For many years one of my very favorite things to do was to take a few days or a week off work, pack my bag, back my truck out of my driveway and then decide, left or right? I would typically leave on a Friday night after work, and drive until I got tired, stop and rent a room for the night and then repeat the same process in the morning, left or right? It was the ultimate road trip, no agenda, no maps, no shirt no shoes (just kidding about the shirt part). I did it a few times a year every year for almost a decade. My life has changed since then, and it isn’t a part of my routine anymore, but I look back with great fondness on those trips. Often, I ended up in Montana taking photographs and hiking. In the fall, especially, my soul seemed to drift toward Jackson Hole and somehow I ended up there. Jackson is beautiful in the fall and the tourists have all gone home. I always hated leaving there when it was time to go home.
I started doing it a few years after my husband died. At some point I realized that I was spending all of my vacation time cleaning stalls and taking care of horses and hadn’t had a day off in a few years. I was tired and crabby and one Friday after work, I just took off for a few days of R&R. After that, I tried to get away whenever I could. My kids were old enough to look after the horses for a few days and were usually glad to get rid of me.
I’d drive until something caught my interest, stay and explore and then head for home when I was running out of time. Occasionally I’d overstay my time and have to beeline home with a bag of pretzels and a six pack of diet coke. If you only stop for bathroom breaks, you can travel quite a ways in a day. I often ended up in Twin Falls on my way home from Montana and there is a great little hotel near the Falls where I loved to stop for the night. The next day would be an easy drive and I’d be home in time to do laundry before I had to go back to work.
I never felt uncomfortable except once in Missoula when I couldn’t find a room and ended up staying in a seedy truck stop. No one ever bothered me and often I ended up having dinner with someone who would see me eating alone and ask me to join them. Once it was a nice cowboy in Jackson who thought I was a local, another time it was a sweet older couple in Butte who bought me dinner and shared a bottle of wine with me.
I was always careful to be safe in a hotel room before dark and I tried to stay in nicer hotels in the nicer areas of town. Maybe I was just lucky, but I never ran into any trouble. Once, I started to run low on diesel in a rural area of Idaho. There were no gas stations and I was starting to get a little worried. I stopped at a farm that had pumps in front of the barn and asked the farmer if I could pay him for a few gallons of diesel until I could make it to the next town. He sold me a full tank, gave me directions to a good motel and told me where I could get a really good steak (it was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had).
At any rate, I guess that kind of trip isn’t for everyone, but for loner weirdos like me, it was the perfect way to spend a week. Do you like to travel alone? Do you plan your trips carefully or do you like to wing it?
Inquiring minds want to know!
This post is part of Jenny Matlock’s Alphabet Thursday. For more valuable “V” posts, please click here Jenny Matlock.