Matthew, me and the kids are going to day trip to an old copper mine site near the historic town of Jerome, AZ. You know how I know this? Because I asked him two weeks ago if we could, and Whew! that was cutting it kind of close.
You see, my husband's the kind of man that you have to present a detailed itinerary to before he will even consider a road trip, even if the drive time is a mere 45 minutes. You have to have a set date (preferably a month ahead) with estimated travel and scenery-gawking time calculated into total trip hours. And if you want lunch while you're out, you better ask for it first, or you'll be eating the petrified string cheese that fell out of the kids' school lunch a week ago along with that clementine that's been hibernating under the van seat since last winter. In other words, you have to plan! plan! plan! how long it will be before he can be back sitting in his recliner at home with some fancy micro-brewed beer.
You cannot spring a casual suggestion on him. For instance, I would never say (at least not twice), "Sugar, let's mosey on down to Tombstone on this lazy Saturday morning for a good Old West shootout. After that we'll just saddle on up to the best BBQ house in town and eat a whole rack of ribs. And how 'bout some prickly pear ice cream for dessert? Ummm! Sounds good, don't it? Then we'll clean our pretty faces to have some pictures taken in old time garb. I'll be the saloon gal and you be...oh, whatever. What d'ya say?"
Ain't...gonna...happen. No, sir.
Matthew's eyes will bulge and he'll exclaim, "Woman, you know I can't just hop in the car and drive somewhere...with kids!"
This is a fundamental difference between me and my guy. 'Cause I would...that is, if I weren't so markedly outnumbered by those kids. Dang it!
I think this strange road trip disconnect between us springs from how differently our families approached road trips while we were growing up.
For Matthew's family, you got in the car, and you drove. That's it. You have your destination and you just better dang well forget about whatever lies along the way. T-Rex bones lying right there on the side of the highway, you say? Well, take a picture of the sign. No sign? Then just forget about it. It doesn't have anything to do with your final destination.
They took a trip to Mount Rushmore once. Matthew says they pulled up, got out, looked at it. Got back in. They'd driven; they'd seen; they went home. But Matthew does have a special memory of that trip: there were some really good hamburgers somewhere on the way.
Okay, so you wonder, what were Miss Hillary's car trips like? Well, we drove, too-pretty slowly actually, because Dad's a defensive driver. Then we kids would get antsy, loud and obnoxious, so Dad would pull over. Anywhere-just out in the middle of the wide western nowhere (we were usually traveling to Idaho from Tennessee, you see), and he'd say, "Kids, go run in that valley and play with some wild coyotes."
So we'd stream from the car and run out into a field by the highway, yelling, and Rueben our dog would run out behind us, because he'd spent the whole time scrunched up by Mama's feet in the front seat with his head in Dad's lap. Plus, he was probably hoping to rustle up some rattlers for entertainment.
So, you understand-totally different.
Which brings me back to our day trip. I said to Matthew, "Honey, I read an article to the kids about this mine and ghost town we're going to visit, and they're so excited. It's like on eight acres of land, and the guy who owns it has all this cool machinery, old cars, motorcycles-all kinds of stuff! And there are animals to feed, too."
"Yeah, Papa, " piped in Berto. "And it says the donkey will kiss you."
At this I'm pretty sure Matthew rolled his eyes.
"But, Mama," continued Berto. "It's only on six acres of land."
"No, I'm pretty sure it's eight, Berto. But, honey," I continued excitedly, "it says it's so crowded with stuff that it might look neglected, but it really isn't. This guy maintains it all. It's just not like a State Park...you know-all manicured lawns and walkways and stuff."
Matthew looked annoyed, "You mean we're going to have to walk around through a bunch of weeds and wear long sleeves and jeans and boots and get all itchy?"
"No," I said, back-pedaling. "The weeds are probably just growing between the old cars and things."
"But the places where people walk all the time will be clear and smooth, of course," I said exasperated. "Honey, don't you like to go and explore and discover things? Don't you like adventures?"
"Under certain conditions," was the response.
"You mean in the city in an air-conditioned environment," I rejoined, fed-up.
"Look, I'm taking you," he said. "But you're the one who had to go and ruin it by saying we're going to have to wander over eight acres of weeds looking at old stuff that we have to find for ourselves-in weeds!"
"Matthew, please tell me you like nature and history and travel and discovering new things. Please tell me you do."
Matthew looked at me but did not venture to speak.
I threw my hands in the air. "Are you just gonna live on a golf course when we're retired then while I'm traveling and doing stuff?"
"Fine," I said. "I'll join the Peace Corp and write letters home!" Matthew grinned, and I stalked off.
But as I stormed off, I thought to myself, By gosh or by golly, we are going to visit that mine. And we're gonna stop for lunch, too. Just you wait and see.