I didn’t grow up taking a lot of “road trips” in the car. I was always kind of envious of my friends whose family just packed up their wood paneled station wagons with those hamburger looking plastic containers on the roofs and drove across the country destined to see the mountains or Grand Canyon or other amazing sites. Or those whose parents hitched up the old camper and headed out into the great ‘yonder.
Except I was in Girl Scouts and I hated camping. I was terrified of sleeping anywhere other than my own bed at night. And it’s not like my parents didn’t take us on vacations- it’s just that we flew places. My cousin likes to use the expression “had a silver spoon in my mouth”. My dad had his pilot’s license and a six-seater plane, so I belong to the small group of people who know what it’s like to go on vacation and fly into a small little town and land at an airplane that doesn’t have a runway… or a tower. To know the fear of seeing the pilot look to his left and say “all clear”… and look to his right and go “all clear” and then pretty much gun it… (I’m sure it’s much more technical than that… but to an eight year old- that’s what it felt like!)
One time… we flew into an airport way up north and apparently, the mayor was supposed to meet us to take us into town—except he didn’t make it. This was the early 90’s and there weren’t cell phones or Uber… there was no tower or employees at this grassy landing strip, so we ended up hitching a ride into town with a farmer. I remember sitting in the back of his pickup truck- with chickens!! To this day- that story still has me in fits of laughter. Silver spoon… my a$$!
It just goes to show that the grass is always greener on the other side….
Well… my parents are in their early 70’s and I know that those memories are more and more precious to me all the time. One of my most precious memories I have of my mom is about 10 years ago when just she and I traveled to New York City for a friend’s bridal shower. Being the third of four sister’s means that one-on-one time with mom has always been scarce… so this trip is the only time I’ve ever traveled alone with my mom. I know that someday, after my mom has passed, I’ll relish those memories and pictures I have even more.
My husband and I have five children and being business owners takes up a lot of our time (and money!). My youngest daughter just turned 11 and I’m more and more aware that the window of opportunity that I have with her– and all of the kids—is becoming smaller and smaller each and every day. I read somewhere that there are 940 weekends in the 18 years of your child’s life and every once in a while I get a little anxious about where all of them have gone.
Each year for Christmas, I make a point to give my children an “experience”. This is the main Christmas present and it’s predominant over other gifts. I started doing this because I started realizing a few years back that kids were getting lots of gifts from other people and they started to blend together for them… usually after a few weeks or months they didn’t even know who gave them what… and honestly- after a year- the gifts usually had no meaning what-so-ever. But whatever “experience” we gave them was something one-on-one that my husband and I would do with our kids that they hadn’t done before and it would be a good time to carve out some personalized time and create a memory that they would remember forever.
This year, I took my daughter Hailee on a road trip down to Tennessee- to Nashville. I picked that city because we had started watching the TV show Nashville together as “our show”. My intention was to take her on a tour of the places on the show (available through Viator.com). I figured we could drive down to Nashville (about a 9 hour drive), do the tour, spend the rest of the day in Nashville, and drive back the next day. Two hotel stays, Two drive days, and one day in the city.
Well, our plans changed a little as we went, as I waited too long to book the tour and it was sold out for the dates we wanted (during spring break), but we rolled with it, and we ended up exploring Kentucky as well. Since her birthday fell the week before we went, I added an extra experience on as her birthday present (underground Zip lining at the Louisville Mega Cavern and another night so mom didn’t get too tired with all the driving. This officially made it the longest road trip mom has ever done all by herself. All of my previous road trips have been done with my husband driving. I’ll note that less than 2 years ago, I had my spine fused and sitting for long periods of time can be really painful so I was terribly nervous for all of the driving. I was hoping that the acupuncture I have been doing for the last two months would prove to be useful- and thankfully- it did! Normally, I would have been in tears after 2 hours of driving, and I can honestly say, my leg didn’t start to hurt until my last day of driving… so that is a huge shout out to Lake Country Acupuncture.
I had a lot of time to just ponder the open road (about 1,400 miles actually)… so I took some notes on things to consider if you are taking a road trip any time soon.
- Road trip games are not over-rated- except it is almost impossible to find Alaska and Hawaii license plates. Also… I think it would be easier to get more states on the license plate game if all states were required to have front license plates. Just sayin’.
- That whole using the left lane only for passing and staying in the right hand lane for normal traffic- it kind of works.
- It’s best to start your souvenir collection at the start of your road trip, rather than while you are in state #3. Otherwise you’ll hear whining about why you don’t have a magnet from state’s #1 and #2. Luckily, we were going back through states #1 and #2, but it was a pain in the rear…
- Pay your tolls on time. I cannot stress this enough. I seem to miss one every. single. time.
- Paper maps. They simple are better than GPS. I love GPS… I really do… but sometimes you want to know where a city is in relationship to the entire state. And then you have to back out of the “route” and go searching. I should have purchased an Atlas or gotten a map before I left. Oh- and my 11 year old didn’t even know what an “atlas” was. Poor girl.
- Make your hotel reservations a head of time. I had my hotel reservations; but then I cancelled the first night- thinking I might drive more than I thought. I figured “oh- I’ll just find a place… no biggie.” Then I got tired (of course- it was right about the city I had the original reservation in) and there was NOTHING available. Drove another hour and kept looking… nothing… We ended up driving two more hours and found a crappy hotel room with a single bed… but at least we found something!
- Don’t be afraid to try someplace new. I had never been to the Eastern side of Kentucky, but I wanted to show Hailee some mountains. We found the highest waterfall in Kentucky (Yahoo Falls) and we climbed to the top and then to the bottom. Now that’s something she’ll remember forever (we have pics… so it happened!!)