Guest Writer Steve Monz, Afternoons on Cool 101.3
It’s almost time for Summer vacations. A chance to unplug from the business and school worlds and spend time exploring the planet with our families.
When I was a kid Mom and Dad would load us up in the station wagon with no seatbelts and drive to Florida. One year it was Disney, another year it was Sea World and other times it was to see Grandma in St. Augustine. The car ride was horrible. Rolling around in the back with the luggage fighting with my sister and no air conditioning. The most exciting thing about the journey was reading the billboards for South of Border. Only to get there and be disappointed as dad drove right past. And the only thing worse than the drive to Florida, was the drive home from Florida. I’ve always heard the saying it’s all about the journey and not the destination. Another one of those sayings fabricated to make us appreciate the mundane task of getting from one faraway place to another. I didn’t think I ever wanted to put my kids through that.
But low and behold times have changed. No more rolling around in the back playing I spy for 400 miles. Kids today have in car movies, I-phones and every comfort of home to keep them occupied. We made several long drives that way during our summer vacations. Everyone was content but I’m not sure we truly experienced what they call “The Journey”.
A couple of years ago I came up with the crazy idea to take my two children and drive cross country. It has always been a bucket list item for me. A two week journey from Plymouth Massachusetts to San Francisco and back. Stops in Niagara Falls, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, St. Louis, Pennsylvania and then back to Plymouth. Everyone told me I was nuts. “Who wants to do that much driving?” Or “14 days in car with two kids?” Were there times when I was about to lose my mind? Yes. Was I thrilled to finally get home and sleep in my own bed (We camped our way across America) You bet I was. Each day was all about how long until we get to our next stop. “Are we there yet” even came from my mouth.
But many years later one thing stands out. We talk about that trip all the time. “Dad, remember when we saw the 100 foot Jolly Green Giant in Minnesota?” or “Remember the prairie dogs in New Mexico?” Or my favorite, “Remember when we had to take shelter in the campground office because there was a tornado warning?” Yeah, good times. Those were all things that we never planned for but experienced along the way. Some cool, some cute and some a little thrilling. Like getting soaked under Niagara Falls. We talk about that trip like it was yesterday.
I’m not going to lie and say it was all rainbows and puppies across the United States and back. We saw road rage, accidents and drove along the edge of a cliff in California that quite frankly required a change of shorts. All part of the experience. At the end of the day the trip satisfied by bucket list urge to see the country but also taught my children about meeting new people and trying new things. I encouraged them to try cheese curds in Wisconsin, Dungeness Crab in San Francisco and BBQ in St Louis. We saw Area 51, drove on the musical highway and cruised historic route 66.
In the end, the Journey was what it was all about. It is difficult for us to pick a favorite destination. It truly was just being together and wondering who or what we were going to encounter next. I’d love to do it again. But as the kids and I get older time becomes more difficult to control. I can only hope that one day they continue the tradition and take their children on “The Journey” and create memories of their own. And in the end, life is “The Journey”.
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