Kindness Counts

Last night at dinner we were discussing the trip Dave and I will be taking to Washington D.C. this fall to visit Chandler in college during parent’s weekend.

“Remember that woman who helped us in the subway station,” Chandler said. “She didn’t have to do that. That was so nice.”

It’s not the first time our family has talked about how helpful this stranger was to us. A random act of kindness, I suppose you could call it.

Random-Act-of-Kindess
Change the world!

 

Three years ago we traveled to Washington D.C. for a family vacation. We had an early morning flight that was delayed causing us to miss our connection. We eventually got to D.C. after a four hour layover and fourteen hour travel day. We landed sometime after 10PM and took the metro to our hotel. At the transfer station we encountered a huge mass of people. A Phillys/Nationals baseball game had just ended and the subway station was packed full.

Dave has lived in several big cities and I’ve traveled quite a bit, so we certainly know how to handle a crowded subway. But our kids? They’re Southern California suburbanites who’d only ever taken the LA subway (which can best be described as subway-lite) for fun day trips. As we stood at the edge of the line with our wheely bags, overtired, overwhelmed and completely out of our element, a woman approached us.

“Hi,” she said. “I can see that you guys are traveling. I’ve got an app on my phone and the next train is a short train. You’ll never make it on if you stand here. I know there are a lot of people, but try to move more towards the middle if you can. You’ll have to wait another twenty minutes if you miss this train.”

“Thank you,” we said as she and her friends moved up the line.

We mushed our way through the throngs of people and made our way toward the middle. She was right. The train wasn’t very long, but thanks to her we made it on.

It was such a simple thing she did, taking a few seconds to help a family she didn’t know and would never see again. She could have looked at us and thought, “Suckers.” Or just look through us and thought nothing at all. It wasn’t a grand gesture, but it certainly did save the day. It’s something we still talk about sometimes three years later.

In our day-to-day lives we’re met with rudeness or indifference all the time. The person who cuts you off or who doesn’t say thank you when you hold the door open for them. But those are not the people I remember.

I will always remember the man who helped me at the Chicago airport when I was traveling with toddler Chandler in a stroller and was faced with an escalator instead of an elevator. I remember the woman in Paris 29 years ago, who stopped to help us when she saw Rita and I standing on a street corner looking at a map (and probably looking very confused). I remember the two men in Ireland, on that same European trip, who helped us push (or rather pick up) our car out of the mud when we were stuck on a country road and then refused the ride we offered them once they got us out. (Okay, that’s hard to forget!)

What we do in our day-to-day lives matters. What we focus on matters. I choose to focus on the good, the beautiful, the inspiring and remember the kindnesses that are bestowed upon me, both big and small.

I’d love for you to tell me about an unexpected kindness that has been bestowed upon you.

 

Photo credit: Heath Brandon via Creative Commons

 

 

Planning my Dream 20th Anniversary Vacation with GoWithOh

In March Dave and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. In the early years of our marriage, I pictured celebrating our 10 year anniversary in Vegas renewing our vows with an Elvis impersonator. (Fat Elvis – duh!) Instead we set up camp in two beach houses with my family – about 15 of us total, dining on chili cheese dogs and sleeping on an air mattress; all the hoopla reserved my for nephew’s first birthday celebration instead of our ten year union.

Life never really does turn out as planned, does it?

For our 20th wedding anniversary I’ve always dreamed of returning to where we got engaged – Italy.

But… (almost) 20 years later – two moves, different jobs, financial ups and downs, a mortgage, two kids – one less than two years away from college… life and those plans right? While we are lucky to be rich in love (most days), our current bank balance suggests that we’re much more likely to be celebrating our 20th by clinking our Chianti glasses at our favorite Italian restaurant with views of the hills of Agoura, than at a quaint trattoria with views of the hills of Tuscany.

But last week I read this blog and found out about a contest called “Be Our Guest Tester” hosted by the website GowithOh.

GowithOh rents vacation apartments to travelers in 17 European cities – five of them in Italy. (Florence. Milan. Rome. Pisa. Venice. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes!) To enter the contest all I have to do is write a blog post about which apartment I would chose from their site and why, and tag the post on Twitter using the hashtag ##GwOGuestTester. Fantastic!

When Dave and I travel to Europe we love staying in quaint pensions, small bed and breakfasts, or apartments like Europeans do. Sure, luxury hotels are lovely, but if you’re going to experience another country, I think the best way to do it is by traveling -and living- like a local.

GowithOh just happens to have 255 apartments located in my favorite Italian city – Florence. We returned to Italy and visited Florence on our second anniversary. I immediately fell madly and deeply in love. I wept when I stood next to The David, I was so overcome with its beauty. I raised my hands in victory when I climbed all 463 steps to the top of Il Duomo. We crossed the Arno River and picnicked on a hillside taking in the wonderful Tuscan views. And you want to talk tears of joy? I think I cried every time I ate because the food was so fresh and so incredibly delicious, it made me the happiest I’d ever been every time I ate. (Which was as often as possible.)

So Dave and I started cruising the GoWithOh website to pick out our dream 20th anniversary trip apartment. Where would we stay if money was no object? It was almost impossible to choose.

We loved ceilings and the uniqueness of this one.

Go-with-oh-Florence-apartment

And we loved the traditional Florentine style of this one.

Go-with-oh-Florence-apartment

But this one simply took my breath away. That view? Are you kidding? This is where Dave and I would choose to spend our 20th Anniversary 2nd Honeymoon.

Apartment-with-Go-with-oh-Florence-apartment
Yes please!

But wait… there’s more…

We’ll spend our afternoons resting from sightseeing and rejuvenating before heading out to the piazza for an evening stroll and (a tears-of-joy-inducing) dinner here.

GoWithOh.livingroom.Florence

We’ll prepare a simple breakfast here…

GoWithOh-kitchen-Florence

Then eat it here…

Balcony-in-Florence

None of your business what we’ll be doing here. (But it might or might not rhyme with peeping. Shut up! Sightseeing makes you tired!)

Florence-apartment-bedroom

And trust me, for a European bathroom – this one is HUGE! (Love that tub!)

Italian-bathroom

I might not win the GoWithOh Guest Tester contest, but that’s okay. We’ve had a great time perusing at the apartments they have to offer. Looking at all the pictures and planning our dream trip (even if it is only in our hearts and our heads) was almost as fun as being there.

Almost.

ParisLondonBerlin… where would you go with GoWithOh?

Where Would YOU Go if Money Was No Object?

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. I chose prompt #5:  8 places you’d go this summer if money wasn’t an object.

Hmmm… do I have to do them all this summer? I guess I’d better get started. And since we’re talking Lotto Dreams travel, I’ll have to hire a Lear Jet so I don’t have to mingle with the type of people who fly tourist. (Which is pretty much me!)

Earth
Earth – photo credit Tonynetone via Creative Commons

#1 Istanbul

When I was in college a favorite marketing professor of mine told tales of her backpacking trips abroad. She was the one who sparked the desire in me to backpack across Europe during the summer of 1986. She traveled to many places and her favorite place hands down was Istanbul. She made it sound so magical I’ve wanted to go ever since. She especially loved the Grand Bazaar where haggling for beautiful and unique treasures was an art form. Most Saturdays Chandler and I go yard saling and haggle over prices of used junk unique treasures. I cherish the time with him and I enjoy our little treasure hunts, but somehow I think shopping for shit we don’t need in Turkey would be way better.

Istanbul-Grand-Bazaar
Istanbul Grand Bazaar Photo credit Brian Snelson via Creative Commons

#2 Italy

I became engaged in Italy and it holds a very special place in my heart. The food, the art, the culture, the people, the gorgeous countryside, the art, the wine, the fooood (yeah, there’s a reason Elizabeth Gilbert ate her way through Italy) – I am madly in love with Italy. However, I have not spent any time at the lake district or on the Italian coast. (Unless you count those nine hours in 1986 when I sat at the very unattractive port of Brindisi waiting for the ferry to the party nation of Greece.) I would love to rent a villa at Lake Como or the Amalfi Coast and spend an entire summer there lying around doing absolutely nothing but drinking wine and eating. (Except that I have six more destinations to visit!)

Verona-Italy-Juliet-balcony
Standing on Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Italy the day after my engagement.

#3 London

I spent a semester of college attending school in London and it quickly became one of my favorite cities. Dave and I have often talked about how we would love to live in London for a year or two. I love the museums and the architecture, the parks and the pubs. I love shopping on Portobello Road and Kensington High Street. I can’t wait to take my kids to London one day and show them the sights. My kids don’t really love cities, but I think London would turn them around.

London-Big-Ben
Lovely London – Photo credit Tim Morris via Creative Commons

#4 Greece

Was that nine hour wait in the industrial port of Brindisi and 24 hour barf-over-the-side ferry ride worth it? You bet. During that 1986 trip I went to Athens (don’t bother) and Ios (party paradise) and then returned to Greece in 1988 (before starting my semester in London) to visit Ios once again, and added Mykonos and Santorini. The stark contrast of the white stucco buildings and bright blue sea is just breathtaking. I think I’d skip Ios this time (mostly out of fear that they wouldn’t let me off the boat because I’m too old!) But I would love to spend some serious time there lounging on the beaches of Santori, Mykonos and Corfu reading a book and eating  a lot of simple Mediterranean food and not much else. Ah yes, the art of doing nothing!

Brindisi-to-Greece
Heading to Greece via huge ferry slumber party

#5 New York City

Well, I’m halfway through my fantasy travel summer and of course a trip to New York is mandatory. I haven’t been to New York in eight years and I miss it desperately. I always feel so alive in that city. I love the shops and restaurants. I love the bars and seeing plays both on and off Broadway. I love walking everywhere. And I simply adore the fashion. People don’t dress up in California like they do in New York.  I could stand on the streets of Manhattan and people watch all day.

Side note:  I follow a fabulous blog called Fashables that features street style photography. (Photographs taken of random people walking down the street.) It helps me get my New York fix. But I am dying to go back soon for reals.

Fashables collage
New York street style photography by Ryan Shell of Fashables

# 6 Napa Valley/San Francisco 

Napa/San Francisco totally counts as one place right? I went to Napa earlier this year for the 2013 Wine Sisterhood trip (did I mention it was amazing) and can’t wait to go back. The trip I went on was a girlfriend’s trip, but I’d love to take my husband there. We went in 1990 when we were dating and we are well overdue for a trip back. And since this is a money-is-no-object fantasy, I’d like to hire a limo to take us to all the wineries and restaurants (yes every single one) and drink until I start to slur and eat until I start to waddle. I think a week should do it. I loved the Andaz Napa Hotel and would definitely stay there again. And a trip to San Fransicso on the way to our next destination would definitely be in order.

Chappellet-vineyards
Beautiful Chappellet vineyards in Napa Valley

#7 Hawaii

Dave and I have been there three times – twice to Maui (once before we were married and for our honeymoon) and once to Kauai when Chandler was just under two. As much as I love Hawaii (and I do), I probably wouldn’t put it in my Top 8, but Marley is dying to go to Hawaii. She finds it horribly unfair that Chandler has been to Hawaii and she hasn’t. The fact that Chandler doesn’t remember the trip at all does not seem to sway her thinking about this gross injustice we have committed against her.

Maui-honeymoon
Honeymooning in Maui

Hmmm… now that I’ve looked over my list I’m not sure I’ve really chosen that wisely. Maybe I should ditch London and Greece and tell Marley too bad about Hawaii and choose an African Safari or Costa Rica or Machu Picchu or Puerto Rico. I also love the Canadian Rockies and I’d like to see Columbia and Brazil and Berlin and Croatia. Eight is just not enough. So where would my final destination be?…

#8 Michigan

Michigan? What?! Instead of an African Safari? Well, I’ve already decided to ditch Hawaii (sorry Marley) and all this traveling has made me rather tired. And my mom and uncle own a lovely little cottage on a small lake in Michigan and my cousins own the house next door. It’s like we have our own little family compound. And while it’s not exactly rustic, it’s not very luxurious either -somewhere in between. Just right as Goldilocks would say. There are boats and wave runners and kayaks for sport and plenty of lounge chairs for reading and napping. The trees are green and the people are friendly. (Like scary-weird friendly.) It’s a little bit of heaven right smack in the middle of the country and it feels like home. At the end of a long journey (even an imaginary one) there’s no place like home.

White Lake Sunrise
Michigan Sunrise

What 8 places would you travel to if money were no object? I’d love to know!

Mama Kat workshop logo

So, I Won This Contest on Pinterest…

That’s right – I won a contest on Pinterest. And you should be jealous. Because it was freaking awesome.

That sounds a little snotty doesn’t it? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to come out that way. I’m not trying to brag (much), it’s just that – WOW – this was really super fantastic and I really, really have to share.

Last year I found out about this contest from Middle Sister Wines on Pinterest. You had to pin a picture of one of their new wines –Rebel Red, Drama Queen, Wild One or Mischief Maker- and where you spotted it (or bought it) onto a pinboard on Pinterest. The prize was a trip for two to Napa for the 2nd annual Wine Sisterhood Gathering. I had no idea what the Wine Sisterhood Gathering was, but I knew I wanted to win. I mean a free trip to Napa with a girlfriend – what could be better? (It turns out nothing! Could be better, I mean. Because this trip was the bomb!)

Here is the photo I pinned:

Pinterest-Contest-Winner
This may be a crappy photo of me, but it won me a trip to Napa!

Yeah, it’s a pretty sucky picture of me. In fact, I almost didn’t post it because I really didn’t like it. But I’m so glad I did. I mean, who needs dignity when free wine and travel are involved?

What exactly is the Wine Sisterhood Gathering? It was a three-day conference featuring interactive workshops, winery visits, ridiculous dining experiences, and time to mingle with influential women from a variety of industries and backgrounds. Translation: Wine tasting + gourmet food + amazing women = AWESOME!

I was a good friend to one and a bad friend to many when I chose my friend Jennifer to go to Napa with me. (Sorry everyone else – really!)

It started on Sunday, March 3, when Jennifer and I flew to Napa on a teeny tiny airplane.

small-airplane
Yikes! That is one small airplane!

Once we landed at SFO were met by a stretch limo (that I’m pretty sure was bigger than the plane) that whisked us away to the fabulous Andaz Napa Hotel. We shared our limo with three amazing women who had flown in together from the East Coast – Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno from the fantastic better-than-Martha-Stewart party planning blog Party Bluprints, and Carol Cain from the very cool (I wish it was my) travel blog Girl Gone Travel. We chatted the entire hour-long limo ride and really hit it off. These ladies are FAB!

Limo-ride
My chariot awaits!

When we arrived at the hotel our rooms weren’t ready yet (we arrived before official check-in time) and everyone was starving, so the five of us had lunch two doors down at a restaurant called Tarla Mediterranean Grill. I chose their crab sandwich which was basically a BLT with avocado and lump crab meat on ciabatta bread. So in a word – YUM!

crab sandwich
Lump meat crab sandwich – like a BLT on crack!

When we went back to the hotel we had to wait a little longer for our room so we checked in with the sisterhood and each got this awesome bag full of swag with items that can  be purchased at the Wine Sisterhood store in the near future.

swag
What an awesome gift bag!

We sat in the hotel lobby and enjoyed a complimentary (and very delicious) glass of John Anthony 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. I’m telling you – I could get used to the Napa lifestyle. We were given a beautiful double king room that I was too lame to remember to take pictures of.

So here’s one I stole from the Internet. (It’s from their website – I don’t think they’ll mind!)

Andaz-hotel
Oh yeah!

After relaxing for a short while we changed into flapper(ish) outfits because we were headed to the speakeasy at Raymond Vineyards Winery.

Raymond Vineyards – what a trip. We are talking crazy good wine and a winery that David Lynch could have created. I’m telling you this place was surreal. Our host, Jean-Charles Boisset (who was wearing a purple velvet suit) greeted us and told us the history of the winery in the red room.

Jean-Charles Boisset
Our wonderful host at Raymond Vineyards
Raymond-vineyards-speakeasy
The red room at Raymond Vineyards (yes, this is the best picture I have – sorry!)

We then headed to the Crystal Cellar for an appetizer dinner. (My favorite kind!)

Raymond-Vineyars-Crystal-Cellar
David Lynch has nothing on Jean-Charles Boisset

Here I am enjoying some yummy apps with my new friends…

Lorraine Robertson, Carol Cain, me, Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno
Lorraine Robertson, Carol Cain, me, Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno

BTW – side note… speaking of awesome women – do you see the 1st person in this picture? Her name is Lorraine Robertson and she ran a marathon earlier in the day. Yes, you read that right. Lorraine flew in from Atlanta on Saturday, ran a marathon Sunday morning and Sunday evening partied like a rockstar. She is my idol. Seriously!

Off of the Crystal Cellar was the Barrel room. And it was full of cheese.

Raymond-vineyards-barrel-room
If I died, this would be my heaven!

And olives…

party-food

and other yummy things…

party food

While we were in the barrel room Jean-Charles came in and offered a back-room tour of the place. Unfortunately I was treating the table in the barrel room like a feed bag and did not see my friends go. Dawn and Elizabeth told me I really missed out. Boo! (But seriously, can you blame me? Look at all that cheese!)

cheese plate
Get in my belly!

After much eating and drinking and winery exploring the Wine Sisters were done and ready to retire. We had get to bed at a decent hour to gear up for the next day that involved 7AM Zumba, a 10:30 AM champagne tasting and more food and wine than even someone who uses a cheese table as a feedbag would have thought possible.

Stay tuned to find out all about it…

*photo of Jean-Charles Boisset courtesy of Sarah Nelson.

I Think I’ll Write a Travel Blog

Flying Virgin Airlines
Away we go

I think I’ll write a travel blog. After all, last week I was traveling. Alone.

That’s right, just me and my (not so) little carry on. (You’re all jealous aren’t you?)

I didn’t go anywhere glamorous, but maybe if I started writing a travel blog, I could start going to glamorous places.

Maybe I could make the URL of my travel blog Suburban Mom Dumps Family to Travel to Glamorous Places dot com.

No?

There is a travel blog called Adventurous Kate written by a fabulous 20-something (named Kate, duh) who travels the world solo and writes about it. She made it into her job! I hate her. I want to be her. Why wasn’t the internet invented when I was 20-something and adventurous?

Since I am not fabulous and young 20-something and adventurous – wait, that’s not true, I may not be 20-something, but I am fabulous and adventurous. Well, at heart anyway, just not currently in practice… let’s start over…

Since I am not 20-something, if I had a travel blog to write about my travel “adventures” I would probably write something like this…

Last Week I had an early flight to Virginia. I was excited because I was flying Virgin Airlines for the first time and didn’t have to worry about anyone but me. I had a cup of coffee on the way to the airport, but I got there early enough to buy another at Starbucks. (I figured since I got up at 4AM I earned it!)

As I was walking down the long hall to the plane I must have jerked my arm because the coffee came flying out of the cup and right onto my shirt. Crap! I was meeting someone at a restaurant right after I got off the plane. And I HATE having coffee stains (or any stains for that matter) on my shirt.

I HATE IT!

My luck turned around because the flight wasn’t very full and I had a whole row to myself. Score! I like to sit on the aisle because I have to get up at least two or three times on long fights to pee. (Everyone who knows me well is nodding their heads right now.) But I also like to sit at the window so I can see what we’re flying over and lean up against the wall. With the whole row to myself I could do both. Holla!

Inside Virgin Airlines plane
TV screens for every seat and a whole row to myself – sweet!

So as soon as that fasten-seat-belt sign turned itself off I hopped right up and hightailed it to the bathroom. I tried blotting the coffee stain with a wet paper towel and got nowhere. So, since the stain was near the bottom of my shirt, I stuck it under the running water and rubbed some soap on it and rinsed, and rinsed, and rinsed (you would not believe how much you have to rinse to get a tiny bit of soap out) and now had a shirt that had a six inch by six inch sopping wet area. I took a bunch of paper towels and squeezed out the excess water as best I could, buttoned my sweater over the spectacle of it and returned to my seat row.

The shirt felt cold on my skin so I put a paper towel between my stomach and my shirt. (That paints a pretty picture doesn’t it?) Then I ate half the sandwich that I brought for breakfast. And blopped avocado on my shirt. Huhhhh (That is the sound of me taking a deep breath and trying not to scream the word SHIT! on a quiet plane.)

I got back up, went to the bathroom and repeated the whole stick-the-bottom-of-my-shirt-under-the-running-water-process. When I got back to my seat I put my Pashmina under my shirt and wrapped it around my shoulders so I would stay warm, but didn’t cover my shirt so it could dry. Thank god I had the whole row to myself and the plane was dark. If I had a seatmate, they’d probably think I was mental.

(Travel tip: always travel with a Pashmina type scarf – so much better than the nasty travel blankets they always run out of have on the plane.)

scart
This is what I look like in my Pashmina when I travel! (Hey… sexy lady!)

A couple hours later I went to the bathroom again (look, I drink a lot of water) and noticed a third stain on my shirt. WTF?!  When did I become incapable of wearing a shirt without getting it dirty? I was like a toddler in desperate need of a bib. This time I just took the shirt off and put it in the sink. A bit more soap, a bit more scrubbing, a lot more rinsing, and a lot of paper towels to squeeze it (semi) dry. (I wonder if Adventurous Kate ever used an airline bathroom as her own personal washing machine.)

I know what you’re all thinking – I had a carry on. Why didn’t I just change when I got to the airport? Because I wanted to wear the shirt I was wearing, that’s why. (She says with a foot stomp. See acting like a toddle above!)

I returned to my seat and resumed my classy position of shoving my scarf under (but not on top of) my shirt and around my shoulders. I arrived to my destination with my shirt clean(ish?) and dry. But I don’t think I’ll be ditching my family to write a travel blog any time soon. (Unless you think there might be a market for How To Use An Airline Bathroom As A Washing Machine dot com.)

*Pashmina photo “borrowed” from http://womenclothingtoday.com

The Long Road Home

As we start our journey home from Colorado to California (with a two night layover in Las Vegas) I find myself a bit weepy.  I’m not sad.  In fact just the opposite; I’m so happy right now I can hardly stand it.

I think it’s the nostalgia of the car trip that’s getting to me.  My husband Dave and I are listening to “The Best of Van Morrison” – a road trip staple – while the kids zone out to Star Wars in the back, their huge wireless headphones blocking out the music and our terrible singing.  I find myself thinking of our first real road trip over 16 years ago when I set off on a cross country drive sitting next to a man I loved more than any man before him.

On December 27, 1991, after putting all of my furniture into storage, I shoved my entire wardrobe and everything else I deemed essential into a rented Uhaul car-top carrier attached to my 1984 Toyota Celica and Dave and I set off towards New York.  (Okay, technically it was New Jersey, but you know…)

Dave and I started dating in the summer of 1989.  I fell hard for him right away.  I think he fell hard for me too but HEDIDNOTWANTAGIRLFRIEND so he was very non-committal.  (Once after we were dating for about a year we went to Phoenix for the weekend and he introduced me to his uncle – who lived there – as his date.  His date?  To Phoenix?  Yeah, he had serious commitment problems.)

In January of ’91 he got a promotion that required him to relocate to New York.  And even though I still never heard him ever utter the word “girlfriend” we decided to carry on long distance to see what happened. We managed to see each other for long weekends about every six weeks.  In October he asked me to move to New York.  I’d been ready since February.

I really think that if he hadn’t moved to New York we wouldn’t have ended up together.  It was the distance and missing me that made him realize he was in love with me.  If he had stayed in California I think I would have grown tired of waiting for him to commit and left him or I would have started nagging him for a commitment and he would have grown tired of that and he would have left me.  It turns out the distance that  separated us is ultimately the thing that brought us closer together.  It’s funny the little curve balls life tends to throw at you.

So two days after Christmas, after giving up a highly coveted job in the music industry and a really great apartment, I kissed my friends and family goodbye and set off on the road trip of my life.  We had a great time.  We tried to visit the Grand Canyon (well we did visit the Grand Canyon, we just couldn’t see it because it was socked in with fog), we stayed with some friends in Houston and had the best Queso Fundido I’ve ever had in my life, made it to New Orleans for New Year’s Eve, and got lost on some Louisiana back road that provided us with a story we still tell today.

When we were living in New York (okay, okay New Jersey) Dave actually lost his job due to a merger but was still under contract so he was still getting paid.  Talk about the time of our lives!  One day we were walking down the street in Hoboken and Dave turned to me and said, “It’s so cold.  Let’s go to Florida tomorrow.”  And we did.  We drove all the way down to Key West.  A few weeks later we drove through New England all the way to Montreal.  Four months later he got a job in Los Angeles and we loaded all of our belongings and my Celica onto a moving van and drove his Honda back home.

We’ve been on many crazy road trips since then – LA to Seattle and back, and twice we’ve driven roundtrip from Los Angeles to Wichita (once to pickup heirloom furniture and another time for his grandmother’s funeral).  When Chandler was just shy of four and Marley was only 3 months old we drove from Los Angeles to the Canadian Rockies and back.  We had to stop every 3 or 4 hours so I could nurse Marley, but that was one of the best and most beautiful trips of our lives.   3,000 miles in 10 days.  We both wish it could have been longer, though that probably would have meant driving even farther.  Not counting this trip where we are sure to log in over 2,000 miles, we’ve probably driven over 20,000 miles together on road trips alone.

There are things that remain constant for all of our trips:  two travel mugs and a Thermos full of coffee to start our day, music that is (for the most part) mutually agreed upon, whenever we stop for gas he fills up the car and I wash the windows, we always have a big box of Gobstoppers to suck on (the passenger pops them into the mouth of the driver), and the air conditioning is only turned on once the outside temp reaches 83 degrees (that’s his stupid ass rule – though you know, with all the fluorocarbons the A/C releases into the air I put up with it without complaining.)

This is actually our first vacation car trip since that trip to Canada almost 8 years ago.  Sure we’ve gone on some 5 or 6 hour drives for camping trips, but that hardly counts as a road trip by our standards.  And today, as we start our journey home and sing “Have I Told You Lately” to each other, the first song we danced to together as husband and wife, happy tears escape from the corners of my eyes -tears shed in reminiscence of the road trips of our past and in anticipation of all the miles we will surely travel together in our future.

*This post originally appeared on skirt.com on August 24, 2008. I have archived it here after learning that skirt will be shutting down the blogging portion of its site on November 30, 2013.