The Trip of a Lifetime

To-go cupsApproximately 4,800 miles.

23 days, more than 3 of that in our rental Nissan Versa.

17 towns/cities.

Dozens, possibly hundreds, of counties passed through.

The trip of a lifetime.

I’m not sure how many of you would consider all that time in a car to be the trip of a lifetime, but it sure was to us. When we started planning it we weren’t sure it was going to happen because of military and financial constraints. I remember saying to Greg, “If we don’t go, this will be the disappointment of a lifetime.” But every door was opened for us, thank you God, and instead of it being the disappointment of a lifetime, it was the Trip of a Lifetime.

In writing about Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and this week, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., I have been able to replay our experiences a second time. That’s one of the great things about writing, by the way. The second life the writer inevitably experiences through her writing.

Texas field 2On this trip I have seen a couple extraordinary things, like the surrealistic beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the herds of elk grazing 12,000 feet above sea level. Mostly I’ve seen very Americana things, oftentimes feeling pulled into a pre-modern culture of open space, grazing buffalo, untouched highway space with no billboards, a lack of technology all the way to the gas pumps where you pumped then paid. Quite the throwback. Many times I commented on being in a completely different world than what we know. Out in Itasca, Texas, the small town of just more than 1,600 people, it was difficult to envision places like New York City, L.A. or Boston. It really drove home the point that we all live in a different America. But what a beautiful America it is. From our car windows, anyway.

What made it the Trip of a Lifetime was not necessarily all of the things we saw. A lot of people don’t get to go on a trip like this, but a lot of people do. What made this the Trip of a Lifetime was the time Greg and I got to spend together.

For the next however many years Greg and I are together – which is to say that anything can happen, especially since I am married to a soldier – we can look back and talk about our experiences, a 3-week span when we invested in our marriage and deepened our shared history. We have talked and laughed together for hours upon hours, been silent as we took in the beauty of the Rockies or just wanted some quiet time, and sang at the very top of our lungs with the windows down. We’ve stayed up way past our bedtimes because like a 4-year-old at Christmas, we thought that if we never went to sleep the next day might not come. The child at Christmas rushes to sleep so Santa can come. The youthful hearts on this road trip just never wanted it to end.

My hope is that we will be old and uber wrinkly, sitting on rocking chairs on our front porch, and we’ll talk about the amazing BBQ we had in Mississippi, the three-second rule we instituted that was an attempt at limiting the silly-stupid things that tumbled out of our mouths, or the Orange Peanut video, or the miles and miles and miles (and miles) of nothing through northern Oklahoma, Kansas, and Eastern Colorado. We’ll talk about the tear-inducing argument over just $1 and how we’re so glad we’ve never had another disagreement at that level of petty. (Yeah, right).

We were pretty disconnected from our friends and family for the first two weeks as we seriously limited our iPhone usage. My dad asked me before we started out if I was going to be checking in every once in a while. I honestly said, “Nope. But you can check Facebook to make sure we’re still alive.” I wanted nothing but uninterrupted time hanging out with my best friend. And that’s what I got. And I got the deep sense that it was our last chance to do this. Kids will come eventually, and that’s a great thing, but as I understand it the dynamic will be quite different with an infant/baby/toddler. 😉

Basically, I can’t put into words how lucky I feel to have just had the three weeks I’ve had. I honestly feel as though it was hand-delivered from Heaven. It’s been the best summer. Ever.

This is a super sappy post and I know that, and I prefer it to not be that way, but when you feel this mushy-gushy on this inside you kind of want to share it. To let your far-away loved ones know you’re doing well. To share what you’re up to. To let blog friends into your world. To give heartbroken friends something to look forward to.

May you love and hug your best friend extra tight today, and find a special way to let him/her know the love inside your heart that flows freely in his/her direction.



  1. I love this! I’m also married to a soldier (but, of course, I am one, too, so it’s a little different), and reading about how y’all just drove around the country admiring and spending time together is so sweet. Awesome post. Glad I stumbled across it.

  2. Very moving, Elisa! You always put life in such a great perspective and you know how to appreciate every second.

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