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Bunny on Board

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A priest, a rabbi and a monk walk into a bar.

No. Wait. The other thing.

A toddler, a 9-month-old and a rabbit walk into a minivan for a cross-country road trip.

Yeah, that’s the one. It should be easier to keep my stories straight. Granted, they’re both jokes. But only one is the funny kind.

People shouted from the rooftops that this weeklong car ride with kids would be a disaster. Friends left no opening or opportunity unmet by their woeful warnings. We could be talking about anything, and the conversation would turn to my family’s pending doom.

I would say, “I’m thinking of dyeing my hair purple.” And a friend would respond, “Speaking of dying, did you know death by ears bleeding from children screaming for 10 consecutive hours is a real thing?”

I’d say, “Pass the eggrolls.” She’d say, “Eggroll your car off a cliff is what you’re gonna wanna do after being asked ‘Are we there yet?’ for the millionth time.”

I’d say, “Have you watched ‘Stranger Things’?” She’d say, “The strangest thing I’ve seen is you thinking driving cross-country with kids will be fun!”

But I did think it would be fun. OK, maybe not fun. But an adventure. And I like adventures. And this wasn’t meant to be a vacation. It was leaving the place where I became an adult. Where I created my career. Lived as a newlywed. Bought my first home. Had both my children. Even brought home a tiny bunny that would grow into an 18-pound haredevil. Leaving town to move to a new home deserved some sort of pomp and circumstance. It warranted a minivan rental and 3,000 miles’ worth of gasoline purchases.

As we drove out of the city, we hit thunderstorm after thunderstorm, the downpours cleansing us for a fresh start. And we drove on. Through desert. Through mountains. Through plains. We were blasted in a blinding sandstorm in Arizona. Received a speeding ticket in New Mexico. Got lost in Texas. And throughout it all, my almost-4-year-old and my 9-month-old were amazing. Perfect. Throughout it all, the kids were phenomenal.

It’s the bunny who brought us down.

Pig, the 18-pound Flemish giant, got all the attention, bells and whistles as we drove across this great nation — a lagomorph traveling in the lap of luxury. I bought him a travel crate for inside the car, a metal hexagon to run around in outside during long stops and a backpack to carry him in if we opted to take a hike or bring him inside a restaurant. (Pig was a big hit at Dairy Queen.) But the one thing I hadn’t considered was staying in hotels.

After sneaking in Pig to each hotel room in the small backpack carrier, he was released to hop to his heart’s content. We didn’t want to leave the lagomorph in the tiny travel cage overnight, not when he is used to running free. Only one problem: Pig doesn’t just jump; he gnaws.

They say you develop mom ears when you have a baby. So sensitive you become to their cries and coos that you can easily be woken from the deepest of sleeps by the slightest sound they make. Apparently, the same can be said of rabbit owners. Our first night, I averaged 15 minutes of sleep between being awoken by the sound of long teeth on baseboards. I’d jump out of bed, remove Pig from the delicious-looking wood and go back to sleep. Fifteen minutes later, we’d be at it again. In Texas, the rabbit discovered his new favorite pastime: playing keep-away. He’d go under the beds and run from every attempt to woo him. We hit the road over an hour late that morning.

In Louisiana, the humidity was so high that the mirrors were fogged and the walls of the hotel were dripping. The floor was soaked, causing Pig to flip-flop as he tried to hop. It was hilarious, like watching Andre the Giant ice-skate for the first time. But Pig had his revenge when we had to clean his wet fur off the floor all night long. Each new hotel became a rabbit rumpus room. Each night had new challenges.

Driving across the country can be exhausting. Driving across the country with kids can be difficult. But driving across the country with a rabbit will make you want to eggroll your car off a cliff.

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