The monotony of travel

On Friday, I’ll be leaving town for two weeks.  It’s the same trip we make every summer.

It is one of the unanticipated downsides to moving here.  When we lived within a few hours of our parents and siblings, we took vacations every year.  Since moving here, we’ve used our vacation time and funds to visit our families.

Mount RushmoreAt first, we tried to invite them to come here, or plan joint trips.  That worked exactly once with each parental set, but at least we were able to visit the Grand Canyon and Mt. Rushmore before our parents decided we live too far away for them to travel here again.

So every year for almost a decade, sometimes more than once a year, we pile into the car and make the trip from Colorado to Maryland.  I love my family, but these trips are not vacations.  They’re visitations.

Yesterday, I spent hours selecting and putting audio books on hold.  Nearly a dozen of them.  Because there is nothing worse than driving 26 hours on route 70 without books.

Sometimes we drive straight through, not even stopping for the night.  By we, I mean my husband; I barely drive.  Sometimes we try to break the monotony by getting off the beaten path for at least part of the drive.

Rocky Ridge, home of Laura Ingalls WilderOne year we visited Rocky Ridge, the home Almanzo Wilder built for Laura Ingalls Wilder, and another time we stopped by the site of the Little House on the Prairie.  Well, my daughter and I toured Rocky Ridge; my husband and son walked the dogs.

Last year my husband and daughter visited the Grave Creek Mounds in WV while I walked the dog around the fence line.

Another year we stopped in Columbus, Ohio and saw a replica of the Santa Maria.  It was early Sunday morning, so we walked the dogs around the park while looking the ship.  It, like the Dunkin Donuts we were seeking, was closed on Sunday mornings.

The dogs may be a nuisance when we play tourist for a few hours, but I like having them with me when I arrive at my mom’s.  They give me a reason to go outside, away from the television which is always on.  Besides, I worry about Trixie dying if I leave her behind.  (She has cancer and sometimes refuses to eat when I’m away.)

On the road, they help me, too. Wherever you go, there you are.  I always volunteer to be the dog walker when we stop to eat.  I’d rather walk around than go from sitting in the car to sitting in a restaurant to sitting in the car again.

I also volunteer to stay in motel rooms while others eat or swim so the dogs don’t bark.  In the morning, I take them for a walk while my family eats breakfast.

I walk the dogs more away from home than I do when we’re at home, because it is a good excuse to be alone and active.  Honestly, I value the time alone more.

Walking is definitely beneficial.  Sitting in a car for 26 hours wreaks havoc on my crooked back, but the psychological effect of solitude and quiet restores me in a different way.  Walking the dogs makes me feel purposeful instead of anti-social.

St. Louis Gateway ArchEvery year we debate stopping at the St. Louis Arch, but we never have because my husband and I cannot agree on who will go up to the top with our daughter.  We both want to walk the dogs while the other goes inside.

I’m not sure if or where we’ll be stopping this year, but if you see a lady in black compression knee socks walking a dog, it’s probably me.

This post is part of a BlogHop at Generation Fabulous, where you can read tales of more Transformative Travel.

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23 thoughts on “The monotony of travel

  1. I know what you mean. I live very far from where I grew up and the remaining outposts of my family still reside. But you know what, when the parents are gone, you will wish you could all pile in the car and go visit them.

  2. WOW, THAT is a long drive. 26 hours. Holy cow. I agree with you, I could never make a trip that long without audiobooks. We have to have them for a 1 or 2-hour trip! Sounds like you’ve really got something there w/the dogs! Nice move. I do the same thing with our baby! “No, you go ahead to the bonfire, I’ll stay with the baby.” Then I get to read, listen to my audiobook on my iPod or sleep!

    • Yes! I love that about babies. They are the best reason ever to slow down and back out of too many commitments. Nobody needs to know that I would rather rock the baby and read my book than attend their party.

  3. I totally get your need for quiet time while on a road trip. I just went for a trip with my boys and I would stop the car for pictures a lot, simply because my knees were stiff. And I would definitely walk the dogs at the arch, as I do not like those kinds of heights.

  4. Ginger, what an innovative way to find solitude on those cross country road trips. I also seek solitude during family vacation. I can’t image driving that far, yet I spend my summers flying back across the Atlantic to spend time with family.

  5. The only answer to the arch question is you have to do it twice; once you go up with your daughter, once the hubs goes. Or, flip a coin.

    I think I spent most of my earlier vacation time 1) moving, 2) job-hunting, 3) visiting family. And I *do* love my family, and appreciate they are loving and supportive and most of the meanest or kookiest have passed away (yay, death!), but sometimes *I* want to go somewhere just because I want to go there. WIth or without family, with or without a partner or traveling companion. So in recent years, I have been taking vacations and spending them exploring places *I* want to see. And I love it.

  6. Oh, bless your heart, I know how you feel. Our vacations were always linked with visiting family, too, and we (my husband) often drove straight through from our home in Texas to wherever we were going. My back can’t take it anymore, either! His parents lived in Maryland, then Florida, and he has eight brothers scattered all over the US. We did manage to have a lot of fun and see so many awesome things in our country, though, and we couldn’t have afforded it without barging in on relatives. We did have a tiger salamander die while we were gone once. My son was devastated.

    • It sounds like you got to see quite a bit of the country, just visiting family. My husband and I are the only members of our families to have moved away. Everyone else stayed close to home.

  7. Hi Ginger! Have a wonderful visitation! I so appreciate your calling it that because even when you enjoy yourself you know that it is primarily about the family. Of course my mom and dad are both gone now and I have to admit it would be lovely to pay them a visitation if I could–so make the most of it–and have fun walking the dogs too :-)

  8. We just came back from visiting relatives and have been debating whether or not it’s an actual vacation. It doesn’t feel like a vacation, but it’s probably the only one we will take this year. I think I will start calling it a visitation. That makes more sense. I can also relate to wanting to be alone. After all of that togetherness I am exhausted. I mean, Tiny-Small and I even slept in the same bed so we were literally together for 24 hours a day and then visiting various relatives non-stop for four days. I think it will take me two weeks to recover, not to mention I got very little sleep!

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