In my first blog post, I mentioned that after being laid off from my job, I decided to take my Subaru on a road trip. Over the course of about 3 months, I drove across the country and back, covering more than 10,000 miles of land so beautiful and diverse, yet at times monotonous (as those of you familiar with the Midwest plains know). I find it interesting when I talk to people who are fascinated by the flat prairie, endless fields of corn and relatively unpopulated areas of the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska and southern Minnesota. It's usually people who grew up in urban areas and are accustomed to denser development. I think that growing up on a farm in Minnesota has led me to appreciate the conveniences of city life, but yet I still need time where I can escape the traffic, pollution and constant human interaction to recharge in the peaceful solitude of less populated areas. This is also the reason I chose to travel solo. It can be enjoyable to travel with family, friends or a partner and can keep costs lower, not to mention safer if you happen to break down on the road or want to go on a multi-day backpack. I also have friends who have traveled solo and participated in ride share and couchsurfing to help minimize costs while also being able to meet new people. I have couchsurfed in the past a few times and have had positive experiences. I even had a potential offer to stay at a place in Salt Lake City, but my timing had changed and I found a place farther east that evening to camp instead. With couchsurfing, you really have to plan ahead and I wanted to be more flexible with my travel. I enjoy sleeping outside when I can and prefer undeveloped camping areas in National Forests or BLM land over established ones with the drone of RV generators interrupting the silence. My tent is a 2-person which really means 1-person and room for gear. With the rainfly, self-inflating pad and 20 degree down sleeping bag, I have stayed warm when nighttime temperatures have dropped into the 30s. It's the first tent I have ever purchased and has held up for 4 years so far. My only complaint is that it has sleeves for the poles instead of clips which I think makes it more difficult to set up and take down especially in cold weather with numb fingers. Other than camping, I slept in my car at rest areas (which I learned that you are allowed to do for up to 8 hours, not sure how that is regulated), rural areas and areas just outside of towns (sleeping in a car within city limits is generally frowned upon in many areas). Sleeping in my car was sometimes just easier than finding a place to set up my tent and I didn't have to deal with packing up a frosty tent in the morning! It was, however, a bit cramped since I was sleeping in the back seat and I'm 5'8". My car was a great traveling companion and has been reliable so far, which is why I bought a Subaru. However, in the future I would like to trade my car for a 4-wheel drive truck with a camper shell. Having a truck would enable me to get to places I have been unable to go to with my car since it would have a higher clearance and 4-wheel drive provides better traction than AWD. Also, sleeping in the back of a truck is less conspicuous than sleeping in a car and you can fully stretch your legs so they don't get cramped. I also stayed in a few hotels and motels, one in Canada where I arrived in the evening and after two hotels said they had rooms for $120 and $150, I finally found a third with two kind women at the font desk who gave me a room for $100 including tax (which was 14%). I mostly wanted a place to shower and use the internet, a plus was that they also had free breakfast. A tip for traveling: if you arrive in a city or town late at night and need a place to stay, ask for a lower rate. Hotels usually want to fill their rooms so they may be flexible. I also stayed at little motel on Mt. Desert Island in Maine for 2 nights since the campgrounds were closed (apparently this is common in the New England states, and likely other states in colder climates, to close after Columbus Day weekend in mid-October). I was also able to talk the lady into renting me the room for the weekly rate which was lower so I only paid $125 for the two nights. The other motel I stayed in was in Vegas after I was unable to locate a sweet camping spot on BLM land just south of Zion National Park where I had been a few years ago. I went online to Travelocity and booked a room right off the strip for $24! Finally, I stayed with family and a few friends along the way. A few options I did not utilize on this trip were couchsurfing, Airbnb and hostels.
|Camping at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont|