In Montana, Wyoming and in Utah and select scenic byways of Colorado, Oregon, Washington and even in California if you dare absorb silence, turn off the radio, turn off the cell phone, stop, walk, listen, notice the elements, the sky, the horizon on a road free of gridlock and dense traffic, a change in perception, a space perhaps freer of urban trappings, may transform you, even if only for a moment. You don’t need to know how long the road is or why you might find yourself on it; you might be alone or in company. Step outside of your vehicle and breathe.

In geological terms, across Montana and Wyoming, you are in the realm of precambrian granulite-facies supracrustal rocks of continental collision, calc-alkaline volcanic and plutonic rocks generated along an Archean continental margin, and mafic dikes emplaced during continental rifting. You see the process of glaciers in hairpin turns; there are moraines, sediment dikes, valleys, lake basins, peaks and mesas. Slow down, let others pass, pull over, look around, sit, walk, ask what’s out there. In Colorado although there is more traffic you find piercing mountains, volcanoes and deserts, rocks over 2.5 billion years old and water frozen in glaciers, snow pack, rain, rivers and lakes.

My dogs are eager and happy for every new place sensing little critters, smells, the different way the air feels. When I’m driving even if I’m exhausted I am somewhere else, there is movement. When the road is empty slow and scenic I can forget sorrows and troubles. Perhaps I could just keep driving.

I want to camp alone where it seems limitless. I have done so easily when I had company, human company.  I don’t watch TV when I travel. My rig has one with cable hookup but in 7 years I’ve used it maybe 3 or 4 times to watch a movie when I was parked tight in big cement lot. It’s kinda funny the fuss some RV parks make to be certain you have your cable hookup. That’s the way some people travel, they are plugged in, TV, Radio, Bright Lights,Headphones, Computer Games, Lots of Noise and so on… it blocks out nature almost completely but they like it.  I check the weather and local road conditions on my phone, sometimes the news. I don’t read much either as I used to.  I will scribble a thought or a random sketch on my refrigerator that I covered with a contact chalkboard paper. I am alone thinking my particular thoughts having my own reaction and moments of transcendence if not fussing with the dogs, singing to them or talking to them then I am just quiet.

Before it got so crowded and we became in such a hurry to get somewhere and around my California that’s often in gridlock, we could take a leisurely drive. Pack a picnic enjoy the day, now it’s just me and my four dogs, it’s difficult to find places where they can run free and I can walk. I love the vast open spaces of my travels. Somewhere there are other solo van dwellers, not the ones at the costly RV camps, nor the ones blasting their presence into the night of stars but those relishing this inner wisdom, I think finding this companionship would be even more blissful.

Many people ask me how I can do what I do. It’s not easy for me and hard for you.  It’s hard for me, maybe more so for me than you. I have physical and financial challenges, I don’t know maybe you do too.  But if you want to be on the road, and you do get there, especially if you are alone you may find out you are enough. You are competent enough, capable enough, you know more than you think you do, you learn and the gaps fill in.

A drive where you see almost no one can be very soothing once you get over being all by yourself and embrace solitude, accept whatever comes around the corner, up or down the mountain or just ahead. You can get back in touch with you. If you are lucky enough to have someone with you I’d suggest you practice times of silence, like a meditation but better (esp for the restless types,) since you are active, vigilant and aware. Find a road that challenges you, not the same kind you do everyday.

Don’t be afraid to turn around, back up or try a side road, something you saw out of the corner of your eye and you want to see what it was. Your mind fills with the land, how’s its made, the geography and geology of its substance; given time and enough miles you can see for yourself how it all works.

Remember to be safe, maintain your vehicle, have a backup plan, observe the weather, slow down for the animals. I think humans were designed with a curiosity and stamina to explore. Maybe you need to build up your stamina. Stop and do things, talk to people even if it’s just a few words. Ask what there is to discover. Your ideas and theirs can be similar or worlds apart. Be generous. You will learn to distinguish innocence from harm, annoyance from time to depart.

You can grow on the road, you can reflect if you’re that sort of person. You can be mesmerized by beauty, you can fly out the windshield and be part of the clouds, the trees, the rivers, the deserts, farmland and industrial land, tiny towns and huge cities. You can think, you can cry, you can scream, you can dream, you can simply feel the power of your vehicles’ wheels rolling, the engine pulling you. This must be why I am able to face uncertainty, I stand taller, walk quicker, the confidence that others see in me, it must be real. I have fear just like everyone else but what is there to do when it’s just you, or I mean just me, and four dogs. I solve problems, I figure things out. With an RV something always needs repairing,  I am proud of keeping my RV running, smiles on my dogs faces. I can get angry at myself or even at my dogs but no one cares and when I’m rolling again and then perched in somewhere beautiful the days are just the right length. I’m never bored, tired at times maybe, sometimes lost, but never regretful.

 

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