I think it was beyond coincidence that I read blog posts by Astrid Bryce and Beth Westmark days before my growing family planned our own getaway on Memorial Day weekend.
“When we are in our normal daily routine, we crave adventure,” Astrid wrote in her post, Transitioning between Adventure and Routine. “But we don’t want to pack for the trip. Once the thrill of the adventure is over, either still on the trip, or once home, we crave to be able to slip back into our normal routine. We don’t want to deal with the clean-up/catch-up. Why is the grass always greener on the other side? And why are transitions so hard?”
I found myself nodding the whole way through. Why are transitions so hard, even if only for a few days?
Then, this in a post by Beth Westmark, who had recently returned from her own trip across the American West: “It’s the planning before a trip that almost kills it. I’m not a happy-go-lucky trip planner. It’s my nature to over-engineer, to want to tie down every little detail, to fret about all the uncontrollable and unknowable elements that constitute an adventure.”
A bit later, she says, “Did I ever tell you I’m a really fun gal?”
Again I found myself nodding feverishly, hiding a smile because, dang, that’s me, too.
I spent a good portion of last week annoyed with myself over the agony in trying to anticipate every little detail that this trip of ours would bring. My husband and I both felt it was time to leap – to do something spontaneous and adventurous with the four free days stretched out before us. California is a temporary stop for our family, as my husband, an engineer, has been assigned to a two-year power plant construction project in the southern part of the state. We want to experience as much of California as we can during our short time here, and our “bucket list” of places to explore in CA is long.
San Francisco. Death Valley. The Redwoods. Yosemite. Disneyland. Lego Land. (And hooray! We can scratch a couple of items off our list: The San Diego Zoo and Joshua Tree National Park. Following our three-day camp trip to Joshua Tree last November, I wrote an essay exploring the meaning of “Joshua Tree,” its relationship to the land, my relationship to the desert. I am still in the tweaking mode.)
We were looking at a wide-open opportunity to take a leap into one of these many untapped adventures. Yet as I tried to ponder what that leap looked like, my belly churned with butterflies over all of the unknowns.
How easy it is to fall into the trap of staying buttoned up in your comfort zone:
-because you have a toddler
-because you’re seven months pregnant
-because planning a trip quickly becomes expensive
-because so many “what-ifs” creep in (what if said toddler doesn’t do well traveling? What if there is a problem with the hotel reservation we booked online? What if pregnant mama is too tired to move? [Insert your own "what if" here.] What if, what if.)
Plans to drive to San Francisco and spend a couple of days wandering along and near the Golden Gate Bridge dissolved after a botched attempt to reserve a hotel room that would fit three people and didn’t charge $30 extra per day to park. Parking in a public lot and relying on the public transportation system to navigate our way through the city could have worked – yet the image of me carrying a bundle of hefty pillows in one arm (to accommodate that big belly when I sleep) and holding my toddler’s hand with the other while hubby lugged a single duffle bag into which we had “lightly” packed was a bit laughable. Midway through the trip planning, we struck it all together and started over with a new idea.
Salinas, CA. The home of my favorite author and a favorite author of my husband’s, John Steinbeck.
Almost instantly, as we started to revise our trip and think about what this four days could look like, I felt lighter, freer, like the air around me wasn’t quite so heavy.
We would take our time driving up Route 1 along the California coast. We would stop when we wanted to, see whatever we felt like seeing, arrive at no specific time to our destination.
Check in tomorrow (Friday 6/1) for Part 2: The Journey.