Friday, July 12, 2013

Messing in Large Groups

One of our favorite cities to visit is St. Augustine.  We love the history, the small cafés and inns and the fact that it’s only a couple of hours away.  We can drive up and spend the day without having to spend the night.  My mother would make my dad drive her up just so that they could have lunch at the Monk’s Inn when they used to live here.  Sadly, the Monk’s Inn is no longer a café, but on the positive side, it is a bar, so I’m still quite pleased.

There is a wide assortment of historical tourist traps to visit from the Fountain of Youth, the Oldest Jail, the fort, Castillo de San Marcos, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  After our family trip to Gatlinburg this year, I’m beginning to think Ripley’s has something in every major tourist town across the United States.  I know they have a Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Washington D.C.  It’s called Congress.

Whenever we travel to St. Augustine, we spend the majority of our time on St. George Street.  It’s one of the oldest streets, running parallel with the river.  There are no cars on this street, just a vast assortment of tourists and natives exploring the specialty shops or grabbing a bite at one of the many café’s along the strip.  To be honest, I don’t mind spending the entire day here.  There’s enough shops to keep the girls occupied and plenty of people to keep my people watching skills sharpened.  Cafés or bars are spaced far enough apart to provide ample rest periods for when my feet begin to scream at me.  There’s even a cigar shop with benches on the outside to kick back and relax.  The girls can drop me off and wander to their heart’s delight. 

However, while it’s fine to enjoy these excursions with family or friends, I much prefer it being just the girls and I.  The more people you add to a road trip, the more complicated it all becomes.
My dad & I taking a break in St. Augustine

And I despise complicated.

Everyone goes at a different pace or not everyone wants to venture into the same store to browse.  Eventually, without anyone really meaning to, the group is separated and everyone is doing their own thing.  It’s almost as if we should have taken the trip ourselves, after all.  If people manage to stay together, someone inevitably becomes the grumbler of the group wondering why people are taking so long in stores.  They didn’t find anything worth looking at and cannot believe that someone else that they associate with did.  Of course, then you have the people who stare forever at one item as if grafting it permanently to their minds.  They don’t just look and move on.  They study.  Memorize.  They can talk about the ballerina statue they saw ten years later.  It’s crazy!

But, it doesn’t bother me.  I know you’re thinking that it does because of that last exclamation mark, but it really doesn’t.  I’m a writer.  I’m never bored.  I always carry a notebook and pen and have a project or two with me that I can work on.  I’ll lean against a wall and scribble away at some plot line while the girls spend hours trying on clothes.  I’m perfectly entertained and time has no meaning.  Besides, it’s not a race to finish the adventure early.  If you were in a hurry, you should have stayed home.

The girls taking a rest
However, another reason many are driven crazy with traveling in big groups is the eating out part, especially when there are picky eaters in the group.  Finding a place with a menu that satisfies everyone is complicated enough, but then you have to consider the restaurant accommodating a large group.  There’s usually a wait, most often a lengthy one, and hungry people are impatient.  I’m impatient with impatient people.  I also say that picky eaters should be made to suffer.  Pick something and eat it!

The girls and I can find something to eat anywhere.  Even Char, the pickiest eater of the four of us, can find something to eat in whatever restaurant we pop into.  If the 8-year old is with us because we couldn’t escape, she’ll find something to keep her from starving.  Therefore, a smaller group makes picking a place easier.

Still, even with the occasional annoyances, traveling with a large group can be fun.  You gain various viewpoints from others and can create lasting memories.  However, once a year is enough for me, because I’m more of a social loner.  “I’ve said hello, now go away.”  I prefer my pace, my tastes, and I want everyone to grow exhausted when I do.  They need to arrive when I arrive and be ready to leave when I am.  Of course, I can’t even get the girls to do that, which is why I always carry my writing to give me something to do.  It’s better, however, than traveling solo.

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