MICHEL: Corralling family not easy in 5 vehicles

Published 11:45 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

Google mapped it as a three-hour-and-forty-minute drive. The owner of the beach condo claimed we could check in early. Google operators, Mr. Condo Owner, meet the Michels — proficient in the ability to complicate anything. 

Leading the caravan from our LaPlace home were my husband Michael, daughter Lauren, granddaughter Adeline and I. My daughter Monique, her husband Frank and their daughter Olivia were close behind.

Three vehicles followed theirs: my son Geoffrey and his wife Ashley, my daughter Elise, and finally my daughter Victoria.

Work schedules forced some to return home sooner than others, and I’d like to think that’s the only reason five automobiles were required for 11 people. 

The plan to get there as soon as possible disintegrated shortly after leaving our neighborhood with a phone call from Elise: “Victoria and I are going to stop in New Orleans for District Donuts.”

I translated our conversation for Michael, saying “In the past, Victoria and Elise have both driven to the beach alone. District has Elise’s favorite today, banana pudding donuts, so they’re stopping for breakfast. What would you like?”

A little later Elise called back. “Everything’s going to be fine,” she said. That assurance always means bad news. 

“It’s my fault for being in the wrong lane; I got over in time, but Victoria’s headed to Hattiesburg,” Elise said. “I offered to pull over and wait for her and she said for me to go on.”

I again translated the conversation for Michael, putting both girls in the best possible light. The rest of crumbling caravan took individual stops, yet managed to arrive in the same area for lunch.

Before Victoria joined us, Monique asked, “Can I call her ‘Hattie’ for the rest of the week?” We decided to base the answer on her expression when she entered the door.

Minutes later, ignoring the obvious sign, Frank forged ahead, “Hey, Hattie!” And even Victoria had to laugh. 

And the easy, early condo check-in?

While Michael went to get the keys, Frank and Geoffrey waited outside of the condo with all of the luggage, the girls lounged at the pool area and I called Michael on the way to the grocery, “Do you need anything?”

“I need the keys,” he said. “They’re making me wait to check-in. Their system is flawed.”

So is ours, I thought. Before I returned from the store, everything had been worked out, and Frank was given one of the two parking passes in the gated area because he was afraid the kayak on the top of his car would be stolen.

Monique was afraid it wouldn’t, but I’ll save that story for the day I admit to blaming Elise for moving things around in my car, then realizing I was in someone else’s; the night we couldn’t find Victoria’s car; and the mornings my granddaughters spent picking up tiny seashells, paper and even cigarette butts (ugh!) from the beach, putting them to their ears and saying, “I hear the ocean!”

Despite it all, I will press on and begin to plan next year’s beach trip. First on my list: check airplane flights.


Ronny Michel may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.