Monday, May 11, 2009

When the Road Gets Rocky

Tomorrow I'll begin posting about my recent trip to Florida. Until then I thought I'd share a post that I wrote last year prior to our Minnesota road trip. This is a slightly revised post I wrote for my family blog.

I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.

****Mark Twain

Mark Twain really hit the mark with the above quotation. Hitting the road with someone is the ultimate litmus test for a relationship. I knew early in my relationship with my wife that we were destined to be together because we traveled so well together. I love my wife’s childlike exuberance when it comes to the little joys of the road. She’s one of the few people I know who doesn’t think the I-70 drive across western Kansas is boring. She appreciates the gradual shifts in the landscape, and possesses eagle eyes that can spot deer, wild turkeys, and the many other gifts nature has to offer. It’s a treat to travel with her.

However, there are moments when we’re driving down the highway and I look into her eyes ,and I sense that she would like to wrap both hands around my neck and vigorously shake me. I know this desire crosses her mind. Even when you travel with those you love, there are moments when tensions run high and the van just isn’t big enough to provide the space that is sometimes needed between individuals. I know that there are times that I annoy my wife. My wife probably finds the following things annoying:
  • As you know, I can be a bit of a grouch. When I'm crotchety, my wife and daughter call me Mr. Crankypants. This is their way of telling me that I need to change my mood. As you know, things don't always go as planned on vacation, and I get grumpy when schedules go askew. I don't always cope well with eating at a later time or dealing with the frustration of navigating unfamiliar territory. I'm sure my crankiness on the road annoys my wife.

  • When I travel there are times when I don’t feel like talking. I simply want to drive down the road, enjoy the scenery, and listen to some music. However, my wife who is a chatty soul sometimes likes to visit as we travel. When I’m in one of these introspective moods and she’s in a chatty frame of mind, I thwart off her attempts to stimulate a conversation by responding with single-syllable responses or grunts. I’m sure this annoys her. However, things are looking up for her because my daughter is also a chatty soul, so my wife has an ally in the battle for conversation.

  • I love visiting local grocery stores when I travel. I can spend at least an hour at a local store browsing the aisles looking for products that are unique to the region I’m visiting. Then it's common for me to purchase several items from these grocery stores. Of course, my wife has to pack these culinary treasures, and I think this annoys my wife. In Florida last week, I abstained from purchasing a can of boiled peanuts because I didn't want to face her wrath.

  • When I travel and grow tired of hearing music, I like to listen to podcasts. I especially like the podcasts from NPR. One of the programs I listen to is The Kitchen Sisters, who do features on food in America. I can listen to 90 straight minutes of this program, which is about 45 minutes more than my wife can tolerate. We also have an unwritten agreement that I play no Bob Dylan or Willie Nelson while traveling.

  • On trips I’ve been known to embark on little side trips that I view as adventures. However, these adventures consist of us driving around lost, seeing nothing out of the ordinary, and wasting 4-5 precious vacation hours, like the time I forced her to visit Turkey, Texas, home of the Bob Wills Museum. I’m sure she often thinks, “Why did I marry this guy?”

Fortunately, the road goes on forever,


Anonymous said...

What?! No Bob or Willy on the road? Why, then, that's not technically "on the road." Pretty sure you need at least one song from each of them for the venture to constitute a "road trip." Otherwise, you were just spinning wheels and making gasoline disappear.

Word: trolsies

Sarah said...

I have ambivalent memories of my family road trips to Colorado from Dallas in the late 1980's. We drove to Colorado Springs every August to visit my grandmother for two weeks and it shaped my outlook on travel companions forever. I agree with your wife that no Willy Nelson should be played on the road (I've listened to hours of him and enjoy him in doses, but not for 14 hours at a time). Same goes for the Big Chill soundtrack, which I know by heart thanks to those trips. In fact, there should be equal amounts of silence, music, and talking. An imbalance of these things in an average-sized vehicle can pit relative against relative in a brutal Darwinian way. Hope your trip went well, and I'm looking forward to reading about it!