My husband and I left Texas two weeks ago to visit family in California and Oklahoma for the holidays. Given all of the travel snarls at airports across the country, we so so glad we decided to drive. We dropped our kitty off in Oklahoma for an extended visit with her fur-grandparents (aka my husband’s parents), drove through the Texas panhandle, New Mexico and Arizona to California. We were in the Bay Area for Family Christmas; Folsom for the Chioppino Feed (and a visit with my brother’s family, sister, and oldest son); and Fresno with my youngest son and his family with the three granddaughters. We made it back through Arizona, New Mexico, and the Texas panhandle with minimal snow. We’re now in Oklahoma to enjoy a few days with my husband’s family. The added bonus, for my husband, is to watch both Oklahoma State University and University of Oklahoma in college football bowl games in friendly territory.
There are a few lessons I’ve gleaned from this road trip that I want to share. I plan to put this list in a prominent place, once we get home, to keep these lessons fresh this coming year.
Road Lesson #1: Share the road.
Texas has a road slogan: Drive friendly. And they do! Coming from California with bumper-to-bumper traffic, metering lights, and long commutes, I was so amazed when we left the state and other drivers gave space for you to merge onto freeways! Granted, a lot of the roads we traveled were in rural areas or interstate, but drivers were careful in snow, gave space to pass, and waved as they passed. Even though everyone was in their own travel capsule, there was an acknowledgement that we were all fellow travelers on the road.
Road Lesson #2: Go with the flow.
Have you ever watched how a tumbleweed travels? It goes wherever the wind blows. Sometimes it’s nice to leave a little to chance, have some flexibility, or see what little treasure comes your way.
Road Lesson #3: Weather is unpredictable.
We knew there was a very good chance we would encounter snow in Flagstaff, Arizona, so we planned to stopped for the day after we passed through Flagstaff. That was the only area we were expecting snow. Weren’t we surprised to awake to 4-inches of snow from our start out of Oklahoma! It wasn’t the only place where weather was unpredictable, so you just take it in stride. Weather isn’t predictable and neither is life.
Road Lesson #4: Beauty is all around.
Part of the wonder of road travel is seeing the beautiful landscapes along the way. The prairies, plains, mesas, deserts, and mountains have their own distinguishing characteristics and all are beautiful in their own way. By expanding our thoughts of what we’ve always considered beautiful, there’s so much more to enjoy and appreciate for what it it.
Road Lesson #5: What first impression are you projecting?
We could usually tell when we were coming to the outskirts of a town. The first greeting to these towns were rusted vehicles, dilapidated buildings, and faded signs to businesses no longer in existence. I’m sure it wasn’t the image the town wished to project. More likely, it was the result of no longer noticing. It makes me think of what do I no longer notice that might project an image of neglect or not being welcoming.
Road Lesson #6: Pets and roads. Why do we adopt them?
I’ll leave that for you to ponder.
Road Lesson #7: We all look for ways to be unique.
I grew up taking family road trips and we would always keep track of the different license plates we saw along the way. We did that this trip as well. We saw license plates from 45 different states! Each state has it’s generic plate, and many have creative designs for different causes. We are each a unique, unrepeatable, miracle of God and there are all sorts of ways we like to express our uniqueness.
Road Lesson #8: We all benefit from things we don’t see.
A benefit of a road trip is seeing the livestock grazing, grain silos, wind mills, trains, and FedEx trucks. There still are small farms and everyday jobs that have their own niche and vital role in the complex network of goods and services we all need. May we be grateful for all of the dedicated workers and helping hands that grow our food, make our clothes, manufacture our products, transport our goods, deliver services we use, and everything else we may not have ever considered.
Road Lesson #9: Discover an alter ego.
My husband and I downloaded podcasts to listen to help pass the long hours in the car. My tech husband had over 60 hours of technology podcasts! I discovered I have a geek alter ego lurking inside! While we have a tech business, I hadn’t spent much time getting to know much about the tech community. The podcasts opened up a delightful world that I am eager to explore more fully. It’s exciting to discover new aspects of our personalities.
Phew! A long blogpost…like our road trip. Our road trip has been a wonderful way to reflect on some simple life lessons.