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On The Road:

Finding catharsis on road trips.

By Caitlyn Kelley

Since before I can remember, my family and I have embarked on a yearly journey to Vermont during the summer months. While our trip isn’t during peak tourist season, and the foliage remains green amidst 90-degree weather, we still find ourselves relaxing at the base of a ski resort, giddy at the idea that work is still a week away.

Something can be said about our time there. We recuperate, relax, and remind ourselves of the moments we should be spending together as a family. For my parents in particular, it’s a way to escape their hectic 9-to-5s.

For me, these trips are just as much an excuse to rest as they are a culmination of my three favorite things: the mountains, good food, and road trips.

I’m from Connecticut, a state that balances both the sprawling suburbs of greater New York City and the pastoral, natural beauty of western Massachusetts. Though we’re a small state, we sit at the intersection of life in the Northeast. Most urban hubs–New York City, Boston, Providence, and Philadelphia–are all within a roughly three-to-five-hour car ride, depending on where you’re located within the state.

During a typical road trip, a drive to scenic Vermont, for example, takes roughly four hours. It’s only three-and-a-half when my mother drives.

I’m kidding. Sort of.

For what it's worth, road trips have always given me a sense of catharsis. In fact, I sometimes prefer the car ride rather than the trip itself. There’s nothing better than the anticipation of what’s to come, especially when you get closer and closer to where you get to go. More often than not, I’d just stare out the window, taking in the landscape as it changed around me.

When I was younger, my mom would stuff the car with a bag of snacks and treats for my brother and I. We’d be bundled in the back seat, listening to music on our iPods or downloading movies on Netflix when we became old enough to have phones.

When we finally would reach our exit, my brother and I would pop out our earbuds, roll down our windows, and inhale the scent of pine trees. The entire car would heave a collective sigh. It’s almost like breathing for the first time–the air is just that fresh and sweet.

Today, this tradition still continues–and I’m glad.

The idea of being trapped with your family in a car for an extended period of time may bring anxiety to some, and while I won’t refute that we’ve had our fair share of arguments, we’ve also made some of our best memories within the confines of our car.

When we’re together, I can force my dad–a staunch fan of musical artists like Queen, the Ramones, and Johnny Thunders–to listen to Childish Gambino or The Weeknd. It’s an opportunity to crack jokes, to have deep conversations, and to spend time with my family.

It’s part of the vacation just as much as it is a way to get there.

If you’re dreading your next road trip for one reason or another, take into consideration all of the memories you can make before you’ve even arrived at your destination. You never know what’s going to happen, so keep an open mind, and keep your eyes on the road.


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