Telluride Off-season: “On The Road” Family Style

Telluride Off-season: “On The Road” Family Style

by J James McTigue

“Road Trip” conjures many images–-recollections of Kerouac, laissez-faire college summers, U2’s Joshua Tree album. Memories of road trips make me sigh, reliving those days when we could just hop in the car and take off, without a care in the world.

Road trip Though the circumstances of my life have changed (I’m married with two kids) I still hang on to the romantic vision of road tripping. So much so, that when the lifts closed, we packed the family, skis, road bikes, pack-n-play, and coloring books into the car and headed west. This was a far cry from the spontaneous road trips of yesteryear, in which the plan was not to have one. Every night of this road trip was accounted for, a combination of staying at friends’ houses, getting “bros. deals” at nice resorts and paying for a few crappy hotels. The trip would take us from Telluride, to Northern California down to Southern California then east to Phoenix and back to Telluride, with a lot of stops in between. 

When I divulged my plans to my seemingly more practical friends, whose off-season plans included a plane ticket, a beach and a condo, they unconvincingly  commented, (more accurately questioned) “That will be fun?”


The response made me question, “Would it be fun? Would it be worth it?” Would it be worth schlepping the kids from place to place, shuffling from friends’ houses to hotels to friends’ houses, bringing our ski gear and biking gear, loading and unloading the car? Driving all those miles? Would it be an actual ‘vacation’?

I would be reminded that vacation is one thing and travel is another. Vacation lets us rest and recharge, travel gives us a new perspective.  A road trip is travel. We stayed with friends, at their houses, during their work weeks, gaining an intimate insight into their lives. It’s impossible not to pay attention, not to notice similarities and differences between your life and theirs, not to be inspired by their lives and grateful for yours.

And, there is no better way to truly catch up with people, than sit down to dinner. This is where the wine and conversations flowed. One friend has started a company to develop an app. He had just finished his company’s “facebook strategy.” “Facebook strategy?” I asked. Apparently, every start up has one. He began explaining the intricacies of Facebook, the number of daily users, like-gating (I hadn’t heard of this one either) and its power when used conscientiously and intentionally.  Another friend, a doctor, is going back to school to get his executive MBA. He is frustrated with his hours and the financial unsustainability of medicine under Obamacare. Another is recovering from a debilitating  illness. Another quit teaching and became a hair stylist. Another is raising her twins; another is running the family company and bike racing.

Listening to other people’s stories and observing their lives, inadvertently makes one reflect on their own. In between stays, on the long stretches of road, is time for reflection. Space where you can’t do the dishes, surf the internet or talk on the phone.

Digging Traveling allows you to be in the moment. To sit on the cheap hotel bedspread, drinking red wine from a paper cup, and listen to your daughter have her first real conversation with her grandma. “We saw a shark today and hot pink flamingos, and we went in a tunnel where there was a wave and we saw Nemo,” she explains pacing the floor and gesturing with her free hand.  Travel allows you to stop at the beach, with no toys or swimsuits, and dig a hole in the sand until a wave fills it. Then to dig another. It allows you to get an ice cream cone before dinner, and bust out when your daughter asks, “What does a fart look like?"

Our road trip was a far cry from the Kerouac version, but the moments of spontaneity that filled in the logistical sketch satiated my nostalgia for yesteryear. The wide open road, with its twists and turns, is an obvious metaphor for the future, but the satisfaction of a road trip comes with the ability to pinpoint where you’ve been, where you’re going, and for a few fleeting moments, where you are.

A road trip with two kids. Was it worth it?

Oh yeah.  


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