Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Father/Son trips

One of my favorite family traditions is the father/son trip. Each year since Ben was four, he and I have ventured off to a nearby city and spent 2-3 days together. These will always be some of my favorite times with him. We have so much fun together and in such a different way when it's just the two of us. Plus, Lori loves having a couple of days to relax, make all of her favorite foods, and focus on herself.

Of course, this isn't terribly original. Fathers and sons have been always taken trips together, especially camping and hunting excursions. I'm afraid the Bailey boys are more of the baseball stadium and indoor pool sort, but it's the same concept.

I'm actually just passing on this tradition from my father. When I was growing up, he had a BMW motorcycle and we took some amazing trips together; trips I can't even fathom now that I'm a parent. We drove from Michigan to Florida, Washington D.C., Cooperstown NY, and a few places in the midwest. It's hard for me to imagine being 12 years old and sitting on the back of a motorcycle for hours at a time just thinking and watching - no talking, reading, or listening to music.

Lori bought me one of my favorite t-shirts a year ago that simply says, Always Thinking. I'm sure I learned it on the back of that motorcycle.

I absolutely loved those trips. There was a fun sense of adventure and freedom to do as we pleased on our own schedule. And I couldn't help but feel very special as we carved out our own set of memories and experiences.

My trips with Ben so far have been to Austin, Houston (twice), Oklahoma City, a local state park, an Oklahoma state park, and Little Rock. You'll notice a preference for cities within driving distance of the Dallas area. The other common thread of the trips has been baseball. All of the trips have included a trip to a major league or minor league baseball game (except the state parks, of course). Ben was a complete obsessed baseball fan for a number of years, but that has already started to fade.

My favorite trips have been the most recent ones. In 2005, Ben and I went to Little Rock. We stayed downtown right on the river and could walk to most places. We spent a day at the Clinton Presidential Library, which is incredible and well worth a trip, and visited the Old State House where Clinton announced his first campaign for president and celebrated his election and re-election. We also attended a minor league baseball game, enjoyed an audio book during the drive there and back, and just had fun.

Benrobberscave Last year's trip was truly special. We drove to Robber's Cave State Park and spent a couple of night in a very cool lodge. We went for two great hikes, but when the weather turned cold and rainy, we spent an entire day in our room playing Risk, listening to music, snacking, and talking. It was just one of those things we never make time for at home when there's always something to do or one more distraction, usually email and blogs (no offense). If you ask Ben what his favorite part of the trip was, he'll say it was the day we spent inside. Me, too.

Whether you're a mother or father and have one child or five, I highly recommend making time to take one of these trips. It can be as simple as an overnight camping trip 20 miles away or a couple of days in a hotel. Just as with a date night with your spouse, the destination is not very important - your planning, time, and focused attention says it all. 

As spring approaches, we're starting to think about our next trip. Now that Ben is rapidly approaching 12, I have an idea for something entirely new, but I can't share it here because he reads my blog every so often. It's a great comfort knowing that no matter what we do or where we go, I'm going to get to spend a few days with my favorite boy in the world.