Last week, my husband, my ten-year-old daughter, my eight-year-old son and I drove from our Seattle-area home to San Francisco and back. We covered 1,962 miles. Afterwards, my husband said he was seriously contemplating driving another 38 miles just to be able to round off the total.
We spent a full day under the redwoods in northern California. My daughter must have said, “This is the best day ever,” more than ten times. Even my son, who was dubious that there was a tree on earth that could impress him, was wowed by the scale.
It was pouring, but the canopy kept most of the rain off us, and my kids never complained. In fact, they didn’t complain the whole trip, not even when we walked 6.2 miles one day in San Francisco, including the daunting up-and-down stretch of Lombard Street from Coit tower to the Crookedest Street.
None of us complained. Not about the cars roaring by as we walked most of the way across the Golden Gate bridge, not about the lousy Mexican food we ate in Crescent City, Calif. Not about the haunted quality to the nearly abandoned hotel we stayed in. There was nothing to complain about, because all of it, everything, was part of the magic of going.
Road trips are contradictory for me. In general, I get stressed out by travel and packing, but I’m never stressed on a road trip. I like to know what’s going to happen next, but the best part about a road trip is never knowing where you’re going to eat or stay next. I get bored easily, but somehow, I am never, ever bored in the car.
It’s because of the going. If you are going somewhere, you are not anywhere in particular, and when you are not anywhere in particular, there is nothing else you are supposed to be doing. Because you aren’t anywhere and because—by extension—where you are means nothing—you don’t have to evaluate the success of it or judge it against any standards. It is just a thing to notice.
This experience of going is the essence of what we mean by the journey is everything. This is the essence of why writing a book is so much better than being about to write a book or just having finished writing a book. It’s why I love hiking and kayaking and swimming and all the ways you can be in motion.
My post-vacation resolution (I almost always make one): I am going to try to think more about going and less about where I am, in the hopes of bringing a little road trip magic into my every day life.
Comment below and tell me about a road trip you loved or one you’d love to take (or anything to do with road trips).
I will randomly select one winner (18+ and able to receive a gifted ebook, which usually means U.S. and Canada) who can choose one ebook from this list of my favorite road romances: Tessa Dare’s A Week to Be Wicked, Kristan Higgins’ My One & Only, Ruthie Knox’s Ride With Me, and Meg Maguire’s Caught on Camera. Contest ends 11:59 p.m. Thursday, April 10.