This past weekend, Jason and I attempted our first overnight trip as a family. I spent weeks anticipating it, days thinking about packing for it and hours actually packing for it, and I could barely contain my excitement when, an hour after the absolute latest we had planned to leave, we were all packed nicely in the car - Jason, Noam, Riley, Millie and me. We were off to Newport, Rhode Island. We'd never been before, and I thought it looked like a charming town we could visit for a day or two that was within a reasonable driving distance for us. Google Maps told us it'd take 3.5 hours. Google Maps does not have a baby.
The drive itself was not terrible considering what we had going on. We stopped several times - to get gas, to feed Noam, to eat, to change Noam, to let the dogs out, to calm Noam - and finally found ourselves arriving in Newport six hours after we left. Google Maps should have Baby Mode.
Since we arrived late in the afternoon, we checked in at the Vanderbilt Grace, dropped off our stuff and our dogs, and headed straight to the Cliff Walk, a walk along, yes, cliffs, to view both the ocean and the mansions of Newport. It was chilly and windy but the walk was incredibly beautiful and, as we looked out along the horizon - at the choppy sea and golden-dusted shoreline houses - during the sunset, I was so content that we had made the journey and chosen Newport for our first, albeit short, family vacation.
We drove back to the hotel after the walk to get ready for dinner - I had made a 6:30 reservation so we wouldn't have Noam up too late - and that's when the vacation took a strange turn. As we entered the room, Millie began to shriek. She shrieked as if she was in pain, the loudest shriek I'd ever heard, and wouldn't stop.
We thought it was a fluke, though, and left for dinner. She's our indestructo-dog, and there was nothing in the hotel she could've used to hurt herself. Physically, she looked fine.
Dinner at the White Horse Tavern was incredible and Noam was well-behaved the whole time. I nursed him while enjoying a glass of champagne and lobster and it was pretty much the perfect way to end a somewhat stressful day. We took a leisurely stroll through Newport afterward and, despite the frigid temperatures, we both had ice cream for dessert.
We arrived back at the hotel to find Millie's shrieking persisting. Jason took her outside and I could hear her shrieks from inside the room. I thought for certain we were going to be asked to leave. They didn't ask. And for the rest of the evening, every time she moved, it seemed, she shrieked. I cried a little and barely slept. What were we going to do?
The next morning, Millie was still acting super weird but shrieking a little less. Then, as Jason was in the bathroom showering, she seemed to be upset that he was gone. I walked over to the bathroom and as I opened the door, Millie jumped off the bed (I had one of those aha! gotcha! moments as if I'd just caught Millie in a massive lie) and walked over to Jason as if nothing happened. Confused because we had determined she was hurt and had already chosen the 24/7 animal hospital to visit, we debated next steps. Should we explore Newport more like we planned to do? Should we leave like we had decided last night we needed to do?
We ended up taking the whole family on a long walk around Newport. We grabbed some food, and I devised a walking tour that hit some of the must-see things: the wharf, the Newport Tower, Touro Synagogue, a coffee shop and some historic homes. Millie walked it all with no incident. It was blissful.
But it was afternoon at this point and time to hit the road for our "3.5" hour drive home + hospital visit. We stopped at a nearby animal hospital - the only one open anywhere nearby - and Millie was seen by a doctor. Let me say: you never want to find yourself at an emergency animal hospital on a Sunday. I don't need to get into details but you can understand why, I'm sure. Jason took her in as I stayed in the car with Noam and Riley.
After a few hours and a bevy of text messages in the form of a play-by-play from Jason, Millie was given a clean bill of health. Nothing physically wrong. Nothing physically wrong. Nothing physically wrong. It appeared - and I'd say the diagnosis confirmed it - that Millie had faked being injured when she decided this vacation just wasn't for her. Whether or not she was conscious of what she was doing, of course, remains to be verified. But she was completely fine. We didn't know whether to be angry or impressed, but we hit the road again.
Five hours later, we arrived back in Hoboken. We unpacked the car, took showers to wash off the smell of disappointment and anesthetic, and headed to bed. All's well that ends well, I guess.
Did I mention we left the stroller at the hotel?