My husband and I returned last night from a little road trip. Well, not a little road trip. In fact, we drove 4,900 miles.
Please wait a while before asking me to get back in my car.
Now that I’m back, I am doing some reflecting. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” so I’m spending some time thinking about what I’ve just experienced. Writing about it helps in that process.
Here are a few observations:
Getting away can be helpful. We were starting to be too preoccupied with a few of our problems. The grey and gloom of winter, combined with a few months of some medical s**t had made us start to see things in a negative light. Getting away changed our focus. We thought about people other than ourselves. We saw blue sky and felt warm temperature, and we remembered that we’d someday have those again. We saw spectacularly beautiful sights – beauty is always solace and grace for a soul.
We saw some rather plain sights, too, which made us remember that where we live is pretty wonderful.
It would have been lonely to just sightsee. We loved that we had some days to ourselves to explore, but spending a few nights with people was pretty great, too. There’s something good about being on the receiving end, not being in charge, learning to be flexible. We had good conversation, comfortable beds, nice tours of local sites. And we connected differently with the people that we stayed with because we were on their turf instead of ours. Friends, family? These relationships are great gifts worth nurturing, cultivating, holding on to. I love to travel to sightsee, but I’m glad we could spend time with good people, too.
There were pleasant surprises when we slowed down. It’s easy to be destination-focused when you look at a map and just want to get to point B from point A. On our third day we weren’t in a huge hurry, so when we started seeing flocks of hundreds of birds overhead, we realized we might be somewhere important (in the bird world) and in the middle of something good. So we stopped, chatted with locals, and learned we were witnessing the great Sand Hill Crane Migration. We made a phone call to the local Audubon center to find out just where we could drive for a good view of the nearly 140,000 birds that were in the area that day. 80% of the world’s Sand Hill Cranes (about 650,000 birds) will migrate through the Nebraska flyway this spring. And we were there to see part of the aggregation. If you are a regular reader, you might know that I am enchanted by cranes, as we have a pair that hangs out in the land behind our house. So to watch cranes ( and snow geese) congregate was pretty wonderful. Yes, we made horrible driving distance that day, but taking that little sidetrip was one of our highlights. Watch 18 seconds here
One other example: thankfully we were driving slowly on a road without traffic when this guy flew down from a nearby tree. We were able to stop and watch him, long enough to take this picture.
We didn’t need half the stuff we brought. It’s always hard to know what to bring. We knew we’d need stuff for a variety of activities and a variety of temperatures. But truly, we overpacked. Did I really need six pairs of shoes? ( uhh… no.) Dave pretty much wore the same three sets of clothes the entire time. There are washers and dryers in people’s houses, in hotels. We brought about 30 lbs of dogfood, but our dog was adjusting to new places every night or two so he didn’t feel like eating. ( As if we’d forgotten there are grocery stores?) We spent more time re-arranging the excess items in our car than actually using them.
And here’s a revelation: we lived just fine for three weeks with half of the items that fit in about three suitcases and a few extra containers and bags in our car. So why , really, do we need all the stuff that we own?
I’ll stop here but add more in the next few days, as there is too much for one post. I’ll write about our national parks, because they are wonderful. And another post, perhaps, about traveling companions, as in my husband, who is great. And maybe another about spending time with one’s grown children. Until then, here are a few pictures from our trip.