All Work and No Play… Take an unplanned vacation with Jody Glynn Patrick and be prepared for… what?

Imagine… no deadlines. No upfront hotel reservations. You’re embarking on an uncharted journey following clues, stop by stop, which hopefully will point you to the next destination.

You have a talented staff at your primary-career job, so you can leave without worry. Primary job? Yes, there is a twist: On this trip, you’ll be working as a research genealogist.

So now you know what I do when I’m not at IB, the radio station, or playing with grandkids. I’m in East Coast historical societies, sniffing out abandoned Michigan grave sites, or hunting through antique stores in Florida. I flit from county court houses to state historical libraries to document first-source records all over the nation for Glynn Patrick & Associates.

I wanted to trace the journey of a family who pioneered the Indiana Territory in the early 1830s. Kevin’s employer scheduled an awards program right in the middle of my scheduled vacation, so my husband couldn’t come along.

Before I left, Kev equipped the car with an I-Pass, a road atlas, a radar detector [who knows the speed limits in different states?], a full gas tank, and a fresh oil change. I added five audio book CDs, bottles of water, oat bars, and extra sunglasses. In the trunk was a laptop, cemetery reclamation tools, genealogy records, phone numbers, two cameras, lots of bug repellent, and enough clothes to last 10 days.

Perhaps on the return trip, I’d swing through Chicago to swoop up grandson Patrick, 8. We really enjoy spur-of-the-moment safaris through Chicagoland farms, forests, and zoos. Maybe I’d even take toddling Alex swimming. But I had no set “Nana” plans for this working trip, or timetable. If it happened, great. If not, okay.

On Designated Departure Day, something came up at IB. It was almost midnight when my husband walked into my home office with a big yawn, to ask for a copy of my itinerary. Again, I told him I didn’t have one.

“So when are you really leaving?” he asked.

“In the morning or afternoon, probably. After I get this done. Or even the next day….”

“Great,” he groused. “And what will I say if a police officer calls and I don’t even know when you left Madison, or what city you were going to? You’re setting me up to look suspect with regard to your strange disappearance.”

“If they are calling you, it isn’t to ask you where I am — it’s to tell you what happened after I got there,” I murmured. I met his eyes: “Relax, okay? I’ll pick up pepper spray in Chicago, and I have Garmin, OnStar, and even a hand held GPS locator unit and backup cell phone for these trips. I always know exactly where I am, even if I don’t know where I’m going next. I’ll be fine.”

He shook his head and went off to bed.

As it turns out, that little exchange was prophetic. Truth being stranger than fiction, I’d wind up stranded on a country road so remote that it would indeed befuddle everyone… including OnStar.

But all along the way (before and after the call to Kevin), I had great adventures. One involved a long-lost and dear friend; another included buffalo and ancient tombstones. I met a 90-year-old mystery buff and watched Patrick play with sheep. And then I bought a new puppy… the sort of things you do when you are a latent Wild Woman who refuses to make plans and, instead, follows your own meandering calf path through life.

To ride in the passenger’s seat on the trip and learn what Kevin said when he got the call, go to my blog “The ‘Vacation’ Continues.”