Road Trippin’ 2016

So it was that it was that time of year again: October. Time to roll the lawn mower back to the shed and move the snow blower into the garage. Time to put away the deck furniture and store the hoses and sprinklers. Time for the Jarhead to either take some time off work or have every single one of his hard-earned excess vacation days vanish into thin air.

I don’t know how it works for the rest of the world, but these are the only circumstances under which the man I married will agree to use his vacation time. Unless, of course, it’s hunting season. But that’s a different blog.

I shouldn’t be too hard on him. Whenever he takes vacation, he generally needs to work about 8 extra hours in advance of his days off so he doesn’t fall behind, and then work another 8 hours after he gets back to catch up. And that’s on top of the 2 hours or so he spends each day checking email traffic while he’s gone, and responding to phone calls about things that can’t be handled via email.

So basically, for every time he takes two or more days off work, he must put in additional work days for the privilege. Almost makes more sense to skip the vacation. At least until you do the math and realize how much money you’re essentially throwing out the window.

And to be fair, he did take a lot more time off this year than he has in years past. Considering the Friday that he took off to attend our son’s wedding, the Tuesday he took off in honor of my big 5-0, and the Tuesday he spent wiping my tears and holding my hand at the funeral of my beloved Auntie, he probably worked less in 2016 than he had in any year since 2008 when he was mostly retired and I was still working.

And so, with days to burn and only a couple of weeks left in which to burn them, we set down with our phones, the calendar, and Google Maps to decide where to go.

Since we had both turned 50 this year (and, no, he did NOT take his OWN birthday off work because, as he thoughtfully explained at the time, that would be silly) we thought we should do something extra special to mark our first half-century. And since we still enjoy each other’s company (or so it seems, anyway. I guess I’ve never actually heard him speak those words, but all evidence points to that conclusion) we decided we should go somewhere by ourselves rather than with the kids or to visit friends. And since we’d seen much of Europe when we were stationed in Italy, we decided to check that off our list. And finally, since there are no guarantees in life, we decided to go as far as we could for as long as we could, just in case we lack the physical ability or the financial means to do so in our second half-century.

Which narrowed our options to Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, South America, and the International Space Station. I could have added Pluto, Cassiopeia, and all the planets in this and, say, the Andromeda Galaxy, but as there are currently no departures scheduled for those locations and Cassiopeia is just a constellation anyway, I would have included them only for the fun of typing those words into a sentence for the first and probably only time in my entire life.


That decided, we each imposed our own conditions to facilitate the decision. For example, I asked that we limit our options to places we could get to and from by airplane. Much as I like the idea of visiting other planets, my fear of leaving home and not ever coming back (aka hodophobia) is bad enough as it is. There’s no need to complicate matters with talk of rocket fuel and re-entry failure, thanks very much. That restriction, unfortunately for the Jarhead, ruled out interstellar and intergalactic travel. Well, that and a pesky thing I like to call our budget.

In turn, the Jarhead requested that we choose a destination where folks speak his language. I said that would seriously limit our options since there are very few places outside of Minnesota where the people actually speak and understand Minnesotan, but he was unmoved. So unmoved, in fact, that he offered to quell my fears by leaving my hodophobic a$$ at home.

So that left England, Canada, Australia, and a few other countries that we didn’t bother to research since Australia, by virtue of its distance from Wisconsin, was the obvious winner.

Other factors were involved, of course. Like the fact that we had talked about going there for literally years but couldn’t bring ourselves to spend the money. And the fact that it would be almost summer when we arrived. Not to mention the fact that we could spend 10 days there and still be home in time for Thanksgiving.

So that’s WHERE we went. To find out HOW it went, be sure to tune in for the next installment, Road Trippin’ Down Under!


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