Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dreaming of vacation

After Christmas, once the house-guests have all vacated and the decorations have been stuffed back into basement boxes, the house is stripped of warmth, cheer and community.  When I leave home in the morning, I back out of my driveway-- trying not to notice my cold, bare porch-- dreaming of a vacation in the south seas.

Fiji may not be in the budget, but maybe I could take a road trip to see one of my kids.

Road trips are funny.  You can plan and plan, or you can take off on a spontaneous adventure.  Sometimes, it doesn't seem to matter very much which way you go.  Sometimes, the most quickly embarked-upon trips produce the best memories.

Even if you are taking off in a rush, you do need a few key things.  I have a triumvirate, that I check anytime I am getting into my car:
(1) keys
(2) purse
(3) sunglasses

Of course, my purse contains both my phone and my billfold, and these are the essential items therein.  So you could instead call it a quadumvirate, and make it:
(1) keys
(2) phone (with GPS)
(3) billfold/wallet (with cash and credit cards)
(4) sunglasses

I find it a useful exercise always to count to three or four as I think through these essential items whenever I leave the house.

Honestly that's all you need.  Unless you have prescription medications.  Remember your prescription medications if you are going to be gone for more than a day!

That's all you need, but there are many things you can throw into the car to make yourself more comfortable on a long drive.

Here are six of my favorite

Road Trip Comforts

1.  Bottled water and almonds.  You can keep going for a long time on bottled water and almonds.  They are healthy, and they are not very messy if you spill.  I always take a stock of bottled water and almonds, and I have been very thankful for them on many occasions.  Emergency breakfast, lunch and supper.

2.  Oranges are another fabulous car snack.  I discovered this when I was the mother of young children.  Oranges are like a food and a drink all in one.  Because they are juicy, they don't make you thirsty.  But, because they are a piece of fruit, and not a liquid beverage, they don't increase your need for bathroom stops!  We spent many a long car ride peeling and sectioning oranges for the kids all the way across NY, PA, OH, IN, IL and WI on our way to Minnesota.  (Caveat: if you are sensitive to acids, too many oranges can upset your stomach.Carrot sticks and peppermints are good snacks to stock as well, and can help soothe carsickness and keep you awake when you are driving late into the night.

3.  Baby wipes.  Again, back when I was the mother of young children, I discovered the amazing versatility of a good baby wipe.  Besides wiping babies, baby wipes are good for
  • cleaning stains out of upholstery
  • getting stickiness off hands (for instance, after you have peeled a number of oranges)
  • sanitizing certain objects at a rest stop
  • washing your face after a full night of driving
  • freshening your armpits (in a pinch)

4.  Plastic bags.  I use recycled ones, and if I forget to throw a few into the glove compartment, it's somewhat crippling.  Plastic bags are good for many things, but most especially for collecting garbage (orange peels, and used babywipes, to name a few).  If I take a nice supply, we can toss out the current garbage bag at every stop. 

5.  The Atlas.  Yes.  I am old.  But seriously, there's often no substitute for a bird's eye view of the terrain.  Whether you need to plot a detour, or you just want a visual picture in your head of how much farther you have to go, an atlas is a wonderful thing.  Also, the GPS sometimes fails.  It happens.  I've experienced it.  Once my husband's GPS took him into the heart of a frightening neighborhood in an unfamiliar city, and then froze into a completely unresponsive state.  When the GPS fails, it's exceedingly nice to have the back-up of a good old-fashioned atlas.

6.  A towel.  This is my personal favorite.  Ideally, it should be a nice, fluffy, cozy beach towel.  I used to have a pink-on-pink floral one, but it got lost when we moved to Illinois.  I haven't completely given up hope that one day we will find it in the bowels of our basement.  I loved that towel the way a baby loves her blankie.  I could lay it across my body if I was cold, or roll it up like a pillow to cushion my head against the car window.  I could make it into a sunshade.  Folded, it makes a nice pad to sit on.  Obviously, it works well for wiping and drying things.  All this, and super easy to launder besides.

So I started out dreaming of Fiji and ended up remembering my beloved lost travel towel.  That's a lot like how life is, isn't it?

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