It wasn’t very long ago that road trips were commonplace in American family vacations.
When I was a kid, I remember summer trips meant getting in the car and driving for hours or even a couple of days to our final destination We played the billboard alphabet game, stopped and got snacks and sodas we weren’t normally allowed to have, and sometimes even stayed at a hotel or motel along the way. It wasn’t boring or an inconvenience. It was exciting and made the trip feel like an adventure.
Over the years, as we were able to afford plane tickets, and flights became more numerous and available, we started to fly more. I don’t know when it happened, but after a while, I couldn’t even imagine spending eight hours in a car to get somewhere we could fly in two. It became less of an adventure, and more about getting to that end point.
Two years ago my husband, Bryan, received a photography assignment to capture relics and images from Route 66 destinations in Arizona. He invited me to come along for a mini-trip, and sealed the deal by promising a Vegas getaway at the end. As we got closer to our trip, I started to worry. It had been so long since I had been on a road trip that involved “stopping along the way” that I feared I would be bored. I even considered not going as I knew this was a business trip for my husband and I didn’t want to be the bratty wife sitting in the car asking when we were leaving.
What happened was surprising – the trip was amazing!
We stayed in Flagstaff for two nights, and hit the East side of Route 66 the first day which had us going through “ghost towns” and ending in the Painted Desert. The second day we took the Western route, starting in Williams making a detour to see Meteor Crater (which had an 80’s style sign that would have had you BEGGING your parents to stop), and ending in Oatman (a mining town that involved driving almost literally on the edge of a cliff). We stopped about every 20-30 minutes in a new town. We drank Coke in a glass bottle, took funny pictures, and talked. When the hubby had to shoot, I played Monopoly and card games on my iPad. I felt like a kid again.
We got to stop and see places that we never would have seen before. We let the day take us where it wanted. We were hooked and started planning our next trip.
The way we, as a society, travel now, forces us to be isolated. We put in our earbuds, we focus on our laptops, and we get where we are going. We then fill our days from morning to night, not allowing for spontaneity. I encourage you to take one trip where you hit the road, stop at the little local pie shop that has painted signs along your drive, and TALK to your family. Play the alphabet billboard game, download an “icebreaker” questions app and quiz everyone in the car, or find some way to interact with your friends or family. You will find that the moments in the car, the ones you thought are not worth your time, are some of the ones you will cherish the most.
Adventure is out there!