First let me say I don’t always travel alone but I started traveling with my husband, Andy, of 27 years when we first married. During that time, we have had four kids and taken them all over the world to most of the 48 continental states and Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Spain, Nicaragua, and China. We had hoped to instill in them that experiences, over things, were more important. We were fortunate that in many of those global travels we were connecting with friends and business associates, so we were getting a first-hand view of a country from a local perspective.
Now as my children are leaving our nest and unfurling their own wings and experiencing their own travel adventures, I am left with the urge to still experience God’s creation, but I don’t always have a travel partner. My husband, who is wonderful and would love to travel with me, owns his own business, like me, and doesn’t adjust well to working on the road. He wasn’t gifted with that superpower and likes structure and schedules. I, on the other hand, thrive on getting out of my schedule and can easily work from the road.
This is where we come to the pivot in my story. One day on the beach, Andy and I were watching the girls enjoy the beautiful Crystal Coast and he and I were having a chat. We had just said goodbye to our second son who was starting his first year in college. I had been feeling down for a bit and that day started crying as we talked. Andy asked what was bothering me. I told him how I felt like I had lost myself in all of the years of working, being a wife and mother, and didn’t have the spark anymore – the spark and spunk that he fell in love with when I was 19 years old. That spark would find me hopping in the car for a road trip adventure, turning up the tunes and just going to see friends or exploring and not really worrying about plans and such. To this day, there is an excitement I feel when I embark on a long-distance trip. Andy explained that he understood but couldn’t go with me but said that I should go on my own. Get that spark back and do what I needed to find my love of exploring again. I felt empowered to go knowing I didn’t need him by my side but I still had his support. He just asked that I take our dog for protection.
So, within a few days, I packed up my car with a Yeti, a tiny mattress, a sleeping bag, food, water, some basic supplies, a knife for protection, and my beloved dog, LJ. We headed for the mountains of North Carolina on an adventure. We wanted to stay at a state park but they were all full so we found a nice family campground to stay for two nights. LJ and I camped in my little Honda Passport and had the time of our lives. We hiked Looking Glass Rock Hike in the Pisgah National Forest. It was about 6.5 miles up and back. I left with such a feeling of accomplishment and invigoration that I had not felt in a long time. That was the weekend that I decided to not wait for anyone to accompany me on my desire to explore. I would go for it alone and really push myself to learn things I had never done before.
Within two years, Andy and I purchased a 22-foot Airstream Caravel, and named it LJ, after my pup who was my travel partner and had recently passed away. I was able to go on my own, wherever my heart desired and Andy felt that I was safe – he didn’t particularly want me camping out of my SUV anymore but kudos to those women out there that do!
It’s funny, Andy will know when I’m getting the bug to head out for a week or two here and there. I’ll get all excited, pack up the Airstream and go on an adventure. Once there, I’ll work from the road, hit some hiking trails, and enjoy some alone time with our new dog, Goose, my wingman. I’ll recharge and get re-energized. I started this blog because I would post my adventures here and there on social media and I was amazed and the women, like me, who would tell me they loved seeing my stories. I couldn’t believe how they would tell me they were encouraged and to keep up those posts. I didn’t think anyone would care. I was just sharing to save for future posterity but who knew that the simple act of listening to that little voice in your head would have an impact on others? Self-care isn’t always a hot bath, a spa day, or meditation. Sometimes it’s pursuing a dream and recognizing that person you were before you became something you were also supposed to be.