Road trips, like a lot of other things, have been in short supply over the last couple years. I wasn’t able to go pretty much anywhere except the grocery store, doctor’s office and thank God, the nearest liquor warehouse to reload when our supply of Blue Moon and Jameson got low. Some provisions must be kept stocked.

I am still looking forward to a Bulldog hockey game. We have the shots now (er, not alcohol) and wear masks in places that are crowded. There is no need to tempt fate or flaunt the privilege of living in this country by not wearing a face covering.

My first “breakout” in late October was a three-day excursion to Lake of the Woods with good friends to do some fishing. One of them even sang “O Canada,” right after we crossed into the Maple Leaf realm. At that time, the process of getting across the border, even with our vaccines on board, was complicated. Fortunately, our host was well-informed about what was required. Going and coming back was painless.

For many, myself included, Zoom has been a blessing. Its use has made staying connected easier, but not necessarily rewarding in the way face-to-face contact does. With travel now becoming less of a risk, Sarah and I decided to travel to see a daughter in Ithaca, New York.

We’ve taken this trip many times before and know the drill: tires checked, oil topped off, snacks and Diet Cokes ready and hotel reservations for sure. The days of marathon non-stop driving are long past. The trip is a thousand miler.

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The first day was spent driving through the Upper Peninsula to Mackinaw City. It's an easy but long journey, interspersed with views of the big lake, at times punctuated by spectacular color displays from the surrounding forest. Some folks may prefer a more southerly path that goes through Chicago, but the price paid for that freeway drive is hypervigilance and a need to drive at NASCAR speeds to keep up with traffic. No thanks.

With any extended cross-country adventure, besides the reward of seeing the States at different times of the year, there is the opportunity to stay with friends along the way, always observing the Ben Franklin adage: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Make sure your hosts can say, “Do come again and stay longer,” rather than muttering under their breath as you drive off, “My God, I thought they’d never leave!” On this trip, recently transplanted friends from Minnesota to Michigan were cordial and attentive.

The end point to this journey was seeing our daughter, her partner, and our son, there for Parent’s Weekend and with our granddaughter, who had just started at Cornell University. Western New York had a lot of rain this year and the waterfalls and gorges that surround the Finger Lakes were surging. We took advantage of the scenery with frequent walks.

We returned by the southern route, braving the urban racetracks around Cleveland and the Windy City with a stop in Madison for a family visit. The end of every trip is a bit of a two-edged sword. It’s hard to see a journey end, but living out of a suitcase in multiple locations along the way is always rewarded greatly by the sigh that comes when crawling into your own bed for a decent night’s sleep.

Doug Lewandowski is a retired counselor, educator and psychologist. Write to him at lewandowskidoug@gmail.com.