Road to Change – Part 2

If you’re driving across the country, you wouldn’t think gas prices would be the main attraction. But they were.  I saw $1.89 and even $1.82.  Is this the 1990’s?

With a baby crib, mountains of clothes, and some other things, my Pontiac Vibe went from Las Vegas, Nevada to Indianapolis, Indiana in three days.  For a better visual, I went through Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois to get to Indiana.  Some of you may know that route by another name – Route 66.

Let me tell you something.  If you drive the route in three days, the only thing you’re gonna see is flat land, night time, Travel America, Petro, Loves, sketchy bathrooms, and some Marriott hotels.  Oh, and the inside of your car with, at some points, only one radio station playing country music.

Sorry, not a country music fan.  I grew up in Bakersfield.  If it didn’t happen there, then country music never had a chance with me.

Luckily, when he wasn’t sleeping or playing his monkey ballon game on his tablet, my brother was good company. Although I preached to friends and family that I could drive by myself, I’m glad I didn’t shackle myself to a cross-country trail of boredom. It is a boring ass drive if you’re by yourself.

I mean, I tried to entertain myself with the radio. That didn’t happen. So, I tried snapping a few pictures of interesting things I saw on the road.

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Road, cars and dirt.
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Road, cars and dirt.
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Road, cars and dirt… in fancy black and white!

And I’m not even going to detail the food options while on the road.  I’ll just say they were greasy fried goodness or caffeinated drive boosters.

On a rainy night at 11pm in Indianapolis, I put my bags on the hotel bed.  One more day to go, with a 5 hour drive to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the final destination.  However, the drive appeared minuscule compared to the last three days.  And the prize awaiting me in PA?  Well, I would get to see my wife and son for Christmas Eve, after three and a half weeks of living on the opposite side of the country.

Moral of the Story:  Have good conversations.

Talking skills are becoming a lost art, going by the waste side like spelling complete words or phone call etiquette.  I mean, if you want people to know what’s going on, then why not just update your status, send a text, or (gasp) update your blog?  If you’re sitting down with someone and talking, it’s either a work lunch, a good conversation, or bad conversation.  Talking over the phone is a rarity too.  If I get a phone call, it’s either urgent or an emergency.

However, if you get the right person, you can talk with someone for hours.  Morning becomes night.  Night becomes morning.  You can be at a restaurant for lunch, then the server gives you that look because their shift is over and they need your table.

Usually, those long conversations aren’t just one topic.  You go from one to another to another.  Sometimes both of you stop talking, take notice of what you’re talking about, and wonder how you ended up talking about this.

Like deer population control or why barns are painted red.  Both topics came up with my brother, beholder of random knowledge that begs the question, “Why do you know that?”

Luckily I had many good conversations with my brother.  Although still a long drive, time went faster when we were talking.

Children these days are at risk of not having such conversations.  I’m a big proponent of technology literacy, but I know there are many fears about “screen time” and how children use tablets, smart phones, the Internet and social media (and I’ll get on my soap box about those topics at another time).  Technology appears to be the villain of face to face interactions.

I mean, who sits around the dinner table and talks as a family?  Who sits in the living room and discusses their day?  How many opportunities do K-12 students have to just sit down and talk with their peers?

As I drove along the road, I thought about my son sitting in the back seat, playing with his tablet (and learning) or talking with my wife and I.  I also know and have seen parents who simply give their child a smart phone or tablet, play a movie, and enjoy a couple of hours of peace and quiet.  That’s fine.  I understand this.  But, this is what some families do all the time.

Besides language development, conversations have a way of permanently changing the way you think, process information, and your future.  They promote strong relationships.  And you get to know more about a person.

There are people who I worked with for years, but I couldn’t tell you if they were married, had kids, or even their last name.  Conversations just didn’t happen.

The point is, conversations are important in early childhood.  Being out on the barren open road, with no phone reception or the pings and dings of status updates, the only thing to do was talk.  And this was good.  Although you may not travel hours upon hours with your classroom, you will go on field trips in a big yellow school bus. Or, perhaps, you’ll travel with your own children on a long vacation.  There is a chance for downtime, but there is also opportunity.  Find a place for both.  Don’t let three days of driving be the “Aha” moment for the idea to strike you.

In the next post, the third and final part of my long trek across the U.S.

P.S. Live in OKC.  My gosh. $1.82 for gas.  Awesome!

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