life, retirement, travel

Breakfast is NOT a Frozen Burrito…Or the Many Lessons Learned on the Road

1. Food. Travel in any form takes on different eating patterns but road tripping is an art! The first realization that sitting in a car makes you hungry or bored hungry. That is bad and the layout of gas station markets lures you to carbs and sugar. You must hunt and put blinders on. Have a focus list and go. Water, power bars, pre-popped popcorn, almonds, and sugar-free candy if needed. This worked for the first day and my little smug self was so flaunting my food list, steps, and this simplicity until we had an oops moment with the car. Bring on the donuts. Yes, bagged food followed. So in reality. Plan to eat, overeat, not give a damn, and just adjust when you get out of the car. Or fly.

2. Exercise. Considering the day is spent sitting. Movement is key. Currently, I am writing and doing a Peloton meditation so I do not jump outside of my skin due to boredom. It counts. Everything counts on these long days. Walking around a gas station, stopping at a side road museum, anything. The movement of body or mind is key as you got the time. Oh, so much time, and of course wearing a smart watch that adds a fun guilt trip with every alert to my needed movement times was a brilliant move. I went from moving at every stop like a crazy woman to raising my hand, shaking it while cursing and going back to my Netflix. But it did register my simple movement. Guilt conquered.

3. Hotels. Kinda. Depending on the size of the town there is little choice and they tend to be overrated on Expedia. Our four star home away from home was more of a one. But nonetheless I just kept chanting eight hours, eight hours, eight hours in monk like fashion. My husband snored away so there was no worry of him calling the nearest pysch ward. I learned quickly that time will elapse whether you sleep or not and you will be back in the car. So some sleep is great. The morning buffet advertised to the weary traveller is nothing short of frightening so beware you might get the option of a frozen burrito or a pancake machine. We were. So, just run towards your nearest bagged food option. But in case you wondered what a pancake machine is, I tested it, you are welcome. Life presented me a pancake machine. Of course, I am going to press the buttons. Duh. The machine is a large double decker toaster oven looking contraption, that allows you to plug in your desired amount of pancakes, on an outside keypad. Once entered it goes through the teachnical process of warming frozen circles up. Once the machine detects the food it warms the little round bites of fluff. Here comes the magical moment, they were spit out at you for you to catch in our choice of paperware of the day, a bowl. Yup. I had to try, buttons pressed bowl ready like a catcher behind a mound, I laughed, a maniacal laugh that if heard in this small town would have not only gained looks but perhaps a sheriff’s visit. Please note the lobby was empty. As they were still frozen. I tossed them. No one was looking at my rudeness and waste but there we no re-entering directions for uncooked pancakes. So no choice. I highly suggest you try one if you find the opportunity. Entertainment at it’s finest. Our last night on the road, I booked a real hotel. I could not deal with roadside Schitt Creeks one more night. I kept hearing the characters voices. It was unsettling. Cue pysch ward.

4. Know your audience. As we entered Nara Vista New Mexico my husband thought he would be cute and make a play on words between Nara and Napa. He got a look. He sings country. I watch Schitts Creek and he still has never heard of it…really! Your driving companion can’t change, you just have to accept, move on, make light of, or ignore. There is no changing the over 50 crew. None. So if you get in a car for a trip scan your crew, note their shortcomings, and count the days. I recommend meditation, netflix, your music, or feigning sleep. The last one did not work. He knew. Damn.

5. Attire. So let’s review. You will eat crap, stay in scary roadside haunts, allow every minor fault of your partner to drive you crazy and be so tired at the end of the day that your movement is minimal. Sounds heavenly. But I had one ace up my sleeve. Super stylish travel clothes. Yup. Take that road. Livingston for the win. Yeah, no. I packed all of my clothes for the trip in my bag a week before we left never thinking that these were my clothes for just the trip not the car trip. A couple days before my husband sat me down and explained the road travel bag concept of just taking in a small bag every night to the hotel. Just essentials. Sleeping. Getting up early and hurling yourself back into the car for the next day was the process laid before me leaving no time for “cute.” I cried. No prep time. Just brush your teeth and go. Ugh. This coupled with my last days of school I found myself hurling everything I hate into a backpack and calling it good. So yes, I looked like hell. Skipped makeup, wore socks with sandals for comfort, and wore clothes I would not wear outside my own home. But was I comfy. Yes. So, maybe it was a win. There are few photos of human life during these days. Nope. Accept my husbands cruel attempts of finding humor in my suffering. Deleted. All, while monk like chanting of thirty-three years, thirty-three years…

So, was it all bad. No. If you let go of your roadtrip fantasy looks, eating, nightly room choices in very small towns. You saw America and breweries and wineries for days. Fruit wine, anyone? Aside from all of the craziness I saw America. The farming America that works hard, votes with their pocket books, is kind, holds doors (all the time), apologizes for cursing, does not believe happiness is always attached to a university degree but is tied to family values, carrying on the farm and name, and saving not spending on every new latest fad. They are a special breed. I just take-in their life with a bit of jealousy but knowing that I was raised as a city girl who values everything they feel is unnecessary. My hope from this peek into Americana is that I now truly understand our fancy ways are truly in the minority and real life is dotted all across the United States in strings of small towns only varying by region, state, size, and local economic and farming opportunities. We the city folk, while blessed with opportunities, we often feel we are the majority of thinkers, movers, shakers, and biggest complainers. Our way is right. Period. Thus forgetting who we lean upon for everything that we consume in daily life. They are the real America. So, if you dare go on a drive and take-in the beauty, wonder, small town ways. Have a few small town conversations. It will bring you peace and insight. Just once. Then fly.

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