Thursday, June 07, 2007

Par for the Course

"We can't let it turn out like the mini-golf affair," I say to my husband over chips and salsa this afternoon at the only Mexican restaurant at which we can agree to eat.

A portion of my own post yesterday really grabbed my attention. A month from today, our X-country road trip could actually be in progress. I say could, because we haven't actually set a firm departure date.We don't have a firm itinerary. We have no reservations. We are, by design, flying by the seat of our pants.

Now, this isn't to say we haven't given the trip any thought. We chose this summer to drive across the country with the kids three years ago. Six months ago, I hung a US map on the kitchen door, and purchased color-coded stickers for family members to mark their must-see destinations. Today, I've just returned from the library where I procured a copy of Steinbeck's Travels With Charlie. Thinking, we've done. Planning...well, let's just say we want to be surprised by where we sleep each night. We're bringing camping gear and we're packing a cooler. Dr. S, the professor for which I will begin working in the fall, feels confident that this is a safe plan for American travel. She's currently in a small Central American country. I suspect she planned better.

However, I awoke today plagued by memories of spontaneous date nights on which my husband and I have embarked. These typically end on the couch with a rented video and a package of break-and-bake cookies by 8:30. Unfortunately, my husband and I have demonstrated no real aptitude for unplanned jaunts. Oh, there's the occasional success story like the weekend trip we took to Texas or the Niagara Falls excursion of '89. But the overall failure rate of our dates is pretty high unless we've secured advance tickets for a play or made reservations at a hotel or other higher-level arrangements.

Perhaps the worst of these dates took place on a recent evening when we took off with the vague idea of trying to locate a mini-golf joint we remember going to in the mid-nineties. We spent about 45 minutes tooling down strips of road we thought "looked familiar" and resorted to calling our son for help. Now, I love my son, but the boy is no bastion of resourcefulness. We sat in a darkened parking lot for about 20 minutes coaching him through the Yellow Pages. After attempting to direct us to any number of alternative pursuits, he finally succumbed from exhaustion. “Sorry, guys, I just can't help you."

We didn't even bother with the video store. We watched the second half of the movie we put on for our son before we left. A month from today, I may be posting interesting observations from somewhere near Chicago. Or I might just be on the couch with The Back to the Future trilogy and a tray of chocolate chip cookies.

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