The first goal of our just completed trip to points east, my mother-in-law Kitty's celebration of her 90th birthday, can be put in the "mission accomplished" category. It went really well. Great food. An interesting and fun crowd at the party. A great week with Madeline leading up to the party (completed with an exciting Badger game right after the party where Madeline and I led the Badgers to victory with clever celebratory clinks of our drink glasses after positive plays by the Badgers).
There was lots of laughter and fun. At least from my perspective, a success in every way.
But, like many of the trips we have been on, the initial part of our trip had a clear direction and endpoint - in this case the party itself and getting Madeline to the airport for her flight back to Madison.
Then Kate and I set out on a somewhat different type of journey. One with a much less defined structure. It reminded me in some ways of 1980 - a year I spent being "a bum", wandering from place to place in an almost completely random way. And particularly of the time spent in Europe with a Eurail pass and later a bicycle. At that time I would go places and change directions on a whim with no particular destination or time parameters built into the equation.
We are once again free to choose at any time to speed up or slow down. Turn right or turn left. But we aren't kids in our twenties anymore. We have some need, at least at this point, for structure. A plan made with at least a little forethought. So there was some learning and adjustment to make.
Sometimes on the second part of our trip we began in a fog, unsure if we were even going in the intended direction, to the extent we had an intended direction.
But in almost every case the fog quickly cleared to allow us to see our way more or less clearly - even if the fog and clouds were still in the area.
Our newfound freedom, with its lack of time constraints, let us have a great little side trip lunch with Kate's long-time friend Barbara.
We could spend a Friday night at Phipp's Store near Lansing, NC.
And we found time for some horse racing at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
We were even able to share a glass of wine (well, several glasses of wine) with great friends.
What a deal!
I'm sure we will continue to improve on our newfound ability to "stop and smell the flowers" on future trips. There are definitely lots of flowers out there.