Monday, July 10, 2017

Totally Unprepared Road Warrior

We drove straight to the beach. The kids piled out of the minivan and ran into the ocean. No bathing suits. No towels. Just sheer excitement and a hell yeah we drove a billion hours to get here we are going to jump in right away kind of attitude.



We arrived three hours too early to check into our rental house, so we eventually found a public bathroom to change out of our wet clothes from our spontaneous ocean dive and into our bathing suits. But nobody remembered to pack towels, so we drove to the nearest gift shop. I searched for the cheapest towels in the shop. I found some for $6.99 a towel. They weren't the most colorful but they would dry us off, I hoped. 

The towels did indeed dry off the kids as they got out of the ocean. But they were also the kind of inexpensive towels that left little bits of cheap terrycloth all over after patting dry. No need to wonder which kid was mine on the beach....not the one with the bright orange rash guard, nope mine was the one with little bits of blue terrycloth sticking to his wet/dry skin. 

Who drives a billion hours to get to the beach and forgets to pack towels?  This experienced road tripper, that's who.



That story is from last year's road trip. 

I leave tomorrow for this year's epic journey across a few states. I'm feeling nervous because I'm not packed and my plans are loose. But then I think about how unprepared I was last year, and really every year, and how much fun we've ended up having.

If there is one thing I've learned after driving thousands and thousands of miles with my four children over the last decade, it's that road trips are the best of times and the worst of times and make for the MOST INCREDIBLE MEMORIES THAT LAST A LIFETIME AND MAKE THE GREATEST STORIES.

Forgetting the towels is one thing, driving through Georgia in a minivan with no air conditioning is a whole other thing.  But yeah, I did that too. It was so hot, but funny and ridiculous and we survived with some funny stories.

One year we were (okay, me, I was!) obsessed with The Sound of Music. We watched the movie and sang the songs through six states. My motto if anything went wrong was "what would Maria do?" The answer was usually sing a song and feel better, so that's what we (I) did.

A lot of times I forget to plan beyond the destination. Like the time my goal was Graceland. After we did the tour, my kids asked "now what?" and I said "I have no idea."

One year I didn't really have a plan of where or what we were doing, but I made T-shirts for everyone. Priorities! 



Up until last year, I didn't use my phone or even a navigator thing-y. Nope, I looked up the routes on my laptop and wrote it out on whatever I had handy the night before, usually paper plates. That sounds so old school but remember using maps?! I mean what a lost art. Maybe I'll go old school and use paper maps one year. 

Over the years, we have collected maps; had countless McDonald's fries and milkshakes; spontaneously stopped at the birth places/museums of former presidents and inspiring people like Helen Keller and Martin Luther King Jr.; we've stumbled upon amazing art exhibits and fun free concerts in parks; we took goofy pictures everywhere with state signs and different props; bought peaches every year from our favorite fruit stand in Alabama; seen sunrises and sunsets over mountains and oceans and highways that are simply unforgettable. 

We have been road trippin and finding silly photo ops for forever. This picture is pre-Wade.

My favorite place that sadly closed down after a million years. SOOOOOO glad we stopped several times over the summers. When in doubt, stop and experience...that's my motto on road trips.

We always look for the genie.



I LOVE tours.







We've visited family and stayed connected to people and places that help tell the story of who we are. We've laughed over and over and fought with each other, and laughed again. We've learned so much about our country and people and ourselves.






Looking through old pictures and memories I found this from 2015 and it is the perfect reminder of WHY I keep doing this and why I hope I always will:

"Hitting the road with no real plans, a minivan full of kids and a heart wide open helped me be less afraid.

This road trip wasn't full of fairy tale endings, monorails, parades or fairy dust--it wasn't Disney World. 


Instead it was a real world adventure that connected my kids and me to pop icons, civil rights leaders, inspirational women and political leaders and cousins and family members, and a region that has a complicated heritage, and the idea of slowing down and listening and learning and paying attention, making the most of wrong turns and hitting the open road, and it connected us to each other."



I'm completely unpacked and unprepared, but here we go. 
We leave tomorrow for THE summer road trip.

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