road tripping

April 2, 2013

040213kidsarches

040213stetsonshadow

road tripping

040213canyonlands

040213canyonlandssunset

photos:
1. arches national park, delicate arch
2. a cowboy’s first stetson, purchased in moab
3. north rim of the grand canyon
4. canyonlands
5. sunset at canyonlands

My son and husband hit the road today for Washington, DC, and oh how I wish I was with them. I will be visiting my daughter this weekend at her college, which I am happy about, but I wish we were both going with them to DC. I love vacation road trips with my family.

I am not sure how it is in the rest of the country, but here in southeastern Michigan, home of the Motorcity, we are all about being behind the wheel of our automobiles. Or maybe because it takes more time to drive from Ann Arbor to some parts of Michigan than it does to some parts of Florida, we think nothing of a 12-18 hour road trip.

My family has often driven to the warm sunshine of Florida for spring break. We have also driven to DC and Virginia. NYC is close enough that we considered driving, but the thought of dealing with NYC traffic was too scary, so we flew. (Insert Arrested Development’s Gob chicken dance hare– chaw chee chaw chee)

This year, with my daughter now away at school, we don’t have the same breaks. Family spring break road trips, all family spring break trips, are a thing of the past, My son is itching to be the age where he can take trips with just his friends, so I’m sure even divided spring break trips will soon end.

So I am dreaming about a summer family road trip. It is unclear if we will be able to coordinate our schedules for a family trip this summer. It will all depend on my daughter’s employment situation which, in my mind, is a priority. But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about it.

Some people will think I’m crazy, and they will be correct, but I love the driving part of a trip almost as much as I love the vacation itself. I love sharing a book together, via an audiobook, the way we used to when our kids would let us read to them every night before bed. I love it when I hear my kids unexpected bursts of laughing from the back of the car—while they watch a movie together with headphones on.

I remember driving in the early morning sun through the Rockies on I-70, which twists and turns through the towering mountains, as a river cascades down on one side. I remember feeling such incredible joy at traveling in the midsts of such beauty with my family right there with me.

Real talk- it is not all bliss. But you knew that. An argument ensues every time we have to choose a restaurant. The goal never seems to be eating at a restaurant you enjoy, the goal is getting to decide where we are going to eat that is not the place your sibling wants to eat, even if it is not the place where you really want to eat.

I remember at least one occasion where we pulled over at a rest stop and made one or the other kid get out of the car and told them to go be by themselves for awhile. And then we locked the car doors (stellar parenting skills right there). I’m sure the one who had been assaulted made smirking faces from the back seat window…

But really and truly, for the most part, the driving is great. And the fact that my kids are asking if we can drive out west again this summer, tells me they enjoy it too. I think because our lives are pretty stressful, that time with nothing to do but drive, or listen to an audio book, or watch a movie, to look out the window at the amazing landcape of this country, or just to process—this downtime in the car is kind of a luxury. And we are pretty good at planning car entertainment. We buy or rent movies before we go, we stock up on audiobooks and music, we make sure we have a car charger for electronic devices…not sure I would have done these trips in a pre-electronics age.

Two summers ago we drove to the Southwest: Zion, Bryce, Arches, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument and through the Rockies to get there. The summer before we did the Rockies, Tetons, Yellowstone and Dinosaur again. Oh such great trips. I’ll spare you the 4 hour slide show. It would be much better if you just go and see for yourself.

This year I would love to travel to Yosemite, San Francisco and maybe drive Highway 1 to Oregon to rendez-vous with my Seattle sister and her family. I think we would need to fly out and then rent a car to drive up the California coast. That would be a very long drive. We will see…

The worst part of driving, even worse than kids fighting in the car, is the drive back home. Oh Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois…or from the south, through Ohio…Gah! After awhile your fruited plains and amber waves of grain get really, really boring, especially after seeing those purple mountains’ majesty in Colorado, or Tennesee, or Pennsylvania. It is in these states that the media usually runs out, and where begins the stress over all of the work that faces us when we get home…

And still, I’ll take it. The team bonding power and shared discover of this vast and varied country of ours far outweighs the downsides of a long road trip.

And really, how much more time do I have with these people I love so much when we are just focused on each other and our shared experience?

The answer is at least 72 if we decide to drive to California, and back, this summer.

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