If you read my last post, you know that my annual family vacation is meant to gather my family together for a week or two in the summer so that we can reset and enjoy each other's company. The tricky part of this is that we're a bit spread out. Travelling 1500 miles is a lot and most would fly. I had intended to fly this year but there were circumstances that prevented that from happening.
I found myself needing to drive the entire trip on my own which is incredibly daunting. For this particular trip I break it up into three days' worth of driving. It's about a twenty-one hour drive from my home, so it's too much to do alone in a day. I could technically do it in two, but I've yet to find a hotel that's at the halfway point that is clean, takes pets, and feels safe. I break it into three days. Eight hours to the hotel, six hours to my sister's and then six hours to the place where we all meet.
Planning something like that takes a little bit of time. Packing for a road trip is not the same as packing for a flight. Especially when you have a dog to pack for too. There are food considerations to make. Snacks and drinks are definitely cheaper outside of the convenience stores. I like to bake muffins for the mornings of the trips because you never really know what you're going to get when it comes to continental breakfasts.
This year the drive got off to a rocky start, I wasn't even fifteen minutes into the trip and I got stuck in traffic. There was a massive accident involving multiple cars and eleven people who had to be transported by ambulance back into town. What should have taken about thirty minutes of driving ended up taking two hours. After that it stormed. It stormed like I'd never seen before. I grew up in Florida. It's the lightning capital of the United States. I've driven through plenty of hair-raising storms. This storm made me seriously uncomfortable. I've never seen so many lightning strikes so frequently. The storm was so intense I nearly pulled over. If you're a Florida native, I hope you appreciate how serious that statement is.
Somehow I made it to my first stopping point unscathed. I didn't get there until 1am which was unfortunately but I had my audiobooks to keep me company as my dog snoozed in her bed on the floorboard. After checking in and walking around for a bit so the dog could pee, it was back in the car for some Taco Bell. It was the only place open at that time of night and even though I can't stand it, but it was better than nothing.
The nice thing about this extra stop is that I can sleep in the next day. There's no rush for the second leg of the trip to make sure I get in by a certain time. The second leg of the trip was totally uneventful (thank goodness) and I managed to get to my sister's house before dinner.
One of the things I like best about solo travelling by car is the total control over the trip. If I need to stop and take a break from being cooped up? I do. I can listen to my audiobooks instead of the repetitive radio stations. I leave when I like and I arrive when I like. It's nice in a way, to not have to make conversation, to be alone with your thoughts if you choose to have them. It's weirdly therapeutic to be able to focus on a single thing…driving…instead of the hundred other things that you normally think about in your daily life.
The downside to all of this is that with the longer road trips, if you're alone, there's no one to help when you get too tired to drive. This was the first year of driving this trip where I felt like I had to pull over and nap. I did it a few times. It's odd to sit in your car by yourself in a public rest area and sleep. I kept the car running with the A/C on. It is the summer after all and temps were anywhere from 85-95 depending on where I was and I was NOT going to get sick from the heat. Each nap was really only fifteen or so minutes long, but it replenished my energy and I was able to get back on the road and continue on.
Overall there were six days of my twelve day vacation that I drove during. I finished six audiobooks in that time. This was over last year's trip in which I finished four. My co-pilot puppers slept the entire way. She's cute, but not always the most engaging company.
I wonder about the other people on the road with me. Do they enjoy the drive? Or are they hating every minute of it?
What about you? Do you road trip solo? With your family? What's your favorite part?