female passenger reading map and giving directions in the usaIn the past four days, I’ve taken two road trips. One was work related to pick up a giant project (3300 pages) that is due tomorrow. The other crossed the Continental Divide to watch my oldest son play basketball in the regional round of the high school state playoffs.

Long or short. For fun or work. Both trips had several things in common with each other … and life’s journey in general.

First, was preparation. A full tank of gas. Cash from the ATM. Hotel reservations. Check the weather forecast. Maps. Snacks. Overnight bag (complete with a swimming suit for the hot tub!) The extent of the preparation depends on the length of the journey. Marriage, parenting, and writing a book also require preparation for the long haul as well as the foresight to anticipate problems and develop solutions.

Second, was expectations. For my work trip, I expected a slow drive to Denver because of rush-hour traffic with a quicker commute home after getting instructions and materials for my project. Across the mountains, we expected to encounter snow in the high country and allowed extra time. Once at the basketball game, we knew we were facing one of the top 32 teams in the state, it would be a tough game, and somebody’s dreams would get dashed by the end of the night … while the winner would play again on Saturday as part of the Sweet-16. In life, I’ve learned to hope for positive outcomes … but expect that not everything will go my way. Murphy’s Law makes me realistic while Hope keeps me dreaming.

Third, results. The work project ended up being enormously bigger than I had anticipated … and so I got to cart it along on the second road trip in order to make significant headway in the reading portion. The work trip resulted in stress … and earnings on my next paycheck. The basketball trip resulted in a three-hour stranding mid-trip due to snow and jack-knifed semis closing the highway … and then we lost. The marriage, parenting, and writing journeys continue but early results include precious memories, laughter, and positive feedback. Some of those final results won’t be known for some time to come.

With my kids’ Spring Break coming up, I’m already planning another trip. This time for pure relaxation with family. No stressful cheering while worrying about the outcome. No work allowed. An opportunity to celebrate the basketball player’s sixteenth birthday. Sledding. More hot-tubbing. And scenic views galore.

What about you? What was the last road trip you took? What was the purpose? How did you prepare? What was the result?

Taking a Road Trip
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