By the time you read this, I’ll (hopefully) be mere hours away from my parents’ front door. And that also means the end of this year-long cross-country RV roadtrip. [insert dramatic music]
So that brings us to ranking my experiences, sharing any regrets, and answering for the curious.
A Few of My Favorite Things
Hours of driving brings hours of changing landscape. Sure, the desert can last a long (LONG) time, but its transition to-and-from mountains or plains is wondrous. Instead meeting animals in cartoons or in captivity, I encountered them in real life. Sometimes they’re larger than expected, other times tinier–regardless, they’re real and regal. Being creative daily, making the decisions to plan an excursion near-daily, and living in a world made entirely of my design (except for things that weren’t)–these are the fondest and proudest aspects of the trip.
If you want tangible places and spaces, then take a gander at these pics and click to read the original post.
Visiting 22 (one not pictured) friends or relatives. What a treat to see so many people I love, meet their spouses/partners and children. Only regret: forgetting to take pics with most of them. (Plus encountering Atlanta folks when they were on the road–this happened twice for a total of six friends!)
The Crayola Experience in Pennsylvania. It had been far too long since I’d colored, and I suspect the same is true for you.
The art was sometimes confusing, always thought-provoking; sometimes whimsical, always interesting.
Coney Island has been on my NYC list for years but rain and repairs foiled visits repeatedly. Finally I made it! And it was worth the wait.
Big Bend National Park lured me for its remote location. It’s a perfect example of what I was able to do by taking this trip.
Heading north from Atlanta took me through familiar territory: the Carolinas. When I crested the first hill in Virginia and saw a view like this, THAT’s when the trip felt like it really began.
Gettysburg National Military Park opened my eyes to the scope and logistics of war. I’ll never truly know, but now I know the vastness of what I don’t know.
Niagara Falls is talked about soooo much, how could it possibly live up to the hype? It exceeded it.
Haleakela National Park in Hawaii is above the clouds. That says it all.
Beauty above ground is expected. Beauty underground is incredible. I’ve been to caverns before–all impressive, yet none compare to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.
I really never expected to fall in love with Kansas. Ignorant me had no idea that it’s absolutely gorgeous!
Learning that Georgia O’Keeffe painted more than flowers was already a surprise. Discovering that she painted landscapes with the same softness that I experience by being among them, made me feel connected to her.
Roswell New Mexico works very hard not to take itself seriously. Banks, streetlights, and stores all carry the torch of alien sightings. The kitsch is out of this world.
I’ve had BBQ in Memphis, Mississippi, multiple places in Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia. Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City wins. Heat. Sweet heat. Smoke. The meat doesn’t hide behind the sauce and the sauce is an experience all its own.
Though still not a huge fan of Andy Warhol‘s work, I became a fan of the man. He wasn’t limited to–or by–Studio 54. He went to church weekly and called his family every Sunday. After his parents passed, he spent holidays working at soup kitchens. And he had credit at restaurants around town, sending homeless people to eat on his tab.
Really, ALL of Hawaii was a favorite, but snorkeling and seeing the color and life was amazing. I can’t wait to go again!
I don’t live my life that way. Sure, things could have been done differently–they could been done a million different ways. This trip was exactly what I made it. That’s all that matters. And I loved it…even the yucky parts.
- Did I find anywhere else I could live? No.
- Would I do it again? Absolutely!
- Will I do it again? I have no idea…
Do I Still Have the Travel Bug?
Without a doubt.
A wish list is already rich with places to re-visit and others to explore for the first time. And yes, they’re all in America. The rest of the world is undoubtedly magnificent–but as we’ve seen, so is the United States. With festivals and nature, culture and cultures, I’m content–actually, delighted–to discover “here” instead of “there.”
Was I Ever Scared?
Oh, the discussions we had before I left! My family wanted me to have a gun, a stun gun, a bodyguard… I promised up and down that I was trading Atlanta dangers for others, and was just as safe (or unsafe) on the road as I was at home. Thankfully a car accident (or five…whoopsie!) were the only incidents.
I did find myself scared a handful of times by circumstance, not by people:
- Driving in the winds of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Yowza.
- Hiking on Haleakelah in Hawaii (see pic above). I felt like I was on the edge of the of the world…and not in a good way.
- Big Bend National Park is on the border of Texas and Mexico. Vendors, artisans, and serenaders illegally cross the river and seek income selling trinkets or a song. My first encounter scared me not because of imminent danger, but because of my imagination. All future hikes in the park were in the company of strangers I accosted at the trailhead.
- Once Fall fell, I was literally the ONLY person staying at one campground (I forget where). I informed my brother, who had me call him three times a day for the duration of that stay.
What Am I Looking Forward To at Home?
- Keeping kosher–for the sake of ease, while in the camper I abandoned kosher meat and separate dishes for milk and meat. Turns out that I miss keeping kosher; the discipline, the tradition; the honor it adds to routine.
- Having the option not to shop at WalMart. It’s ubiquitous and cheap. Fine qualities, but not fine quality.
- Not feeling compelled to shop at uber expensive Whole Foods simply because one appeared on my path–and it’s the antithesis of WalMart.
- Spending time with my friends and family. Facebook and phone calls are nothing compared to sitting across from someone.
- Knowing how to get from point A to point B without at GPS and not having to listen to its bossy voice.
- Recycling. A disappointing majority of campgrounds don’t recycle. I tried going to the municipality, but it was more hassle than it was worth. I apologized to the Earth every time I threw away something that could have been recycled.
Will I Keep Writing?
Some folks have graciously asked if I’ll keep writing–saying that they’ll miss this blog. I’m so flattered. Thank you for joining this journey and being a part of this blog. It means so much to me.
After my reentry to life with a house-not-on-wheels and actually talking to people *every day*, I’ll begin writing for another project. Stay tuned…I’ll be in touch to let you know all about it.
To say this was a trip of a lifetime is blatantly obvious. I simply woke up one morning in February 2012 and decided not to wait to retire to live this dream. Four months later I was on the road. I’m so thankful to have followed my gut and chased my goal. Prudence certainly said not to do it: quit your secure job? sell your house to afford this? Pffff! Adventure rebutted with, “if not now, when?” So I went…and discovered for myself America the funny, America the sage, Americana the Beautiful.
So…where are you going for your next trip?