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.
At 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.
One 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. 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.
Every 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.