There’s nothing like a road trip for bringing the family together. And our trip to Southern California last week was one of the best we have ever had, perhaps because as the kids get older and start having their own lives, there aren’t as many opportunities for trips like this. With that perspective in mind, even the girls’ bickering in the back seat wasn’t as annoying as it is at home.

Our initial reason for taking the trip was to give our daughter, Valerie, an opportunity to get a little more acquainted with Chapman University in Orange. We were also hoping to see a dorm room so Valerie can begin figuring out how she is going to cram a roomful of stuff into the three square feet of space that she will be calling home for the next year.

Because the dorm rooms were being painted, we could only get into the dorm building and we weren’t able to see any rooms. However, at least now when Valerie goes through the sliding glass doors in Henley Hall, she knows that she should turn…as Beyonce says…to the left, to the left, with everything she owns in the box to the left…to find her room.

After the dorm, we continued making a loop around the nearly-empty campus, stopping in at the art department and then the business office to turn in some paperwork …all places that will soon be as familiar to Valerie as the C wing at Petaluma High was.

Our last stop was back at the administration building so Steve could buy a baseball cap and show off that he is a proud Chapman dad. On the way to the Chapman store, we passed a group of bored high school students and their anxious parents taking a campus tour. We overheard the staff member talking about the average SAT score of the students who are admitted.

Seeing these families, I couldn’t help but think how glad I am that it’s this year and not last year when Valerie still had the intense and stressful college application process ahead of her. We did a high-five with Valerie. “You made it into college!”

If we’re that happy about being Valerie being accepted, I can only image the sense of celebration that we will feel when our kids actually graduate from college. I think back flips will be in order.