"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.
Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for."
- Louis L'Amour, Ride the Dark Trail
We do lots of things as a family - which is fun. But sometimes all the doing seems hurried and harried. Especially when it involves gathering together 5 grown children, their spouses and 11 grandchildren.
Which is why I relish the memories of last summer's road trip with just three of my grandchildren.
When I was planning the trip, I did so with a bit of trepidation due to memories of road trips of my childhood:
a.) Being crammed into the back seat of some sedan from the sixties - no air conditioning. Windows rolled fully down. Drowning out any music that might be blaring from an AM station. Whipping locks of hair into ice cream cones that dripped faster than they could be licked. Dust from dirt roads being lodged in every pore on your face so you arrived at your destination covered in grim - a situation that always brought out my great-grandmother's hanky. A bit of spit and some brisk rubbing would always dislodge the most stubborn grit.
b.) The vomiting. I am not sure if that was because of the insidious wind, my great-grandmother's tendency to lurch toward her destination, my obsessive reading in the back seat without "watching the horizon" as directed, or the fact that road trips always involved junk food of every shape and flavor imagined.
c.) The boredom. The kind of boredom that caused me - for entertainment's sake - to pick, pick, pick on littler children in the car until they turned into lunatics, threatening to shove their teddy bear down my throat.
So, as much as I love my grandchildren, I wasn't sure I wanted to be locked in a car with them for 6 hours of forced togetherness as we made the trip to and from Drummond together.
To my surprise, not only was there no vomiting, no complaints of boredom and very little combat in the back seat - it was actually fun!
It was fun because we decided to saunter. I love to saunter! Sauntering means there is always a starting point and an ending point to your trip - but what lies between those points on the map is left up to the imagination of the travelers.
Which explains why our trip back downstate from Drummond last year took over 13 hours and involved numerous phone calls from the parents of my grandchildren wondering if we were okay and when we thought we might get home.
And why one granddaughter whispered to her cousins - "Grandma's a bit crazy." To which they responded: "We know, isn't it fun?"
We climbed Castle Rock, got mesmerized at the Mystery Spot, ate lunch overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, shopped at Sea Shell City - and somehow missed viewing the Man Eating Clam!
Headed to Cross Village - but made a sudden U-turn to be totally blown away by a huge field of sunflowers.
Played on the shores of Lake Michigan as we searched for where I use to take their fathers camping when they were young.
Drank virgin Maragritas at the Legg's Inn.
Used a construction site Port-a-John in Harbor Springs because we were laughing so hard from some silly joke that we knew we couldn't make it to a 'real bathroom'.
Played Auto Bingo using game cards we had purchased on Drummond at The Islander Shoppe.
As we meandered down the Lake Michigan coast peals of laughter came from the backseat. Cousins. Slap-happy and tired. Locked in a car with a pile of junk food as the water and trees and lakeshore landmarks flowed past our windows.
Learning how to enjoy the ride as much as the destination.
"All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954