My First Travel Listicle

One way to drive 2500+ miles in four days (3 full days + two half-days = four days):

  1. Don’t string all those days together – break for a day, or maybe a few days to hang out with your friends along the way.
  2. Don’t bring food in the car you’ll regret eating later. In fact, if you only have healthy snacks in the car, you’re likely to eat nothing else until you stop for dinner – a traveler in motion tends to stay in motion.
  3. RE: #2 – Good for making time, bad for really seeing the country you’re driving through. Also bad for your attitude by the end of the day.
  4. Relearn how to pump your own gas efficiently.

    taking photos while driving
    This one has everything – poor framing, not enough zoom, streaks on the windshield and a bit of the steering wheel.
  5. Notice all the billboards and road signs that say “Don’t Text and Drive.” (or alternately, “Don’t TXT & Drive,” because that guy was hip to the young people). Notice how none of them say “Don’t Take Photos and Drive.” Proceed accordingly.
  6. 80mph in South Dakota. Seriously?
  7. Do not plan to see a national landmark at the end of a long day of driving when the weather has quite unexpectedly turned cold and snowy. You will not enjoy it.Mount Rushmore South Dakota snow
  8. Realize you should have gotten an EZPass for driving through the northern part of the Central and Eastern Time Zones. You’re spending a lot of money and extra time paying a ton of tolls.
  9. RE: #7 and 8 – Acknowledge that the need to do research for a long trip does not completely go away just because you have Google Maps.
  10. Notice how amazed you are when you recognize street names and realize you are able to actually drive all the way to Cleveland, that place you used to live. Marvel at the surprise you feel, though this was your goal all along.
  11. Try to explain #10 to people and watch them be very confused by you. Be glad they are friends and like you anyway.
  12. Send blessings to the Google Maps people for helping you navigate strange cities.
  13. Don’t assume cool tourist traps will be open for business before Memorial Day just because they have the Blues Brothers out front.Blues Bro VT
  14. Give yourself smug cool points for your Oregon license plate as you get further east, until you see the dude with the Alaska plates. Decide Alaska dude had his truck shipped out here and go back to feeling smug.
  15. Notice how your car is downshifting to climb that hill and realize it hasn’t had to climb a hill in four states.
  16. Decide that upstate New York looks much like the Wisconsin Dells.
  17. Be surprised that some areas of Vermont and New Hampshire look much like the Matanuska Valley.
  18. Curse the Google Maps people for being unable to locate your sister’s house in rural New Hampshire.

Where Did All That Time Go? On Being Busy But Not Accomplishing Much

Columbia Falls, Montana, Rocky Mountains
The view as I run errands and do not get my shit done
Keeping your own agenda while not keeping your own space is not an easy thing to do.

This month in Montana – while wonderful, and notable for the lack of morning alarms being set – is more a transition than the beginning of this thing I’m doing, whatever that is.

I had promised to do whatever I could to help take care of things for my mom (who moved to a new place the day I arrived) that would normally have fallen on Susan’s already quite full shoulders. So my days were filled with errands and cleaning and packing and organizing and stuff – but not my stuff, someone else’s stuff.

And staying in a household full of other people, and therefore other people’s agendas, exerts an influence, even when not intentionally exerted. Dishes are dirty, dinners need to be prepared, various chores completed and errands run. AS I’M TYPING THIS – I received a phone call to add one more (important, necessary) thing to my list of chores today. THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

I’ve been the only adult in my household for most of the last 16 years. All chores were my chores (or those having to do with the minor child in the house – so, mine), all my agenda, all my shit and no one else’s.

The only other agendas that got in the door were those I made a point of inviting. This is not always ideal, frankly, because I tend to isolate myself. But as far as ‘who’s shit am I working on today?,’ the answer was almost exclusively ‘MINE.’

I remember – long ago and far away – living in a house with five adults and one child (mine). Most of the other adults were either working or in school. As the only adult with free time during the day and a vehicle, it fell to me to do the chores and errands for ALL the adults in the house. It was easy to have an entire week go by where nothing of my own got accomplished other than my share of the household chores.

This is not by way of complaining that I was forced/expected to do these things – no, no, no.  This is me realizing that I will have to be more disciplined about creating my own agenda and making sure it gets on the list of things that need doing while staying with other people.

It’s really easy for me to go along with those around me who have a plan, especially a plan for the upkeep and maintenance of me and those around me. Of course I have to contribute to those things. And I volunteered to do all the things regarding Mom’s apartment. But if I don’t put my own stuff (organize things for road trip, confirm crash pads for road trip, write for blog, investigate writing for cash, etc.) on the list, then three weeks can go by while NONE of those things get accomplished.

Which is basically what just happened.

I will need to get better at this if I’m going to extend this current lifestyle beyond the money in my savings account.