Every road trip begins with great anticipation, and some end up meeting or exceeding those expectations. Some however, fall short. When they do, it is best to reflect on what went wrong, and what can be done to prevent this from happening on the next road trip.
As kids, we knew the road trip as our only means of vacation, usually to Southern California to visit relatives, with stops at places like Disneyland and the beach. In college, the road trips were to parties, out of town football games, and overnight parties at sister fraternity houses. In adulthood, I hope it means a more sane and well planned vacation, with maps, food and water, and some idea of roads and hotels along the way.
Here are some lessons learned the hard way, by me and others:
1. Take to road less traveled.
The four lane freeway is not the best way to see the country. Likewise, a four wheel drive down a bumpy dirt road is not fun either. But finding some interesting towns and attractions is one of the best ways to see our great country.
2. Stop at the touristy roadside attraction.
Like Clark Griswold, the world’s largest ball of twine might provide the high point of your day, or at least your last 25 minutes. Sometimes it pays off, like the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. Sometimes it falls flat, like Wall Drug, also in South Dakota.
3. It’s all about the landscape.
Keep your eyes open, and don’t be afraid to veer off onto an interesting road or a strange looking road to the top of a mountain. Pikes Peak was a good example, as the lightning storm from the mountain top was a light show for the ages.
4. Keep an open mind for places to eat.
Now this is where I draw the line. I have eaten at some of the worst diners in the world. I would prefer a noddle stand in the hills of Laos over a greasy spoon in Browning, Montana. Just be smart about it, but avoid the chains!!!
5. Delays and tolls are expected.
No matter how tech savvy you may be, road repairs, oversized trucks, and grazing cattle never appear on your GPS. They do happen, particularly on the roads less traveled. But it may create a photo op of a lifetime, or make you wish you stopped at the gas station toilet a few miles back!
6. Bring what you need!!!
I always make sure I have water and snacks. But beyond that, remember to bring the items that are an important part of your daily life too. We carry a coffee maker and toaster, since it allows us to start each day, even if we cant find the local greasy spoon. Slippers or sandals, for either the dirty hotel room or the pool are also must haves.
And a big change for us, we will bring our new puppy, Lexi with us!!!