I am going through acute travel withdrawal. My mom and I did a day trip yesterday but it has been awhile since I've had to pack, plan, and diagram a trip. my husband and I used to travel four hours one way to see relatives at least once a year. Or six hours the other way to visit other family twice a year. We, sometimes with his older daughter, usually took a yearly sightseeing-packed tropic vacation (not very relaxing, though, as my husband likes to go go go). In addition we would have camping trips and the random church conference.
Things have compulsorily changed. Financial commitments (I never thought I would actually get braces but I should have completed the process before baby). Car troubles (I want my Jeep back). The fact that I am not working full time (and part of my wage goes to daycare). My husband also doesn't work as long hours now that we have a baby. They usually have their morning walk with the dog before he heads to work. My husband, that is. Not the dog.
I don't miss most things. I am okay with eating out less and cutting out the movie theatre (but now, to my disdain, the local video store is shut down). I am alright without clothes shopping (I think). I can learn to be thrifty (garage sales!). But I really miss travel.
We have had three big trips with our baby (thank you for family billeting). The first trip was when she was three months. For my husband's birthday we first had a relaxing stay in a hotel that had an ice carving competition. We toured the sculptures. We took a horse drawn carriage ride along the sun kissed frosty lake to a frozen waterfall. We enjoyed introducing the pool to our baby. Then off we continued to the city to introduce our daughter to aunts and uncles and grandparents. She did amazingly well. She let all these new people hold her and she captured their hearts with her cuteness (as dad captured their breath with his antics).
The second trip was just me and baby when she was seven months old. We travelled a little farther for a ten day trip and met even more family. I took her to a wildlife park to show her bears and ostriches and wild cats, where she instead thoroughly enjoyed the birds and squirrels. I could have sat in the parking lot and waved at the birds flying by and it would have been just as impressive. She enjoyed the llamas though. For some reason she laughed at them. It was a nice trip and she was a great traveller, even with an hour or two or three (or more!) every day. Due to medical and dental visits 2.5 hours from home she is accustomed to being stuck in the car.
Our third trip was for a wedding in which I was a bridesmaid. Again, we stayed with family and had a great weekend. Nine months at the time, she did phenomenally well with all the busy days and late nights. For the first time I left her with dad into the night and I went out with the ladies, as I worried incessantly that she was crying for me and my milk. Of course, she was just fine. During the ceremony she was a considerably quiescent audience member with dad while mom was up front with the bridal party. She didn't realize it was me, though, until I passed her for our exit.
We also did one night away for two other weddings when she was ten months old. She first stood on her own, solidly with no support, her bare toes gripping the grass. She crawled around the dance floor with the other children. She slept in the carrier into the night as I rocked her back and forth dancing.
We have had a few of these one night trips. Once or twice it wasn't the intention but for some reason our seasoned, content traveller reaches her limit at bedtime. She doesn't want to spend the night in that cramped car seat. She wants her bed (I mean, our bed). I don't blame her.
Now that I've reviewed the last year and a half I guess I am fortunate. We have travelled and quite enjoyed time together and time with extended family. As I reminisce I conceive that I should appreciate the blessings. Be grateful for each opportunity and memory God has given me. But it has been about nine months since we have had a vacation or time to really spend with distant family.
Nine months in the life of a baby is a big difference. Crawling right through walking into running. Cooing right through first words into singing. I know what it feels like to not directly watch a loved one develop. When my niece was a baby we were amazed at her progress each visit, as we only saw her three or four times a year. To my compunction, even though we intended a visit last month, we still haven't met our nephew who is two months old.
So many intentions! I would love to take my daughter to see two sets of great grandparents at opposite ends of our road travel spectrum. Both sets she has only seen twice. And oh if we had time to visit everyone in between! Lovely!
I don't need salty, tropical sands or fancy, all inclusive resorts. Just give me warm, welcoming hugs and fun family meals. I don't need an expensive plane ride to distant paradise. Just give me ample gas money and a reliable vehicle to get to the outer reaches of our tribe. I don't need exciting pictures with exotic animals or popular landmarks. Just give me laughing, smiling faces and lasting ancestral memories.
Come on family, bring on the weddings, family reunions, and big birthday bashes. Hmmm, I guess I have missed a few of those in the last year (boo hoo). I think I need to crack down on my saving and prioritize this important venture! Here's to a few road trips this summer! (Don't worry Mexico-- we'll be back some day.)