While driving down to Dana’s… (my) … niece’s and nephew’s birthday party, Dana and I got to chatting about the work trips she’ll be taking this summer. One of those trips will be a five day gig in Baltimore at the end of June. We discussed the feasibility and desire for me to drive that way with Maddux to meet up with her, and that seems like a fantastic destination. I put the likelihood of doing that at an 82%.
We would also like to visit Rome sometime in November, probably over Thanksgiving. But, in theory, I already have money set aside for that.
But, I’ve been talking about/wanting to take a road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico for many years.
Why Santa Fe?
I haven’t really been out West. There was a trip to Custer’s Battlefield in Montana when I was ten that included Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug, The Corn Palace, Deadwood, Crazy Horse, and Devil’s Tower. But, I didn’t really appreciate it.
In adulthood, I’ve made it to Omaha, Nebraska by car, and that doesn’t count as out West. I suppose I also spent a couple of nights in Las Vegas, but, again, Vegas is an environment of its own.
When thinking about going West, there is, of course, California. I can’t say I’ve ever had much of a desire to go to California. If I hit the Pacific Coast, I’d rather visit Oregon or Washington State.
So, thinking about “The West,” I guess I’ve been predisposed to think “The Southwest.” Yet, other than the Grand Canyon, there really hasn’t been a great call to adventure for me.
Although I’ve never seen a production of it, I really like the musical Rent. I have fond memories of being introduced to it on a spontaneous road trip to New Orleans back in ’99. Come to think of it, that was a February whim as well. I don’t know the track titles off hand, but one song has the refrain of, “Let’s open up a restaurant in Santa Fe, sumthin sumthin will be niiiiice…. Let’s open up a restaurant in Santa Fe… sumthin sumthin Heidegger and wine… Let’s open up a restaurant in Santa Fe… .” Yeah, okay, it has been a bit since I’ve listened to it. Anyway, that has served me well enough as the inspiration for Out West destination.
I’ve talked about taking a trip to Santa Fe off and on now for, gee, I dunno, seven or eight years. After my sojourn to Vermont last Spring, I proclaimed that Santa Fe was likely my next trip.
But, I’ve been putting it off. I initially thought that I would take it in the Fall. However, I feel a little guilty about going away just as Dana is getting back to work. Besides, with her volleyball schedule, we’d need to consider Maddux’s needs. And raking leaves. And saving for holidays. And excuses and excuses and excuses.
Really, I’m just prone to settle, victimized by inertia. I have trouble getting to sleep, and trouble getting out of bed.
Still, every so often, I get an itch to break up the mundane contentment I strive for. And the past month or so, that itch has been pretty severe.
Dana and I talked about coordinating her Spring Break with a road trip to Santa Fe. To save her from spending most of her break driving, we looked at flying her out once I was there.
With the talks of joining her in Baltimore at the end of June, though, we recognized air fare and coordination to Santa Fe over her Spring Break was more stressful than stress releasing.
The wheels started spinning. I’ve got a couple of things on my calendar through March 3rd. Another thing on my calendar on March 21st. Then Dana’s spring break starts at the very end of March. The wheels began whirring.
By the end of the birthday party, I set up an outline of stops. Four days (three nights) driving there, three nights in Santa Fe, four days (three nights) driving back. Home ten days later, or six if I end up driving straight through one of the stops there and one back and only spending two nights in Santa Fe.
I’m digging it. Although I had planned on spending seven to eight days on my Vermont road trip. I was ready to be home on the sixth. But, I had also seen all I had planned to see, so there wasn’t much of a need to stretch it out, and was in the zone driving home.
Here, there are a couple of stops along the way there and that give me reason to pause beyond weariness. And, now, that itch is becoming raw.
Having this outline sketched out, I’ve determined my departure date as March 4th, 5th, or 6th. Beyond that date, inertia may get a hold of me again. Depending on the plans I have for the 3rd, I may want to “switch gears” on the 4th… or the weather might suck… or I may be raring to go. I like windows of time.
This gives me about two weeks. Two weeks to try to be frugal, allowing the money I spend to be considered as absorbed into my regular weekly budgets rather than an extravagance.
(Do my weekly budgets really allow for this? Yes and no. It all depends on how much late night perusing on Amazon I do, as well as where and what Dana and I do for food for the week. Some weeks I look at my budget as an upper-limit, sometimes I look at it as a goal of spending to accomplish, and a very few require me to slash that budget for a couple of future weeks.
I have done a good job over the past 3.5 years of sticking to my long-term savings requirements, and the stock market has largely been cooperating with me, so investingin some life experiences, I’m told, help keep the soul from withering. And, truth be told, as much of a pain in the ass going to a job may be, it does reward the soul with life experiences.
Ah, yes, any adventure does require a thought toward finances. That is at least one way I have manifested a “grown-up” aspect. It’s a bit strange thinking about that perspective at the moment.
As a younger Justin, I remember many of the spontaneous road trips funded by credit cards. The idea was that they would be paid off “some time in the future.” When I finally paused some in my early thirties and saw a balance that would be paid off when I was 47, I began understanding that I was stealing from my future self.
When I go “over budget” now, I still perceive things that way… I’m stealing from my future self. And, when stealing from my future self presents the possibility of needing to get a job, that gets downright scary.
That’s why some weeks I look at my budget as a spending goal to achieve instead of an upper limit. The only thing worse than being broke is dying with money in the bank and a spartan existence to show for it.
I know 90 out of 100 people would love to have these concerns to “fret” about, 7 of those 100 are able to look down their noses and refuse me entrance to their clubs, and 3 are so enlightened that using toilet paper is an unnecessary luxury. But, for me, it’s a concern worth considering.
So, if I’m only stealing from my future self that is merely two or three weeks older, the pain is healed while the cause of the wound of experience is still fresh enough to be remembered. Hmmm… Is there something to be read in the connotation of that metaphor despite it having been written due to linguistic symmetry rather than a conscious decision? Hah! Should this ever be published in student anthology, English teachers would be assigning that question for response. Why? Because even I, as the author, am looking at it thinking, I didn’t intend to link life experiences negatively as a painful wounds. I’m not currently in a maudlin state of mind. But, I can’t say I’ve never thought that way before.
There. Now I’ve added in a vocabulary word the semantical choice of a double negative in the last sentence for a few more author-text-reader questions, and I’ll end with this very necessary closed parentheses.)
With two weeks before leaving, I’m looking forward to scoping out some sites to see along the way. That’s a tad tricky. I’ve got to find things that are worthy enough to make me want to experience them. Otherwise the road trip is just a road, and without another person in the car as a catalyst for future stories to tell, there wouldn’t be anything worthwhile to share about the trip. On the other hand, the sites can’t become a goal to reach. I don’t want to feel like skipping them will cause a regret of something unfinished should I decide I’ve been away from my sanctuary long enough. Part of the road trip concept is flexibility, after all.
I’ve got a book about Route 66 coming since this trip partially follows that iconic path. I’ve also got a timed pet feeder coming for Maddux to make sure Maddux gets used to so Dana won’t feel pressured to get home if she’s got after school meetings or what not. I want to organize some playlists since last time, when I didn’t feel like listening to an audio book, I ended up with a huge mish-mash of stuff that got the job done, but wasn’t ideal. Oh, I need to make sure my audiobook library is nifty-cool. I need to get my oil changed and a belt replaced on my car. I may also want to get a car holder thing for my phone. (See, these are ways my weekly budgets get met.) And, I’d like to get a couple of things crossed off my current to-do list that are a part of my the larger “To-do List.”
Let’s open up a roading trip to Santa Fe sumthin sumthin niiiiice.