This week my eleven year old son, Aden, and I embark on our annual boy’s road trip around the Northwest. This event is not to be confused with “boy’s weekend”. Certainly, there will be much beer consumed, but most of it will be “root”. For the past several years, my son and I have taken a summer road trip exploring the little nooks and crannies around the area. We have both been introduced to some new places and some new faces. Our trip was originally designed by me as an effort to spend a little time with my son doing something we both enjoy. These occasions seem increasingly rare around home as the distractions of life and other unnamed members of the family demand other things from us. Traveling with just the two of us eliminates a lot of debates about how and what we should be doing. We can just “do”, as guys will.
Being on the road is unlike other traveling. It allows for a slower pace and some genuinely peaceful enjoyment of the scenery. The inherent stress-factor of other forms of travel is not there. No airports or customs or even traffic, if we plan it right…and we do! We drive the back roads and sleepy hamlets littering the wonderful three states in the great Northwest corner. We do it with the windows down and shirts off, eating chips and drinking soda. We are unwashed, decadent hobos and enjoy it all.
I have been a road-tripper since way back. I have seen most of the continent through windshields. I’ve met countless fascinating people in my travels; People one does not meet at Senor Frogs in Cancun. People that have changed the way I think and the way I am. These adventures have shaped me in ways that are difficult to explain or quantify. Little ideas or insights here and there flow freely on a road trip. My mind and spirit are alive and the soil is fertile for my best thoughts. Unburdened by other obligations, road trips allow for true free-thinking. These thoughts are the cornerstones of any good ideas I have ever had. They are my most important thoughts. Having the opportunity to explore the dusty two-laners of my soul with my son riding shotgun is priceless and it is wonderful to know that years from now we will share these as some of the best moments of our lives. We share an armrest as our lives unfold through the bug splattered windshield. We live it together. I recognize this as precious. That’s why I started it. My son does not. He recognizes this as fun. One day he will understand and be grateful. This was not and is not my goal, but I will be happy when the light bulb clicks on and he understands how significant our fleeting time was.
So as I load the rig and stock the cooler, I look forward the adventure and the freedom that awaits us. We will stop and swim when we get hot. We will eat when we are hungry. We will see sights previously unseen. And we will talk. We will talk about important things. We will share pieces of ourselves. We will get to know each other better. We will be what a dad and son should be, but often aren’t. We will be pals with a flexible plan and the authority to change it whenever we want. We will be the co-owners of an experience that counts and I cannot think of a better way to spend a week of my life.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]