My husband, Harry, and I have been traveling for 34 years. It’s one of our favorite activities. We’ve visited all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, and all 48 states on the continent. I did travel to Hawaii with my sisters, but I don’t count that as Harry was not along. Neither of us has been to Alaska. After my husband retired from teaching, we traveled to Western Europe, visiting some eight countries on a tour. As we’ve gotten older, we started taking shorter trips instead of our 2 to 3 weeks.
Each time we travel, we decide where we’d like to go. He always insists I check the AAA books if there is a place I’d like to tour. I really don’t mind his making up the itinerary as he knows what I like.
Furthermore, he’s been a bachelor until he was 40, so I don’t mind that he likes to pack the car himself. All I have to do is get my luggage to the living room. I only carry smaller items to the back seat. We have His and Her sides because I like to have a more cluttered side. It just makes me feel like home.
Early in our marriage, Harry found out there are certain things I can’t do - -like driving on a 5-lane highway around Boston. You know when your first married, \you don’t want your hubby to know your fears -- all at one time. So when he asked me if I’d mind driving awhile, I said “Sure.” I had no idea what I was in store for, but as I drove, I felt my grip on the wheel become tighter and tighter. On top of that, I also had abdominal pain from diverticulitis and decided I could handle both the fear and the pain. Needless to say, it was a horrendous ride, for both of us.
On a western trip, he felt I should be able to handle driving on a flat stretch of road in Nebraska, so he could take a short nap. I was doing really well until I noticed a police car with blinking lights seemingly following me. I nudged Harry, “What am I supposed to do?” He yelled, “Pull over!” So I did.
The next thing the policeman did was to invite me to sit in his car. We had a nice chat and things were going good until he handed me a speeding ticket for going 80 miles an hour.
After this, I went back to our car and had a friendly chat with Harry. We both had a hard time believing I drove that fast. I told Harry the policeman said it was probably because I’m used to the hills in Pennsylvania, and not the flat lands of Nebraska. I agreed with the policeman.
We both try to please each other on these trips. Harry knows I love books. If he reads in a newspaper or sees a sign for a book sale, he tries to get me to the sale. On weekends, he’ll stop at 1 or 2 yard sales for me so I get it “out of my system.”
Recently on a trip he spilled some coffee on his shirt. I listened to him complain all morning about the stain, so when we got to this museum and received a stick-um to place on our clothes, I placed his stick-um on the stain. That solved the complaints the rest of the day.
Nowadays, I rarely drive, but I try to make up to him with a day of golf, while he drops me off at a mall or a town, filled with gift shops, for me to browse. We both end up enjoying our day.
On one of our western trips, Harry found out I can be in fear of snow-capped majestic mountains, peaks, and passes, even if I’m on the passenger side. As he drove on those spiraling, pinnacled roads with their sporadic guard rails, he’d ask, “Are you OK?” I told him I’d be all right. Boy do I talk big at 1,000 feet. At 5,000 feet I crouched closer and closer to the glove compartment. At 10,000 feet was in it.
Aside from a “few” fears, on long trips we found things to help each other pass the time.
We have a couple of crosswords on the car. I call out the helper word and we both try to guess it. One time I called out “garage” and he answered “meany.” I looked at him quizzically, “How could you possibly get that from what I said?” He said, “Spell it.” (I have to do this at times due to my Pennsylvania Dutch accent.) I did -- “G A R A G E.” He laughed, “I thought you said “grouch.”
Another thing we do is tell a story about something in our life. Now the bad part is, Harry has a retentive memory. He can relate all the American Presidents in a row, as well as, the year of their term. Within the first few sentences of my story, he’ll say, “I heard that before.” Me, I probably heard his stories over and over again, since I forget them from year to year.
Still, there’s more that bugs me about his retentive memory. He enjoys a late afternoon coffee and often knows exactly where this coffee place is. He’ll say, “There’s a Sheetz within a mile. Don’t’ you remember we drove through this same place a year ago on our way to Florida?” This irritates me so I retort, “No, I don’t recall the Sheetz place, but I do recall seeing that tree over there a year ago!”
His mind doesn’t always bother me. Sometimes, while I’m reading in the AAA book while he drives, I ask him if he knows more about something I just read. Since he was a history teacher, he usually is able to fill me in on more details. Now these are history lessons I enjoy hearing about.
We have one thing on our travels that we have a serious problem with -- the words gawking and glancing. Harry insists he only glances at the scenery and I insist he gawks, which is a much longer time to get his eyes back on the road. On top of this he has the gall, to ask me, “Why can’t you enjoy the scenery?” My stock answer: “Because someone has to watch the road.”
All in all, Harry’s still my favorite traveling companion.