|My '97 Explorer took us to 47 states. I miss her. ;)|
We were 20 when we took our first vacation together; only a few months into our marriage and with what felt like the weight of the world on our shoulders. We were trying to juggle new jobs, the new experience of living with someone, rent, car payments… all so much to deal with at such a young age, but we lived in expectancy just knowing that everything would work out fine. So when my cousin came to visit my folks and suggested that Tommy and I vacation in Florida and stay a week with her, we didn't hesitate.
A few weeks later we packed my little Plymouth Sundance with enough snacks and clothing to keep us going for weeks and more CDs than the local music store. The plan was to leave early Saturday morning. But at 20 you have the energy to work an 8-hour day, commute, clean the house, pack a car and then drive all night long. It wasn't till the 16th hour that Tommy asked me to take over the last four. The sun was rising and his body had had enough. Me, well, I wanted to sleep too, but I’d napped a few hours here and there so I really had no excuse. Navigating a straight shot from Texas to Florida wasn't all that hard.
When we arrived we had no plans. We knew we wanted to visit Disney World and the beaches, but beyond that we were open to just about anything. My cousin suggested Universal Studios, Dayton Speedway and St. Augustine to see the lighthouse. We enjoyed all the tourist attractions and amusement parks but the best part was the two days just walking the many beaches collecting shells and taking pictures.
After a fun but exhausting week we still had a 20-hour drive ahead of us. We repacked the car, loaded up the newly acquired souvenirs and headed west. As we drove we took our time. With an extra day to travel and no theme parks or tourist attractions planned we took a few back roads and stop at a local diner. We drove along the Gulf taking in the sights and during low tide… the smells.
We realized on that ride home that the best part of the trip wasn't the amusement parks or even the beach, but the drive itself. With our jobs and stress of the everyday life we stopped making the time like we did while dating to just talk. That silly, nonsense, “Why do I like this kind of music” or “What made this movie so awesome” talk.
Read the rest of the story at Joy Comes in the Morning...