I am an advocate of traveling and enjoying the place you live. I love going new places and taking in what each season has to offer…within a 20 mile radius of my house.
Yet, I rarely leave that bubble. I go to Canada often, and that might sound exotic, but it’s only 4 miles away. I am never in anything resembling an actual city. I realized that I hadn’t even been to Bangor, with what most people would consider normal shopping and entertainment options- Target, a craft store, a kids museum, Mexican food- since October. It’s three hours away, and that’s far enough that I just don’t go.
I know I can do trips, because I have done them before. But whatever you don’t do often can feel overwhelming. And the thought of leaving feels scary.
My normal plan is to leave Maine when the snow starts to melt and the mud begins. We love winter and we love summer, but when it’s mucky outside, it’s hard to do much outside. Yet, I was dragging my feet about going to grandma and grandpa’s this year. I couldn’t commit.
I shared my fears with a good friend, and she recommended 3 days ahead for planning max. Don’t give yourself a chance to think too much. I went for 4 days ahead, and 3 would have been much wiser. That 4th day, I started doubting my ability to pull it off. Lesson learned.
And that’s how we went from this…
To this…after 22 hours of driving, a fairly miraculous transformation.
The drive was fascinating. We watched for the end of snow (New Hampshire), the first green grass (New Jersey), daffodils (Maryland), forsythia and redbuds (Virginia), and finally green leaves beginning (North Carolina).
We had great conversations. I don’t like the radio and don’t have a CD player or ipod or anything, so we entertained ourselves. We discussed how states got their shapes, why more people don’t have babies at home, how our medical system has changed in the last 100 years, Henry Ford making cars on an assembly line, and why people live in apartments in NYC, among other things.
My kids didn’t know what billboards were (they aren’t allowed in Maine), and they were disgusted by them when I explained they were for advertising. BenBen cracked me up, “These people are ridiculous. Look at that! Buy a hamburger! Buy a coffee! Buy a jacket!” And Hannah decided people would notice more pretty things if the signs weren’t there. Look at me, raising skeptical consumers, just like myself!
I drove through NYC, and being low tech, I guessed on the 27 different roads I had to take. I knew in the end that I was shooting for the upper level of the George Washington Bridge, but I didn’t know all the roads to get me there. I confessed to the kids that I didn’t know the way for sure, but if we guessed wrong, we’d just ask for help…and it all worked out beautifully. No mistakes! I had dreaded that part of the drive, but obviously not enough to plan ahead for it.
It’s good for all of us to be in a new place, and John told me that I timed it perfectly. Mud has begun. Hooray for a little glimpse of spring…it is coming to us too.
Have you found that less planning is better for anything you do?