Road Trippin' (How to Release Your Inner Nomad)

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A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.

Lao Tzu

 

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

Jack Kerouas, On the Road

 

To travel hopefully is better than to arrive.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Warning: May cause wanderlust.

Oh the pull of the open road. The anticipation of what’s around that next bend.

 

Who doesn’t love the idea of a road trip? (If you just answered “ME” I hope to convince you otherwise by the end of this post.)

 

Packing the car so full with suitcases & snacks there’s just enough room to responsibly see out of the back window; blasting your favorite music, checking out the road-side attractions, & stopping every 200 miles to search out the local fare.

 

There’s no cure like a road trip to break routine long enough to enter right brain terrain. (Intense new experiences that come along with travel are said to contribute to neural plasticity & creativity.)

 

Time to down-shift to the rhythm of the open road where shoulders unclench, brows unfurrow, breathing slows & inspiration flows.

 

Plenty of my friends’ idea of travel is to laze around a pool long enough for someone to place a cold drink in their hands, then to read, or perhaps nap, until it’s time to walk the least amount of steps possible to an all-you-can-eat  seafood dinner (the heaviest exertion they can muster).  But until recently, I had a more run-with-the-bulls approach to travel.

 

As a person reared to question the validity of vacation as legitimate downtime, travel had always meant frenetic energy devoted to the exploration of cities, museums, ruins and other cultural activities intermingled with swimming with sharks & jumping off waterfalls.

 

My heart beats a little faster at the mention of a place I’ve never visited. Doesn’t it seem like the more you travel, the more you realize how much there is to see? And how little time there is to see it? So, to maximize each experience, I tended to strategize every vacation with the precision of a NASA mission planner.

 

That is, until one day when a unique set of circumstances launched my husband & me out on a completely unexpected, no-time-to-plan, 8-day winter road trip that changed our travel modus operandi forever.

 

We were like modern-day nomads wandering with only serendipity to guide us from place to place. This randomness of spontaneity felt enlivening. We got lost on purpose & discovered the most unexpected things through aimless exploration.

 

The open road led us to:

 

Total eye candy (Arches Nat’l Park, Moab, Utah)

The Nuptial Journey

(Reflections on 30 years of marriage)

Being Part of Someone's First

A freak blizzard in the middle of the desert that snowed us in for a day at the local coffeehouse/bookstore where we hunkered down to read (my favorite pastime!) amid a dread-locked proprietress & skinny jean hipsters glued to Apple products & sipping espresso.

 

A soak in 1,000,000 gallons of mineral-rich, magma-heated water  in Ouray, CO

Side-of-the-road geological curiosities

Words that Live On

Cindy O'Krepki , Freelance Writer

Archaeological wonders that had us marveling at the impossibility of such ancient feats at Mesa Verde Nat’l Park, CO

Box canyons cradling bucolic towns

like scenes straight out of Currier & Ives

130 foot high vertical pillars of blue ice in Ouray, CO

An old mining town where Butch Cassidy once roamed (& incidentally robbed the San Miguel Bank) in Telluride, CO

The largest concentration of natural sandstone arches anywhere in the world at Arches Nat’l Park in Moab, Utah

Road travel & adventure, which almost by definition involve misadventure, is a crucible of sorts. That is, a place or set of circumstances where people or things are subjected to forces that test them and often make them change.   A long journey can either drive people apart or increase their camaraderie. And when you have kiddos in tow, well, road travel is an art form all its own.

 

As in life, if we make getting there half the fun, instead of half the battle, the thrill of going somewhere transcends the battles.

 

Setting aside maps & itineraries & trusting where the open road would carry us led to the most unexpected of rewards. With the flexibility to alter our plans on a whim & choose the experiences that most appealed to us at the time, we ventured off well-worn  routes and discovered places time had forgotten & tourism had yet not found.

 

Travel for us would never be the same again.

 

To me, the whole point of leaving home is to come home again, new and improved. Road trips challenge, inspire, & in the end,  leave us richer for the journey.

 

So give it a try, at least once. Make a wanderlist. Go off the grid. Roam the frontier. Leave the comfort & safety of civilization and embark on an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment excursion. You never know where it might lead.

 

 

 

Hey, stir up our wanderlust by telling us about your favorite road trip, why don't you? Or maybe a little road-trip nostalgia from when you were a kid? Or your dream road trip?

 

It's Happy in Here (TM) (Series) |  How to Be Happy:  22 Tips to Everyday Bliss by Cindy O'Krepki

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