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The Open Road
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The days of summer are ticking by faster than even I can truly fathom. The downside of working for a newspaper publication and a bi-monthly magazine, is that we are always working ahead. We rarely are able to live in the true present moment as we sit at our desks. Looking to deadlines for the next newspaper issue or issue of the 209 Magazine. Honestly, I’m constantly confused as to what day it is. So much so, it’s actually an office joke. It’s not uncommon to hear me blurt out, ‘Is today Friday?’ or ‘What issue are we in?’

Fortunately, every so often, we are able to put our workload on hold and cash in on a little vacation time. This of course occurs once we write two issues ahead, so our Editor is left with material. There’s only a few of us on staff to fill the Leader after all (not counting Sports), so we do our best to cover what we can.

Rarely do I truly step away from my desk. In the day and age of technology, my work e-mail is with me all the time. My ability to pen a piece remotely while on vacation is not unusual. I love what I do, so this rarely feels like work … to me.

So early this month, I left my laptop on my desk, disabled my iPad from work e-mails and hit the road with the three loves of my life on a road trip to Arizona.

While the Grand Canyon is and remains on our check list, we did no planned sightseeing on this trip. This was a road trip to visit friends and make memories with them. Maps told us it would take 10 hours; reality showed us it takes 12.

Granted, summer is perhaps the worst time to travel to a climate warmer than ours in the Valley. But just like missing the Grand Canyon, we weren’t traveling for a better climate (and our friends have a pool).

In truth the first six-ish hours felt like eternity. I was anxious to get there and hug/love on our friends. The car could not have moved fast enough. Both kids were entertained with scavenger hunt activities, as well as electronic devices. My youngest kept her eye on the car radio clock announcing periodically how many hours until Arizona.

All in all, the four of us survived the 24 total hours of round trip road time. We had an amazing stay with our friends and it warms my heart to think of the bond our two families now share.

It was somewhere around Indio or Fontana on our way back that I paused for a moment in gratitude for our trek in our Volkswagen bubble. Aside from an occasional text message and a pit stop or two those 24 hours hold memories which still make me beam in delight.

Whether it be the yelling out of state license plate names, looking for obscure scavenger hunt names or singing silly lyrics to pop hits … this is my argument for road travel versus air.

True, it would be great to board a plane and be there in a matter of hours and air travel does offer opportunity for memories as well. There is something truly magical and unique, however, about hitting the open road with nothing but one another to keep us entertained.

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve a VW Super Beetle, my mom and sometimes an additional family member or two. Daydreaming from the window, endless conversation with my mom and singing … lots and lots of singing.

And while I get this isn’t the most ideal for everyone, I can’t help but feel grateful for true time unplugged and truly stopping to look up or ahead … to the open road.

Happy Summer.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.