Picture the car loaded with these items: packed suitcases; snacks and water; books and crossword puzzles; jackets (just in case); pillows; Mom and Dad…but no kids!
For the first time in over 28 years, my husband and I recently took a brief vacation together sans children. Okay, I should amend that sentence; we traveled to the deep South to visit one of our grown children, so we weren’t alone for the entire trip. But for a few days, it was just hubby and me traveling together.
When Mama’s Empty Nest was full, we always journeyed together with our children for vacations. I can only recall a couple of times when my husband and I went away for a night without the kids. During most of their growing up years, dear hubby traveled a lot for business. So I always felt it important that we spend as much time as we could together as a family. That meant always taking family vacations never taking couple vacations.
Those excursions were often trips back to our home state to visit our extended family where we would throw in some fun side expeditions for the children to enjoy. Some times vacations were big trips like Disneyland, a week at the beach (both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic), historical places like Williamsburg, VA, or to cities across the country from Seattle to Saint Louis to Philadelphia. Our kids lay claim to having visited a majority of states in this great country of ours.
So for this trek, it seemed a little odd to travel without our children along – even though they are grown – but we enjoyed our time together immensely. A vacation should really be a time to relax, recharge your weary and waning batteries, and enjoy life away from the hustle and bustle.
Both hubby and I relate to the old saying, “A trip is what you take when you can’t take anymore of what you’ve been taking.” In other words, we both needed a little rest and respite – he needed rest from the stress of his job, I needed respite away from the same old humdrum order of my life.
Roman philosopher and dramatist Seneca said, “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” That’s what we needed! A change of place and new vigor!
So we decided to meander our way down south to visit oldest daughter, but take our time on the journey to and fro, investigate sights that interested us, or take some scenic routes away from the usual rat-race of interstate highways. And that’s exactly what we did.
I learned a few things on my restful trip with my husband. First I learned that I love traveling in the fall. The weather is perfect and the crowds are few. The days were sunny, bright and warm without being too hot, and the evenings were cool and crisp. My kind of weather. We didn’t have to force our way through throngs of people at any of our stops. Life seemed a little slower and less hectic than summer traveling was for us.
Secondly, I discovered that I don’t have to stick to an agenda. Our trips in the past were always planned – arriving here and seeing this, this, and that, then traveling there to see this, do this, experience this all in non-stop motion. For this trip, hubby and I decided to stop wherever we saw a place of interest, taking a few detours here and there because we weren’t in a big hurry to get anywhere.
We still had hotel room reservations for nightly destinations (and thanks to “frequent stayer” left over points from hubby’s traveling days, we had free accommodations at a great hotel), but in between we could meander wherever we wanted.
The third thing I realized was that if I had enough money, I would really relish being retired and doing the same kind of traveling we just experienced. This trip gave me a little taste of something to look forward to and plan for, since we can’t retire yet.
Another thing I learned is that no matter how far from your abode you wander, you’ll see someone who reminds you of home, whether it is a retired couple from your home state who you exchange pleasantries with at a Chattanooga, TN Civil War battlefield or when you spot your children’s college alma mater license plate on a car in the Space and Rocket Center parking lot in Huntsville, AL.
And finally, I learned something about my relationship with my husband. Before we left, I was curious about the outcome of our trip. Would hubby and I get on each other’s nerves, disagree about what to do and see (he loves historical places especially Civil War battlefields, I grow weary of them after awhile), would we have anything to discuss during the long car rides, or would it just be strange and lonely without our kids along?
I’m happy to report that the trip was magnificent. We actually enjoyed each other’s company and we had fun to boot! When my husband informed me that he told a co-worker that he looked forward to this vacation, even though it was short, to just spend some time with his wife, I was so appreciative.
Doesn’t that just melt your heart? It did mine. After 33 years of marriage, raising three kids, the stresses of job losses and moving several times, hubby still wants to spend time with me.
Famous American writer and wit Mark Twain said, “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
For me, I found out I don’t just love my husband, I like him. And yes, I even want to travel with him – even if it’s only to a Civil War battlefield!