Real travel for adventure isn’t for those who like to be prearranged. The real travel adventure lies in improvising through a series of choices that come up once you’ve decided where you are going and how you’re going to get there. Even though you need to think about where you are going to stay while you are there and how and when you will get home, not making any firm decisions on your planning might give you a much better experience. In travel, too much charting will always result in an attempt to put comfort over real adventure and the great experience out of reach by trying to avoid the bad one.
Money can open the door to a fabulous adventure or close the door on any opportunity at a real one. Understanding that travel is about tempo as much as time and that the real reason to go anywhere is to find the unexpected will always help you discover a better experience. Knowing what you like is a good measuring stick, but if you don’t open yourself up to the possibility of disliking something, you will never put yourself in the position to see anything other than what you’ve already done in another form. A little unpleasantness can buy you a world of real experience, but, I can assure you, travel in American is designed to take the sting out of getting around. From the super highway to the Super 8 Motel, it’s all designed to make moving around easy and to take the adventure out of the journey.
Even trailer and RV camping can be a little too easy. I am awed at the size and comfort of some of the RV’s that pull into the $30 a night state parks I’ve stayed at. People’s life savings are tied up in some of these vehicles, and it seems to me they might as well have stayed at home for all the engagement with the great outdoors they are actually getting. I like working for my travel experience, and I like getting out and absorbing as much as I can about any place I visit. The effort makes the appreciation of any place all the more real.
Tops in my experiences with nature so far in my journeys are the beaches I encountered on Jekyll Island and at St. Augustine, Florida. The association with St. Augustine and the fountain of youth doesn’t surprise me. Walking on the beaches there was one of the most inspiring things I’ve done anywhere in the world, and the drive across the Appalachian Mountains from North Carolina into Virginia and West Virginia is one of the great drives in the U.S. Do it at some point.
State parks are all different and all the same. This is especially true if you are traveling in any one region of the country. The things to expect at a good state park – a quiet, clean park with accessible hookups and facilities and some kind of natural interest to explore nearby – most of them have. Some states clearly put more resources into these parks than others, but they are essential to tourism in all states, so they are usually pretty good. So far, the best I have been in were Fort Mcallister in Georgia and St. Augustine Beach, Florida.
I’m waiting for the warmer weather to head to places where national parks will be the preference, especially since at age sixty-two, I can get a one-year national park pass for thirty-five dollars and a discount for the already very affordable rates.