Oh, the sweet, spellbindingly wild freedom of the open road! There are few things in life that fill my soul with such unbridled enthusiasm as a lengthy stretch of undiscovered pavement.
As a teenager, my road trips involved the usual mix: friends, music and borrowed cars. We would point ourselves in the general direction of the nearest concert and hurdle down the road, fueling ourselves with Cheetos and the car with our collective spare change (and a fair amount of optimism).
My road trips slowly evolved into national and international excursions requiring wings rather than wheels. It didn’t really matter where I was going. Nothing compared to the exhilarating potential that came from hoofing down an undiscovered path, carrying my home on my back and a blank canvas ready and waiting in my heart. I loved then, as I do now, the anticipation and the tantalizing mystery of what lay ahead.
What would be waiting around the next bend?
Once, a pod of wild dolphins spraying water giddily across my shirt.
Once, a shanty town overflowing with homeless families as far as the eye could see and my first exposure to real poverty.
Once, a passionate Flamenco.
Once, a terrifying pursuit and a midnight escape facilitated by strangers turned friends.
Once, an unexpected meeting of a future star.
Once, a riotous protest spiraling out of control.
Once, a cascade of ancient vineyard terraces jutting up from turquoise Mediterranean waters and a lemon the size of a volleyball.
The possibilities were both limitless and exhilarating.
Lately, my road trips have contained a different kind of adrenaline rush; the kind that comes from attempting 50 collective driving hours in a 5-seat car with 3 pre-schoolers sandwiched tightly in the back… all within pinching range of each other.
Yet I’m always amazed at what we still manage to discover along the way. Like the enormous, florescent sculpture garden blooming unexpectedly in the middle of the desolate plains. Then there was the thriving, elaborately adorned, Spanish shrine and monastery hidden away in a discrete, mid-west, hillside forest. Wherever we venture there is the ongoing search for the best local food, which has resulted in such culinary gems as “Fried Pickle Soup”, “Lomi Lomi” and “Sauerkraut Pizza” (each delicious, if you’re wondering).
The best part about this stage of my road trip experience is having a front row seat as I watch the world unfold through the shining new eyes of my babies. I can’t wait for the moment when I strap on each child’s first backpack and set off with them down the road or through the skies. But, for now, I have the treasured honor of endowing my children with a love for the road, and encouraging their unbridled enthusiasm, as they prepare for their own stretches of undiscovered pavement.