Savvy is not a term one would ascribe to my travel comfort or experience. I am a super travel companion, but bottom of the barrel when it comes to planning any travel–I make galactically poor travel decisions, frightened I’ll screw everything up and be responsible for everyone’s bad fortune. By way of comparison, let’s take last weekend: tickets for the Barenaked Ladies concert went on sale several months ago. Within 45 seconds of them being released, Nikki secured our seats (ahem, front and center), and Bek had hotel reservations made for us three. Lickety split, they were done. It’s so easy for me to travel with them–I needed only mail my checks and map my route to Fort Wayne, Indiana. The girls had even scouted for cool places to eat, so all I had to do was order my iced coffee. High five on the travel arrangements, girls!
I missed my son’s last two ball games of the season Sunday, but in so doing I avoided making the teary end scene I always do when I say good-bye to anything–person, place, or thing. The sappy, sentimental gene is strong in this one, and I honestly believe my son was pleased not to have to pretend his mom isn’t a total dork.
Instead, I drove. This wasn’t the longest of my concert road trips, but my “being weird” was called to my attention more than once. Whatevah, haters! It’s really OK–regarding my concert attendance? I get it for me, so you don’t have to get it. I’ve done that theme to death here, so we are moving on.
What I am supposed to be doing is making travel arrangements for my family’s big road trip. We’re leaving in two weeks, and my husband, Clark Griswold-like in his family-centric idealism, and I have plotted and reconfigured at least a baker’s dozen times already. What we have on the itinerary is a steaming, heaping bowl of jack squat. Really. Not one item finalized. I really need Nikki and Bek to take the reins for me here–they rule at this kind of thing. I’m an excellent procrastinator, so rather than opening the other Google Chrome tabs taunting me at the top of my screen, you know, the travel-related ones? I’m here on WordPress avoiding the hafta-do part of my list, and I’m not even doing this, the wanna-do part of my list well.
Uninspired is a lousy place to idle away, so in the spirit of the old “Those Who Can’t Do. . .” adage, I find myself stewing in pretend travel tips. If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written previously, you know that I have no business giving unsolicited advice about anything. But a lack of authority on a subject has never stopped me from opining before, so here ya go:
Travel Observations From a Lame-Ass Traveler. And I didn’t even include fakey quotes around traveler. Restraint in its finest hour, people.
- Always bring a refillable water bottle. Off to a good start with this one, you have to admit. Go, me!
- When in need of a fairly clean/safe rest stop in the middle of nowhere, trust the golden arches. McDonald’s restaurants and restrooms are reliably clean-ish and predictable, so you know what you’re getting for the most part. You can always ice up and refill that water bottle there too.
- Ford’s Sync Navigation system is not the best option for route mapping. It would have added nearly one hundred miles to my trip by sticking only to Interstate highways, so it’s a good thing I know how to read a good, old-fashioned Rand-McNally atlas. Stay in school, kids. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
- Ford’s Sync sound system is however, an excellent option for music. Having no one else asking, “Can I pick songs?” meant I had the BEST for-WW’s-ears-only road trip soundtrack. Ever.
- Look around. Sometimes the nuances in the bluest of blue skies and greenest of green pastures demand and deserve your attention.
- Slow your roll, and let that guy change lanes in front of you once in a while. You may be the one sending up a little “sorrysorrysorrysorry” for pulling a dumbass “I’m not from around here” move when you navigate a new-to-you big city. Karma, yo. Be nice.
- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge illuminated at night is probably the coolest thing you’ll see in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It has to be true because Bek and I thought the very same words simultaneously, though she gave voice to them first. Jinx!
- Weather apps aren’t always accurate. We were led to believe there’d be a window between storm cells. Um, no.
- I got nothin’, but you rarely catch a “Top 9” list, so for symmetry we go to 10. OK, this: plan your beverage consumption around Chicago traffic. You don’t want to have to need a rest stop on I-90 in rush hour. It’s always rush hour there, and there ain’t no way you’re departing the interstate in Gary, Indiana. There used to be a stand of beat-down, abandoned homes visible from I-90, and their sad, decrepit facades always sucked me in. These were once brand new constructions, homes for young steel factory families I always believed, and their disrepair and depression always made me feel, well, alone, like they were. They’ve recently been razed, but I still get that melancholy feeling passing through that stretch, like seeing ghosts wearing resigned faces as they haunt their former residences.
- Coming home and coming down after something you’ve so looked forward to is both a dream and a nightmare. I was so happy to see the kids Monday morning, and I couldn’t wait to pet our idiot dog (but then he took off when my husband left the door unattended, tore around the neighborhood for 10-15 minutes and ended up covered in another critter’s feces before prancing back to our little parcel of real estate). Having to bathe the dog isn’t the nightmare; it’s working through being sad something is over. See paragraph two for when things are over. *sigh*
- Ah, screw symmetry–let’s go for eleven. Acknowledge the insane, ridiculous luck you have been granted in this world when cool things drop into your lap. I received a few gifts last weekend–smooth travel, true friendship, a very special performance of Blister In The Sun, revisiting SCTV–hearing Eugene Levy’s character Bobby Bittman’s name for the first time in decades, the most fortuitous Diet Coke and Coke Zero purchases ever, and yeah, hearing my favorite musicians on the planet is never not awesome. I’m not filing this under karma exactly, but maybe just maybe being kind to others, working hard, and acting in a way I’m almost always proud of has been returned to me in this way, through music and friends. Told you I’m a sentimental dork.
I’m no closer to making reservations for our maybe Kentucky-Ohio-Niagara Falls-Toronto-Montreal road trip though, and I don’t have a personal travel agent. Anyone, anyone? Bueller?? I do have a pit in my stomach as I look up and see the Travelocity tab still up and imagine that roaming gnome mocking me from the top of my screen. My husband is so excited about this road trip (less so about my concert solo trips, go figure!)–he’s that pure dad who dreams of taking HIS boys to see the sites, but our pocketbook and his dreams are not quite in line. Neither are the bones in my kids’ collarbones and shoulders in line, but we will figure it out–we always do.
You’ll forgive me if I take a little blog vacation here, right? Other than (not) travel advice, I don’t know that I have much to offer you right now, my wonderful readers, but I’ll be back. Like that bad penny that keeps turning up? That’ll be me, cracking wise again in no time.