I have traveled with my husband almost 25 weeks in the past twelve months. In eighteen months we have been all over the continental United States: Seattle to San Diego to Miami to New Hampshire and most of the states in between. (I missed Delaware and Rhode Island, and we unfortunately skipped Maine.)
Our friends see our travel posts and pictures. Some assume we are having a blast. We are! Some of the time. But the reason for these trips is business. Ron has to travel for business; I get to go along for pleasure.
Ron started this traveling just a few months after The Accident. I could not join him often that first year due to still having four young adults living at home. I missed him. It was hard for us both to be apart two or three weeks at a time. But the kids had all moved out by last October, and I packed my bags!
Ron works hard on these trips. At each appointment Ron rolls out thousands of pounds of equipment. He talks with engineers, distributors, and contractors. He explains the features of the products and then loads up to move on to the next appointment. When not showing products he is often on the phone. At the hotel he is usually on his computer. Conference calls, emails, sales reports, and questions from customers all require his attention. Most work days he is gone before seven and returns to the hotel about six. He works on emails and reports until late. Some work days consist of driving eight to ten hours to the next city. Other days he may have three appointments before we drive three to five hours to our next hotel.
We enjoy being together and try to find time for recreation during each trip, especially on long driving days. That may mean taking twenty minutes to stop by the highway to look at the scenic overview or taking two hours in Laramie, WY, to ride our bikes. Once we stopped for an hour in Utah to go tubing in the snow before heading on to Cheyenne. We have gone through state and national parks as we drive from one city to the next. And, of course, we try to find a new You Are Here mug when we enter a new state or city.
We try to have dinner at a nice local restaurant once each week, but that doesn’t always happen. Other nights we may order pizza to be delivered to the room or grab a burger next door to the hotel. We detoured to have lunch in Sturgis last month. We missed Biker Week, but still had a good burger!
We usually have only one day “off” per week when Ron is not working or driving long distances. When we can, we try to plan the day off on Sunday so we can attend church.
We have been able to meet up with friends and family along our route. When driving east from home, our routes takes us through Norman to see our sons David & Peter, and we often stop in Lookout Mountain to see our oldest and youngest daughters Meredith & Margaret. Adam is in Lansing so we meet him for dinner when in the Great Lakes area. (Lyz lives in our home town.) Some days we get to see military friends across the country, which is a big treat! Many Air Force friends who lived in Wichita Falls have since been transferred elsewhere. It’s always nice to see our old friends.
While driving we talk and laugh. We listen to good books, podcasts, and music (when Ron is not on the phone.) We call our kids when we can and keep in touch with folks at home via Facebook.
But it is definitely not all fun and games.
To give you an idea of what our trips look like, here is what we did in August.
Friday July 31: After Ron left work, we drove to Amarillo. Spent time with hurting people. In bed by 2 am. (First Hotel (H1))
Saturday: Morning with TEXAS cast & crew. Lunch with them at the BSM. Drove 8 hours to Colorado Springs. (Driving takes longer pulling the trailer.) In bed by midnight. (H 2)
Sunday: Day off! Church, Garden of the Gods, lunch, nap. Computer work. In bed by midnight.
Monday: Four appointments. Unload and load equipment four times. Dinner with friends then drive 90 minutes to Denver. In bed by midnight. (H 3)
Tuesday through Thursday: Appointments all day. Load and unload equipment at every appointment. Every time. For three weeks. Ron left the hotel about 7am and returned about 6pm. He worked on emails and reports in the evening. We got to go to dinner my stepmom Tuesday, and on Wednesday I took her up Pike’s Peak while Ron worked.
Thursday night: Ron flew home on a 5 p.m. flight out of Denver for meetings all day Friday. He flew back to Denver Friday night, arriving at nine. I stayed at the hotel.
Saturday: Drove nine hours to Salt Lake City. We stopped a couple of times along the way to ride our bikes and have lunch. (H 4)
Sunday: Day off! Church, lunch, nap, bike ride. Ron worked on computer in the evening.
Monday & Tuesday: Ron had four or five appointments each day. Got to the hotel about six, we ate in the hotel restaurant, and Ron worked on his computer until late. I rode alone on Tuesday. Tuesday evening drove two and a half hours to Pocatello, Idaho. (H 5)
Wednesday: Appointments all day then drove to two hours to Boise. (H 6)
Thursday: Computer work in the morning then one appointment at a rep’s office from ten to four. Lots of Engineers and contractors came. It was nice to only unload equipment once that day. Loaded equipment then drove three hours to Idaho Falls. (H 7)
Friday through Sunday: Two days off plus one day driving! We had to be in Montana Monday. Instead of driving it all one day, we took the three days to drive via National Parks and took time to play. Friday we rode our bikes in Idaho Falls (where I fell) then drove to Jackson Hole. (H 8) We explored the town and had a nice dinner. We got to bed early that night! Saturday we rode in Grand Teton National Park and ate at Dornan’s before driving through Yellowstone. (H 9) Sunday we drove five hours to Great Falls where we rode a very short trail before dinner and bed. (H 10)
Monday: Five appointments in Great Falls, then drove a few hours to Helena. Ron worked on computer until 11pm. (H 11)
Tuesday: Three appointments in Helena, drove two hours for appointments in Belgrade & Bozeman then drove two hours to Billings. Ron had to do some repairs to a piece of equipment after dinner then he worked on his computer until bedtime. (H 12)
Wednesday & Thursday: Four appointments each day including 2-3 hours driving between cities. Then drove to Gillette, Wyoming. (H 13)
Friday: Appointments in the morning then drove six hours to Bismarck, ND. (H 14) Parked trailer and spent the night before boarding a plane to Wichita Falls at 6am Saturday.
Yes, that is fourteen hotels across six states in twenty-three days with four days off.
We were home for the next week. Ron worked long hours in his office every day. Saturday, August 29, we participated in the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred bike event. We flew back to North Dakota after church on Sunday August 30 to begin the next two weeks of business/pleasure travel.
Friends say they could not imagine traveling like this. But I would rather do this than be home while Ron travels. I like being with my husband. I help with appointments sometimes, loading cords and such. I help navigate and help by typing emails while he drives. I even get to drive part of the time.
I sometimes meet friends from Precept or While We’re Waiting for lunch. I spent five days with friends in North Dakota while Ron visited customers across that state.
But most days I am in the hotel reading, studying, blogging, or talking on the phone to friends. Sometimes I go for a walk or walk on the treadmill. I do laundry each week. On days we change hotels, checkout time is usually noon, so I pack my bags and head to the lobby to wait for Ron. Occasionally I go shopping after I check out.
Some days are not exciting for me, but they are peaceful. And I get to be with the man I love while we travel this great country together. I’m grateful.