Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Less planning, more fun

It was a glorious fall day, warm, sunny and with only enough clouds in the sky to provide a lovely photographic backdrop. I was restless and determined to do something about it. When husband Richard staggered out about 7 a.m., groping for his first cup of coffee, I allowed him a sip or two, then asked him pointedly, “Wanna go somewhere?”

After looking startled for a moment, he realized what I meant, and with eyes twinkling, he quickly said, “Sure!”

Less than two hours later (including taking showers and eating a quick breakfast), we were on the road. Two hours!

Those who know how we usually agonize about packing and preparing the house will realize that’s a land-speed record. Our usual pre-travel process can take hours and hours, if not substantial chunks of several preceding days.

What to wear? Does the weather forecast there call for rain or wind or snow? Should we fix breakfast in the hotel (requiring supplies) or eat out? What are we going to do when we get wherever it is we’re going, and do we need to take anything special to do so?

All that deciding and then packing the selections can be so tiring and stressful, it takes some of the fun out of travel.

That’s frustrating, because there’s something special about just … going.

Saying, “I want to go somewhere,” and then going. Tossing everything you need into a backpack, locking the door and taking off for points unknown about 15 minutes after the decision was made.

That’s the essence of freedom, of youth and being happy and carefree.

We wanted that back. So, like an aging Peter Pan and Wendy, we went.

And for the first time in a long time, our travel felt spontaneous.

It really isn’t about the destination, you know. It truly is about getting there … together.

No phone (unless I turn the cell phone on). No computer. No chores. Nothing but the two of us. It’s such a gift.

Sure, sometimes we talk about serious stuff — health, the kids, global warming, the future.
Or we can choose to be quiet, or listen to music.

Sometimes, our chatter borders on nonsense. For instance, we saw a big, long, deluxe fifth-wheel RV being pulled by a commercial truck, the kind that would normally be hauling substantial cargo of some kind.

They didn’t seem to match.

Was the driver on vacation? If so, why use that kind of truck?

Hmmmm. Maybe he was delivering the RV. Maybe he was a retired truck driver who only felt comfortable in that kind of vehicle, or a chauffeur driving somebody important.

We spent about 20 minutes trying to solve the puzzle before acknowledging that we’d never know the answer, unless we and the rig stopped at the same time and place, and we got bold enough to ask (you bet I’d do it!).

But it was fun wondering.

In talking about our trip on the way home, we figured out some reasons why husband Richard so looks forward to traveling (me, too, of course):

• Now that I’m the primary driver, he’s forced to rest. But, finally, after all those years at the wheel, he can finally sightsee for himself. He loves to give me a running commentary about what he’s seeing.

• I’m his captive audience … with a steering wheel in my hand and a road to watch, yes, but with nothing else competing for my attention but traffic.

• When we chat in a car, my hearing-aid-wearing honey usually can hear me.

Back home again at the end of our 36-hour vacationette, we were tuckered out. After all, we’d gone about 600 miles in two days. And we’d had lots of activity in the middle.

But amazingly enough, travel felt young again. Our drop-of-the-hat, mini-trip had been a huge success. It hadn’t really mattered where we were going. We were together, just the two of us. Going someplace different.

Whee! Let’s do it again!

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