My kids start school next week. Although they have each been in daycare/school since the age of 18 months, this is their first experience in public school and the size of their student population will increase by 1000%. Seriously. So I took the week off to hang with them, and Lee, the kids and I are wrapping up the week with a trip to Miami.
Our trip began today in what is clearly an unorthodox manner for me. “Let’s just get in the car and go. See where the road takes us. No plans, no destination……just drive!” Those were Lee’s words to me last night as we were figuring out what to do. Once the hyperventilation stopped and the color returned to my face, I was able to process what she was suggesting.
How could I, the master game-planner, just get in the car and go? I have tried to be a bit more spontaneous in the last couple of years, and my friends will tell you that I have loosened up a lot compared to who I was 5 years ago. But still?!?! Just get in the car and go? The voice of Fred Thompson in “The Hunt for Red October” kept playing in my head. “Russians don’t take a dump, son, without a plan.” I’m not Russian, but when it comes to the matter of covering the bases, I might as well be.
So I thought about it and thought about it and figured……”What the hey?” So we got in the car and drove. To be honest, it wasn’t all spontaneous. We followed a route I have taken before on motorcycle rides. It’s a quiet ride down US 41 out of Tampa and down to Sarasota. It was, however, new for Lee and the kids were in the backseat, each lost in their respective DVD movie. We drove and talked and got to reset after a hectic couple of weeks. It was great.
We arrived at our first leg-stretching stop, St. Armand’s Circle. It’s a rotunda in Sarasota that is surrounded by shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s a bit upscale and very touristy, and it was great to finally share this with Lee. We stepped into a quaint shop full of knick-knacks and home décor items. I knew she would love it and she absolutely did. After splurging a little on gifts and stuff for our place, we went next door for some ice cream with the kids. It was just a fun, relaxing and care-free couple of hours.
We piled back into our truck and headed back to destination unknown. More driving and conversation. We picked up a map during a gas stop, developed a little plan as to where we wanted to head – I just HAD to – and headed out. But our conversation was so in depth and engaging we completely missed our exit. So we looked at the map again and said, “Ummm…..let’s just try this.” So we did, meandering our way through downtown Ft. Myers until we came across a La Quinta and decided to call it a day.
The night got better as a polite complaint about room conditions lead to a new room and a complimentary stay. Then we went across the parking lot, literally, and had a great dinner with even better service at Mel’s Diner. Completely spontaneous. Completely out of the blue. Completely unplanned.
Even though I am not nearly as uptight as I used to be, stress is still a common part of my everyday. Not an unhealthy amount, but just enough to keep me on my toes. It was wonderful to turn off that side of my brain for a day and share this wonderful day with Lee and my kids. It may have been just a little adventure, but it was an enormous experience that I will always cherish.