By the time this prints, the friend and I will be on the road home from a week in Wisconsin.
I love traveling, even though it’s over the same roads I’ve been on for 24 years now. That’s very hard to wrap my head around.
It’s longer — by almost triple — than anywhere else I’ve gone in search of my parents.
Thirteen years in Laramie holds the No. 2 spot, but I never really went there to see them, because I was there as well.
Once they moved away from college and I stayed at college, their stints were three years in suburban Detroit, three years in suburban Boston, nine years in Orange County, California, and three years in suburban Phoenix.
I drove to all of those places at least a couple of times, and flew many more, but I’ve been to Wisconsin far, far more frequently.
Peggy Jane the Mom loves summer on her lake, and so it was there that we planned to be for the Fourth of July.
With my sister just minutes away, it makes for a sort of mini-reunion that takes place far too seldom these days.
Some might think it odd that I use the bulk of my vacation to be with family.
But the truth is, I’d rather be there than on other types of “vacations.”
I think it’s probably because that’s the way I was raised — car trips back to Michigan to visit the relatives were very nearly the only vacations we took. Living 1,100 miles away from family tends to make those trips enjoyable as well as necessary.
I vividly remember those car trips, even though I was just a little kid when they began.
Before seat belts, hard-sized square suitcases would be placed on the floor of the back seat, making a kind of huge bed that was even with the seat for the three of us kids. Blankets and pillows were piled high for the ultimate in luxury travel.
But, of course, since I was the oldest, I preferred the front seat with Fritz the Dad while mom slept in the back in preparation for her short driving stint as the sun rose somewhere in midway.
I remember listening to all-night radio from Chicago while we were still hours away from there. I remember Fritz stopping at all-night truck stops for Styrofoam cups of coffee for him and candy and/or a doughnut (usually both) for me.
I remember the excitement and pure joy of nearing Nana and Bapa’s house in late afternoon, steamy with summer humidity. Nana would be waiting on the covered front porch for us, and often Bapa would not yet be home from his pipeline welding job.
Those trips were magic. And now, being with mom and my sister as a grownup, even for a short while, is still fun, still anticipated, still a vacation.
Here’s hoping you can have some fun this summer, whatever form it takes. Because all too soon, summer and the memories it brings will be over.
Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS