Jun 6, 2009

On being Spontaneous…

It all started when Jeff and I sat down Wednesday night and watched a show on PBS about a mother and daughter taking a road trip from Chicago to California via Route 66. This is something Jeff and I have always talked about doing, but haven’t… yet. As the show ended, Jeff said, “Let’s take a road trip!” When asked where we were going, he said, “I don’t know… let’s be spontaneous and just go.” He decided we would leave Thursday morning and not come back until “we feel like it – or Monday, whichever comes first.” The first thing that occurs to me, of course, is that I must make a list of what to pack. I can be spontaneous – as long as I can plan all this spontaneity that’s going to happen…

So the plan is, no plan. We will get up on Thursday morning, pack (and oh  yea, Jeff’s new deal is we must both be able to fit our clothes in one small carryon suitcase… harumph), and leave for regions unknown. Except Jeff gets on the computer and decides we are heading to the general area of Richmond, IN because they have “Antique Alley” and antiquing is something we both enjoy. We go to bed Wednesday evening feeling quite pleased with all the spontaneity we’re about to imbibe in.

First thing Thursday morning the phone rings – Mr. B is sick and can I babysit? OK, spontaneity postponed until Friday. Life gets in the way of spontaneity – we all know that.

Friday morning arrives and we sleep in later than expected, not getting up until around 8am. That’s fine – we’re spontaneous – there was no plan to leave at a certain time. I squirrel myself away in the bathroom and secretly make up a list of what to pack. He’ll thank me when he has a headache and needs the Advil I remembered, or has heartburn and needs the Rolaids from my list, or if we have a major car accident and I whip a first aid kit out of the trunk. Oh yeah, he’ll thank me. And he’ll thank me when we arrive at a smelly hotel room and I just happen to have a scented candle with me – and he’ll thank me first thing in the morning when our coffee pot, cups, sweet n’low and Cremora are sitting there ready to prepare him for the day. He’ll thank me!

List complete, items packed, the trunk mysteriously much fuller than Jeff’s anticipated carryon suitcase, GPS routes in place and charged waiting in the front seat – hi ho hi ho, off to the land of spontaneous we go. Who said we can’t be spontaneous?!

First, though, we have to stop at the drug store for sunscreen and a battery for my camera, at the bank for some cash, the gas station to fill up, and, oh yeah, we have to drive by the library to drop off the DVD’s that are due tomorrow in case we don’t get back from our Trip of Spontaneity – no late charges for me, thank you. OK, so NOW we’re ready for our spontaneous experience.

Three miles from home, following the GPS route I’d programmed in to head us toward Richmond, Indiana (the spontaneous part, I explain to Jeff, comes with my programming it for “least use of highways” – back roads are the essence of being spontaneous!), we’re driving down the highway – yeah, I did say highway – Jeff decided to bypass the GPS instructions just to get us around high traffic city stuff – but hey, ignoring the GPS can be spontaneous, can’t it?), we’re travelling at 65 mph (OK, 76 mph, but who’s casting side-glances at the speedometer and gripping the door handle? Not me! Oh no, I never do that…) and we drive up behind a big gravel truck – which is spewing out boulders all over the road. OK, not boulders, gravel – but when they rained down on the car and TWO came in my window and hit me in the head – it FELT like boulders! OUCH! I yell. And as Jeff pulls around the truck to pass it, I roll my window down the rest of the way and angrily gesture at the truck driver that he’s putting our very lives (and car paint) in danger by raining rocks down upon cars – and watch in surprise as the truck pulls over to the side of the road. Wow. I can gesture pretty darn good, evidently. And everyone who was driving on that road behind us can thank ME for the fact that the sniper of a truck driver shooting people with gravel pulled over and, hopefully, fixed the cover on his truck load.

Back to being spontaneous. With or without a concussion.

Ten miles from home we come into a small town that is having a community yard sale. Jeff stops at every sale. He finds several new additions to his “I want one of everything in the world” collection. The trunk gets fuller. We get back on the road. We arrive in Richmond, IN at around 2:00pm.  We head to the “National Road” Welcome Center and ply ourselves with brochures (which, by the way, I had already printed out from the Internet and had in a file folder in the car), and, now that we’re here and open for some serious spontaneity, can’t decide on anything to do. “I thought you wanted to go to Antique Alley?” I ask Jeff. “Naahhh.. I bought enough stuff at the yard sales.” We look through brochures and folders and print-outs and more brochures and maps… “Let’s go see this Madonna of th427px-Madonna_Detaile Prairie statue,” I suggest. “Let’s go look at this Whitewater Gorge,” Jeff says. Oh yeah, we’re being spontaneous now! We agree to do both. Back down the “National Road” (which is nothing more than a very busy small city street with stop lights every two blocks), looking for the statue first. “There it is!” says Jeff, pointing to a statue across the street – a street he decides is too busy to cut across so I can actually get up close and personal with the statue. “You saw it, right?” Sigh… (The photo here was found on the internet.) OK, so let’s just head to the gorge now. The gorge has a street address?? The gorge is on this busy street? That doesn’t make sense. We drive several miles and see no gorge. We turn around and come back the same road and finally find the address and turn into a park. No gorge signs. We tn_driving_024 drive around and around until we finally come to the end of the park where a big sign stands “Trail closed.” Okie dokie, no gorge sighting today. The photo here is also from the Internet! (We did, however, find a great playground that we want to bring Mr. B to – the next time we’re being spontaneous we’ll bring him along. How to Be Spontaneous is a good life lesson to teach a 3 year old.)

Now what? We decide to venture to an Amish Cheese Shop on the outskirts of town. We’ve been to Amish Cheese shops in mid-Ohio and enjoyed the tours (and samples) thoroughly. Let’s do that! Off we go. Fifteen miles down the same road we have now travelled three times. We arrive at the Amish Cheese shop. Not quite what we had in mind. Unlike the enormous farms complete with cheese-making tours and pretty Amish ladies in bonnets and long skirts pleasantly cutting  cheese samples, this store is a one-room renovated gas station with samples so teeny you can’t stab them with the delegated toothpicks. I buy a tiny wedge of blue cheese (at $13 a pound, a tiny wedge will need to go a very long way), and we’re back on the road.

Now what? “Let’s just go check out Antique Alley… maybe you’ll feel like going once you see it,” I suggest. So we go back 12 of the 15 miles of road we’ve now travelled four times, and can’t find Antique Alley. We find one small antique store and stop – and are politely informed the store closes at 5pm – it’s now 4:45. Antiquing under pressure. Where’s the spontaneity in that? We don’t buy anything and get back in the car.

We get into that “What do YOU want to do – Oh, whatever YOU want to do” thing, like two five year olds. Finally, I say what we are both thinking.

Talk about spontaneity! Here we are all packed (and OK, over-packed) for our big night or two of adventure, and we SPONTENSOULY decide to travel the hour’s drive (which took us six hours to make the first time)… and go home.  I’m still thriving in all this spontaneity (and still a bit concussed from the attack of the highway sniper), and enthusiastically announce, “OK, but I’m NOT cooking tonight!”.

“Let’s order pizza and have it delivered!” responds Jeff.

Now you can’t tell me that’s not spontaneous!


Lucy said...

I LOVE this. How funny. I do love just getting upin the morning and heading whichever direction the car decides to go. As long as it's a back road. Sometimes it works. Most times it doesn't. I'd actually like to do the Route 66 thing start to finish. Or finish to start. I don't care.

Tina said...

You are too funny! Although, I bet you collapsed when you got home from your day of "fun!" I will keep in my mind maybe not to head toward Richmond anytime soon. (We were recently there, sadly, for an aunt's funeral....only about 40 minutes from us on the back roads!)

Karen said...

Oh my God Joan! I am so glad I didn't miss this post! I am falling over laughing!!! Sounds like the kind of "spontaneous" vacation we would have.....IF I didn't spend six months planning them!