Learning to Travel Alone..

Today as I sat alone in a family restaurant on the North Carolina coast, debating the merits of the rib special with another diner, I was reminded of my first experience dining alone on the road.  It was in a one stop town in Nebraska on a Saturday morning. A group of older men were drinking their coffee's and wagging their tongues on all the town gossip. Kind of reminded me of a beauty shop except these guys didn't seem to have much hair under their John Deere hats. I was a little nervous being the lone outsider at first, but then I settled in. I enjoyed getting the 'picture' of their town through their interactions and conversations just as much as I did the eggs and ham.

I was on this journey through Nebraska because my friend and I had planned a 3 weeks trip to travel through the the Northwest. I was in Colorado. She was in California. The plan was for me to go get her, then we would head north and work our way back to Denver.  This was pre RV days.   Our plan was to tent with a motel thrown in here and there.  I found out a few weeks before I was scheduled to leave that she couldn't make it and was terribly bummed out  that we had to cancel the trip.  After all who in their right mind would take a trip by their self .. on purpose?  I had always vacationed with family or friends, after all that's what you are suppose to do right??   

Then, while on a business trip to Missouri 2 weeks prior to my vacation, I heard a gal speak at an AA meeting. I think her name was Gwen.  She was about my age and had just gotten back from a solo camping trip out in Wyoming. "You did what?!", I questioned her after the meeting, "You just took a trip by yourself?  On purpose? Weren't you scared? Bored?".   I had a ton of questions, since I had never even contemplated such a thing. I could not shake thinking about what this gal had done and 'lived to tell about'.   As I traveled back to Denver, I decided that if she could do it then I could do it too. I called my friend in California and told her that I was still gonna do the trip. I would do it in reverse order and pick her up in the end and she could travel back to Denver with me. She thought I was nuts. I thought I was nuts, but I set out nonetheless. Map, sleeping bag, cooler and tent all in tow ... ready to stretch my horizons.  Or at least spend a weekend out of town in a Motel and come up with a good excuse for my friends why I couldn't continue the trip ...  I could find some way to save face rather than admit I was too scared to stay in a tent by myself if need be.

That was not necessary.  After a couple of tossing and turning nights staying awake, I was so tired that I slept fine and an axe murder did not get me.  I went to Sturgis, discovered Banff, Vancouver Island, the Oregon Coast and much in between. I meet other people traveling alone from all over the world. I shared a table on separate occasions with a gal from Britain and a Canadian Mountie from Ontario just so we could get in a restaurant quicker. I meet people in campgrounds, on tours and in restaurant lines. I was not at all lonely. Being by myself actually gave me more opportunity to meet people. It was a fabulous trip. What I didn't know was that this trip would lay the groundwork for me being able to travel as I do now. It was only a three week trip but the experience broadened my horizons immensely. It helped me think about travel differently and ultimately played a part in me being able to take the plunge into the RV lifestyle. Funny how life has a way of preparing us for life..