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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Road Trips

by Casey Peterson (bio)

photo via tapathelic

In the past month I have taken two trips. On one, my son flew with me to Washington DC. The four-hour flight seemed unbelievably long, uncomfortable, and stressful. My travel office had made great arrangements for travel and lodging, yet travel was still crazy as I navigated the hurry-up-and-wait airport mentality. DC is amazing though, and we literally ran to see all the sites and attractions.

The second trip was decided when we noticed that the 4th of July week gave us the best chance of avoiding conflicts with camps of all kinds (i.e. sports, scouts, student council, etc.) My brother-in-law lives in Oklahoma, certainly a place not known as a destination the caliber of Washington DC from a tourist perspective. However, we decided a 2000 mile round-trip drive would be feasible. So we loaded the family for an old-fashioned road trip, resulting in a fabulous and memorable experience.

The trip was old-fashioned in the way that most of us remember getting in the car and going to visit family down long stretches of lonely highway. Thankfully, vehicles have evolved significantly to provide a little more interior room, quite a bit less exterior room, and features like DVD players, better acoustics than 8-track players could have dreamed of, and air-conditioning that doesn't come from rolled down windows.

We even traveled part of the way on historic Route 66 and took opportunities to stop at interesting museums, quaint little towns, and attractions like Dorothy's House in the land of Oz in Liberal, Kansas, supposedly the real home in the movie the Wizard of Oz. Though we had the DVD player, the majority of our time was spent in conversation and observation. Absent were the sibling fights I remember from my youth, and the time literally flew by. Simple sights like the state Four Corners; old town Albuquerque shops and restaurants; the river walk in Pueblo, Colorado; burger joints in Texas; Royal Gorge in Colorado; or a buffalo reserve in Oklahoma were fascinating rest stops. Even more informal sites like Navajo hogans, Texas cattle ranches and Kansas feedlots were interesting to see.

Spending over 30 hours driving seems ridiculous to many when flights are so much faster and convenient. However, my appreciation for different areas, experiencing and tasting different cultures, and going much more slowly along the way was fun. My favorite memory from the trip, though, was uninterrupted time spent with my family. We have been to funner places and more exotic destinations. Yet I was reminded of the simplicity of relationships, of details and of enjoyment. Seeing cousins in Oklahoma was enjoyable time spent mainly talking, swimming and eating. The lack of having to plan, hurry and spend was therapeutic and relaxing in so many ways.

As the trip wound down, conversation turned to where the next family vacation would be. Notable places like Disneyland that usually come up were absent. Instead, remote locations that would help complete "states visited" lists were discussed. I think the unspoken goal shared was that our family vacation once again be slow and simple.

Readers, what suggestions do you have that are simple, slow and make for a great road trip?

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