Spontaneous Road Trip: How Much Can You See in One Day?

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Travel | 48 comments


change and life


Last week my house felt empty. One of my kids is in Brooklyn, the other Manhattan (I have no idea where they get this need to travel…)

Now there were plenty of times in the last eighteen years of being a parent, that I longed for the peace and quiet of an empty house, but with my daughter leaving for college this month, this particular emptiness signaled a little too much CHANGE.

Change is a tricky thing.

So I got a little teary (okay maybe a lot) but then I realized I possessed something I really hadn’t had in a LONG time.


My husband and I could technically just go somewhere. Take a road trip.

I love road trips. I’ve done lots, but I think all were carefully planned, strategically mapped out. At least since becoming a parent. Because leaving your kids can be a big production, even (especially?) when they’re teenagers.

But I wondered, what if we left on a whim? Last minute, without any advance planning. So, I called my hub, and then, three hours later, we’d both untangled ourselves from work and hit the road.

We were gone for only thirty-one hours. But we saw SO much. Check out the highlights:


traveling on a whim

Heading west from Richmond, Virginia.

I don’t know what it is about rolling pastures (and barns, and cows), but they make me smile.


road trip Virginia

We stopped at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. 


road trip attractions

Meet Jake. You can find him at The Homestead stables.


road trip scenery

Meet…um, Bob. You can find him on the purple cone flowers.


road trip fuel

Coffee (a very important road trip ingredient) in fancy, historic, Jeffersonian china.


the trout pond the homestead

Me and hub taking a selfie. That look in my eyes makes me think I drank too much coffee.


scenic waterfalls

When we started driving again, we saw this out the car window on route 220. Falling Springs Falls. I love waterfalls, so we stopped. When we saw people at the top of the falls, we investigated…


roadside finds Virginia

A swimming hole! With a rope for swinging! I felt like a kid. 


road trip virginia

Next we stopped at Natural Bridge. Nature is pretty awesome.



And nature is occasionally frightening. Meet…Stella? Not sure. I didn’t get a name. I think Stella guards the bridge. She’s big enough.


butterflies and change

Natural Bridge also has a butterfly house.  

Without change, there is no butterfly. :)


stonehenge replica roadside attractions

Last stop before home…Stonehenge,England?? 


roadside attractions virginia


A Styrofoam replica of Stonehenge by artist, Mark Cline.

(Just a short drive from the Natural Bridge.)


Then, home again, home again, jiggety-jig.


What are your thoughts on spontaneity? Have you seen any interesting roadside attractions? 

Happy Monday!

Coleen Patrick

random blog share

Check out the blog of Lynette M. Burrows. She writes about aliens, and androids, and clones, but read her blog and you will see she is down to earth.

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  1. I have been dreaming of being able to do this in say… October or November and just get away from it all, but then there’s work and the kids….. I am sure you and the your husband had a wonderful time – 31 hours probably felt like a week. Great photos…. it’s gonna be a great day!
    clay recently posted..Summer’s fadingMy Profile

    • Yeah, I can’t believe how much we saw in that space of time! Thanks, Clay!

  2. I’ve got to take spontaneity lessons from you, Coleen. My husband and I also went out of town for approximately 31 hours, but there was little unplanned about it. That said, we stopped at a new-to-us dockside restaurant on Lake Travis and liked the place. The surprise was the sight of dozens of big catfish jockeying for bits of leftovers kids and adults tossed into the water. We’re talking feeding frenzy. When people tell me publishing’s hard, I’ll think of those catfish, with their mouths wide open and ready to chomp. That’s competition!

    Your photos are, indeed, wonderful. That swimming hole looks inviting, and Stella’s one scary gatekeeper.
    Pat O’Dea Rosen recently posted..Hot Town! Summer in the CityMy Profile

    • Wow. My hub would’ve got a kick out of the fish feeding frenzy! I’m spontaneous to a point. If I start thinking too much, then all is kind of lost… :) It’s good to turn off my brain every now and then. Thanks, Pat!

  3. I’ve always wanted to go on a road trip!! Sounds/looks like you had a lot of fun. Beautiful pictures! Except for the giant spider, that one’s not so beautiful haha. I hope your camera has a really good zoom and you didn’t actually get that close to it!!
    BornBookish recently posted..Breathtaking Book Cover: Until It Hurts To StopMy Profile

    • I got closer to that spider than even I would’ve imagined, but I really couldn’t believe how big it was! Later I started thinking things like, what if that spider had jumped on me?? :)

  4. Good for you and your husband! Sounds like a really wonderful time. I’m glad you made the trip — your pictures always convery so much! I love traveling, but I can’t say I’ve gotten into a car and just start driving and exploring as I went. I applaud you! Sounds like a great time!

    • Thanks, Patricia. I think I’m still surprised we managed to do this!

  5. That all looks wonderful! We’d have to drive for hours and hours to see all that. Probably why I love Pinterest and reading. It’s great that you passed on a love of travel to your kids.

    • We were in the car a lot. I took dozens of pictures from the car window–I’ve got lots of rolling pastures. lol

  6. Oh how fun! You make me want to take a road trip. Kudos to you and your hubby for seizing the moment. I especially want to go see the styrofoam stonehenge. Wonder how far of a drive that is for me heh.

    Beautiful shots!

  7. You’ve done it, darn you. I was happy vegging at home and you post lovely pictures of laces not to far from me. Now I have to go. Do they have Wi-Fi?

    • Good question. I think Wi-Fi can be found in most spots. Now cell service, that was a different story! At least for me.

  8. I love spontaneity! The hard part is that we can only go as far as we can go and return in the same day, no overnighters for me. I also have to plan on food just in case I can’t find anything safe to eat on our drive. It is not beginning to sound very spontaneous is it?

    • That does put a damper on spontaneity, Kathryn. Now if you had an RV equipped with everything you needed, THEN you could go last minute. I’m coming up with some very expensive suggestions aren’t I?

  9. I can’t remember the last time I did something spontaneous like this – what a blast! With the daughter going off to college, maybe we can do something like this again. Not that she really stopped us recently – but wow, what a great reminder of how we all get so caught up in the everyday, mundane stuff. Thanks for sharing!
    Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..What difference does a day make?My Profile

  10. That looks like it was so much fun. I hope you get to take many many more spontaneous road trips.

    The last time I took the time to drive for the sheer pleasure of driving and seeing the sights, was a very long time ago. I’ve moved that activity to the top of my bucket list.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt
    Patricia recently posted..I Can’t Afford To Play Monopoly AnymoreMy Profile

    • Thanks, Patricia. I hope to take more too–it was not only fun, but a way to re-set for the next week.

  11. I may never make it to Stonehenge, but Foamhenge looks just as awesome! And I literally shuddered when I saw “Stella.” No spider appreciation from me!

    I’m glad you had a fun road trip!

    • I’m sorry about Stella. Every time I scrolled through the pics on my phone I think I jumped as I passed her photo!

  12. Looks like you and your husband had a great time. Good for you for seizing the moment!
    Ruth Schiffmann recently posted..More Reviews: I’m With Stupid & The Bronte SistersMy Profile

  13. I love all the pictures except the spider. Now I feel like that sucker is on me, or lurking in my room. *shudders* The rest of the trip sounds fabulous and I’m all about spontaneity! Glad you had fun!

    • I know. I got the shudders just having the pic in my phone. :)

  14. What a wonderful road trip you had! Foamhenge?!! I have got to make it to Virginia to see that! LOL.

    Thank you so much for the blog love!! What a fun surprise after work.
    Lynette M. Burrows recently posted..Walking on SunshineMy Profile

    • Yes, you have to go! It really is a wacky, but totally cool thing to see.

  15. Oh, wow, Coleen, this is an awesome Photo essay. I love how you tied everything together. There’s something peaceful about rolling pastures, and barns, and cows. And that waterfall that led to the swimming hole! Super cool. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Yes, the swimming hole was for sure a highlight. Now I want to find more swimming holes!

  16. What a gorgeous trip, Colleen! Makes me want to visit your neck of the woods.
    Debra Eve recently posted..Happy Birthday, P.D. James!My Profile

    • Virginia has a lot of variety–beaches, mountains, farm land. And history! Now I sound like I work for the tourism dept. :)

  17. Hey Coleen, what a gorgeous thing to do, and your pics are stunning as always (yes, even that creepy spider ;) ). We’re on a bit of a wavelength again, because I just took a spontaneous road trip last week…and copped a fine for the pleasure of the Sunday drive! Still, it was beautiful :) Trust you felt much better after your trip.

    • Thanks, Alarna. Of course you did a road trip the same time as me. With us being almost on opposite sides of the globe, we have to keep things in balance!

  18. That was an amazing 31 hours Coleen! You and hubby make a wonderful pair. And your outfits blended so well. Was that on purpose or a random mistake? Love your pics. I feel like I’m the one that got away. Yet, hold on tight girl. It’s tough when the oldest moves out. My two moved out together all at once. It about killed me. Too much of a shock. One at a time is much, much better. May the force be with you. And spontaneity! :)

    • Random mistake. Although we tend to end up matching somehow. Must be a thing when you’re together for a couple of decades! And thanks for warning, I will keep the force close. :)

  19. Wow – these pictures you took are fantastic! I love just getting in a car and randomly driving somewhere to explore. It’s great to do a short getaway to discover new things and looks like you two had a great day. Enter some pictures in contests. I bet you would win!
    Phil recently posted..OM – Nom Nom Nom on the Upper East Side in NYC!My Profile

  20. What a fabulous day out for you and the hubs! Spontaneity is pretty darn awesome. I love, love, love your pics. Bob cracked me up. Stella scares me. I’d love to see those falls and that bridge someday. I need to put Virginia on my travel bucket list. What a gorgeous place you live!
    Tameri Etherton recently posted..Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Eight: The KeyMy Profile

    • Stella is scary. You should’ve seen how many people scooted out of her way, when they happened to notice her on the rocks. Thanks, Tameri!

  21. Wow! Love your images, amazing what you can capture in such a short period of time isn’t it?

    Regards children leaving home, I can so identify with you. my son went off to love on his own in April, and I cried…it was so unexpected. I miss him loads, we have a great relationship, but he wanted to stand on his own two feet.

    This time next year, my daughter will probably go off to college, or university, and I am sure I’ll feel a little empty. Perhaps I should plan a road trip too…

    • Even though I know it’s a normal thing for them to go, the empty thing is hard to deny. Road trips and other things that make you happy seem to help. I think. :) Thanks, Maria!

  22. Spontaneous Roadtrip! Without diapers? Without snacks? Without a plan? Without a hundred potty breaks? Without Barbie movies playing in the backseat? Without someone kicking your back while you drive? Without someone screaming they dropped a crayon? Sounds terrible…
    P.S. I remember Stella from a visit in 2000. Eww!

    • Barbie movies and seat kicking?? Now you’re making me nostalgic, Lauri… :)

  23. I LOVE barns too! I’ve always wanted to get a family picture done with a barn in the background but I haven’t found one nearly as great as these are! Beautiful!

  24. Wonderful!!!! I love spontaneous :-)
    My daughter and I did a spontaneous road trip spanning Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Colorado in 3 days and 1800 miles. We just got a notion and headed out. Saw Car Henge, Mt Rushmore, a Wild Horse Sanctuary, Dinosaur museum, and lots of corn fields! :-)
    Hubby and I just got back from a planned trip, but had some spontaneous points, too!

    Congrats on kids moving out… I cried like a baby for months, but will attest that not only do you adapt, but eventually you enjoy. Hang in there, mom!!

    • That trip sounds amazing! Mt. Rushmore is definitely on my list of places to go! Thanks, Denise. :)

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