There are many things in life I wish I could be better at. But there’s one thing I feel pretty awesome at — planning road trips. When a trip fell through a few weeks before I had 10 days off from work, I fueled my disappointment into planning madness. I called my sister and floated the possibility of a road trip— one hour later, she emailed me her flight info. She’s pretty awesome like that.
I got to planning. I madly zoomed in and out of google maps, searched Airbnb and checked all state parks with yurt openings. Within just a few hours, I had a pretty epic 1500 mile trip planned.
One week after our return, I’m still thinking about how amazing the trip was. Ten days of adventure is truly good for the soul. Here are a few things I took away.
10 things I learned from 10 days off
1. You learn a lot about someone playing cards. And we played a lot of rummy. The distraction of playing cards kills the small talk. It forces the phones down. The competition brings out our core personality. And game after game, you learn more about more about your opponents. I learned that Erika can be so competitive her husband banned the game from their house for a week. I learned my mom can swear like a pirate when she forgets the rules. And I learned about myself. Late into the night at Sunset Bay State Park, Erika and I started a game in our yurt and talked about our past. About regrets. About the people we lost touch with. We started a conversation that stayed with me for days.
2. You meet people you wouldn’t talk to in every day life. Meet Billy Goat. On the last night of our trip, secluded in the wilderness and miles from cell service, we spent the evening simply watching the sunset and slowing down. Billy Goat came on the dock and started chatting with Erika. As he began telling his story every other conversation on the dock came to a halt. Everyone turned around and starting interjecting. This man was impressive. He was 76 and on his 9th trek of the Pacific Coast Trail. I did the quick math and commented — that meant over 5 years of his life spent on the trail. His response was perfect: “the trail is exactly where I want to be.”
3. It takes time to slow down. I haven’t taken a full 10 days off in years. I relied on quick weekend jaunts to get my adventure fix in. But truly slowing down takes time. I like to move fast. I like to be busy. But I felt a sweet, sweet serenity when I finally let the beauty of the day sink in.
4. Sometimes the world sends you signals to slow down. Confession. I needed help slowing down. And as shitty as a sprained ankle was the day before our trip, it did help me slow down. The body needs time to heal.
5. My sister love is never ending. My relationship with Erika continued to evolve on this trip. Watching our relationship deepen and grow is one of the most gratifying things in my life. I truly feel a connection with her that I feel with no one else. When she was sicker than she’s ever been, I felt her pain. When she’s laughing, I’m laughing. When she’s down and thinking about her future, I feel melancholy too. It’s a gift. Tears and all.
6. Road trips are better with wine. We may have changed locations every few days, but one thing remained constant — nights ending with a glass of wine. Sometimes in a glass. Sometimes in a plastic cup. Wine and sunsets pair pretty nicely together.
7. My earthquake survival plan is limited to posting on Facebook. The recent New Yorker article on the PNW earthquake has spurred a lot of conversations lately. And while we were going for a walk in the tsunami zone, we talked about what we would actually do right after. My parents have no land line anymore. My sister changed her phone number and I no longer know it by heart. The best plan we could come up with is to post to Facebook when we could. We need a better plan.
8. I had better taste in music in 2004. No matter how many Spotify playlist you put together, there comes a time on a 10 day road trip where the music gets stale. After a rummage in the center console, Erika found a mixed CD she made for me in 2004. It was awesome and became the soundtrack to our trip.
9. The bumpy roads are worth it. Two windshield cracks and a $100 bill to fix my wheel alignment was worth it for miles and miles of gravel roads. Gravel roads lead to unexpected places. They take you to pristine beauty. They take you to gems few have discovered.
10. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest will forever take my breath away. I tried to capture the beauty in the photos below. But know that no photo will do this trip justice. You’ll just have to pack up your car and see for yourself.