How do you decide where to travel next?
Back in 2014, we were debating where to go for the next summer's vacation. Would it be Iceland or Cuba? A bookstore in town had gone out of business a few years before, so I wiped their travel section clean to have research materials at the ready when we wanted to go somewhere unusual.
Cuba was still restricted, though we did some online searching to find ways in and out. It carried a hefty fine if you were caught when coming back into the US. It was also the same year that Fidel stepped down, giving control to his brother Raul Castro.
So in times of uncertainty and all the good news coming out of Iceland, we headed north then made a hard right.
We chose Iceland
Iceland is magical, surreal, and fun! Our kids said it was the best trip we had ever taken, and we've been all over the world with them. From Europe to Australia, to language school in Italy and Sicily, up to Canada, and more, we planted the seeds of wanderlust in our children.
This time, it's just us two, and we're driving the Ring Road
I wouldn't change a thing about what we did last time with the kids. We rented an Airbnb apartment with 3 bedrooms across the street from a brand-name hotel. It was convenient to get on tour buses that picked us up from the main hotels to take us to a central hub to get on the excursion buses.
Day trips were no more than a 3-hour drive one way. The landscape was beautiful at every turn. Museums, waterfalls, glaciers, and geysers were on the menu.
But this time, we want to see the fjords and mud pits, zig-zagged and dotted along the Ring Road. We've rented a place in Reykjavik for the entire trip, but we'll drive the Ring Road over 3 days and 2 nights to experience most of the entire volcanic island.
Sally plans to make tons of videos from her trip on her TikTok account.
The kids are grown as we enter a new phase of our marriage
We're used to family pictures that include one of us behind the camera. No exception here. Our family bonding time has done its thing. The kids have broken off into different paths, all ending up near home again miraculously...for now anyway.
So it's our turn again to get to know each other in a new way, after we grew up together raising a big family.
- Will our trip be unpredictable, like the time we followed the Tour de France bicycle race before Lance Armstrong got caught - and when he was dating Sheryl Crow?
- Or will it be scary, like Prague in 1995 only 6 years after the Berlin Wall came down? The unmarked taxi driver took us to the city, where he rented us a damp, basement apartment with rusty pipes in the Jewish Quarter.
- Maybe it will be like a new honeymoon since our first one was in Alaska, though Iceland is nothing like Alaska.
- Or it could resemble Ecuador and Galapagos where we got altitude sickness (Quito) and had to suck on coca leaves to get better.
We're setting the tone for this new chapter as empty-nesters
When we get home, we'll have a new kitchen and master suite just about finished. We've been in parenting mode for over 22 years. It's time to start fresh and expand our wings even more.
The renovation is a metaphor for all the other amazing and scary things happening in our lives.
- Shout Your Cause is growing and bridging the gap to solve social problems with program development coaching and positive social media.
- I've built an office for myself away from the condo with a big yard for Hugo, our dog.
- My historical fiction novel is being written every week and gaining a following on TikTok.
- The plans for the railroad graffiti museum are underway. That's under my husband's charge.
It's natural for us to find ourselves thriving in these moments, as we are stepping closer and closer to who we truly are as individuals. But the challenge never ends, as we look at each other again to find out who we are as a couple, too. For one day, we will be the matriarch and patriarch of our family until our final days.
Sally Hendrick, editor of Shout Your Cause, brings culture to you through stories. Follow her on TikTok, where she's dropping cherry bombs and Jim Crow secrets of the south.