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Taking the Scenic Route

When I was a kid, I remember my Dad “taking the scenic route” to go places. In my young mind, that just meant taking the long way.

My mind flashes back to any given Sunday afternoon in the ‘80s with 5 of us in the family station wagon. “Where are we going, Dad? This isn’t the way home.” “Yes, it is. We’re taking the scenic route.” I roll my eyes, certain this “scenic route” was code for an accidental detour due to a wrong turn. There was no GPS in the car. Heck, there weren’t even shoulder straps on the seatbelts. We would bounce around in the back seat as we went up and down, left and right on the country roads. Sometimes we’d see a deer or an airplane or an antique car or whatever else caught my dad’s eye, and we’d pull over. We would then get a lesson on how old that buck was based on body and antler size, how many engines were on the little plane and where it may be headed, or what year that make and model were on the refurbished vehicle, all while crammed together in the non-airconditioned back seat. “I call the window seat!” we would yell as we ran to the car. We each wanted the fresh air from the window that had to be cranked by hand and not be the one sandwiched between the others.

Anyone else have these memories? I imagine this is standard for many families. It’s either that and I’m just fulfilling my American parental destiny, or I’m turning into my parents. I’ve seen those insurance commercials about that very thing. Certainly, I’m not as bad as those people, right? Right? Hmmm, don’t ask my kids…

Yep. It’s totally me now.

“Is that an eagle?!?” I squeal. My kids know what’s about to happen:

1. We’re pulling over.

2. Mom’s getting out of the car and standing on the side of the road looking up at the hillside like a weirdo.

3. We are 5 minutes later to our destination.

My son has a game in Edinboro. So what do I do? Take Route 6 the whole way? Sometimes. (It is a very pretty drive.) Other times, I veer off some random road to see where it takes me, fully trusting my GPS will send me back eventually. I look at the ETA and see my “taking the scenic route” has added 7 minutes to my trip. No problem. We’ll still make it in time. I wonder if it’s good that my kids have that visible reminder that I just made the trip longer. I mean, I could say, “See? We’ll still be there in time, AND we got to see this!” But they could also be keeping a tally of all the minutes I’ve added for them in the car over the years. I remind them that they have air-conditioning and cars with good gas mileage, which is good because “I remember gas being under a dollar.” (Kids just love those stories, am I right?!)

I have countless other examples, and, someday, my kids will appreciate them. And then, before they know it, they’ll be taking their own families on their preferred “scenic routes” and teaching them important life lessons like how life is as much about the journey as it is the destination.

Take your time. Look around. It’s beautiful out there.

Sometimes the scenic route is an accident. Sometimes it’s on purpose. Either way,

Take. That. Scenic. Route.

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