Jackson, our son, has been driving for UPS for a little over a year now. Keeping the fine folks of the Black Hills area supplied with all the wants and needs (mostly wants) that their consumer fingers can click upon from the comfort of their padded toilet seat.

He puts in about 10-miles a day, schlepping about hither and yon, hopping in and out of his brown truck, dodging the advances of angry dogs, and lonely housewives. What can Brown do for you?

Last month, Jackson had a week of vacation time that he had to use or lose, so he was pondering what to do and where to go with his allotted time. Dawn and I thought he had settled on New York City for a bit of exploration, an NBA and/or NFL game, and to hangout with his big sister.

That decision was arrived at on a Saturday, with an expected departure day of Monday. He’s never been one to plan very far in advance.

On Sunday morning, around 8:00am I received a text message from Jackson, “Tickets to Dublin are $600 out of Rapid City. Do you think you can get away?” Dublin, Alabama…Dublin, California…Dublin, Florida…Dublin, Georgia…? No, Dublin Ireland. Across the pond. Ireland? Tomorrow?

On Sunday morning, around 10:00am, Jackson and I were booked to depart the next day for the Emerald Isle. You do what you must for your children.

Around noon, that same Sunday that we booked the flights, Dawn and I FaceTimed with Sierra to wish her a happy birthday. Dawn said, “Guess where your Dad and your brother are going tomorrow?” Sierra, who was between gigs, decided to meet us in Dublin.

I suggested that Dawn fake COVID and join us, but as an “essential worker”, contracting actual COVID, during the actual pandemic, wasn’t enough for her employer to grant her a leave of absence, so she begrudgingly stayed behind to keep the dog company and be essential. So it goes.

As I’ve blabbed about many times to many people misfortunate enough to be conscious in my presence, Ireland has been very near and dear to me since Dawn and I first visited several years ago, and I was excited to share all it has to offer with our children.

In short, it didn’t disappoint.

Jackson got to golf, Sierra got to expand her photography portfolio, and I got to experience our children experiencing the places, people, and music that so often fill my thoughts.

When Abraham Verghese was quoted as saying, “Travel expands the mind and loosens the bowels”, I believe he was speaking of Ireland…and Guinness.

We were in a pub one night (as many a story has begun), listening to a couple of elderly gentlemen sing the songs I’ve subjected my children to for many years, when one of them asked, “How old are your children?” I said, “28 and 24” and he replied, with a knowing smile and a lovely Irish brogue, “Ahh lovely…that’s when they become more like friends than your children. Enjoy your travels.”

My intent when we departed for our trip was to show our children what I love about Ireland, but somewhere along the journey there was a tipping point, a point where I found myself stepping back and I letting them show me what they love about Ireland.

They were tremendous navigators and guides on our journey. Thoughtful, kind, and curious…good travel companions…good tourists…good people.