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Road trip

Besides free food, no two words get me as excited as road trip.

From the time I was young, I loved to travel in the car. It may have something to do with the fact that I'm genetically pre-disposed to loving the open road. My great-grandfather, grandfather and father all have driven semis for a living. At 76 years old, my dad is still a full time truck driver.

He's living the dream. I often get phone calls from him, stating, "Pack your bags! We're moving. It is so beautiful here!" I feel a rush as he describes the scenery, or relays a story of the people he has met in his travels.

My brother didn't get this gene. He hates driving to Spring Valley for an errand. Now he is traveling to China on a regular basis, and I'm sure it's against his will.

At 19, my best friend and I hit the road Thelma and Louise style, and made a quick trip to Oklahoma to see friends. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. We were sleep deprived, young, silly and adventurous. The 2 a.m. renditions of singing (at top volume) the Spider-Man Song will forever be burned in my memory.

As far as I remember, we didn't shoot a rude trucker or fall in love with Brad Pitt, but we also didn't drive my Ford Ranger off of a cliff to avoid the law, so I guess our story ended happier than the movie did. We did, however, pet buffalos and get attacked by some wild goats at a petting zoo.

When my daughter graduated from eighth grade, my gift to her was a road trip to Tucson. My grandparents had done the same for me several years earlier.

Many times during the trip she said, "Mom, this is the best thing you could have ever given me." You have to remember, at this time in our lives, my attentions were always divided between work, the other children, being a mom, volunteer work, etc, so to have me as a captive audience and have my undivided attention was a gift to her. We had so much fun, stopping along the way and sight seeing.  

Imagine my excitement when a current employer announced she would have to make a trip to Tennessee. I flailed my arm in the air and volunteered enthusiastically to make the trip for her. It was almost seven hours one way, and I couldn't be happier. I told her I would use the time to be quiet, reflect, and think (something I don't have the time to do when I'm home).

To someone who isn't inclined to love an open highway, my enthusiasm seemed puzzling, but she conceded, gave me some gas money and sent me on my way. Despite the heat, I opened the sunroof and windows and cranked Hair Nation on the radio, which did much to transport me back to my wild, carefree days. My singing was loud and filled with passion, and thankfully lost in the roar of the wind as I sailed down the road.

During this time, I began thinking about people who don't like to travel. They get carsick, are frustrated by traffic, need to stop at rest areas frequently and dislike the whole process of getting from point A to point B. They whine like a toddler in a car seat, flinging their sippy cup in anger as they scream and fight and battle the confines of their safety device. Me? I'm like a golden retriever with my head out the window, tongue flapping in the wind, drooling all over the back seat windows.

In traveling through life, what kind of traveler are you? Do you see the blessings and the scenery? Can you pick out the wildlife at the tree line and thank God for their beauty and presence? Do you revel in the clouds and enjoy the warmth of the sunlight on your face? Do you imagine the lives of your fellow travelers and use your imagination to create stories of what their lives may be like?  

Maybe you don't look up from the pavement traveling beneath your tires. Maybe you see that deer as a potential hazard and curse its presence near the road for fear it will force you to make that midnight phone call to Jake at State Farm. Are the clouds you see black with rain? Does the sunlight hurt your eyes? Are the stories about your fellow travelers wrought with the idea that they are only on the road with you in order to cut you off and make your journey miserable?

I challenge you to reflect on your journey. Look in your side view mirror and analyze your face, your thoughts, your feelings and see if you are getting the most out of life. Take a moment. Put the sippy cup down. Turn up Hair Nation and rock on.

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