Orange County Road Trip: part two

03/13/2009 By Shawn Burns

We left Anaheim late in the afternoon, skipping Erin’s normal nap because she was having fun with grandma and her cousins and because we’re not stupid: Why waste naptime in the hotel when we could enjoy a blissful drive through L.A. that didn’t involve repeated demands for Finding Nemo?

Erin did sleep through most of the stupid Orange Crush traffic (on a Sunday? People are crazy. Where are you going? Stop going to my house.), but she woke up twice, dreamily:

“Big hug Mickey Mouse? Fun Disneyland? Hug?” Oh, dear child, I didn’t think you could be any more adorable.

“I love Elmo? I love Nemo? I love Marlin? I love Mickey Mouse? I love Daddy? I love Mommy?” I’m glad that we made the list, kid.

I wish I had dreams like hers. Although she was so sad when she woke up, knowing that Disneyland was retreating into the past, that grandma and Mickey hugs were done with, for now, that if I had been driving I might have turned the car around.

But I wasn’t driving. I made my pregnant wife drive through L.A. traffic. In fact, I made her drive the entire way home. Because I’m a feminist.

Erin eventually woke up for good just in time for a Denny’s dinner, during which she revealed even more hidden adorableness. When my sliders arrived, with their cellophane toothpicks embedded through the buns, Erin took one look at the plate and shouted “HAPPY CAKE TO YOU!!!!!”

She likes to think about birthdays.

She was so convinced that I was eating cake that Emily had to give her a piece of one of the buns just to calm her down.

“Here. Have some cake.”

She tasted it, then gave Emily one of her “what the hell, mom?” looks: “Bread?” I could hear her calling us both bastards under her breath.

After dinner Erin settled in with her borrowed portable DVD player and some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and just zoned for the rest of the way home.

Look, I know. Toddler! Zoning! Evil! It’s not like I made her eat a bunny.

Driving through Pacheco Pass we put on some Pink Floyd, because “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is the best night driving music ever written.

We arrived home just before 1am. Erin was passed out, victim of Dad’s playlist and the pulse of the tar road seams thunking gently under our tires. We got into bed and dreamt Orange County dreams.