simple travel—between the roads

Going back to ‘simple living’ has readjusted my focus on many aspects of life—travel, for one.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tzu

Rediscovering nature can be a good way to get past possession addiction. Backpacking or canoe camping shows us how little we actually need. Traveling in a Class B van or small trailer is not far behind.

Some find the ‘places to visit’ are places to avoid. If tour busses are disgorging hundreds of people a day somewhere—some of us will be nowhere around. It’s not our kind of wilderness/outdoor experience. Or riding around in a shuttle bus? Nope. One sees so little from the asphalt and sidewalks. The Outdoors is beautiful. The effort to get out in it is well worth it. Those sitting on their butts being pulled along by an engine are never going to understand.

One hears about people who go off and drive thousands of miles on interstates during a vacation ‘seeing the sights’. What does one really see? What does one learn? Many knock off various National Parks along the way, stopping for a few hours or a day or two at each one. National Parks are absolutely fabulous and deserve a week or a month—‘traveling’ a different trail each day. One might want to think about hitting only one National Park per trip and truly experience it.

Driving down the two-lane blacktop is part of the trip. Try going along at 50-55 and taking in what you’re driving through. It’s not just the destinations. Taking the interstates or driving down the secondary roads too fast detracts for ‘seeing’ what's along the way. While stopping for gas on these secondary roads, ask where the locals go for breakfast or lunch. By going to these establishments for a meal, one can get a feel for the area and learn of some local places and trails to check out. Outdoor gear and bicycle shops are possibly the best places to pick up info on local trails. To me, the ‘secondary’ roads are ‘primary roads’. This is the way to get from one camping spot to the next. These take you through the small towns and present much more of the true nature of this country. The backcountry roads start to tune one back to some basics and simpler aspects of life.

Some ‘travel’ the dirt roads, old logging roads, double tracks, and single tracks. There's a lot that can be seen in a relatively small area if one gets off the asphalt. A few camp in one spot for a week or a month and mountain bike and hike the local trails to see what is ‘overlooked’ from the roads. Many of these places do not even have trails so one just takes off cross-country to explore. One will rarely catch these travelers on the interstates or in the national parks. The best photographs of nature are not taken from the side of the road but rather up in the mountains or out in the canyons, meadows, and deserts. These people travel/explore a locale and might then drive a hundred miles and travel/explore another locale. They don't do much traveling in the conventional sense but they definitely see a whole lot more. They scale down their vacations and do their traveling in their hiking boots. There’s a wonderful satisfaction from physical exercise and contact with the outdoors, followed with a meal around a small, feedpan campfire.

Taking one's time ‘traveling’ only a few hundred miles over a few weeks or a month might be more relaxing and enjoyable than one of those mega-mile travel vacations. The grandiose, like the Tetons, can be awesome but coming across a stream up in a mountain meadow that you hiked up to can be just as inspiring. Might be worth a try sometime. If one stays at primitive or small campgrounds, you might meet others who are doing something similar but this has not been my experience.

Some campers look for camping spots along various forest service roads. I come across them from time to time as I drive along. This is good. It keeps them away from some of the choice spots. I look for the spur roads—they are unmarked or have a letter after the number. These roads don’t get as much use since larger rigs can have problems getting down them. This is a good thing. The roads are older and generally partially overgrown—double-tracks. Sometimes there will even be an older road off the lettered one, for example: FR191 > FR191B > FR191B1. These are frequently where I find the most secluded places to camp. Traveling with a small fiberglass trailer sure seems to fit in nice with the simple way.

I have no interest in traveling the asphalt. I want to travel between the roads. I want to see what’s over the hill, along the creek, up the canyon, along the ridge. Traveling to hike through fabulous scenery can feed one mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. One can recharge. It can open a window into one’s self that you might not know exists until it is experienced. And observing wildlife in their natural habitat can be quite an experience. You might even find yourself smiling more than you ever have before. Life is simple and good.

Learn how to walk while out in Nature. One does not want to just bang down the trail, looking at the ground and daydreaming. Make like another animal and become part of the system. Stop and listen from time to time and scent the wind. Make it a habit and you’ll experience much more of the Outdoors. Walk with your head up, just dropping your eyes from time to time to check out your footing, keep your chin up. Walking this way greatly expands your field of vision and you will not only see much more of the area you are walking through but much more wildlife as well. Why bother going out in nature if one is only going to look down at the ground while hiking along? Might as well stay home and use a stair-stepper while watching the Discovery Channel. Walking upright with your hips tucked under your shoulders and keeping the chin up also keeps the airways open. If you start getting short of breath—check you posture. You want to make it easy and you want to see all you can.

This type of travel can be quite accessible and affordable. One can experience living in nature's splendor for long periods of time with all the comforts of home—like a turtle with his home on his back.

Finding this lifestyle enjoyable seems somewhat strange to me in that I have never really been into travel, nor am I really into it now. I did, however, really enjoy bicycling through Europe for nine weeks with a girlfriend back in '79. But doing it like this, with no set route, things to see, places to go, miles to rack up—it's probably more ‘roaming’ than ‘traveling’. Granted, I live on wheels—but I do it so I can live out in Nature. I definitely cannot relate to those who live on wheels for the standard reasons.

Some of us are not big on living in the normal scheme of things.

“Solitude in the wild forces me to call on inner resources.” Anne LaBastille in Woodswoman

One of the joys of travel
is visiting new towns and meeting new people.
G. Khan

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’


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