This morning, my husband woke up, looked at me, and said, “Do you want to go to Charlottesville?” Charlottesville is about two and a half or three hours away from where we live. So, what he was really suggesting was quite clear: ROAD TRIP!!
I’m a big fan of road trips. I love going to a new place, or to a place that’s not really “new” to me, but that remains unexplored. I love traveling there via car. I love taking the more scenic and roundabout ways to get there. In Texas, which is where both my husband and I are from, road trips are a big part of life. Most things are pretty spread out, and you wouldn’t even think twice about traveling three or four hours to get from one location to another. We used to road trip all the time. Back then, we were young and a lot more spontaneous. We didn’t have a child, so we didn’t have as many responsibilities or schedules as we do now. We did have a dog — my much-loved and very-missed Springer, Tex — but he loved going in the car. We would load him up and hit the road at a moment’s notice.
I think we have become a bit lazy and spoiled during our Virginia years. Now, if we have to travel even twenty or thirty minutes from our home, we complain about how “It’s soooooo far away and takes sooooooo long to get there.” I know. We have become a bit pathetic in our old age. In our defense, Northern Virginia has horrible traffic. Traveling to a place that is supposed to be thirty minutes from home can sometimes take forty-five minutes. Sometimes, it can take an hour. Also, there are a lot of really crummy and aggressive drivers in this area of the country. Everyone seems to be in a big hurry all the time, and they don’t mind running right over you to be the first person to get to that next red light down the road.
Traveling by car isn’t nearly as fun or carefree when you feel like you’re traveling right into the danger zone. It becomes a stressful and sometimes frightening experience. You can control your own car and your own actions. But you can’t control the crazy person who is road-raging away in the car next to yours. When you multiply that person by a gazillion, you realize you are surrounded by crazy, and you just feel like giving up. And staying home. With the doors and windows locked.
Today, we made the decision to put our cares on hold, to forget our responsibilities for the day, and to hit the highways and byways of Virginia. We took the roads less traveled, winding through beautiful mountains showing their autumn color and little towns that were already starting to decorate for the Christmas holiday. Since it’s the middle of a holiday weekend, traffic was fairly light. In Texas, we might have gone hours without seeing another car, depending on exactly where we were. That didn’t happen today, but we went several minutes at a time without encountering our fellow motorists. There were tiny little stretches where we could pretend we were the only intrepid explorers in our corner of the universe.
We stopped off at cute little country stores to do some Christmas shopping. We detoured for soft serve ice cream. We paused along the way to hunt for Pokemon. We admired the beautiful state in which we live. The day was cloudy and a bit gray, but with sunshine peeking through every now and again. The fall colors around us seemed so vibrant and bright, and the clouds made the most amazing designs in the sky. There were piles and piles of moody, gray-blue clouds. They were fantastic with the sunlight dancing through them. We saw barns that were tumbling down and covered with vines. We saw neatly kept farms with perfect, white fences and cows grazing in the fields. We told jokes and funny stories. We listened to favorite songs. Sometimes, we even sang along.
It was a meandering kind of day. Sure, we set out this morning with a plan and a schedule in mind. And yet, no one seemed particularly upset when our schedule somehow fell by the wayside mere hours into our trip. As the sun began to set and we turned our car toward home, where we knew two hungry pups were waiting for their overdue dinner, my husband jokingly commented that we spent too much time “dicking around”. Next time, he said, we needed to be more focussed on getting to our final destination so that we have more time to look around.
It’s a good thought. But the next time we head out on a road trip, we will do the same thing we did today. We will detour and slow down and wander around a bit aimlessly. We will stop for snacks and ice cream and interesting little stores on the side of the road. We will spend time staring at the scenery and taking pictures. In short, we will “dick” around. Every single time. He knows this, as do I. And, no matter what he says, I know he doesn’t mind in the least. With a road trip, the point really isn’t your final destination. It’s the journey. Today, we did more than zip from Point A to Point B. Today, we took our time. And that’s the most precious gift of all.