By now I had been on the road for ten days and a few friends started to notice that I had been to a few places and traveled through six states. That’s when the questions started to come in. They began to ask me about where was I going? Is this a vacation? Are you on the road by yourself? And that’s when I started to analyse their reactions and curiosity. By having to answer their questions, I had to think about it myself. Didn’t I have a plan? Of course I did! My plan was not to be tied to a schedule or a set in stone route, and to keep my mind open to changes that would have to be made due to weather, peoples’ recommendations, destinations being closed, liking or disliking a location, and the list goes on and on. In the past I had been on other road trips which had a starting and an ending day. That was not the case with this one! I had the time and I had no commitment whatsoever. Some of the changes that I listed had already taken place more than once. Remember the tornado that got on my way in the first week? The sites in Arkansas and Texas that I visited after hearing about them from people I met on the road? And here I was on the road heading to New Mexico to visit the White Sand National Monument, a site that according to my tentative route I should have visited at least five days earlier.
The day before, when I left Palo Duro State Park, I took a long detour. Better yet! I drove back southeast to Dallas to visit a dear friend who had gone to school in New York where we had worked together and became friends. We had not seen each in years. When I contacted her I told her that I had to stop by and give her a hug. I arrived in Dallas early in the evening and we went straight to a place nearby in the neighborhood for food and a drink. I would have had more than a beer if I knew that I was not getting back on the road that evening. We just had too much to catch up. Although we had not seen each other for over a decade, it was just like it was yesterday that our lives took us on different directions. I was at last laughing with my pretty. smart and funny Priscilla.
At this point in the trip I knew that there were friends around the country who I would visit. And this is the fun part about being on a road trip; you don’t have reservations and schedules to make in time. On the other hand, it is difficult to handle availability for camping because there is a great chance that when arriving at a location the campgrounds is full. Although I left home with a list of National Parks, I did not make reservations for camping because I had no idea which day I would be arriving at those locations.
Priscilla invited me to stay overnight and the next morning after doing laundry for the first time on the trip, I left to Alamogordo, New Mexico. According to my GPS, I would arrive there at 9:33 that night. Knowing that to cover the 598 miles ahead of me would require a few stops, I estimated that I would arrive around eleven. However, not long after I left Dallas, I started to run into road construction detours and hold ups. This would be my longest driving time in one day since I left home ten days earlier. If I got tired I would simply pull into a rest area and continue whenever I felt rested; or so I thought!
The perks of a solo road trip include listening to whatever music genre you want and the luxury of free time to think. Yes, plenty of sing-along too! I realized that some of my Facebook friends had been following my postings and it had spiked their curiosity about what I was doing and why I was doing it? First, I had to answer it to myself. The answer was quite simple: I had always wanted to go on a long, unrestricted road trip and the timing couldn’t be better. I had not been working since January and with my husband’s new job relocation requirement, there was no reason for me to even look for a new job where we currently lived. More importantly, after having worked in hospitality management for over a decade having had only three vacations, I needed a break! All my blood had been sucked and I needed to refuel. Add to that the fact that I didn’t think I wanted to go back to work in the same capacity. Right after loosing my job I got a few phone calls and offers which I declined. Even if I were inclined to remain in the same industry, I could not accept a management position knowing that I would have to resign just four or six months later to relocate. The more the days went by, the more I realized that this was my chance to stop, take the time and think about quality of life versus being consumed in a job or career that no longer brought me satisfaction. I love travelling and I can’t be in an industry or job where I can only have three short vacations in a decade. To summarize my state of mind I could simply quote Farrah Gray: “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” It was time to follow my dreams. In the meantime, I was stuck in traffic waiting for the “flagger” to let us get through one more road construction in Texas.