We left for Philly in the dark, carefully looking for black ice as we walked to the car and then shivering inside it while it warmed up. Our suitcases were packed for the adventure ahead—2,300 miles by air to Phoenix with more miles by car and foot, to Tucson, Sierra Vista, Sedona, Williams, Grand Canyon, Flagstaff and back to Phoenix.
In the northeast, March comes in like a lion and then hops around from beast to beast, before exiting as a lamb. And while our first destination would be warm, unseasonably hot in fact in the high 80’s, we were told that it was the elevation in Arizona that would determine the temperatures as we roamed the state.
Next to swimming suits and rash guards, I packed warm hats and gloves. I stuffed extra down vests on top of flip-flops and sundresses. And along with the no-nonsense hiking shoes and flannel, I packed a delicate good-luck silver necklace.
But it wasn’t until I spoke with woman on the reservation line for the grand canyon—hoping to inch closer to the rim and out of the motel left for those foolish ones who booked just four months in advance--that I got serious about packing. We’d have a ten-minute walk from the village to our modest room.
“Bring a flashlight,” she said.
How had I not thought of that?
It’s my pharmaceutical bag, though, that I am proudest of. The contents are inspired by our trip last year, when we were caught with a sick kid and too few tablets of children’s Motrin. Doritos and apple juice go a long way in providing euphoric distraction, but do little for long-term fever reduction.
So this trip, I packed fresh packs of junior strength Motrin, Tylenol, Benadryl, Claritin, Pepto-Bismol, Band-Aids, Neosporin, eardrops. I even stuffed a tube of Pringles into a suitcase in case Doritos were hard to come by.
Granted, we were in Arizona, where Urgent Care centers seems a plentiful as saguaro cacti, but hard-earned lessons are difficult to shake, and no one was getting between my emergency medication bag and me.
The one thing I didn’t pack was adult strength Motrin—and the throbbing headache I had after the twelve-hour trip drove me to consider my options. I could chew up a handful of the grape flavored junior strength tablets, or grab a diet coke and see if the caffeine worked some magic.
In the interest of preserving those tablets, I drank the coke. Had they been cherry flavored, perhaps I’d eaten them, but they are precious cargo, and it was only a migraine.
Still, as with most things in parenting, the disasters you prepare for rarely happen and the blood usually flies while you’re microwaving hotdogs with your guard down. (See, The time she needed staples in her head because big sister slammed a doorknob…)
Freshly showered and dressed for dinner, I heard the voice of my eight year old from the back seat of the rental car as we drove past the secluded resorts and the brown low shrubs of Tucson’s Oro Valley.
“I have a bloody nose,” she said.
I checked my purse.
“Kleenex,” I said to myself. “How had I not packed a tissue?”