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11:02 a.m. - June 13, 2006
I Need To Go, But I Have To Stay!
I was thinking about summertime vacations and travel recently, based on my nostalgic non-trip to New York City.

This year, again, we canít go anywhere. Itís not really because of Kristin that we canít go. With Lizís momís health, we really canít take a vacation as a family somewhere, lest we be out of touch in case we have to rush to Arizona.

Well, that and weíre broke. Somehow we got into debt on a credit card and itís not a good thing. It snuck up on us. Ah, well. I was hoping for a weekend in Chicago and a long weekend up in Minneapolis this year. Maybe next year!

Normally, I am a traveler. A few times a year Iím out on the road at conferences. The big one for my software is in DC every year and yes, I get in more and more trouble every year. As you can tell, this year was no exception.

Thereís also another conference I attend, and it moves from city to city. Last time, it was Baltimore . The year before it was in Vancouver and next year it will be in Austin.

I also go to a conference in Toledo each year, and I drive to it. This past year I did a travelogue similar to the one I did for a conference I went to in Cedar Rapids.

Sometimes I have to take some day trips. I need to get to Columbus and Dayton in Ohio late this month, and in July I may have to get to Chicagoland for a meeting during the week. In fact, that trip to Chicago may be an up and back in the same day. I also may have a meeting down in North Carolina in July or August but thatís tentative and speculative, right now.

But I really donít like flying that much. Itís too much darn work and it reminds me of work. The airports are loud, crowed, and boring. The airplanes are the same way, really. I feel like a darn cow on the way to slaughter. Thatís why I relish the opportunity to drive every chance I get.

I do know flying is the only way to go if you have to get somewhere in a hurry, and the only way that I can ever visit my online friends from the UK and Australia and Europe.

However, I also am not a fan of interstates on vacations. With most interstates, all you can really see are the trucks and the concrete. You donít get any feeling of the local character, or the local sights, or the people that live in the area. You are just going from point A to point B in a bland, feckless way.

Now mind you, I have seen some spectacular sights on the interstate, but those have all been out west, in Colorado and Utah, where that was the ONLY way to get where you needed to go. (Along I-70 in those states, itís pretty stunning in Eastern Utah and Western Colorado).

So Iím a two lane highway kind of guy when it gets right down to it. I just love the sights and sounds of small town and rural America. I also find that seeing the countryside, whether itís just farmland or ranchland, is peaceful and pleasant.

And it helps, of course, if you have a rocking soundtrack. Nothing can really help Central Illinois, as I have found out.

Iíve made the most of my vacations. Our family always took long vacations to visit relatives or to visit sights and as a kid I was a pretty smart traveler. I also was the designated navigator as by age seven I was quite familiar with road maps and how to get to point B from point A.

By the time I was in high school I had been in 29 states, and I was bound and determined to get to them all at some point in my life.

I took a trip to Colorado right after college to knock out that state, and then on the way back took care of Wyoming.

Somehow I had missed Michigan (yes, itís true Ė I canít believe it but we never went to Michigan) so when Wabash played Albion in football I crossed that one off my list.

For business I had to get to Washington State and New York City. Cross those two off the list. Yeah, I had been to New Jersey to visit my brother when he was stationed there, but never made it to the city.

I had friends get married near Boston so off I went, clicking off Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Later, for business I had to get to Brattleboro, Vermont, and the bed and breakfast we stayed in was actually in New Hampshire. So there was two more off the list.

When Liz and I were first dating, I planned a trip to the west coast to Ďsee the oceaní. I used no interstates, and basically took US 20 and US 26 across the country. That knocked out Idaho and Oregon, and on the way back I used US 12 most of the way and clipped off Montana.

When we were first married, Liz and I made a trek to Arizona to visit her family out there. So I devised a trip on the way back that would take care of other states. I got to Needles, California (yeah, I hadnít been to Cali, either), and we ate in a Burger King there so it was legit. We then went up through Nevada (which I loved even if it was desolate. It was peaceful desolation) and got Utah).

(Later, I took a business trip to San Diego, so that rather legitimized California, if the other trip was spurious).

So the list was becoming shorter.

Liz went out of town for a business trip, and instead of sitting around the house I decided to make a run for Alabama and Mississippi one weekend. And so I did, and that knocked those two states off of the list.

Then, all that was left was Maine, Alaska and Hawaii. And Maine was dispatched in 1998 when we took a nice long vacation there, learning not to travel through the Adirondacks on Labor Day Weekend and learning that you gotta learn French to survive in rural Quebec! (We went home through Canada Ė now I was going to nail all of the provinces!)

I finally did make it to Alaska in 2001 (and I will write a whole deal about that someday).

Now all thatís left is Hawaii, and as you know you canít drive there.

But this will be two years in a row without a real vacation, and I have a feeling that Iím going to get itchy real soon! So if you see a madman in a CR-V driving around on the highways and byways, wave! Iíve decided to play hooky and go for a long drive!


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