13484874_s

Road Trips Create
Magical Moments and Memories

 

We were on the road at 5:55 am this morning, our Toyota Siena minivan packed with clothes, Brad’s triathlon gear, snacks and three sleepy but happy people. We love road trips in our family. My husband and I both grew up in families who took us on long, adventurous drives.

Our very first trip together, just a few months after we started dating, was a drive down Baja California. We knew if we travelled well together, we could be happy together. That was 20 years ago, I guess it worked. There were definitely some magical moments on that adventure too.

Today, we are headed to Estes Park, Colorado to stay with my mom and stepdad. My daughter is already there; she flew by herself (she is 12) last week to have some special time with Grandma and Madison. Brad will be competing in his first Ironman Triathlon on August 3, woot! The rest of us will be hiking and enjoying the natural beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park.

road trips

Back to today’s road trip. My 15-year-old son promptly fell back asleep. Brad and I were quiet, wishing we had made an extra cup of coffee before leaving but knowing we would find a Starbucks (or four) on our journey. Leaving Santa Barbara always feels bittersweet. We love our home and our new community. The romance hasn’t wavered in the two years we have been there. Leaving is no longer difficult, we know we will be back soon.

Two summers ago, June 9 of 2012 to be exact, we made the opposite drive we are making right now. The first leg of our journey takes us from Santa Barbara, through Los Angeles and across the desert to Las Vegas.

As I am writing this, we just passed over the California/Nevada border. Welcome to Casino-ville! It looked like an outlet mall and an amusement park all wrapped into one. I didn’t catch the name of the hotel but I caught the word “resort” – it felt more like a mirage on the edge of the desert. Suddenly my son shouted, “Mom, look!” There was a giant roller-coaster built around the outside of a place called Buffalo Bill’s…A brief distraction in an otherwise dull landscape.

road trips

As we headed south through Ventura, California, we reached the spot where we had our last glimpse of our beloved Pacific Ocean. “Goodbye ocean,” I said softly.

“I remember two years ago,” my husband added, “when we came over this hill and caught this first sight of the Pacific. It took everything I could do not to cry.” Looking back, I think I did cry. I remember that moment as clearly as he does. The sense of wonder, celebration and relief! After two years of planning, saving and the stressful preparations necessary to move our family of four out of a house we inhabited for 13 years, the only home my children had ever known, and get us and all our stuff across country into a new life, we had made it!

We left Plano, TX with two sobbing children who were leaving behind security, friendships and the comfort of living someplace where they knew what to expect. I also remember my husband questioning in that moment, “Are we doing the right thing?” He asked me this quietly as we stopped to fill up our car with gas before starting our cross-country adventure. It was hard to leave but it was what we needed to do in that moment.

So when we finally arrived, when we saw the ocean and knew that we were home, that we weren’t just dropping in for a vacation but that we would enjoy this view every single day, it was a BIG moment.

And it got even bigger and better when we made it to Santa Barbara, drove to a favorite beach, got out the car, took our shoes off and sank our feet into the warm sand. We walked closer to the water, sat down and knew we had made the right choice: we were home.

This is the first time in two years we have driven the same direction and thought about that memory. I love how certain sights, sounds, smells and colors can evoke magical memories.

I would love for you to share a magical memory in the comments below.

I am going back to watching the desert pass by my window and read the billboards.

I just saw a clever one, advertising a law firm. It was bright black and yellow, with a yellow car whose front end was smashed in. The caption read, “Hits happen.” Hee hee, very clever word play and spot of brightness in the dull landscape.