”

And “go” she did!

About halfway through the trip (all 16 hours of it), she had to go and we were nowhere near a rest area. So we stopped the car and I helped her out of her seat belt (yes, at two and a half kids were not in car seats, the were strapped in as adults) and I helped her into the “way back” so she could do her deed.

Well…. The next thing we know is that she dumped a load…. If you catch my drift! And since it was April, and still not warm enough to open windows, the smell of that little girl’s poop was beyond belief! My husband and I couldn’t believe the stench! And there was Lynn… smiling for doing such a good job and we had nowhere to dump the potty! I guess that there is a saying that your own shit doesn’t smell that bad, but other people’s is repulsive. I can tell you that my husband and I held our noses for at least 20 miles until we found a rest stop to dispose of the “deed.” It was quite a memorable trip to North Carolina.

So I guess my advice to traveling parents with recently potty-trained toddlers would be this…

BRING A SCENTED GARBAGE BAG TO WRAP THE POTTY CHAIR IN IF THE KID TAKES A DUMP!

That little bit of advice would have kept my husband and I from gagging for twenty or so miles. Just keep it tucked in the glove compartment for dirty diapers, potty seats, throw up parties, or whatever. It could save your olfactory nerves from a lot of damage!

Love ya Lynn!

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