THE LONG VIEW: Columnist recalls when family outings were long on s-miles

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Pat Grime copy.jpg

Just returned from a 600-mile drive south and back. Thought I might avoid the heavy traffic associated with Independence Day by traveling the previous weekend. But this proved to be a foolish notion.

Those of you who got on the highways for the Fourth of July weekend know it is true: America, you are out there driving. And you have brought your campers, boats, ATVs, kayaks, and bicycles with you, along with what appear to be some anger issues.

Just returned from a 600-mile drive south and back. Thought I might avoid the heavy traffic associated with Independence Day by traveling the previous weekend. But this proved to be a foolish notion.

Those of you who got on the highways for the Fourth of July weekend know it is true: America, you are out there driving. And you have brought your campers, boats, ATVs, kayaks, and bicycles with you, along with what appear to be some anger issues.

Seriously, when you're out there on the interstate, please remember we're all on the same team. We all have someplace to get to and we are all trying our best, even those of us driving despite the ample distractions offered by our loved ones, pets, entertainment/navigation systems, and hastily-strapped-to-the-roof luggage.

Seeing so many families on the road for summer vacation brought back a lot of memories. Many was the time my former wife and I strapped the boys in the back seat with games, puzzles, and snacks before motoring to some far-flung destination. 

The hours we spent headed to and from family vacation are some of the most cherished in memory. There is nothing like close confinement to help family members reacquaint themselves, and nothing like the stress of travel to force everyone out of their rut (no matter how comfortable they may be in it).

If the photos on Facebook are any indication, a hefty percentage of folks I know took advantage of Independence Day weekend. Seeing these posts, I am transported back to sundry summertime gatherings with my wife's family. We have all brought a favorite dish. We are eating too much food and laughing at the same silly jokes.

But for almost all of these get-togethers, impatience would start nagging me after a few hours. How much longer would we be staying? How much more of this family fun, the kind I was subjected to every holiday or birthday occasion, would I have to endure?

Somehow I assumed those family outings like would always be in my life. Now they're gone, and I look with a certain longing at photographic evidence of other people's fun, just like I ache a little at each family road trip passing by on the Interstate. After a few years and some fine summer getaways, the time came all too quickly that those trips and their attendant close quarters were no more.

It is easy to get caught up in day-to-day, trying-to-pay-the-bills pursuits, but if you do not devote some time seeking seasonal pleasure, you are missing out. Even if you did not venture out for Fourth of July, the calendar still holds plenty of opportunities to hit the lake, park, beach, cabin, camp sight, or Gramma’s house. For goodness sake, it is summer and there are memories to be made!

They say it is not the destination but the journey that is important. So, what are you doing next weekend? 

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com