My Spontaneous T@B Travel Misadventure
My Spontaneous T@B Travel Misadventure
One can often spot a travel addict by the cliché images and quotes that seem to attach themselves to us like a package of exploded glitter. Wanderlust. Compasses. Airplanes. Passports. Cheesy lines of poetry plastered all over our coffee mugs and bumper stickers. “Not all those who wander are lost” (J.R.R. Tolkien). The much-overused (and often misunderstood), “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference” (Frost). But what is it that makes us glom onto these images and phrases?
Foolishness? The last time that Frost poem popped into my head, it led to my second-most foolish RV experience to date. The first foolish experience wasn’t my fault, but this experience? This one was all on me.
October is a beautiful month in Arizona. The heat is no longer brutal, and the setting sun paints the desert a pink and orange hue. The idea of a season other than summer excites Arizonans, and even though I don’t live in Arizona anymore, I still tend to visit when I can experience my favorite times of the year.
I was leaving Arizona, heading north to my first stop for the night. Since I have to drive more slowly towing my RV, I was hoping to make it to the Colorado border by two or three in the afternoon. The plan was to stop at the Four Corners and take a photo standing in four states at one time. See? Cliché.
I stopped in Flagstaff for gas, and my dad called me to see how my trip was going so far. Of course, the topic of me and that damn RV came up, and immediately I became defensive. My dad doesn’t like me traveling by myself. Perhaps it was my fury at the topic or just my pig-headedness, but when I saw a sign for the Grand Canyon, I veered left instead of right.
I tried to look at the maps on my phone to see how far out of my way my wild hair was going to take me, and it only seemed like thirty miles so to Horseshoe Bend, so I kept driving. The terrain changed from pine trees to desert, and Mount Humphries slowly became a blip in my rear-view mirror.
I. WAS. EXHILARATED.
Soon, the red rocks of northern Arizona surrounded my car. I had my windows down, and the cacti taunted me. “THIS is why I RV alone,” I said out loud as if my dad could hear me. I thought of all women who never get to experience this freedom, and I planned new upcoming adventures in my head. I laughed, tossed my head back, and chose music to propel my adventures. I was Forrest Gump. I was Thelma and Louise. I was TOWANDA THE ADVENTURER!
I was in the parking lot of Horseshoe Bend.
The parking lot was a clown show. It took forever to find a spot to park my Jeep and RV. Still, I grinned when I laced up my Chuck Taylors. I chuckled as I grabbed my camera and lenses. I wanted to cry when I saw that it is a 1.3-mile hike to the viewing point and back. SHIT.
Here is where my trip got complicated. I wanted to see Horseshoe Bend. I also knew that if I did the hike, I’d get back to the parking lot somewhere around 4 in the afternoon. Problematic? No. Not for most people, but I am night blind and I can’t drive at night on the highway anymore (I’ll tell the tale of that mess one day, soon). Grinning, I just decided I’d stay in Page for the night, and I’d change my route home. No biggie. Except for every RV site in Page was booked for the night. Even Walmart’s parking lot was full, and I hadn’t planned on dry camping, so I didn’t have water on board.
My wild hair came back and bit me on the butt. Look up Page, Arizona on a map. There is nothing around Page. Given my circumstances and the time of day, I knew I had to haul ass to get through the reservation and to my original stop for the night, Sleeping Ute Casino in Towaoc, Colorado. I might be adventurous, but I am not dumb. I know that as a woman, driving across the reservation, alone, at any time other than daylight just isn’t safe. It’s not safe for anyone to be on the res at night. Why? There is nothing out there. No gas stations, no towns, and no cell service. If I had a flat tire, I’d be in a world of hurt. I didn’t need to be stuck on the side of the road in the middle of scorpion and rattlesnake central to hope that a reservation police officer might find me. It’s just desolate and a long way between Page and Kayenta.
So, I turned around. I entered my destination back into my phone. I drove with determination down the two-lane highway through the beautiful and desolate Navajo Reservation. I didn’t stop to get gas, and I didn’t stop to pee. I was racing daylight, and I blew through Kayenta (which has some great gas stations for RVs by the way). I passed the entrance to the Four Corners Monument a minute after it closed.
I passed Shiprock, New Mexico, and turned into the Sleeping Ute Casino as the sun set behind the mountains. I sure as shit took the road less traveled by this time. And you know what? It did make a difference. Perhaps it wasn’t the grand adventure I spontaneously concocted hours earlier, but it was a learning experience for me, and an adventure, indeed.