“If we were meant to stay in one place, we would have roots instead of feet.”
There is nothing quite like preparing for a trip. It is all in the details. I wonder, isn’t this simply a microcosmic representation of the bigger picture of life? “Adventure is worthwhile in itself,” said Amelia Earhart.
I remember a time when hitting the road for some adventure was spontaneous and on a whim. The idea sparked and quickly blazed into a flame. In fact, I remember a Spring Break that we decided to drive from Georgia to Philadelphia the night before we left. Tossed a few things together, grabbed a couple sleeping bags, some duct tape and Combos and we were off.
While I still love the idea of a spontaneous trip, once kids came along, those spontaneous moments often ended disastrously. Just the thought of going somewhere overnight with little ones caused immediate mental exhaustion because of the things that would need to happen to make that doable. Even a nice supper at a restaurant could quickly end up a mad dash out the door to try to prevent a quickly approaching melt down.
But life goes on, and nothing stays the same.
Our first attempt at a road trip across America was in the summer of 2017. Our oldest was 9 and our youngest was 6. And while they were no longer in diapers and could do plenty on their own, much of that trip our youngest doesn’t remember. Nonetheless, the trip was all we had hoped for and more. Camping and exploring five national parks afforded us stories we will tell for the remainder of our lives. There is a certain kind of freedom when the focus of your attention is basic – food, sleep, shelter (or not), exploration. Repeat. Change the order.
It started our addiction to camping, nature, adventure within our collective family soul. It continues to burn. Honestly, the love for travel and learning about other places was instilled in me at a young age. My own parents would spend months and months preparing for trips. These trips would be full of learning, visiting historic places, seeking new understanding through a historic lens. I remember the excitement of preparing, the anticipation of possibility and excitement of the journey itself.
Before COVID-19 grounded our lives, we began planning this second road trip across America for summer 2020. More miles, more parks with the addition of California. We learned a lot from our first trip. We began planning slightly earlier. I realized I really don’t need five pairs of shoes. I really can wear outfits more than once and purchase items meant for hard wear and tear.
We are ready. Our second time attempting this adventure feels different. It feels like a reprieve from a different kind of stress.
My thoughts these past few months have been consumed with COVID and with my role as a white female, who recognizes the white privilege I have benefited from. I have and continue to look at how I show up as an ally – what my voice sounds like, and how I can push for the change that is so clearly needed. Through reading, reflecting and discussing with those in my life, I have listened and heard the cry and the need to continue recognizing, questioning, learning, and listening to those impacted most by the civil inequality and racism in our country.
I will keep showing up. I cannot promise to fix it all. I cannot promise I won’t make mistakes as I recognize this journey is a life-long process.
So, as we leave the cocoon of our home for three weeks, I intend to unplug from social media and plug into where I am and what is in front of me. I am excited to take pictures and maybe post some blog posts, but maybe not. If this past year of writing and reflecting has taught me anything, it has made it clear that the more rules I put in place, the more I set myself up to fail. Writing, yoga and meditation, and reading all connect me to the moment. However, when I set a time or number goal, I often miss the beauty of the moment, because I’m too focused on completing the activity instead of what the activity actually is meant to provide.
Simply the opportunity to be present. To hear the moment of life and whatever song that is playing now. “Anyone who lives in Presence predominantly contributes to a change in the world and what I call a new Earth,” wrote Echart Tolle in A New Earth.
I hope to see every wonder, soak in every sunset and welcome the sunrises on this trip. I will touch the land and stretch up to the sun each morning and warm my hands by a crackling fire each evening.
I plan to sleep under the stars and feel how small I truly am. I will be an observer. I will see these things through my children’s eyes and minds. I will open my heart to the words the earth shares and hear the songs of the stars and the sky. I will give thanks for the chance to explore and connect with the gratitude that fills me when I’m far from home and, at the same time, coming home.