Packing Lunch

Road trips. Our family vacations required them. Driving to Florida, or towing a trailer to Vermont, it’s how we moved out of our well-planned lives into well-planned adventure. I didn’t fully understand the term or the reasoning behind it, but children seldom do. It was one of the privileges of my youth to not know their necessity. I never questioned our destinations, just rode along happily wherever we were headed.

There were plenty of educational opportunities at every location. Exploring forts, museums, castles, state parks were always on the schedule, along with camp fires or shore-time. Coolers always came along, even to hotel-rooms. Lunch was a time-monitored road-side picnic at a highway rest-stop or a stop-along-the-way side-trip.

Heavy coolers filled with ice; heavy jugs filled with water, or occasionally, previously powdered, artificially lemon-flavored iced-tea mix, were hauled to picnic tables or occasionally, and only in the case of a lack of an available table, blankets.

A loaf of sliced bread, a large container of made-at-home tuna fish salad and apples were standard fare. Sometimes, sliced onion and tomatoes, and potato chips were included. Rarely, cookies or candy came along for the ride. Rarely, very rarely a two- liter of carbonated extravagance emerged as a surprise.

Packing lunch is easier now. Though it seems most people don’t, I still do. Partly because of fear, partly because of budget concerns, and partly because I want to. The fear factor comes along with stopping at off-highway gas stations or restaurants alone. The budget is because I want to arrive at my destination with funds to follow a whim. Modified tradition is why I want to. I work stretch stops and lazy lunches into my calculations. I carry healthier foods knowing I will indulge in a restaurant meals and desserts. I tote apples, and water, granola bars, cheese, yogurt, bananas, oranges, peanut butter, a bagged salad kit, home-made diced chicken, instant coffee and M&M’s. The majority of the M&M’s make the return trip in a close-by car cup to help relieve boredom. Granola bars and peanut butter are completely portable protein breakfast companions. There’s usually an apple around, too.

Driving is still my preferred method of travel. Shifting through scenery and sometimes seasons revives my senses. I pay more attention to colors and shapes; I rediscover rediscovering, alertness, and inspiration. I listen to decades old playlists and check-in with radio stations that seem to be in the middle of nowhere, but are actually very somewhere to someone. I think about things or think about nothing as I roll along monitoring gas levels, checking time, and trying to decide if waiting another 51 miles for the next rest stop is appropriate.

I stop more often on the way home, for some well needed stretches and to satisfy the rebellious because-I-can and slow-down there’s no need to get home in a hurry, reluctance to return to normal.

While packing lunch has sentimentally remained with me, as a part of learned process, it comfortably mixes with my modern needs. In between the going and coming, savoring time is an experience of premeditated self-care and pause, taking pleasure in the stops along the way.

Quotes for the Week:

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Miriam Beard:

How to Make the Most of the Stops Along the Way:

Bob Gibson: Stops Along the Way, and other fantastic stuff: 


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