"Daddy, it's time to wake up," says
Cameron as he peers into my sleeping bag to try and stir
"Good morning Cammy, did you sleep well?" I ask sleepily.
I open my eyes to see his luminous skeleton pyjamas bearing
down upon me.
"I've had a really long sleep," he says brightly. "Do you
know what Dad? I need to wear my skeleton pyjamas on that
different plane because otherwise I won't be able to sleep."
And so another day of Cameron's new obsession begins.
We have breakfast around the campfire.
It seems de-rigueur when camping North American style to
have a pit fire morning and evening so we comply; besides
we have no other way of cooking. It takes half an hour to
light the fire and a minute to heat the ready cooked sausage
and bacon; an inconvenient way to cook convenience food.
"Are we going on the airplane to England today?" asks Cameron.
"No Cam," replies Kirstie, "we're going in the car today."
"We are going on an airplane to England aren't we mum?"
"Yes Cam, in about six weeks time. Now eat your breakfast
"Will we have breakfast on that plane?"
"We're not going on an Air New Zealand one are we?"
"Is it a Virgin Cove one?"
"Yes sweetheart. It's a Virgin one. Now please eat your
Dad, this is like an Air New Zealand flight
Today is a driving day. We have
a few hundred miles of tarmac to cover today to get us close
to San Francisco for the weekend. So we head for the freeway
in our little blue rental car and play a few games to pass
the time as we drive.
"OK it's your turn Cameron," says MC Kirstie.
"I spy with my little eye something ginning with b."
"Is it a bum?" asks Matthew giggling.
"No, it's an Air New Zealand flight," says Cameron bringing
his round to an early and predictable end.
After an hour and a half we stop
to refuel, have a coffee and stretch our legs. I buy some
tangerine lozenges for the next leg of the journey. Little
orange sweets in an little old fashioned orange tin which
the boys start to fight over as soon as we get back in the
"I want the tin," asserts Matthew.
"No I want it," cries Cameron.
"But you've got a Mickey Mouse tin and a Minnie Mouse tin
so I need this one."
"I don't want Mickey. I want the orange one."
"You can't have it."
Kirstie wrests controls of the tin away from the fighting
boys and issues each a single lozenge to distract them from
the fray. The tiny tangerine shaped sweets pack the punch
of a dozen juicy fruits and silence the boys for a moment.
"These are nice," I say to Kirstie, "Where are they from?"
She looks closely at the tin. "Says here they're made in
"Are we going to England on an aeroplane?" asks Cameron.
"Yes Cameron, in six weeks time, remember?" replies Kirstie.
"And I'm going to sit next to you Mummy aren't I?"
"Yes if that's what you want."
"And will it have trays?"
"On that Virgin Cove flight?"
"It's not a Virgin Cove flight Cameron, it's actually a
Virgin flight," interrupts Matthew.
The fighting resumes until more lozenges are issued.
An oasis of refreshment on the way from the desert to the
Another hour and it's time to look
for some place for lunch. The kids spot somewhere and start
to sing a song to let us know, "The M Place, The M Place,
where everyone gets a toy." Cameron strains at his seat
belt to get out and both let us know they are 'really, really
hungry.' We'd never been into McDonalds with the boys before
this 'Big Trip' but somewhere on our travels standards slipped
and we succumbed. Amazingly it took only one visit for the
boys to pick up on the brand and become loyal advocates
for it; there really must be some brilliant marketeers at
work there. I'm still not keen on them but it has to be
said the kids really do love them and when you're on the
road they're fast, cheap, and always there, and you get
half an hours peace with your meal. Perhaps the 'M people'
have reeled me in too. We sit at a little plastic table,
drinking coffee and watching the boys play with their new
Lavaboy and Sharkgirl dolls. The new toys seem to make them
happier than their Happy Meals.
"I need a wee Mummy," says Cameron.
Kirstie looks pregnant and tired so I offer to deal with
this lunchtime routine.
"Come on Cameron, let mum have a rest and I'll take you,"
In the toilet cubicle Cameron chatters away.
"It's not like that toilet on the airplane is it Dad? You
can see under the doors in this one can't you? And the basin
is outside. And there's no little cups. And there's water
in it so you can hear the wees can't you Dad? You can't
hear them on the airplane toilet can you Dad?" I stand and
wait in silence, hoping no-one else comes in.
After lunch we continue our drive
North. The boys are more settled now and sit and play with
their K-nex while listening to a Disney CD for the last
leg of the day's journey.
"Look Mum, look what I've made," shouts Cameron above the
CD holding up a multicoloured assortment of randomly connected
pieces of K-nex.
"Oh lovely," says Kirstie without even looking.
"Is it an Air New Zealand flight?" asks Matthew who by now
has clocked his brother's obsession.
"Yes," says Cameron, "a little one. But it's not going to
England. The big one is going to England but it's not an
Air New Zealand flight."
"Is it a Virgin Cove one?"
"Yes and it's got trays and breakfast and headphones and
pillows and backpacks. Yellow ones. Will it have backpacks
"Yes sweetheart I think it will have backpacks."
"And this is the backpack, this yellow piece. See."
"Can I have a look Cameron?" asks Matthew reaching over
and grabbing the plastic.
"No leave it. It's mine."
"I'm only looking Cameron."
"NO. IT'S MINE."
"OWWW. Mum, Cameron hit me with his K-nex. DON'T DO THAT
CAMERON or I'll feed you to the bears."
Kirstie reaches for the lozenges once more. I dread to think
how another four weeks of road-tripping will affect the
With the lozenges in place I suggest
another game to help pass the final hour of the journey.
"Look guys we're nearly there now," I lie, "I need your
help to look for the hotel now." We've settled into a rhythm
of three days at primitive National Park campgrounds followed
by a night in a hotel or motel. It's a good combo and by
the fourth morning of camping everyone looks and smells
ready for a good wash and brush up. Kirstie relishes the
thought of a hot bath and I look forward to a night without
barbequing. The boys like the hotels too and after a brief
stay in a Holiday Inn Express in Los Angeles have become
loyal advocates for that brand too.
"Is it a Holiday Inn Express?" asks Matthew.
"Well, maybe," I say, "see if you can see one and we can
see if they have any rooms."
A few quiet minutes pass then Cameron bursts into song,
"The M Place, The M Place, where everyone gets a toy. Dad.
Dad. Can we stop? Can we stop?"
"No Cameron," says Matthew, "We're looking for a Holiday
Inn Express now."
"Like the one at Lost Angeles airport?" asks Cameron.
"Yes. With a swimming pool. And a TV."
"Yes with yogurt."
"We had yogurt on that Air New Zealand flight didn't we
We have a pretty good idea what Cameron wished for on his
We check into a motel and head
to the swimming pool to help release some of the boys' pent
up energy. After a long swim in which the boys play ferries,
towing each other between the Islands of Savaii, Upolu,
Manono and Namua, we head back to the room to wind down
for bed. Matthew spends thirty quiet minutes studiously
drawing and colouring his Happy Meal bag. Meanwhile Cameron
spends five unsupervised minutes drawing on the bedclothes
and table. We catch him before the damage is too great and
redirect him to a blank piece of paper. Kirstie and I enjoy
ten minutes peace before the bedtime routine.
"Ta dah" sings Cameron announcing the completion of his
work and doing a playful somersault off the bed and onto
"What's that you've drawn sweetheart?" asks Kirstie looking
at the big red squiggle that fills the page.
"This is a very quick Air New Zealand flight. The one that
we go'd on with yellow backpacks," he explains.
"That's beautiful Cameron. Time for bed now."
My little skeleton friend
The day ends as the day began with
a pair of skeleton pyjamas crawling over me. "Stop Dad,
Stop Dad," squeals Cameron, "stop tickling me." I relent
for a moment until the creases of laughter on his face subside
and then begin the attack once more.
"Want to go to bed Dad. I'm tired. I'm tired," he pleads.
He looks ready so I pick him up and place his head on the
pillow. I cover his pyjama bones with a blanket, pass him
his bottle of milk and give him a kiss on his forehead.
"Goodnight sweetheart, sleep tight."
He reaches up grabs my hair and softly moves my head around
to give me a series of little soft kisses; first on the
forehead, then one on each cheek, one on each ear, one on
my chin and finally one on the nose. He relaxes back onto
his pillow and tugs at his blanket.
"Dad, that different big plane to England will have blankets
on it won't it?"
I smile. "Yes Cammy, I'm sure it will have blankets on it."
"And Dad, when the pilot says it's nighttime you have to
go to sleep don't you?"
"That's right Cammy. And it's nighttime now isn't it?"
"Yes Dad. Night. Night." He closes his eyes with a squint
and sucks on his bottle.