Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Travel Tales: Goodbye LA

Making a cross-country trip is not easy and I try very hard to be as prepared as possible for any situation. Even though I give this preparation my best effort, I can never anticipate everything. My journey of 2500 miles each way is always filled with surprises and I worry about everything at least a hundred times. (People who know me will consider that a conservative number!) Getting ready for the return section of the trip involves three areas - packing the car,  watching the weather, and dealing with stress. Although it does not involve the preparation that the first segment of the journey requires, the return trip has unique situations.

The first area is packing. I am fortunate to have a nice garage, so packing for the journey to Los Angeles is a pleasure. I have the luxury of time and privacy to work on packing. I do not have this option in LA for the return trip. For a time I just try to guess what will fit in the trunk, but several days before the trip I pack the trunk of the car so I will know for sure and stop worrying about it. I throw the larger suitcases in the backseat of the car and drive to another location on the property where I am staying, so I can work on my task. Anything that can be placed in the front or back seat of the car will not be packed until I actually leave.

One thing I have found is that I can sit there everyday trying to imagine how everything will fit together and it never turns out the way I think it will. One year I thought I had things under control, but at 4:00 a.m. I was in the parking lot trying to arrange items in the backseat so that I would be able to see out the rear window of the car. I never know until the last minute how things will fit together and that is very stressful.

The next area is obsessively watching the weather reports. I am glued to the Weather Channel Weekly Planner for the week before I leave. I am adamant that I have three clear days for my journey. My trip is difficult enough on its own, so I do not need to add bad weather to the mix. I would like to think that my insistence on good weather is a major factor that contributes to the success of my trips; however, waiting for the perfect days can be very stressful. Fortunately, the hotel where I stay is very understanding of my situation and works with me on my departure date.

The two weeks before the return trip are very stressful for me. In fact, they are the most stressful of the entire experience. How do I handle the stress? Not well, but I am getting better at it. I know that and am even able to laugh about it sometimes. I am more quiet and more distracted because I have a huge task ahead of me that I take very seriously for my safety. People tell me I am not as humorous as I normally am and I do not smile as much. In the days before the trip I will even lose my appetite until the trip is finished. (I consider that a benefit!)

The time comes to say goodbye to the people I have come to know during my stays. Some of these people I have known for four years. They always say that the time between my trips goes by very quickly and they are correct, but I have to drive 5000 miles before I see them again and I always hope that goes well. I do not like to say goodbye, but it is especially difficult to bid farewell to my daughter.  She is the reason why I make this trip and worth every mile that I drive.

(Photos of Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA taken in April, 2012)

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