Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Travails of Traveling

Hi Bud,

Since I was a child, I loved car trips. Every year my parents would pile all of us into the car, in what seemed like the middle of the night, and leave for vacation. We thought leaving so early was half the fun and certainly a family ritual. The reality of that early start was -- once we were amazed that the whole town looked different at 4:00 a.m., and we were up only once a year that early, us kids would settle down with a blanket and a pillow in about, oh say, 30 minutes, and leave the driving to my parents. Literally, I was an adult before I realized you could leave for a trip at any other time of the day.

In my adult life, I have taken many a car trip - back east, north, around Europe, south and some west. Thousands of miles on different roads, seeing different things, is part of my trip memories. It's been years though, since I've climbed in the car for very long. It seems that with careers and responsbilities come the pressure of time and the necessity of getting there quickly, enjoying as much as you can in the limited time you have, and getting home to start the routine of life again. Don't get me wrong, plane travel is a marvel. And, in nearly every way, a big blessing. But in some real ways I have missed seeing the country side a mile at a time and enjoying the commaradarie of being with people for that time.

Last August my friends and I decided to take their 7 year old twins and go to Florida for Spring Break this week. Growing up, we didn't have spring break, and so it hasn't really been on my radar screen. But, I've heard so many people talk about going to Destin for Spring Break that that seemed like the destination. Well, to make a long story short, we decided on Alligator Point, East of Destin, more secluded and less "Spring Break" like. 7 year olds don't fit in that kind of a scene, and frankly, neither do we. After enormous research, we rented a house right on the beach.

Life has seemed hectic lately, and a week at the beach, a lesisurely car trip there and back, seemed just the ticket. The nature of the trip changed multiple times before we left and as it happened, another family with two small children joined us and a family we know from home, but staying a mile from us, brought a terrific 14 yrd old, yes, she is an anomaly, who is also with us, as well as my friend's parents who joined us from another state. There are 12 of us. Fortunately, we rented a home that accommodates us all really well.

What is it about trying to get out of town that is so crazy???!!! It gives one pause really. Any time you plan a trip, part of that trip is putting up with the exhausting effort of leaving town. Things often go awry even as you're getting ready. One trip to New York a friend tore her retina the day before we left and we stayed home as she endured surgery instead of doing Broadway. Last month I went for a week-end only to discover that my friend on that trip got strep throat the day we left and in our efforts to change our trip, we finally just put a mask on her and got on the plane. I just knew that car travel would be easier and much more relaxing. Well, that is a myth. The one good thing is no hard and fast time to leave and no security to pass through and everything you take doesn't HAVE to fit in those little bottles and be closed up in nice neat bags.

Just the same, my friend hurt her back 48 hrs before we left and once again threw everything into disarray. We decided on a number of scenarios between me driving the 7 year olds out and she flying with her husband, to me flying with her and....In the end, we poured her into the car, several hours after our 'set' leaving time, and drove away. Did I mention it was not 4 o'clock in the morning? It was 3 in the afternoon. The first day out, it didn't take that long before it was dark. I always seem to have a driving turn in the dark. I don't mind it really.

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