Jun 10, 2015

15 to 15: Travel

So here's the rundown.  Wednesday, April 29, 2015 was exactly 15 weeks until our 15th anniversary.  So in a countdown to the big day, I decided to start a weekly series of anecdotes from our 15 years of marriage.  I am calling it 15 Weeks to 15 Years.  Since everything needs a hashtag, it would be #15to15.  I am utilizing the blog because I have a propensity to yammer a lot when I'm writing and no one would want to read a long status update.  So be looking for these weekly entries.

Last week I talked about some of the differences between me and Heather that make things fun.  Today, I want to look at one of the things we share in common.  We both love to travel.  I did not travel very much growing up.  We didn't take annual vacations or visit out-of-state family very often. The first time I ever flew on a plane was my senior year of high school when our chorus group flew to Washington DC for some performances.  But I always had this desire to go other places and explore our world.  I was able to visit a couple of other states in college, which was fun.  I planned on making travel a part of my life as an adult.

Heather's family was quite different from mine.  They traveled quite a bit.  She was born in Pennsylvania and still has family there.  So their family would visit relatives all over the midwest and Atlantic seaboard.  In addition, Heather was a band nerd.  So she got to travel overseas to perform.  Her passport was already well used when we got together.  And her handy dandy map of visited states was already peppered with colors.

We have been able to travel all over the place since we have been together.  We both like doing similar things in new locations.  We try restaurants we can't go to back home.  We visit crafty stores to look for unique items.  We do some of the touristy things that a city has to offer.  But we also both really enjoy history.  So we really like to visit Presidential Libraries.  They are such a neat capsule of history.  You don't have to like the President to enjoy their library.  Together we have been to Reagan's in Simi Valley, CA and LBJ's in Austin, TX.  I have also been able to go to Clinton's in Little Rock, AR and Carter's in Atlanta.  One of the things I am excited about with our move to Texas is that both of the Bush Libraries are in that state.  I was at Bush Sr's location when they had started it, but it wasn't done yet.  So that will be two more checked off.  

Our very first trip as a married couple was to Vermont on our honeymoon.  I had been to Vermont as a very young child; Heather had never been.  My dad's family is from the Maple State.  Unfortunately, my dad died a few months before Heather and I started dating.  He never met her.  So by going up there, it was kind of a way to connect with that part of my heritage. If you have never been to Vermont, it is a wonderful place to visit.  First of all, it is absolutely beautiful.  Second, there are so many little stores and towns to discover and explore.  We went to the Ben & Jerry factory and The Vermont Teddy Bear Company headquarters, visited the Von Trapp Family Lodge and Restaurant, shopped in Queechee Gorge at a very dangerous (to my wallet) Christmas store, explored an Apple Farm and Mill, and stayed at the Inn at Essex - which houses the New England Culinary Institute.  We also went to my dad's hometown, saw his childhood home, met one of my cousins I had never met, and paid tribute at his grave in the Vermont Veteran's Cemetery.  We even took a dinner cruise and a side trip to Boston (my first visit there) for the US Gymnastics Olympic Trials.

All of that was great.  Two of the most memorable stories, though, took place on our trip up there.  When we landed in Burlington, VT, I couldn't remember what car company I had booked our car with.  I knew it wasn't Alamo.  Like Mos Def in The Italian Job, I had a bad experience with them when I destroyed one of their cars in Atlanta a couple of years earlier.  I had booked on the internet, but that was a very risky move back then.  It was a great deal on a Ford Explorer.  But I started to freak out.  I visited every car company in the airport and none of them had our name.  I started to get more and more panicked.  We had been married for like a day at this point.  Heather was standing there quietly with our luggage, wondering if she had just made a terrible mistake. I finally went to Alamo to check. "Oh hi, Mr. Staples.  I've got you right here."  Moron.  Me, not him.

The other story was from our actual flight up. As I am constantly reminded by the people around me who love (to ridicule) me, I am nearly six years older than Heather.  She was young when we got married.  In retrospect, it ended up being great for our family.  We were able to have our kids before Heather went to medical school.  So she will be able to practice without the interruptions of childbirth.  At that point, we didn't know that.  I look older than I am; Heather looks younger than she is.  Few people believe that she is her actual age.  They think she's in her mid-20s until she tells them she has an almost 14 year old.  So when we got married, she looked even younger than that.   We were sitting in our airplane seats.  Heather was wearing her USF sweatshirt and had leaned up against the window to take a little nap.  The flight attendant came around to hand out "breakfast" to everyone.  When she got to our row, she asked me, "Would the little girl like a breakfast?"  Uh, what?!?  "My WIFE would like one when she wakes up, yes." She got flustered and said, "Oh I am so sorry.  Here you go," handing me two breakfast boxes.  Once she left, the lady sitting to my left leaned over. "In her defense, your wife does look very young."  I turned to the helpful lady.  "Yes, but she doesn't look like my DAUGHTER."  "No, no she doesn't."  That was a great way to start our honeymoon - masquerading as child abductor.

We have a little competition going with travel, as well.  We both would love to see the states we haven't visited.  So when one of us gets to go somewhere new without the other one, we naturally make a big deal about it.  A couple of years ago, Heather got to go to Utah for a conference.  She kept sending me pictures of the Olympic training site and the mountains.  She claims it was to share what she was doing.  I think it was to show me what I was missing out on.  (Then again, maybe she was telling the truth and I'm the only one who is mean.)  Even in our Spring Break trip up to Philly and DC, the kids and I got to run over to New Jersey while Heather was in her interview. Naturally, I told her, "Now I can mark that state off and you can't."  Yeah, I think it is just me.

Since we have been together, Heather and I have both been to Georgia, North & South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, California, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mexico.  I have been to Australia, Montreal, Arkansas, and New Jersey without her.  She has been to London, Germany, Utah, Missouri, and Kansas without me.  Our kids have already seen more of the country than I had by the time I was 25.  We like introducing them to new areas.  And they seem to have gotten the traveling bug. Well, except Gabe.  He always wants to go home.  He likes some things when we are gone. Before long, though, he misses his house.  That is one of the nicest things about traveling. I love that first night climbing back into my bed.

So I look forward to the other places we will visit.  We already are planning on how to get to the other major Texas cities once we move.  I am excited to see Houston and learn about that new place.  And Heather and I have talked about places we still want to go.  I really want to visit Chicago at some point.  London is also a place I've always wanted to go.  Heather wants to go to Hawaii some day.  So I don't see this travel love ending any time soon.  I just make sure I always print out my car reservations.

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