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Epilogue: The Big Trip

Minerva just returned from getting her tires rotated, oil changed, and minor repairs after The Big Trip, a 4,000 trek from NW Arkansas to California, and then the scenic route home through Nevada and Utah. Now that I've had a minute to breathe, and since you've heard enough about trip logistics and the travel gods, I thought I'd share some of the more philosophical thoughts and experiences along the way.

Rushing. I spoke of my need to plan in the first blog. Some amount of planning is good and necessary in that the van needed to be in good working condition, and that I understood my route options along the way. I'm really not the kind to just put the key into the ignition and hope for the best in any facet of my life. Having said that, the amount of planning I do on any day can become tiresome and when things don't go according to plan, I have not just an emotional response, but a physical response as well. My jaw tenses and my brain goes into overdrive analyzing options that will put me back on track. Knowing this, I compromised with my structured self and planned the route to Los Angeles as I had a specific date to meet with old friends. But the trip home? The one thing I knew for certain was my final destination: home.

Fear. Just because something scares me doesn't mean that I don't do it. Fear is a natural response to the unknown and that which ensures we don't follow our fellow Lemmings off life's cliffs. I spoke in the last blog about those things which scare most solo travelers being the fear of wild animals, the fear of things breaking while underway, and of course, the boogie man. Dakota (my pup) and I woke one morning to a very large long-horned sheep grazing not three feet outside our window. I'm pretty sure the sheep could take us and so we just waited for him/her (I didn't check) to move along before we took our potty break. Lesson? We were in his/her back yard. Just be respectful of the rules of your environment and most things turn out ok.

As for things breaking, you don't have to be camping for something to break. Take a spare. Subscribe to Good Sam and carry your insurance cards. Make sure you have a GPS locator. Tell someone where to find your body. Better yet, ensure you have battery backup for your cellphone and don't stand so close to the edge of the cliff while posting a selfie.

And the biggie: creepy guy in your campsite. First, creepy guy probably isn't creepy, so before you break out the bear spray, take a minute to assess the situation. I took my dog and unless he had a cookie in his pocket, she would have alerted me to anything out of order. In our case, creepy guy stood outside my door and yelled at me to turn off my generator. It was a little after 8am, and I was charging my house battery in preparation for leaving the campsite. I waved and smiled and he moved on. No need for bear spray. If I had been camping at a BLM remote site, I may have reached for the canister just in case, but this was a National Park and most park campers don't spend $35 per night to risk getting sprayed in the face by a senior with a Springerdoodle.

Travelling with Dakota: speaking of, this was my first solo trip with a dog and as you would expect, it came with some surprises. She hogs the bed, the covers, and my pillow. She snores. I don't sleep with animals and so the first few nights just found a corner and claimed it as my own. It didn't take long for me to burrito flip her with the sheet into a more manageable position for us both. I must say that the warmth of her spooning next to me was nice on those 40-degree nights. As with any new relationship, we soon established boundaries and a routine. She pushed me to walk more. I gave her more baths...and cookies. She slowed my pace as we stopped to sniff rocks, lizards, and puddles, something I carried from the trip and remind myself to practice more often. There's a lot of life in a good puddle.

Travelling in an older vehicle: this boiled down to expectations. The van is a 2000 Ford Econoline 350 with a very minimal instrument package, and a radio with a cassette tape player. I used my 4th generation 5G iPad on a cup-holder mount plugged into one of two DC ports on the dash for navigation, and an Auto-Vox T9 rearview mirror/camera/recorder as a backup camera plugged into the second DC mount. As for the radio, I don't typically listen to the radio when I drive. Besides, I had the wind noise from the driver's side window to keep me company. I spoke briefly about things breaking...the window regulator on the driver's side gave up the ghost in Gallup. Years ago, a philosophy professor gave a good lecture on the difference between what is essential, and what is sufficient. "Essential" suggests that the thing is vital to continued operations, whereas sufficient just means it's required to achieve a specific outcome. Was the ability to raise and lower the window essential to my continuing the trip? No. But it was sufficient for me to continue the trip comfortably. One is vital to the trip, the other is required for a conditional outcome, that being my sanity. Luckily, the regulator died in the "up" position and everyone lived.

Spontaneity. What I learned was that I had forgotten the freedom that changing one's mind brings to any experience. That it's ok to just wing it. That I'm firmly rooted to this planet and if things don't go as planned, I won't loose my grip on the firmament that holds me steadfast and simply float away. I had forgotten what it was to be a child, moving between creek beds and crawdads to the tallest branches of my favorite live oak with no notion of where I would be ten minutes into the future, until the rumbling in my stomach sent me searching for a peanut butter sandwich. I was reminded that the ability to relax and enjoy the moment is a gift, and like so many gifts in this life, one that I've brushed away into a corner of laters...when I have time. And of course, the realization that I've always had the time, I just made different choices. Since returning, I've made a practice to savor the quiet hours of early mornings and peer into that corner of laters to discover what gifts await. And ready for my next adventure.

Winslow, AZ

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3 comentários

Mad Rox
Mad Rox
01 de jun.

I really enjoyed your trip, too. And I love your philosophical summary. Too often I find myself feeling rushed and for no good reason. I’ve also been working to recognize it and slow down. So many good photos! I'm looking forward to painting one of these beautiful landscapes with those pigments.


Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. You achieved your goals. There is satisfaction in that along with the learning that adds to your life experiences. ..and you can say, “I did that!” Well done!

Donna Hanson
Donna Hanson
31 de mai.
Respondendo a

Thanks, Gail!

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