Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Preparing to Hit the Open Road Again

I enjoy travel. I was raised by parents who thought nothing of throwing four kids out of bed and into the car on a Saturday morning and taking off on a weekend of exploring.  Those were just the weekends, and did not include the long exploratory trips. Certainly living in Europe for many years encouraged that. I did the same when scheduling allowed. When we returned to Europe with one of our own, similar weekend and day trips abounded, along with the longer ten day trips to farther away places.

In the past few years, since I've returned to the US , I have continued to travel, although not as much as I would like.  I prefer to drive unless large pieces of open water are involved. This past year my only real "trips" were to Denver. Normally I make visiting family an experience as well, taking different routes along the way.  Nature and scheduling intervened. Last winter I drove from Denver to Dallas through the blizzard (without wanting to offend any readers, the thought of being stuck in an Amarillo hotel for two or three days was enough for me to drive in white out conditions).  On the second trip, school acceptance interfered with my plans to explore old route 66.

In other words, I am ready to hit the road. Day trips, side trips on the way to family events and at least one long trip are on my horizon.  I am over due. This time, I'll be taking most of these trips alone. I'm looking forward to it. Really.  I enjoy driving alone.  For the most part, I'm not afraid to eat in restaurants alone. I will be putting out the word with real and online friends as I travel, and be taking more than one group tour with in a city (if only because this formerly broken knee will not allow me to walk all the sights in, say, Santa Fe).  I have not taken more than a three day trip completely alone, but I consider it an adventure ( at some point I will consider a group type tour such as Road Scholar. My problem is that I'm a seat of my pants traveler and what I want to do this morning, I may not want to do this afternoon).

My plans include exploring Route 66 as part of my Denver travels in one direction, and Santa Fe and Taos on the return.  A brother in-law is getting married in Houston in July, and I've never visited the Texas beaches, so I'll drive on to Galveston and Corpus Christi and consider going all the way south to Padre Island. Ideally, the Texas Hill Country and Austin will fit on my calendar. I also want to take a longer trip-at least a full week, and have been deciding where that should be.

After some thought, I've decided to take a gulf coast drive.  For this one, I'll drive south through Shreveport to the gulf coast, then heading east, along the southernmost routes available. I love the beach and I love seafood (heck, all food) and this trip is ideal for me. Part of this trip will have to be driven on the interstate (especially in Texas), but most of it will be smaller, more coastal roads. Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola and  many smaller, coastal towns-all these  are on my radar. My last bit of indecision has to do with Louisiana. I have three choices-Lafayette and Baton Rouge, New Orleans, or further south to Cajun country - I think I know the answer but am always looking to see what others have experienced. Unfortunately with this particular trip I think coming home means hitting I10 on the way home and heading up to Shreveport. Not as interesting at all......hmmm.

I have two really large trips I hope to take in the next year or so (by large I mean, take the dogs home with you and I'll see you in a month). The first is to drive to California and up the coast to Seattle, drive inland into the Dakotas and back down to Texas. That's the Reader's Digest version, but you get the drift. My second goal is to drive from Texas to the Florida Atlantic coast (St Augustine), go up the coast through Savannah, Beaufort, Charleston, all the way to Washington (as much on US 17 as possible, not route 1 or 95).  Then I would  return via the Blue Ridge Parkway, Tennessee and Arkansas.  As I said, see you in six weeks!  Both are routes are on my desk and one will happen in the next year-the question is which one.

Of course, now that I've planned all my travel goals, its time for some serious planning-and rethinking.  I realize I don't really WANT to have to travel only in the summer-one of the pluses of retirement is avoiding tourist crowds.  Am I willing to study online for a semester-or drop out?  Still to be determined.  Of course I have dogs, but I have two adult children in the same city as well-that's just a logistical issue.  Finally, budgeting and finalizing these trips. I'm an expert at traveling frugally, so its time to revisit those habits.  And as for funding, well, maybe it's time to really say good bye to that cable bill, and spend all my free time sewing and sitting in the craft fair sun.

Hey, it works for me!!


  1. Wow! Sounds fun! You are brave to do that all on your own.

  2. I LOVE road trips. My car has 80,000 miles on it and it is driven mostly across country. We talk about getting rid of it to save money- but my trips would be confined to the airport!
    If you head through Kansas at all- I am right off I-70.

    Your Gulf coast trip sounds the best. Our son will be near that area. You'll have to let me know when you are traveling and maybe we can meet up.

    Can you do a semester of classes on line? Maybe you can weave some of your travel into the schooling? Maybe stopping into quilt shops along the way to advertise your blog and etsy account will help with business expenses.

    Most of all- just enjoy. I sure wish my kids were close enough to drop my dogs off with them.

  3. I think I will definitely do a semster online. and yes, I really do need to both deduct some of the travel if I buy books, and use my travels for writing and other things.

    Im sure there will be tiems when the dogs have to be boarded.............

  4. On the road again...I LOVE road trips too! I'm really looking forward to the 20 hour drive to PEI this summer. One of my goals too is to drive Route 66. I haven't traveled alone, but have no fear of doing so. When my daughter was a highland dancer we traveled all over Canada, just the two of us. I kept a hammer in the driver's side pocket...just in case. But we never had any issues and everyone we met was so helpful. Like the time we got lost in Montreal and a fellow in another car had us follow him to our location. I'm excited for you Barb!

  5. If you take the driving trip to California and pass through Phoenix or Tucson let me know! I'd love to spend some time with the frugal Texas gal and exchange blogging stories!

  6. Hi Barb,

    I don't comment much but if you make it to St. Augustine I'll meet you for lunch. I'll also offer a bed for a night to save you money. I'm less than a mile off of US 17 outside of Jax/Orange Park.


  7. I would love to drive Route 66! I have bought books about it,,, time to get out there and just go!

  8. I've been traveling alone for many many years and actually prefer it that way. I'm looking forward to my 'official' retirement (i.e. when my military pension starts) so I can take longer trips too.

    Your plans sound like a lot of fun. On your Gulf Coast trip, have you considered coming back north through East Texas instead of through Shreveport? My mother usually goes to Tyler from Galveston, and she uses Highway 59 and 69. You could come west to Beaumont, then head north. Much prettier than the Interstate route.

  9. Sounds like a great road trip! We're embarking on one as well next week.

    Spring and fall are good times to travel - not as much traffic, better weather in most places.

  10. You're planning 2 of the trips I've always wanted to make: Route 66 (which is supposed to be kind of tacky, but so what, I still want to do it) and the Texas Gulf coast beaches. Hope you'll blog about some of your adventures b/c I'd love to read about them. And ... with gas at $4 a gallon, I hope you drive a Prius!


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