The boys and I are in the middle of what we call an Epic Road trip. It is the third of it’s type that we have done since leaving Vancouver Island and moving to California. Three years ago I would not have dreamed that my boys had it in them to travel this far in a vehicle. Yet, here we are, third time! The usual has us drive from California to Yreka, Yreka to Vancouver, WA for 5 days of awesome celebration at the Life Is Good Unschooing Conference, then we hit Gram’s house in Parksville. Each of these travel days range from 5-6 hour of actual driving. There is the ferry of course that adds weird time to the travel day that can’t really be counted as in the car cause there is the ability to get out move, jump dance and eat. On the way back though we get crazy. We are ready to be home usually and so we head out for long hours. The first day we catch a ferry and then drive 7 hours to Corvallis Oregon, where we recover for a couple of days, in the arms of loving friends.  Then we drive from Corvallis to home in what on average takes 10 hours with pit stops included. On this day our pit stops will include one stop fits all, pee, gas up and grab food. It’s hard core.

This trip we added a leg that had us meandering up to the west coast to hang out in Tofino. It was on the journey back from Tofino to Parksville (a short 2 hours and 15 minutes) that it hit me what I love the most about road trips. It’s not the scenery, the destination or the amazing folks we visit, though those are pretty high on the list, it’s the conversations. Being in the car for this many hours leads the boys and I to engage in conversations that just don’t unfold when we are going about our day to day living. There just isn’t the expanse of time together without distractions.  With time on my side, I get to hear the inner worlds of the boys spill out through their stories. And at the end I know them better.

On yesterday’s short journey I learned how both boys “see” in their minds eye the inner workings of their bodies. This is never a question I would have thought to ask. “Hey how to you image the food traveling through your body.” But I gotta say now that I now know there are animated sorting stations with in my son’s experience of digestion. And I am even more fascination by the mind that he sees the world through. Oh and to hear that the other son sees a war break out during illness where the good cells are fighting the bad cells, with swords and shields drawn, makes for a whole new level of conversation when he is ill next. This launches of course in to a discussion on films they have seen that showcase the inner workings of the human body and how that has informed the way they know their own bodies.

Since we are on the topic of films we launch in to the recent television favorite Portlandia, where each child takes a turn replaying favorite episodes. At this point, we have only see each episode once, yet the retention of dialogue and details is phenomenal. I had watched the same episodes with them and would have been seriously challenged to pull up this sort of back and forth dialogue.

And then there were the moments of silence that brought forward a young boys inner world and what he is coming to know about himself. A sharing of the ending of childhood and if that is a number, a process or simply drawn by hormones. A safe place for questions to unfold. Which created space for more reflection on the inner thoughts of my oldest son and some struggles he has. It was a most tender offer, made I suspect because of the lack of eye contact.

There is a different side of us that we are required to use when we are traveling. For the most part we are outside of the comforts of our routines. We are holding our  needs for longer then we might otherwise. We are seeing things we haven’t seen before, or visiting places that we have been missing. All of this stirs up feelings with in. The long spaces in the car rides are where the conversations can help these new ideas and experiences cycle in to our existing experiences of the world. This is why the conversations are my most favorite part of the road trip. They are the internal map of our journey played out in words and ideas that we bounce of one another. Solidifying what we know about ourselves and pushing our new edges in to the constructs of who we are.