Someone remarked recently that I must be super busy and having a blast because I hadn’t posted much (blog or social media) lately and must be too busy to write.
I wish that were the case! But the reality is far less interesting. The pictures, the funny stories, the quippy anecdotes all make this journey seem like a breeze. I just pop up in different places, have some neat (or even mundane) experiences, take some photos, eat some good food, then I’m off to somewhere else. But there’s a lot of work that happens to make it from point a to b!
First there’s the “where do I sleep” dilemma. I don’t have an RV and I try earnestly to avoid pricey hotels – especially when I’m just passing through. Don’t get me wrong – there is certainly a time and place for cushy accommodations, but I would more often prefer to save my cash for experiences and food! Camping is a good alternative if I’m staying in a place for a few days, but often impractical if it’s just overnight. The solution?
This snazzy super comfy air mattress designed for the back seat. It has “legs” that prop up one side of it so your back seat space is leveled off and almost doubled. I’m short – this works perfect! Toss in a few blackout curtains and a sun shield and I’ve got my own bed on wheels!
But it does take some planning to find the right places to sleep. And by “right”, I mean those places where I feel safe, where creeping out of the backseat with bed hair at 6am won’t seem uhh..unsavory, and where I can most likely get a good night’s sleep without worry of being roused for loitering or vagrancy. I’ve got my faves – places like mega travel centers (new term for “Truck Stops?), BLM pull outs, and even that big-box shopping place that I really just try to avoid. Well lit places with easy access to bathrooms and wifi are the best. I could (and maybe I will) write a whole book on some of the experiences I’ve had with this method of car-camping, but let’s just leave it for now as something that takes a lot of effort to figure out, but the value is definitely there.
Every now and then a shower is nice. Some of those mega travel centers have showers you can “rent” and even provide towels and toiletries, but I’ve had mixed experiences in those, so they aren’t my first choice. I joined the local YMCA back “home” a few months ago. They have a travel program that allows access to any YMCA in the US. A good trip on the treadmill after sitting in the car for hours and hours doesn’t hurt either! I also have access to military fitness centers and other facilities. So plugging potential shower stops in the route is next.
Then there’s being connected. Unlimited data for my cell is great, but I’m way more productive on my laptop and haven’t splurged on one of those “my wifi” devices or plans so I try to find free wifi. My favorites: Starbucks (just get a plain black coffee and resist the banana walnut bread!) and IHOP (those multi-grain pancakes are good for me, right?). I did invest in a power thingy for my car so I can keep the laptop charged while on the go and to at least do some writing while I’m over-nighting.
I do have a mobile pantry in the car with basics that will keep me from starving, but food is part of the fun of travel for me. Not only can local diners and brew pubs be a clever window into the local “scene” it’s a chance to be social after driving or hiking and sightseeing alone all day.
But nothing beats the comforts of home – so when I find myself in the cozy home of a generous friend, I tend to get lazy and do some serious relaxing. That’s what this last week has been about. After three weeks of driving, sightseeing, backpacking, and exploring – I’ve done way more reading and piddling about than trip planning but it’s been rejuvenating and fun. And I even managed to get out and see some stuff and do some things. But now it’s back to business. I leave tomorrow for a few days on the road en route to my next “thing.” Today is all about repacking the car, restocking the pantry, figuring out where I’ll sleep and shower in the next few days and making sure I don’t miss anything along the way.