Farewell to good old times 2

Two weeks ago, I got up early to finish packing. I double-checked my bags for the cords to charge my phone, my camera, my computer – and I made sure to drop my bottle of Dramamine in my purse. I pointed my husband to the itinerary I’d printed out, highlighted and stuck to the fridge. Then I piled everything – luggage, purse, daughter – in the car and headed to the library.

See, I had to stop at the library because a book I’d requested had finally come in, and I wanted to have it for my flight. After we – almost literally – ran in the library and back out again, I drove to my daughter’s preschool where I unloaded my child, her bag and her car seat. I reminded her teacher again that a friend would be picking her up, and then I dashed back to my car to dig my cell phone out of my carry-on.

I drove immediately to the gas station, because of course my car was on empty, then I returned the call I’d missed between the library and the preschool. As I frantically tried to remember the quickest route to the airport, I talked with a client about a freelance project that needed to be started – and finished – that very same day. Remembering that the other highway was the one I needed to take, I turned around at an exit and began making up time while furtively keeping an eye out for policemen with scanners.

My shuttle from the parking lot to the airport left immediately, and I barely had to wait two minutes to check my big bag. As I skidded through security and finally started breathing again, I realize that my flight had actually been delayed.

That’s the cue for any normal person to calm down and relax, but I am not a good flyer. And now I had a freelance project to work on, and my layover I’d planned to work through was now shorter. Plus – and here was the real kicker – I’d already taken my Dramamine, and I was pretty sure its groggy-but-at-least-you’re-not-puking effects would wear off by the time I boarded my second flight.

The flying part of my day is the part you’d really rather fast forward through, because thankfully, it was uneventful. I did not puke (a real fear), nor was I made to purchase an extra seat for being too wide (another real fear). I did, however, laugh so hard while reading my book that I was shaking – and clearly the person who looks crazy – on my first flight.

Jessica and Adeline kept me company on the second leg of my journey, and we met Kristen and Heather at the airport. And then . . . then, we headed out to the parking lot to find our ENORMOUS van that we’d be driving two (THREE) hours that night.

And by “we’d be driving,” I mean that I WOULD BE DRIVING. Yes, I was the last one to call “not me!” and that, apparently, is the same as volunteering. So, despite having never driven anything larger than a Ford Explorer, I hopped into the van and put it in reverse.

[Okay, I “hopped” in after laughing hysterically and then making someone else load my suitcase into the van. And I put it into reverse verrrry slowly and made my friends talk me out of the parking space one scary foot at a time.]

The rest of our trip included navigating the narrow streets of downtown Charleston to pick up Tsh and Melissa, using a variety of technologies to find a place to eat (although, of course, we ignored Yelp’s recommendations and stopped at the first Chick-fil-A we saw), and driving on state highways (which are NOT interstates, lest you imagine me kicked back and cruising at breakneck normal speeds) IN THE DARK.

Then? Then we arrived on the island, which for some reason seemed even darker than the lowcountry we’d been driving through. “Some reason” turned out to have something to do with sea turtles, the moon and migration. Turtles! We were driving [practically, if you don’t count our headlights, which worked just fine] BLIND because of turtles!

After several U-turns and roundabouts and one incident that involved a tiny road, a small body of water and at least one blogger shouting, “Stop! Don’t go any further! I HEAR WATER! {There are ALLIGATORS HERE!!!}”

For the record, I had all four wheels on pavement. But that road WAS quite narrow. And dark. You’re WELCOME, turtles!

Finally we found our beach house. I parked the big white van, and we spilled into the house next door. As soon as we walked in, all I could hear was laughter and screams and “It’s so good to see you!!!”

I think I hugged some people. I know I stood at the doorway, a little stunned by the overwhelming GIRL-ness of it all, and then I collapsed on the couch next to Robin.

And THAT is the trouble with traveling. Specifically . . . the traveling part. The packing and the leaving my family and the making my flight and the delays and checking my luggage (and praying it doesn’t weigh too much) and the security checks and the DRIVING A BIG VAN and the feeling grimy and the motion sickness and the not-knowing-where-I’m-going-ness.

But the rest of my trip? The reading two new books and the walking around an airport by myself and the laughing with girlfriends and the palm trees and the ocean and the nice restaurant and the photo shoots and the sitting and talking on the beach as the sun goes down? THAT was incredible and an amazing gift (thank you, Hilton Head!) – and TOTALLY worth the stressful traveling!

The bigger gift, though – if it can get bigger than a beautiful house on the beautiful beach? – was the part that I went for: the hugs and the secrets shared and dreams discussed and smiles and tears and planning and celebrating. That is what I’m going to tell you about next.

How do you feel about traveling? Do you enjoy the journey as much as the destination?

DaySpring and Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce hosted the (in)courage bloggers for a long weekend of dreaming, praying, and planning for the (in)courage community, along with relaxation and fun. Resort Rentals of Hilton Head Island generously provided beautiful beach front accommodations. DaySpring took care of all the incidentals and meals for each of the bloggers. If ever you’re looking for a family vacation destination, this is it! Special thanks to Jessica Gardo from the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce for helping coordinate our trip and being simply fabulous the entire weekend.

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