I’m brand-new to blogging, but so excited to do it for my next family vacation. It’ll be such a fun way to share experiences with family and friends. Plus, it’ll help us to remember more of the little details about the trip, the mundane, quirky, surprising, weird moments that tend to fade from memory unless documented in photos. My husband and I have the best time traveling together. I feel like we’re pretty good at embracing our circumstances, rather than feeling tied to an itinerary from which we’ll inevitably go off track.
One particularly vivid example that comes to mind happened a year and a half ago, during spring break. Towards the end of a not-so-wild week of car hunting and odd jobs around the house, we took off for Nate’s sister’s place in Iowa. We first drove to Shullsburg, WI, where Nate had located a used car we liked (and home of the amazing Shullsburger at the Water Street Pub–you should check it out if you’re ever in that neck of the woods!). We took both my car and his motorcycle so we could sell my car to his sister and then buy the newer one (mainly necessary in order for me to have a four-door instead of a two-door…thinking of that hoped-for baby to come eventually). Long story short, we purchased, but ended up with only the bike to carry us back to the car dealer on Saturday morning.
The forecast was extremely WRONG…no nice, warm spring day for a bike ride…oh no, it was 43 degrees when we left the family. Guess who didn’t have the thick liners for their coats? These two! Guess who only had sneakers rather than heavy-duty boots? This girl. We were freezing, especially once we hit the highway and really picked up speed, and even more so when the spitting rain began. I buried my hands in the back of Nate’s coat and tried to pray one by one for my nieces and nephews to distract myself from the biting chill. I was so grateful after an hour when Nate pulled into a McDonald’s so we could warm up for a bit with hot chocolate!
Having no other option, we pressed on and continued for nearly another hour to return to Shullsburg and my beautiful new used car. Let me tell you, I have never been more relieved to get into a vehicle and crank up the heat than I was that afternoon! I felt horrible that Nate had to keep riding the bike, though (we were still a two-hour drive from home and darkness was looming). About 20 minutes after picking up the car (a Pontiac Vibe we nicknamed Betty White), we finally gave up on getting all the way home that night.
Nate found a little German gasthaus where he’d stayed before on motorcycle trips, and we gladly forked over the $49.95 for a room. Once we had warmed up with the heat in the room on full-blast, we were ready to make the best of it in Monroe. We strolled the quaint town square, very briefly as it was still cold, and picked out a cool place to eat dinner. Over sweet potato fries and sandwiches, we laughed about the foolishness of the day’s events. What could have deteriorated into a pointless blame game over how we’d ended up freezing on the motorcycle for the end of spring break instead became an opportunity to embrace the unexpected. Nate told me that was one thing he loved about me. I could have made this whole situation so much worse if I’d spent the day yelling at him for not bringing our jacket liners. Instead we had both accepted the facts and made the best of a crappy circumstance. Now whenever we see a dude on his bike on a cold day, we think back to that March trip and wonder “what were we thinking?” but chuckle at our story.
We love the journey. We love seeing new places together, exploring together. We love the conversations that unfold during road trips that just can’t be duplicated anywhere else. Now that we have a five-month-old son, the traveling process will undoubtedly change somewhat, but we so look forward to sharing traveling woes and wonders with him. Our ability to (usually) be flexible and to roll with the punches should serve us well; kids tend to throw a wrench in one’s plans, or so I hear. Our son has been such an incredible baby thus far, so it is hard to imagine him “ruining” anything for us. I don’t expect him to, not really.
Will we get to do everything we want to while on our first big family vacation? Of course not! We may have to go to our room for nap time during the best weather all week. We won’t dine in the posh, upscale establishments (not that we ever did that to begin with). We’ll spend more time on the beach chasing our baby, slathering him with sunscreen and stopping him from eating sand than we will lounging with a book in the sun. The road trip to Myrtle Beach will likely take a few hours longer than it did last summer, when Liam was just a precious hope tucked away in our hearts. Will we mind? No way. I can’t wait to build these new memories as a family of three. Bring on the surprises!