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A long winding road

Certainly, travel is more than seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

-- Miriam Beard

I absolutely love taking road trips. Suggest one and I’m there. And now that my children are busy with their own activities much of the time, road trips are something my husband and I find especially enjoyable when our schedules allow.

After a number of fits and starts, we have discovered a routine that works for us. My husband, for example, is especially good at allowing adequate time to travel at a reasonable pace and arriving in a timely manner. I’ve made him, therefore, Tour Director. He sets the schedule and tells me to be ready 30 minutes earlier than necessary so he can be assured we’ll leave on time. He can’t stand waiting in the car and I hate to be hurried or stressed at the onset of a trip, so I leave the scheduling to him and we head out on a good note.

I am the organizer. I clean out the car, fill the tank, make certain our car’s emergency supplies are packed, make reservations if necessary, and get the coffee, snacks and directions placed up front for easy access. He’s great at packing so I gather our clothes and he makes it all fit with aplomb.

We have learned to compromise. He likes the car temperature cooler than I do, so I bring along a blanket to cover my legs. He loves bluegrass and I like it for about 10 minutes. I cheerfully listen at the start of each trip before we change over to the ‘70s station. We can both sing along with the Beatles and feel fine.

I have yet to find a destination more beautiful than Whidbey Island, but I get a rush of excitement when we head down our road and take aim for the highway. I like looking at scenery. And reading. My husband zeros in on wildlife. He likes driving and thinking his own thoughts while I take short naps. I like resting my hand on his while he shifts. He likes talking about projects we can do together.

Occasionally we vacillate when deciding where to stop for a bite to eat. That’s because my husband likes to put some miles under his belt. Heaven forbid we make a “quick stop” on our way out of town. He’s a man on a mission, at times.

But turnout spots and historical markers are A-OK. So are extended conversations with people we meet or changes in course when we discover an enticing location. So are moments of complete quiet between the two of us. Simple companionship is a gift to be experienced.

One of the best gifts of a road trip is the way conversation can happen because you are away from your routine stresses. There is privacy and time to discuss things that worry you, hopes you may be quietly entertaining, strategies you can bounce off each other.

The other gift is renewed energy for things that matter to you upon returning home. Seeing how others live offers the gift of perspective and can give you new insight and manageability for issues needing your attention.

Road trips resemble my experiences with faith. It is in all ways one big adventure. God provides an amazing road map and volunteers to be Tour Director if I will have Him. Oh, there are detours. Stops and starts. Collisions and wrong turns. Skids and jumps. Thrill and worry. There are also fellow travelers to meet and with whom I can compare travel experiences. There are docents who will guide and instruct. There is a world to fill me with awe and a partner to travel beside.

It’s a road trip worth taking, for the love and adventure and deep new ideas about life that will inevitably result. Come along for the ride!

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