Taking a road trip shakes up our routines, and every once in a while that’s good. I think part of the reason I’m happy staying home is that efficient packing demands organizational abilities I don’t have. This skill-set is one of many I miss in not having Nate as my traveling partner, but traveling alone is my new normal.
Years ago, I had all I could do to pack for the kids and myself, and Nate usually lightened my load by packing his own bag, a job he did in five minutes. He was a champion at remembering to take everything he needed, including work assignments, legal documents and phone numbers. I never heard him say, “Oh-oh. I forgot something.” I said it so many times he got used to saying, “We’ll just have to buy another one when we get there.”
Something else I loved about Nate as my travel partner was his willingness to chat. No subject was off limits, and as the miles accumulated, we solved problems and made plans. He was also good at map-reading, but if we did get lost, he wasn’t above stopping to ask for driving directions. (No GPS’s back then.)
Another perk of traveling with Nate was his willingness to do all the driving. I could enjoy the beauty of farms and small towns, always fascinating. Being in the passenger seat also let me catch up on reading, knitting, note-writing or putting photos into albums. It amounted to a chunk of sit-down time that was hard to come by at home.
On recent road trips including my current one, I’ve been the one behind the wheel. As an antidote to missing Nate’s companionship (and packing, conversation and driving), I’ve tried to count my trip-blessings and have discovered a few perks in having to travel alone. I can have prayer times “out loud” without interruptions or embarrassment. I can skip traditional meal stops and be munching every hour. I can listen to music, sermons or silence, my choice. I can stop only when I need a break rather than any more or any less.
And although Nate isn’t seated next to me, my buddy Jack rides in the back seat, a warm body to talk to now and then. I’ve also had a strong sense of God’s travel partnership, taking him at his word when he says “I’m never going to leave you.” Though invisible, he’s always on hand, surrounding me with reassurance and providing the confidence to keep moving forward.
Of course I wish Nate was with me, too, but that option isn’t available. So the best choice is to receive what I’ve been given and not ask for more: a week with family members in Florida, a loyal canine friend who’s tagging along, the Lord’s faithful companionship and… a unique chance to race against the numbers on a GPS.
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” (Jeremiah 17:7)