Sunday, July 10, 2011

Count To Ten--Then A Hundred And Ten

Hubby and I went on a Road Trip about three weeks ago to Estes Park, Colorado. We adore Colorado. Always have. We’re very much “Mountain Peeps,” although our trips to Maui over the past 33 years have fed our spirits and souls with immense joy. If I won the Texas Lottery, I’d hope I could win enough to buy a vacay condo there—and a secluded cabin by a stream in Wyoming. Why the heck not? I can dream.

I have lots of thoughts on vacations involving couples and families. I had dated my husband for a little over a year when we got married. We’d never gone anywhere in a car for more than about five hours. A few years after we married, we made our first skiing trip to Red River, New Mexico, which was a ten-ish-hour drive, accompanied by three teenaged sons. On that lovely excursion (we got into the worst ice storm Amarillo, Texas, had had to that date), I decided it should be a Federal law that engaged people take a ten-hour car trip (one-way) together (and, hey, wouldn't hurt to throw in a family member or two!), before they said, “We do.” A minimum of ten hours. What you learn about your relationship is invaluable. If you can even like each other after a long car-trip/vacation, I think it’s a telling, and good, sign.

Hubby is the kind of man (I know there are many out there exactly like him) that is determined to go the shortest, i.e. fastest, route to any destination. It becomes a job to him. He works at it. You can remind him it’s “vacation.” He apparently isn’t able to hear you. He’s in his Zone. He gets in a mood that is focused, quiet and on the edge of constant irritation with any and all females in his vehicle. Bathroom stops can become… hmmm… contentious. Almost funny, if it wasn’t so NOT funny. Pulling over to read a historical marker or to visit a town’s quaint square or downtown area? Am I serious? Do I not realize how much farther we have to go?

Probably the most difficult car trip we ever made as a family happened when TLC was nine and we drove to South Dakota and Wyoming. From Central Texas. We had it all figured out—thanks to AAA. This was long before GPS systems, Google, Trip Advisor, etc. We had an Atlas, state maps and our AAA books to guide us. Also an optimistic, hopeful (i.e. unrealistic) attitude.

We did fine as we drove through Kansas. I sang “America the Beautiful,” emphasizing “for amber waves of grain,” over and over. And over. Hubby and TLC were surprisingly patient. We enjoyed Nebraska for its unique beauty and charm.

Then it happened in South Dakota. It was inevitable, I suppose. The first… what shall I call it… disagreement? Okay, no. It was an argument. (Maybe my singing did finally send Hubby to this side of insanity.) It occurred when we drove an hour from our beautiful cabin in Custer State Park to Mt. Rushmore. It was dark and cloudy. But we paid our fees to get in and sat down in the outdoor amphitheater to wait for the “show.” After an hour of hoping the clouds would lift, the Park Rangers called it off—offering us all “rain checks.” We had seen someone’s nose. We think it was Lincoln’s.

As we left the park, I said: “Well, it’s a good thing we can come back tomorrow night.”

We were heading to Deadwood the next day. Although I knew it would take several hours through the mountains to get there from our cabin, I thought Mt. Rushmore was important enough to try again.

Hubby replied: “No, I don’t think so.”

“Oh, yes. We will,” I firmly stated.

He said we’d discuss it the next morning. As we ate breakfast in a cute little café in downtown Custer, I mentioned going back to Mt. Rushmore that night. And there we went. To Crankyland. He was determined to not even consider it. Too much driving in one day. Huh? We’d just driven two days from Texas and he was worried about a couple more hours of driving that evening? Really. I tried to calmly explain I thought TLC should see it—it was educational—and that we might never be back up in this area. To no avail.

By the time we left for Deadwood, TLC was our “mediator.” Bless her sweet heart. She sat up front with her Dad while I sat in the back, occasionally having her answer his questions to me (I think that’s when her “eye rolling” officially started, too). Hubby and I each winning a small jackpot at a casino in Deadwood, and seeing Kevin Costner, in person, at his Sports’ Bar (unfortunately, that ended up not being the mystical experience I thought it might be if it ever actually happened), helped us get back to Semi-Happyland.

It was definitely one of those times in our life together that I would change my attitude and behavior, if I could. I approached Hubby at the wrong time, in the wrong way. Couples have to learn this skill: when and how and where to bring things up you feel certain are going to be unpleasant issues for the other person. (I do, however, believe there are some “problems” your partner will NEVER want to discuss, right?)

We did go see Mt. Rushmore that night and it was AMAZING. Hubby agreed it was the right thing to do and thanked me for insisting.

Since that experience sixteen years ago, we’ve driven to Florida, Nashville, and Idaho/Montana. (We don't even count "trips" that are eight or less hours from our home anymore as major!) There were, of course, many moments during those vacations when we wondered if we’d both make it back. Married. Or, actually, alive, I guess. As you can tell, we did. Woo Hoo! We’ve taken dozens of trips by plane and returned in good enough shape to tell our tales. We’ve survived vacations—and so much more in 34 years.

Hubby and I will be driving to Rhode Island in the Fall. We've never seen the foliage or the places we're going. We’ll need prayers. Possibly some Divine Intervention. Right now we’re excited. It’s funny how we know it’s going to be challenging and yet we’re already looking forward to the trip. (Wow--that could be a description of childbirth!) The laughter, beauty, and the memories will somehow have to cancel out the drama.

Faretheewell . . .

p.s.: Hubby and I, and TLC and her Hubby just got back a couple of hours ago from a 7-hour (for each of us from our own respective homes) driving trip to Rockport, Texas. TLC will be catching y’all up on that fabulous town in a couple of weeks!

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