Even at my age, there are still many “firsts” in my life. There’s the first time I got lost and literally missed my 15-year-old’s golf tournament — much to the dismay of my son and my husband. There’s the starting of a TV talk show, “In Her Shoes” (still hard to believe), and the fact that I’ve had a business for 10 years (whoa…). But, I have to say that my trek across the country this summer in double-time mode was a first I won’t soon forget. I believe I got a lot of my tenacity and spunk from my mom’s family — specifically my grandpa. He is feisty, determined and so funny. My grandpa owned his own trucking company for many years, which is probably part of the reason why he believes at the age of 80 that he can drive himself back to Michigan from Phoenix, Ariz. I typically visit my grandpa at least once per year, so I decided I would fly out with my eldest son and drive back with him. It would be an adventure, right? Well, I should’ve paid more attention in geography class or asked better questions prior to buckling up. My plan was to make the 36-hour drive as easy as possible. I’m certainly not a math whiz, but I was looking at three 12-hour days of driving and a couple of cozy hotel room nights. It would still be challenging in the car for a few days but I was certain that the draw of a nice bed would make it easy to get through. I should’ve realized that there was an undercurrent plan afoot when my grandpa suggested we put an area for napping in the back of his van. Luckily, I’ve been on a health kick and I had seen to it to fill the van with foods that I could eat. When we skipped a sit-down dinner on Friday night in lieu of McDonald’s fare, I knew that we were in for a bunch of short, truck-driver style meals. On the first evening, my grandpa indicated that if we made it to St. Louis by midnight or 1 a.m., we would stop. Well, if I had been a little more directionally savvy, I would have known that it was not possible. I dozed off and imagine my surprise that at 5:30 a.m. when I awoke, we were still on the road — nowhere near St. Louis. There was traffic, too-many bathroom breaks (instigated by me), radio wrangling and numbness in the lower extremities, but the most interesting and fun part was the connection and conversations among three generations. I’m most certain we got on each other’s nerves, but we learned a lot about each other. At the end of the trip, I was exhausted, I was pretty sure another few hours on the road and my son would have abandoned ship, but grandpa … I think he could’ve gone another 12 days. Seriously? I was so worried about him driving across the country alone and he made it through like a champ. I was a quivering mess of bad hair and road rage. As most gluttons for punishment, that trip was just not enough. I decided that I would fly to Atlanta to meet my husband and drive back to Michigan with him after a relaxing vacation in Hilton Head. Now, Hilton Head was amazing. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a more relaxing time hanging out by the beach. It was divine. The reasons I would shatter that by traveling home by car, well … I don’t want to dwell on the psychology of it. My dread was really mounting the morning we were to pull out of the beach house driveway. However, I’ve never been a quitter and frankly a mere 15- hour trip should be a piece of cake now that I’ma veteran cross-country traveler. The time passed rather quickly and I was stunned to realize that my grandpa and husband have very similar qualities as it relates to long-distance road trips; neither of them had the time or inclination to stop and see the world’s largest ball of twine or sit down at a restaurant and chat with locals. Both of those activities are right up my alley. You know what else is up my alley? The CAWLM Lady Classic. Sponsored by our friends at Independent Bank, we have the best time getting together, socializing, auctioning off the celebrity caddies (great group this year!) and, of course, golfing. Our event is set for Thursday, Sept. 20 and if you don’t have your team yet, you still have time to get signed up for the best women’s golf outing in mid-Michigan. Welcome back to fall! It’s my favorite season.
Tiffany Dowling is the Founder and President of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency located in downtown Lansing, Mich. She is also owner and publisher of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Dowling has helped businesses and organizations with branding needs for more than a decade. Learn more at www.m3group.biz.