A Promise to Myself – A Road Trip
Fueled, Packed, and Ready
Prior to moving to Nicaragua, I had a few of months free from work. I took the opportunity, to take a road trip. I promised myself long ago, that if I ever get the opportunity to see the States through the windshield of my car, I am going to do it. Three of us – my fiancé, my dog, and myself, traveled almost 8500 miles in a thirteen year old four door and a two-person tent.
We left Michigan in early fall. The weather was just barely warm enough to tent camp. Many State and National pareks were closing their camp sites for the season, which meant that we had our pick of the best sites. As we eventually moved farther west and south, campsites got more crowded.
We headed North to the Upper Peninsula and travelled along the topside of Lake Superior and then headed West. We continued our trip through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, to Big Sur to what was our main destination, down the coast to Orange. We have some friends there. We hadn’t been in Orange an hour, I hadn’t even showered, when we rashly decided to take an unscheduled trip to Tempe, Arizona to see some more friends. Four of us and the dog packed into a Prius. We arrived about 4:00am, took a cat nap, had breakfast and drove back to Orange. Six hours each way. From there we hit Joshua Tree for some climbing and hiking then back to Arizona to camp in Sedona and Tombstone. After that we were off to Carlsbad, New Mexico for more hiking before heading to the caves. The weather was starting to get too wet and cold and many of the camp sites were closed so we dilly-dallied our way through Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, only sleeping in the front seat before getting back to Michigan.
Whew, I’m getting tired just reliving the drive in my head. After reading that long paragraph with run-on sentences the reality of it is coming back to me.
This was my trip of a lifetime. I had backpacked through Europe when I was in college and have visited Central America several times. I felt ashamed that I hadn’t taken the time to explore my own state and my own country since I was a kid. My parents were avid travelers. We lived out of a van that was customized by my father. It had everything we needed. Stoves, refrigerator, beds, and a porta-potty.
I am proud to say that by the time I was nine years old, I had visited all of the lower forty-eight. Our longest road trip was just over 20,000 miles. The problem was that I didn’t have vivid memories of much of them. I feel that many of my memories were really just memories of the pictures that I’ve seen.
It was an amazing trip. Our dog, Marley Marie, a wonderful lab-retriever mix, was by our side the entire time. In the car, she had the back seat to herself and slept at our feet in the tent. Some nights got awfully cold, waking to temperatures in the 20s. The dog curled herself between our sleeping bags and we all felt warmer for it.
We cooked over open fires and drank beer staring at the stars. The air smelled fresh and clean. The stars were brighter than I had ever seen them. It looked like someone had turned the night sky “to 11”.
Though I have started a new chapter on my journey, those 8500 miles will rank as one of the best times of my life.
Viva León, Jodido!