Road Trips- the Joy in the Journey

I love road trips. As a young 20 something I dreamed of taking huge road trips and spending weeks or months on the road. At that time I was involved with following the Grateful Dead around, but I never had the money or the car to follow them for an extended amount of time.

Now, in my later 30’s, I have finally had the experience of long, fabulous, extended road trips. I have covered somewhere in the range of 15,000 miles and seen most of this country by car.

How is this pagan, you may ask…..

Because traveling in this way has connected me deeply with the nature and environment of almost the entire United States. These road trips have allowed me to see how I am a small but connected part of the world we live in. And road trips give you a lot of time to think, and to heal. One summer I had lost my job, a job that I really identified with and was deeply hurt to loose. I was reeling with pain and confusion and had no idea what the future held, but had already planned a massive road trip. Rather than calling it off I decided to go for it, and I’m so glad I did. I really got a chance to sort some things out on that trip. I saw the grand scheme of things, and was able to connect with the nature, energy, and rhythms of places I had never been.

And when I got back from the trip a new and better job fell into my lap.

I love to travel with my husband, but my most grand road trips have happened with my brother. My little, and only, brother who was born when I was twelve. At first I was dubious to leave my only childness behind, and he came into my life when I was in junior high, probably the worst time in my life. I had never been thrilled with babies or kids, and now one was in my house along with my raging hormones and mood swings. But of course I grew up, and got over it. Now I can’t imagine life without my baby brother. At this point we are very close even though we live far apart from each other and are separated by a twelve-year age gap. And part of our bond has come from the amazing trips we have taken together.

Our first big excursion was San Antonio to Arkansas for a Rainbow Gathering, then we drove to Arizona, Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Southern Utah, and back to Arizona. Then I drove alone back to Texas.

A couple years later we, with my overgrown Pomeranian, did the entire east coast. We left from Texas, drove to Pennsylvania for a Rainbow Gathering, then went to Maine and proceeded to bump down the east coast back to Texas, and eventually Arizona.

The next summer we decided we needed to visit the west coast again. We drove the back road up the coast from Northern California all the way to Washington and this time we drove around the Washington peninsula. Again we stopped for a Rainbow Gathering (I should mention here that I have actually attended ten annual gatherings in a row, my husband has done thirteen, and my brother has done seven), and then drove through Utah back to Arizona. This time we had a sudden urge to extend the trip and go to Zion National Park, and that was really worth it.

Last summer we, again with the dog, did a mini-trip from Texas to Tennessee…yes, Rainbow Gathering, then explored western North Carolina, dropped down to Florida, then came back to Texas.

Most of the time we have no agenda. We just drive and see what happens. We make decisions on the fly and often end up in unexpected places. And we love to eat! Sampling regional dishes is a greatly pleasing activity for both of us.

We have some trips on our future radar. We’d love to drive through Florida to the Florida Keys or try driving all the way to Alaska. And I’ve not explored much in the northern regions, like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas.

There really is an amazing, simple, freeing beauty to hitting the open road. It ‘s also something that is rather special to the U.S., the fact that we can just hit the road and drive for miles and miles. This is a beautiful country and I’m so blessed to have experienced so much of it.

I’ve also made such a special connection to my brother. A lot of people can’t imagine traveling with their siblings on long extended road trips, and may I add we do it in a sport truck that is not a king cab so it’s pretty snug.  But we get along remarkably well. We’ve had some wild experiences and seen unbelievable beauty. And I’ve seen some pretty fantastic car vocal performances from him.

For me, road trips are freedom. They put you in a special place where you are traveling in a slightly different plane, and you are open to connecting with whatever place you happen to be in. For me, there’s nothing like it in the world.

And thank god I have my baby brother. Thanks parents for giving me a sibling. I have since told my brother how thankful I am that I have him, and that he did not actually ruin my life in seventh grade. Instead he greatly enhanced it, and I am a better person having him around.

Next summer we have decided to take a break from Rainbow…..so where will we head? Only time, and a crazy whim, can tell.

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