Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week One < Parents' Road Trip.

I was giddy when I imagined my parents zipping along in their camper and spending hours talking about all the events of their life leading up until this point. I am still giddy though their trip agenda and general plan has changed considerably. True to form, my parents like to shake things up and do things a little different. Never expected and certainly not the path of least resistance. As a child this drove me absolutely insane when I'd see my friends families embark on typical vacations to cabins or to Disneyworld, or even drove newish cars that were bought fully functioning and needed no handiwork. Over the years I've come to appreciate my parents' sense of frugality and the never-ending surprises that come with marching along to the beat of their own drum. For one thing, I believe I have them to Thank wholeheartedly for any sense of adventure that I currently posses. Still, I may enjoy lists and structure more than the average person as a result of my childhood chaos. (I love you, parents).

So, instead of driving Matilda - the woman-gendered camper they have been fixing up specifically for this trip for the past several months - my father decided to buy a camper online that "had a few problems" and they flew to Oregon last week to pick it up. Turns out they were a little nervous about Ole Matilda making the long journey and so they booked last-minute flights and a last-minute rental car. And when they showed up in Eugene the campers problems were larger than they had anticipated. When I heard the news, my anxiety level started to rise. I was nervous for them. And again, I like to pre-plan and have a general guideline for what my adventures entail. For me this is almost an insurance plan for seeing and doing all of the crazy things I want to pack in. If its on the list, more than likely it will happen. My parents though, they fly by the seat of their pants and they are open to whatever crosses their paths. So, they picked up the camper, did some contemplative trip evaluation over a few beers at a pub, and decided to fix-up the less-than-perfect camper and give'r a go. When I say less-than-perfect I do mean that this new camper had no appliances and no furniture and actually had been totally stripped on the inside. But fix it up, they have! Since their arrival on the West coast and despite any hiccups they have endured, I've been continually amazed by the conversations we've exchanged. They are doing their trip the way THEY want to do it, and having a blast in the process. They are bright and giddy and open-minded. They are relentlessly positive and the electricity of their excitement nearly zaps me through the phone.

"You should see your father." I could hear my mother smiling. "He's just chatting everyone up! Calling RV places and picking out things to revamp the inside. Learning about licenses and fishing in the area. Did you know the salmon are running right now? This is terribly exciting!"

Later and again with the energy she said, "You know, I have learned something new about your father even after forty years of marriage."
"Really, Mother. And what would that be?" I urged.
"Well, I've decided that I like him a whole lot better when he's got a project. When he sits on that couch all night with the television on, I just can't stand it! But now he's out and talking to people. He's figuring things out and he's making things happen. He's got a project and he's alive! He's talking to all his cronies back home too and getting them all excited."

Insert me having no idea who Dad's "cronies" are and my mom explaining that his cronies are in fact his friends. Well, his friends and then also his cousins who have actually been his best buddies since they were all children.

"Doug has since bought a camper down in Florida and I guess Donna and Jim are out shopping for one right now!" she beamed.

My giddiness turned to a sparkly pride. My parents have been talking about this road trip for forever and now they are on it. They are Doing It. And regardless of the way in which its done - chaos or not - they are actually out and living and I can feel that LIFE when I talk to them. Its completely inspiring and wonderful. And to hear that others are possibly grabbing a hold of their own little reigns as a result made me a little teary.

I watched a video at work the other day where we recorded people that we consider our target audience segment. To gain insight the moderator asked them Why they spend time in the outdoors. Many of them expressed that getting out and doing things makes them feel alive. Like they're not just letting life pass them by. That pushing themselves sometimes past their comfort zone is exhilerating and breeds joy and excitement in life. I think the same is true for my parents and I am love them so much for taking this leap!

We are heading south to Portland this weekend to meet up with them on Sauvi Island. Stay tuned. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Poppy! I love you!

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