The Randalls gathered in Hanover, New Hampshire, last week to celebrate my youngest son’s graduation from Dartmouth College.

We had a delightful time with friends and family, basting in the scorching heat on the “Dartmouth Green” while watching a few thousand graduates receive their well-deserved diplomas.

After all the festivities were complete, my son and I decided to take a road trip back to Oklahoma, where he will be spending a few relaxing weeks.

For the record, if you have not looked at a map recently, Hanover is a long way from Norman, Oklahoma. Our road trip would cover 1,668 miles and place us on the road for a little over 25 hours. Nothing like father and son bonding time!

Staring this monumental trip in the face, the line from Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie came to mind, “Time is the longest distance between two places.”

Between us, I have to admit I was really looking forward to the trip. Driving that far for that long was not the enticing part, but spending that much time visiting with my son and watching the world go by would be a gift that I would cherish forever.

We decided to take the southern route home, because we were going to stay a few days at Roaring River State Park in Missouri for a family reunion.

Thus, our first stop on our journey was Scranton, Pennsylvania. Scranton, as you may know, was the home of the fictional company Dunder Mifflin from the hilarious NBC sitcom, “The Office.”

Along the way, my son and I talked about his college years. Some stories I was excited to hear while others would have been best left back on campus.

Listening to him talk about his classes, experiences and friendships made this father’s heart burst. Of course, there were other moments that reminded me how difficult it can be for young adults these days.

The next stop was Louisville, Kentucky, where my cousin let us stay at her house. We had a great time at her small, beautiful home, catching up on family gossip and sharing a pizza.

Folding the pizza box down and using it as a community plate reminded us of years ago when my boys were younger. I told them that eating pizza straight out of the box was how “real men” eat pizza. To this day, their mother still rolls her eyes.

Getting back on the road, we headed to Springfield, Missouri, the last stop before the family reunion. We found a local Irish pub where we enjoyed fish and chips and lifted a pint of Guinness.

Sitting in the pub and talking with my son was another moment I will keep forever. There is something about drinking a beer with your child that reminds you that they are now adults.

Gone are the days of little league and soccer games, donuts on Saturday mornings, and eating popcorn and Oreos while watching Harry Potter on Sunday afternoons.

Now, the parent-child relationship has evolved. While I cherish each memory of my boys being younger, I am so proud of them as adults. They have worked hard, sacrificed much and filled the world with their giant spirits. The world is a better place because they are in it.

Driving down his childhood street back in Oklahoma, I glanced over at my son. Sitting in the seat beside me was a strong young man ready to take on the world, but looking closer, I could still see that childlike smile looking out over the road.

Indeed, I love road trips!

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