Old Diary, Relationships

Mini-RoadTrip


To go where no one has gone before?  Or maybe just to retrace one’s steps down memory lane. That is the question of the day.

Actually, it was the question for yesterday….

Because we had been cooped up in the house for a couple days and we were in the mood for a mini road trip; but where to go?

The story may be about modern history but it has roots in our personality and says more about who we are, and perhaps who you are, than might at first be evident.

Back in 2011, before we went full time RV’ing we were faced with a winter where we owned a brand new-to-us RV and had to put it in storage for the winter.  Being new to the idea of owning a motorcoach I was obsessed about keeping the batteries sufficiently charged and the coach regularly moving so our solution to the problem was to “exercise” the coach about once a month on a day when the temps were warm enough that we could start the diesel without extreme measures or jumper cables.

a former employer

We made four or five short trips that winter; each of them fun and interesting in it’s own right.  It had been 10 years since I’d been in a driver for Lamers Bus, and while I hadn’t forgotten all that much about coach-ing you do tend to lose your skills and refresher time behind the wheel is always good. So, those were days to spend time together, talking and sharing our ideas of what full time RV’ing would be ‘like’ when we finally got the chance to do it, and seeing a little bit of the countryside.

Now, 7 years later, we find ourselves returning to Wisconsin and wanting to reacquaint ourselves without home state and just how do you do that?  We’ve always enjoyed a good drive and day trips are one of the more pleasant ways of getting out to see and do what there is to be seen, and done!

One of those 2011 trips had been to an un-memorable county park named Carlin Weld. The “most notable” feature of the park was… it’s name.  For some odd reason the memory of having been there brought back a warm-all-over feeling.  It wasn’t the park. It was who I’d been with when I was there — and not for all that long either — and memories of a time when we were looking forward to new adventures together; after a lifetime of working apart we were finally going to get the opportunity to be together — exploring the world — without interruption.

Today (well, technically “yesterday”) we are at a similar though very different place.  Once again we find ourselves at a crossroad:  new horizons await; new adventures too.  What will come of them.  The best part is that we are still having fun being together all the time. I know that’s not always the case with couples; we know plenty of them that don’t do much of anything together and when they are together they seem to get on each others nerves.  But we’re fortunate.

I guess the important “part” of this blog is that it doesn’t take much to make us happy.  Something to do together. Time to chat idly when the TV isn’t distracting us, or a puzzle isn’t calling our name.  The mindlessness of a drive in the country is the perfect opportunity to commune with each other.  (Next to a leisurely stroll through the woods — but it’s way to cold for me to enjoy that right now!)

So, we drove there again, yesterday.  It wasn’t far.  We stayed on the back roads.  We were reminded of the system of Wisconsin Rustic Roads — a couple of which we passed along the route. And if you aren’t familiar with the system of  Rustic Roads in Wisconsin you are missing out. (The link gets you a download of the Wisconsin Rustic Roads Guide)  You can’t “take them anywhere”; they aren’t contiguous. They don’t lead anywhere; they aren’t purpose built.  They are a glimpse back into the world and the life of yesteryear. Most of them are under 5 miles long.  They wind and twist through Wisconsin — little snippets of historically irrelevancy — but they are fun to drive.

My point being simply that they are opportunities for kismet, for happenstance, for whimsy. You don’t have to have a reason for taking a mini road trip — sometimes you spirit just needs to get out and breathe — and what better way to do it than to see a sign, and respond to it.

 

That was how we found Carlin Weld in the first place.  We were traveling a highway and saw a sign to a county park.  We said, “what the heck” and turned to follow the sign.  What we found was small, not very exciting, and in the circumstance it was also snow covered and blustery being in January — but it made a pleasant memory and provided time to enjoy just being together.  I never thought back then in 2011 that I’d want to return.  But then I didn’t know in 2011 that 6 years later I’d be back in Wisconsin wanting to travel again the old roads, to remember where this one leads and where that one needs pot-hole filling.  It’s not about great adventures; it’s about little moments of happiness.

These mini road trips aren’t about going places.  They aren’t about great adventures.  They are about the simple act of investing in one’s own future with their spouse.  You may not enjoy time in the car.  For you, the investment in your spouse might be a night out bowling — not so much for the bowling as for the time between balls.  Seeing as you know I dislike baseball — your investment could be taking your spouse to a game — if you’re like me and bored to death by the game — it would just be a perfect opportunity to sit in the bleachers on a sunny afternoon and tell each other stories.   Things like an afternoon on the beach might not be the best way to invest in each other; not if the guy is looking at all the other women and the wife is looking at all the other men.  These kind of investments have to be about a time when the both of you are just sort of coasting mentally, when there is no agenda, no plan, no schedule.  When your mind is free to wander you get to find out how well your minds (both of you) wander in the same direction.

I hear couples say they grew out of touch.  And the question comes to mind, “what have you done to STAY in touch?”

For us, it’s often these little mini road trips.  For you it might be something quite different.  The only proof of the pudding as to whether it’s an effective gimmick, is whether or not the two of you feel closer as a result.  So there’s no cheating here.  You can tell yourself you’re doing it for someone else, but if you resent the time, or the effort, or the expense then you’re only fooling yourself.

For more information about Wisconsin Rustic Roads, just Google the expression.  That way if the state changes it’s website you’ll always go to the right place. 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Mini-RoadTrip

  1. Actually being at a baseball game is far more entertaining than watching it on TV, simply for the reasons you mentioned, Peter. Being able to watch all of the goings on in the stands is half the fun. And myself being a baseball purest, I enjoy watching the signs coming in from the coaches, etc. There is a lot going on that isn’t caught by a TV camera.

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  2. My father and step-mother sold their home a few years ago, which should have been a shock but wasn’t, and live on their RV full-time. They have a fantastic relationship and are constantly exploring new places.
    I have a home-base with my family but will be on the road soon in my own camper. It’s a life a few years ago I had no idea existed and now I cannot imagine living in a single location. We tend to go where the temperatures are warmer, though.
    Keep exploring and love one-another, great message.
    Donna

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    • Donna,

      First of all, thanks for the comment. I realize it takes time to do that and time is our most valuable resource!

      I would not downplay the joy we had whilst RV’ing. It was a lifetime worth of fun tucked into a few years. But we can’t always continue doing what we are enjoying — no matter how much we enjoy it — so for it was a good time to stop. For the right kind of couple/single/family it’s a dream come true.

      That said, it can also be a horrible nightmare for the wrong personalities.

      I’ve tried to be fair over the years in sharing both the good things and the bad. If I can save even one party from making a huge mistake — and I know I have — then all the writing was worth it. Too many people go RV’ing for all the WRONG reasons. Which should not take away from those for whom it’s perfect.

      I honestly have no idea how much we’ll travel in the future. We are both still able — thankfully. But whereas in my lifetime I have never before been content to be just-where-I-am until we went RV’ing; I can truthfully say that since we arrived back in Wisconsin I have not felt the urge to do any significant traveling. We are finding that this winter, at least, is not as horrible as we remembered (but we are way below average for snowfall); perhaps having lived in HOT HEAT cured me from complaining about the cold which down-to-the-minus-numbers I’m able to deal with quite well. We’ll see.

      We won’t be traveling as much as before, but hang in there with us, and I’ll try to keep things interesting.

      Peter

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Liz W says:

    We love Wisconsin’s rustic roads, and do road trips often, even in this weather. The Mississippi River (both the WI and MN sides) draw us often. Purchasing one of the very large state specific map books which shows every backroad and cart path, has been so helpful. We will highlight the roads on the map after we have driven them. Fortunately, we both enjoy this kind of activity and so does our dog!
    So much to see in our beautiful part of the US!

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    • I am SO much in agreement.

      My state specific map is getting kind of old, and I’m debating whether it’s worth it to replace, but I think I might just keep it. While we were RV’ing it didn’t get much use!!!!!

      The thing with maps is that I USED to be so dependent on them. But with the advent of GPS I’m learning to just take off knowing that either my Rand McNally, or Subaru Sally will get me back home no matter where I might wander. The problem is that Subaru Sally – doesn’t have as much invested in directions as Rand McNally. And using her is a bit of a pain. I’m not sure what we’ll ultimately do. We have not been taking the standalone GPS along because the Subaru navigation is reasonably accurate and we aren’t going places we are totally unfamiliar with.

      We love staying OFF the Interstate system, and many times we even avoid the 4 lane State and County roads just for the fun of it. If we’re in a hurry we may take the High Road, but why? We normally have the time to explore.

      Out OTIS was a car dog too. He loved to get in the car, even though it was hard for him (as an English Bulldog) to get up INTO the car. Now it’s just the two of us.

      It’s really curious the little things that one forgets when you aren’t in the area all the time. Much of the last 2 months has been spent refreshing our memory about what’s where and how best to get there. Of course roadworks don’t help. sigh.

      >

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  4. Every word in this post mirror how Tom and I approach road-trips. It’s been 20 years since we poked along back-roads of Wisconsin, but “rustic roads” beckon regardless of location.Be it “mini” or major road trips, decades old rules are the same – no fast food, no freeways or major highways, stop if it suits you, let the road take us in unexpected directions. Sigh. This post made me so happy. Biggest of hugs. 🙂

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