To say that travel is in my blood wouldn’t quite cover it….my never-ending lust for new places, shores, and horizons courses through me and fuels my beating heart probably more than anything else ever could. Like most Americans, I am where I am because my ancestors weren’t afraid to venture from their homes and mother lands. I imagine even my native roots speak to my nomadic tendencies and love of different terrains. Sure, people tend to go where they can grow or find food…..where they can survive and make lives for themselves and their families. But there have always been settlers too…..people who find places to colonize or stay….even for generations. That’s not me.
So, here I am….currently on the road with my small camper (recently named “Gloria”) and we are in northern Michigan. Why Michigan? Because…..I fell in love with this area when I first visited in 2006. The nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is unlike any other place in the mid-west. Not only is it reminiscent of the west coast, it’s many blue waters will win over even the most sun-worshipping visitors and fans of popular tropical destinations. In short, if you’ve never visited, you really should. Add it to your list…..
Now, however, I’d like to put all of that aside and get to the heart of why I am writing today. When a person travels and others hear about it or see photos from their trips, it’s easy enough to be inspired. Traveling is the stuff of dreams and romance. It’s exciting and an escape from the old and familiar. But there’s another side of it too…..specifically, when one travels alone. Yes, traveling alone means you can do what you want, see what you want to see, and enjoy plenty of contemplation time or relaxing with a good book. However, traveling solo can be pretty lonely, as well. The lone traveler often leaves friends and family to venture off by his/her self…..and it can all become quite real pretty quick the first night alone in a tent or camper far away from a familiar face or voice. There’s also the lack of someone with who to share in the experience…..whether it’s a beautiful sunrise/sunset or just cuddling together in the woods at night. If you’ve ever been alone in a campground after dark, it’s easy enough to see that most campers are couples…..people who have each other to sit beside underneath the stars and survive alongside through a midnight storm.
Admittedly, I wish I had that. I wish I had someone with who I could use my tandem hammock poles and kayak a river. I wish I had someone with who to hike Mt. Baker in Washington or any number of trails in Glacier National Park. I wish I had someone with who to bike a trail and grab a bite to eat after. Last night, in Glen Arbor, I ate at a local restaurant by myself. The night before, I ate by myself at another place in another town. The few nights before that, I munched on trail mix in my camper, alone……while reading the words of Osho. All nights, I have gone to bed at an early hour….perhaps in some sort of attempt at self-comfort. This is the reality.
So why do I do it? Well, because…..as I’ve already established, I enjoy the adventure and seeing the beautiful and vast world in which we live. Being “on the road” in any capacity is a daily awakening. It’s mind-expanding, soul-quieting, and sometimes conducive to figuring “things” out. If I didn’t have the ability to travel, mind you, part of me would most assuredly die. Does this sound crazy? Maybe it is. Or maybe traveling is just my drug of choice and I’m a junkie just trying to escape and find that next big high…..
Or maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe traveling is just one way in which I face my fears head on. Maybe it’s a way in which I can face my aloneness in all of its complete and raging undeniability . Because, I can think all day long that I’m happy alone, but that’s pretty easy when friends and family are close by. Despite sometimes being taken for granted, the reality is that I may depend on them more than I acknowledge. That’s because, as humans, we always want more. We want more friends, more time with those we love, more of everything. Even my desire to see and experience more places is evidence of this. And that being said, maybe travel is nothing but a trade-off…..that if I’m going to be alone anyway and have less in the romantic companionship department, I might as well have more in the “seeing cool places” department. I mean, what do I have to lose?
I’m sorry to say that I just might not have any concrete answers for questions posited today. If traveling is a trade-off at this time, I don’t suppose I feel it has to be…..anymore than being in some sort of romantic or committed relationship is a trade-off for seeing the world. The two, assuredly, are not exclusive. The same applies to love and freedom. So often we think that those two concepts, ideals, or states of being can only exist independent of one another, as well. Yet, I tend to be of the mind that love without freedom isn’t love at all. And maybe this means, for me, that love without the freedom to travel isn’t love at all. And just maybe…..this also means that I’m not writing off or trading in the idea of love and partnership by pursuing my continuous desire to visit new places.
I’m just building the foundation…