Summer Vacation 2017: Escape Velocity

escape velocity (noun) – In physics, the minimum speed required in order for an object to escape from the gravitational influence of a massive body.

This is the first post in its series.

Whew. I Survived It.

It’s no secret that the relationship I have with my hometown of Houston has been rocky. Our differences are irreconcilable — I’ve changed, Houston has not. We are making the best of our lost love, however, but it is dependent upon our increasing space between each other roughly every six months to keep sane. I’m over due: It’s been eighteen.

The past school year was uneventful aside from the constant pressure required by me to assure my daughter safe passage to a school building less than a quarter mile away. Adding to the congestion by driving her would only exacerbate the problem. In typical government fashion, resolution only took a quick nine months.

It wasn’t until April that the sign warning motorists of children crossing a protected crosswalk appeared. It was a pleasant and welcomed surprise — and it really helped, if only for the last few weeks of school. Up to then, crossing the parkway to get home was akin to playing a real-life game of Frogger. Motorists firmly believed they had the right-of-way when turning right on green — not the pedestrian. She was just an object in the road to be driven around, apparently.

Laws are laws, but idiot drivers need signs to make those laws enforceable.

Busing was no help to us; we were too close to the school. Crossing guards had their hands tied too; the offending crosswalk, necessary for walking/biking to school, was outside the school zone, if only by a few yards. Other than witnessing first-hand the madness at crossing — even helping my child cross by stopping turning cars — police were of no use. No tickets or warnings were ever issued to offending drivers. Only the wits of a child with a bike at-the-ready to throw under the proverbial bus (they would break the law too) kept her safe.

It seemed a hopeless task some days, advocating for my child. But an intersection with an inherently crappy design for pedestrians needed addressing, and pitting oneself against a large school district, a city, and the police department took its toll on me. My child is my priority, but I felt a sense of duty for my community as well.

Once school ended, my need to depart this dysfunctional locale could not have been more urgent.

A Park-a-Day

Hitting nine American national parks and two state parks within a two week period is no small feat. Public spaces are typically bustling with people visiting from all over the world in the summer months, and camping or lodging sometimes requires years-in-advance reservations. It was all very well worth the cost (minimal) and the fore-thought (maximum). The last trip of such magnitude since 2014. (You can begin reading about that here.)

This trip was supposed to be for the National Park System’s centennial last year, but lack of space in the old SUV for camping gear squashed our plans. Realizing our error, we put off the trip until a bigger vehicle came along. Instead, we celebrated two anniversaries, theirs and ours, at Big Bend National Park in early 2016 instead with minimal hiking gear and, sadly, no camping.

Note to reader: The national parks really are America’s best idea. You should try them if you haven’t. Beats a trip to Disney World or the Caribbean all to heck.

As I work on compiling the ten or more posts required to highlight each of the places we visited and camped, here is a teaser for the 5,000+ mile, 16-day road trip.

Note to self: have Scottie change his T-shirt more than twice during the next vacation cycle.

Now recharged with a renewed perspective and boundless energy to enjoy the summer in all it’s glory, I’m glad to be back to blogging.

See ya soon!

17 thoughts on “Summer Vacation 2017: Escape Velocity

  1. Several times on our trip we drove past people who were posing for pictures at a “Welcome to X” sign. We entered Colorado for the first time near near its southeast corner and drove north, where we didn’t find the state’s landscape colorful, either literally or figuratively. Coming back down near and Rocky Mountains was another story.

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    1. This particular CO sign was at the end of our trip, and, yes, it wasn’t exactly colorful. But we ‘needed’ one for our collection, so never mind the background. There’s a secondary UT sign that I love. It shows Scott trying like the dickens to ‘herd the kittens’ for a pic. I laugh whenever I see it.

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  2. Just yesterday I published a post on a theme of “escape velocity.” Synchronous stuff on a similar theme, actually. *And* just this morning I yawned/screamed for coffee 🙂
    Now I shall do a bit of a rain dance and scour for T-shirts.
    Welcome the heck back, you guys!

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  3. I am so glad you got to visit some National Parks. It sounds as though you needed some time away. But if rest is what you needed, you were out of luck! That was a LOT of driving in such a short time. I hope all the natural beauty made up for that, and for the summer crowds. I look forward to reading more about your trip.

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    1. Yes, the natural beauty and relative lack of crowds made the whole trip like a fantasy. Working on the next installment for tomorrow’s posting. Each park/day really has its own theme and flavor; makes it fun for writing. Thanks for dropping by, Tanja. Wish we were closer neighbors. 😀

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  4. It isn’t just Houston, my fellow pedestrian, where all driver courtesy has gone the way of the dinosaur. Driving rules just as well not exist. In fact, they may not. As we walkers know. Anywhere near any street, the head must be a swivel. And many of these drivers have state of the art sound systems and air conditioning as well as luxurious physical comforts in their cars they take great pride in, and yet seem to be in a rush to be out of. Perhaps so they can sit in front of the TV.

    Lovely family, BTW.

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    1. Yes, as I cart the 13-yr-old minivan around, I am always amazed at how few geriatric vehicles there are on the road with me. You forgot to mention the ever-present right-hand computer screen sharing the eyes-and-brain of the driver (the left hand, hopefully is still on the wheel). I give folks lots of space while driving, and walk and bike like my life will end abruptly. Paranoid is generally a good state of mind in the Houston suburbs!

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  5. I envy you your road trip! Maybe some time for me, too.
    Have a great time, and hopefully not too much rain/strom from that tropical storm approaching.

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    1. It was a great and well-needed trip, Pit. Waiting for the rain as I type. We’re on the dry side of the storm, thankfully, but we could always use the rain! *rain dancing*

      Cheers, and Happy Summering!

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      1. My wife just texted me from Houston [she is at a convention there] that it has begun to rain.
        We could use rain here in the Hill Country, too, but it doesn’t look like we’ll get any.

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