passages from the book – Hitting the Road Without a Map
Spirituality & Letting Go
The whole trip was blessed by God, and that I truly believe. Who I traveled with, where we found ourselves on the journey, and which roads we took, reached far beyond the mere fortuitous. Nothing besides the destination had been planned. Everything else was just made up as we went, and at the end of each day we felt as if there had been some guiding hand in it all. It was an exhilarating feeling. It was also like being in a meditative state, while moving.
The fact that Todd and I have similar spiritual beliefs and background, as a result of our shared journey in recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, made it relatively easy to let go of the normal constraints of life, especially once we were on the road. The process of “Letting Go,” and turning the result over to a Higher Power, allowed us to truly ‘be in the moment’ each minute, and each mile, for days upon days. Once acquired, that is a sensation that does not depart. It is spiritual in nature.
A New Way of Living in Sobriety
The critical stepping off point for all the participants in this saga began with them getting sober. That is where a new life began for all of them. Active participation in a program of recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, is how they all met. There was a time way back in their past when the two intrepid travelers may well have walked out of a bar and commenced upon an unscripted journey, with or without the permission of the RV owner. Those adventures, fueled by the inhibition lowering properties of alcohol and mind-altering substances, plus the character defects of selfishness and self-centeredness, typically ended in shame and remorse, or in the worst cases, tragically. That is no longer the sort of life either one of them lives today.
A bit of old wisdom states, “it is not the destination, but the journey” that is important. True enough, provided the person is actually paying attention. Another states something to the effect of, “the hardest part of any journey is getting through the back gate.” Both sayings are apropos to this author, especially as they relate to the trip undertaken in the following story. So-called sayings of wisdom spring from the immense well of human knowledge, whether one cares to give them their proper due respect or not. Greater understanding, or a sense of awe and awareness may come suddenly, while other more sublime transformations take a bit of time, or pain, before the realization of a change in perspective solidifies. Several aspects of a personal transformation played out in my life leading up to, during, and after the journey.
meditation on how the trip happened
Break the bonds of convention! Hit the road! Two Siren calls percolating below the constraints of everyday busyness and fast paced living in all of us. We tell ourselves we will do just that – someday. But when the opportunity arises, do we recognize it, and do we run with it? Life, responsibility, and guilt, often hold us back. The reasons are always logical and justifiable, and yet we are left with a gnawing sense of regret for having not acted upon the chance. So what happens when we actually do it? The experiences will be different for each individual, because circumstances and the emotional baggage we carry will be unique, and alter our perspective to what unfolds. Much depends upon ones attitude.
the nature of this particular journey
Many trips are meticulously planned down to the finest detail, with the expectation that the planning is what will make it great and problem-free. The trip recounted in this story was the total opposite of that. Circumstances prevented it from being meticulously planned because no one was even sure if it would happen, or when. The only knowns were where it would start and the final destination, providing it was necessary to do at all. It was a delivery trip of an RV, pure and simple. All other factors would be influenced by whether the vehicle still required moving, the timing, and the people actually undertaking the task.
Once the wheels actually began rolling, a series of miscalculations and unforeseen events prompted new decisions, and a new outlook, by the two guys who ended up with this errand. Instead of fighting these situations and trying to force a regimented plan into place, they chose to embrace the challenges and view them as opportunities to be entirely free out on the road. That attitude allowed them to truly let go, and be transformed by the whole experience.
the need for a map
"So, do you have any idea how long you want to stay on Interstate 70?" I asked, returning to the main subject.
"Can we get to the Pacific Ocean on it?" was Todd’s response.
"Nope, this road does not make it to the ocean! It does go through Denver, and through the Rockies in Colorado, but it ends somewhere in Utah if I recall correctly. Then you make a right and head for Salt Lake City and figure out a way to get to Oregon from there!" I replied.
“I really have no desire to go to Utah! Do you?" Todd remarked.
"What’s the matter? You have something against Mormons?"
"I don’t know! Do you want to go check out some Mormons? We can, if you want!"
"Not really!" I replied. “To be honest, though, I think we need a map!"
conclusion of a high-speed night time dash from Yellowstone
Stiffly exiting the car, after a tense and exhausting two and a half hour drive from the park in total darkness, the harsh fluorescent glare of the fast food joint was disorienting. Eating our burgers while staring about glassy eyed, we spoke little, though when we did, it was in half-finished sentences expressing amazement regarding what we had seen this day, and the fortuitous race in the dark out of the park. We were well aware how lucky we had been, for if a bison, Big Foot, or some other large creature had wandered out on the road, we would not be enjoying the minimal conversation we were having, and would be in a much different resting place.
getting the straight story in Farson, Wyoming
I waited my turn to get a carton of cheap Winston cigarettes and pay for my cup of hot driving fuel. There was time to scope out the slim selection of typical convenient store junk, and I was tempted to grab the ball cap with the moniker, “Where the HELL is Farson, Wyoming?” stitched across the front. This lonely hat, the only one on display, was in hot pink. I had already purchased a fine cap back at The Badlands, so I resisted. The gossip ended, the ladies left, and it was my turn at the counter.
“So what is up with Route 28 if you keep going straight that way?” I asked while motioning west across the intersection.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we just came from the other direction and it is a rather nice road, but on the other side here, it obviously changes into something entirely different. So, like, how far does it go?”
“You definitely do not want to drive it at night!” the man declared in all seriousness.
“Well, how about right now?” I asked, rather taken aback and perplexed by his curious response.
“What are you driving?”
“That big land yacht at the fuel pump!” I replied, with a wave toward the window.
He leaned over to scrutinize the vehicle, and made a grimace. Waylon and Willie continued to keep the beat in the background while he considered the facts. “If you leave right now you should be okay,” he stated with assurance, then added, “But what you have to understand is, that is ‘free range area’ out there. There are no fences, and the cattle are starting to head to the road for winter. Everything else is out there too, especially antelope! So watch out for animals on the road.”
“Okay, I appreciate the info,” I said, then to get some clarification, asked, “So how far does this road go?”
“Oh, about thirty miles or so to the next road. But all that area out there is ‘free range’,” he said while handing me my change.
I reported my findings to Todd as I got back into the driver’s seat and readjusted the mirrors.
“Well, alright!” Todd exclaimed. “That ought to be interesting to see, don’t ya’ think?”
Interstate highways versus the back roads
Although we could make time and miles on the Interstate, I regretted having to leave the two lane roads. For one thing, they are more scenic and one feels closer to the land. Another thing is less traffic. For most of the drive this day we only encountered a couple of vehicles in an hour, if that. Now we were back in the close proximity of metal hurling along at more than a mile a minute, piloted by persons of questionable skill and concentration.
questionable glamor of life on the road
Exhaustion gnawed at my consciousness as I stared ahead at the small patch of pavement illuminated by our headlights sweeping beneath us. I suggested to Todd that we ought to find an RV park and call it a day. At one point he agreed, so we exited and followed signs toward a park. We did find a small industrial town, that was now fast asleep, but no further evidence of a campground or park. As a matter of fact, there were no eating establishments of any kind either, which was a disappointing development, for we had not eaten since breakfast more than twelve hours ago.
return to the normal world
I recognized my fears and found them to be my own baseless mental projections, and facing them freed me to embrace the spontaneity of our journey. Soon the freedom of the road was going to be surrendered to the confining restraints of the normal world.