It started with a dinner, Valentine’s Day, over five years ago now. That was our first meal together, as friends, “not a date”, we both insisted, as my divorce wasn’t quite final.
We sat across from each other at Johnny Carino’s way out on the east side of Houston, after hanging out watching a dog agility competition, and set out to talk about what we had in common (geocaching, dogs, general interest in animals and the outdoors). We ended up talking about road trips instead – trips we might like to go on someday.
He told me about a map and some information that a friend (Don) had given him, with advice about a road to take.
Four months later, we were sitting in a Johnny Carino’s in Billings, Montana, about to embark on that road together – the Bear Tooth Pass, Montana – gateway to Yellowstone.
My ex was coming home for two week leave literally the day after our divorce was final, and I needed to get out of town for a while while he visited our kids, at my house, in my bed, taking over all my general area. I had realized that due to the divorce, I could travel anywhere I wanted to on my vacation, instead of having to spend it with my former in laws.
Jason asked me where I wanted to go, and told me he would drive me. I told him Glacier National Park….I said Olympic National Park…but all those places were too far in 2010 for that maiden voyage. We agreed on Yellowstone, on going to the road Don had suggested.
He gave me a laptop computer with mapping software to plan the journey. We both saved money individually, to pool together. He brought the camping equipment, his dogs, his camera, and I brought the plans, made all the arrangements, gathered food supplies. We spent two weeks on the road, camping most nights, learning how to be partners in a journey together, and I guess it just stuck – the mutual wanderlust, love of the open road, excitement of exploration.
There is a certain kind of relationship people must have to be good road trip partners, and we have those qualities. We have these incredible conversations, share a sense of humor that leaves us sometimes laughing to ridiculousness levels, and get lost in mutual creative aspects, like recording scenes from the road with our cell phones and trying to match it up with music. We can also sit quietly for a while, looking out the window or listening to audio books, just taking it in. He takes the pictures, I write the stories – that’s always been how we roll.
Since that maiden voyage, we have been on two more epic road trips – one every other year. I have mapped our journeys out on this map above, and included our little side trips over the years – various camping trips, geocaching events, visits to family and friends, exploration of Texas State Parks. We’ve probably traveled over 12,000 road miles together (just last year’s trip alone clocked in at 6,600 miles). We’ve taken a few trips via plane to places not included on the map, but where we also did some exploring, including Maryland and Puerto Rico.
We’ll keep going. We’ll keep saving for that every-other-year trip, with smaller excursions in between. We want to see all the roads, visit all the National Parks, stop at all the monuments, find all the oldest geocaches. Or maybe that is just me, and he is willing to play chauffeur…either way, of all the things, this is what became our thing, and it’s one of those that defines us as a couple, and I love it.