Thursday, January 21, 2010

In Praise of the (Admiral) Road Trip

The road trip is not part of my family culture. So, any length of time in the car over an hour counts as a very big deal. As a kid, a serious road trip meant driving from Toronto to Ottawa to visit my relatives. I remember the trips clearly. Ahead of time we would carefully plan which cassettes we wanted to listen to in the car (Leonard Cohen for my parents, the soundtrack from Fame for me) and we packed a travel fridge filled with drinks and sandwiches – for the four hour trip to Ottawa, you understand.

Needless to say, the first time that Danielle (a huge fan of the road trip) proposed a road trip in the name of Admiral Road I was horrified. Why would anyone drive to New York City when it is a mere one-hour flight away? Well, as it happens there were a number of very good reasons. So I acquiesced, but felt a little queasy about the whole idea.

It turns out that road tripping is not so bad – Admiral Road tripping, that is. It’s actually kind of fun, (apart from the 5 a.m. departure Danielle insists on) and can be productive in lots of ways. For one thing, road tripping with my business partner means dedicated time for talking about the business. We joke that road trips are our “off-site” meetings. It’s not so different, really. Time in the car is time away from our usual routines to devote to talking about the biz – and if we squeeze in a little unrelated chit chat, well, that’s okay too.

Then there are the pit stops! The bittersweet last Tim Horton’s coffee (the ones in New York City which call themselves something like ‘Tim Hortons coffee and pastry shop’ hardly count), and there’s the experience of an all-American Denny’s (Friendly’s, Perkins) lunch. There are navigational triumphs and disasters (more of the latter on this last trip, regrettably), and memories made. We’ve laughed every time we’ve recalled the pea soup-like fog we encountered in Pennsylvania - it was like something out of a Stephen King novel – much funnier now than it was at the time, but forever burned in our memories.

The road trip also offers the gift of time. Time suspended between home and work. I’m freed from the distractions of managing my two full-time jobs (mom and business owner). On the road trip, I don’t have to make dinner or take anyone to the bathroom. I also don’t pay bills or manage suppliers. It’s a magical in-between space.

And they say that it’s about the journey and not the destination. Well, it’s certainly true that the journey is great, there’s also something great to be said for five days in Manhattan. I do love New York City. And I’ll admit, it’s fun to put on my (fancier) jeans and hang out with other grown-ups while we’re away. I’m not sure when the next Admiral Road trip will be, but I’m looking forward to another chance to recharge the batteries and come back ready for both of my full-time jobs.

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