An extra cup of coffee on Saturday morning caused a detour off our day trip’s planned route and to the discovery of an added adventure.
A few weeks back, I wrote about dropping our car off for a pre-paid oil change that should have taken about an hour only to pick it up over a day later after multiple repairs resulting in a sizeable bill. Peter, frustrated by the added costs, complained, “We don’t even drive the car that much.” That’s the G-rated version of the quote.
With the car road-worthy once more, we decided to take it for an extended drive. We chose as our destination the National Museum of the US Air Force. Neither Peter or Philip had ever been to the museum which is just over two hours drive from our house. The museum, including parking, is free. We would only have to invest in a tank of gas.
We originally planned to go last week, but during my research I learned that the museum holds Family Day every third Saturday of the month. This weekend’s theme was Celebrate National Aviation Day, a holiday observed on Orville Wright’s birthday, August 19.
We left the house shortly after 7:00 am. Peter, having been up since before 5:00 am, drank one last cup of coffee before we hit the road. We each took a travel mug with us, but Peter drank both as we made our way south.
That’s why, despite having stopped at a rest area just north of Columbus and being only fifteen miles away from the museum, Peter needed to find some “facilities.” We exited I-675. There were signs on the interstate for many fast food restaurants, but I didn’t check to see what direction we needed to turn.
“I think we should turn right,” I suggested.
Referring to a slower-moving box truck that was on the exit ramp ahead of us, Peter said, “I don’t want to get stuck behind that truck.”
That fortuitous left turn took us past Community Park in Fairborn, Ohio. That’s when I saw the signs for the annual Fairborn Sweet Corn Festival. I could tell the city was expecting large crowds.
“Look, hon,” I piped up helpfully. “Porta-Potties.”
Peter was in the wrong lane to turn into the park and decided to give it until the next intersection before resorting to portable toilets. We pulled into a Speedway gas station a few blocks down the street.
While Peter went inside, I stood beside the car chatting with Philip. Our little man had contentedly watched the miles slip by and was still in a great mood. I was thinking about changing his diaper, but decided he could probably wait the until we got to the museum. I thought it best to avoid adding extra transitions to our trip.
While Philip and I waited, an employee of the gas station came outside for a smoke break. She greeted us warmly and began to chat with me. I discovered that she was supposed to be off today, but got called in. She in turn learned where we were from and where we were heading. When I told her we were going to the museum, she gave us direction from the station, a shorter route than returning to the interstate.
“Stop by and see us on your way back,” she said. “And you should go to the festival over at the park.”
We thanked her and continued on our way. Within minutes, we had arrived.
We started with the outdoor exhibits. Philip found someone’s lost hair band on the ground. He picked it up and used it as a fidget for the duration of our visit.
When we moved back indoors, Philip held onto my hand, dragging me through the displays. I usually couldn’t tell where he was headed. Fortunately, the museum wasn’t too crowded, so Philip and I could separate from Peter without losing sight of him.
Philip seemed to be enjoying the sights of the museum until it was time for a diaper change. Over the past few months, he seemed to be less fearful of public restrooms. In retrospect, I guess he was only less afraid of bathrooms that he had already been in. At the museum, he planted his feet, refusing to walk into the family restroom with me. I had to carry him in, and he cried the entire time. He continued crying even after we exited the restroom, and he wanted me to carry him. He finally settled enough to walk on his own, but he tensed up every time we walked past the bathrooms.
One thing that calmed him was the set of propellers hanging from the ceiling of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Their spinning had the same soothing effect of watching ceiling fans. Philip ignored many of the interactive displays in this section so he could keep an eye on the ceiling.
We had made it to the Vietnam-era aircraft when Philip started to show signs of fatigue. He cried when I took him away from an interactive touch screen display. He also wanted me to carry him. Even though one of the reasons we had decided to visit this day was the story time and craft project, Peter and I agreed to skip that and take a break in the car.
When we got to the car, I knew Philip needed another diaper change. He got upset and then just wanted to climb into his car seat, drink milk and play with one of his toys. He looked hot and tired.
After a few minutes, we were going to head back inside the museum to check out the Cold War Gallery. Philip burst into tears when I told him to put his toy down. Peter and I talked it over. We had been at the museum for over two hours. Peter and I knew we were tired from the walking and could only guess that Philip felt the same. Peter and I had also agreed that the museum had such dense displays that there would be no way to see it all in one visit.
“Let’s go to lunch and head home,” I said.
We put a still tearful Philip back in the car and headed toward the exit.
“Where do you want to eat?” Peter asked.
That’s when I had an inspiration.
“Let’s go to the Sweet Corn Festival,” was my response.
And we did. If it hadn’t been for the extra stop and wrong turn earlier that morning, we wouldn’t have known about Fairborn’s annual event. The ride to the park gave Philip a long enough break to enjoy the festival. We got to see belly dancing. We were there for the first round of the Chamber of Commerce’s corn eating contest. We saw a fire truck, SWAT vehicle and ambulance up close. We looked at various vendors and arts and crafts on display. There was even a kid’s area where Philip got to color.
We ate our lunch in the shade of a tree before heading back to the car and our drive home. Is “ironic” the right word to describe the fact that none of us had sweet corn?
Philip napped during our drive home and was ready to play in the backyard when we got there. Daddy and Mommy also could have used a nap, but we had to content ourselves from stretching our legs while Philip played with a toy airplane he got at the festival.
I think our first family day trip was a success. I believe will be returning to the Air Force museum again. Maybe we will time it so we can return to the sweet corn festival, too.