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You have probably heard the stories of great explorers, traversing land, sea and even space. There is something about breaching the great unknown that appeals to most of us, or least sparks a bit of admiration.
Perhaps it’s a tired phrase that it isn’t about the destination, but the journey. But it doesn’t make it less true. And when I speak about The Road, I speak both literally and metaphorically. It is the journey. And the road that gets you there.
The first time I felt my travelling bug was in my early twenties. It started when I drove past the street of the place I was living and kept going. It wasn’t long, I went a half hour or so beyond the Toledo city limits, then I turned around and went home. I hadn’t known why I had the compulsion to do so, I just did it.
These little trips happened with increasing frequency until one day, I found myself in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I had a beverage and a shrimp cocktail; then headed home. To me, it wasn’t about where I was going at all. It was the travel, the hum of rubber on pavement, the meditation of a long drive. And yes, the exploration of the unknown. While I am far from the first person to set foot in Fort Wayne, the experience was still new to me.
We all have a little Magellan in us, that part that wants to see things we’ve never seen, set foot in places we never have before. And while there is travel by planes and boat, the most convenient and personal type of travel we have is by road. Those yawning stretches of pavement are spread throughout our land, allowing us to go nearly anywhere within our continent.
But often, we are so set on the destination and blurry-eyed from the long drive and sick of the kids asking if you’re there yet, that we pay no attention to the road itself. To cure that, perhaps take a drive with no destination in mind. That way, the journey becomes the destination.
If you decide to take a journey just for journey’s sake, I have a few tips that may help you. Keep in mind that there are certainly no set rules--especially if you’re on a tight deadline or have to tote the kids along. Some of these tips would do you well even on a normal trip.
Yes, I know this is could be construed as being in direct violation of the boy scouts “be prepared” slogan, but most people really do just pack too much stuff. And it couldn’t hurt to have to learn some improvisation now and again. You may be surprised at what little you actually need.
Don’t be confined to the path
Just because you are driving with no destination in mind, doesn’t mean that you can’t stop anywhere. If you see something interesting, go ahead and take the time to pull over and check it out. It’s all part of The Road.
Find the locals
Touristy places can be interesting, but in order to find the lesser-known attractions, you may have to track down the locals. Locals don’t hang around the touristy areas too often, so you may have to go to more residential areas. You can do this at gas stations and local stores, or anywhere where the tourists are not. Just be careful when you do this. You don’t want to find yourself in any inhospitable places.
Remember that the journey is the destination. When you’re travelling in your vehicle, you’re already where you want to get to. The rest is just icing.