John and I traveled 3,200 miles between July 9 and the first of August this summer. We drove from Vermont to Alabama and back, with an eastern loop through the Carolinas.
We initially planned this trip in the deepest, darkest days of winter and the most locked down of lockdowns last year. We expected that we probably wouldn’t be ready to fly, but we damn sure had plenty of extra miles on the car lease. (That’s one of the benefits to not being able to go anywhere for a year. All the miles.) So, we made a plan to drive as far as we could and see loads of people that we love and missed.
John and I always enjoy the planning part of trips: maps and playlists and audiobooks and food and stops and budgets. In this case, the planning ended up being almost more of an escape than the trip itself. We were googling “where to stop for lunch in Delaware” about six months before we were going to be hungry for lunch in Delaware. For a big portion of a difficult year, we used this to give ourselves a light at the end of a tunnel.
Once the actual journey got underway, I learned that 3,200 miles is farther than I thought. It’s longer than the distance from Middlebury to San Diego. We were gone for three and a half weeks, and at least a week of it was hard core car time. But here’s great news: John is an excellent co-pilot. His taste in music has gotten a lot better since our last big road trip. He doesn’t get discouraged or fidgety when we hit traffic or just have a long day. He has a sense of humor about things that don’t go exactly as planned. He rations the good snacks so we’ll have them when we need them. He’s interesting to talk to and he’s a comfortable person to not talk to. Some of my favorite days were driving days. Did we have some bumpy moments? Yes. Did we stop at too many drive thrus? Good god, yes. But I’m so glad to have been able to make this trip, because I don’t think we’re ever going to do it again.
My co-pilot just turned 15. Next year, he’ll probably have a job. (Scratch that. Next year, he’ll definitely have a job.) He’ll have work to do to get ready for his junior year in high school. He’ll have a whole life that he probably won’t want to put on hold. We’ll still make it to family visits and beach trips, but I don’t think we’ll have a month to do it. How fortuitous that this was the year we really needed a big plan and a big trip, and this is the year we could pull it off. This was a moment in time, and I’m glad we took it.