This past few weeks I’ve been thinking about routes and reasons. Specifically, I have been debating where to spend the winter. I had been working on a plan to get me to the Pacific Northwest by end September and then down to the southwest by the new. year. But despite it sounding good on paper, I haven’t been moving ahead with things like reservations and commitments. Something was holding me back and I wasn’t sure what. I’ve been doing this trip planning thing long enough (more than two years now) to know that I needed to wait it out and see what was going on and that if I didn’t push it, the path would become clear. And that’s exactly what happened.
About two week ago, the idea of heading due south for the winter floated up from the depths of my brain. Meandering down the Blue Ridge Parkway, watching the fall colors hit the south, and perhaps some time on Atlantic or Gulf coast (or both) before heading to Florida for the winter sounded like an interesting alternative to yet another cross-country drive.
But, but… my head said. My nieces in Wisconsin. My friends in Seattle. That week of camping in BC. Friends in Santa Cruz. The little babies in LA. The family in SoCal. Glacier, Fintry, Oregon coast, New Mexico in the winter. Lots of good reasons to head west.
And then my heart spoke. I’m tired. Two years on the road, no stop more than 3 weeks and most way less than that is a long time to be always going somewhere new. It’s time to stop for a while, stay in one place, hang out with friends, get involved in the local scene, make the time for reading and perhaps writing books without the constant moving and planning involved with being a full-time vagabond.
And so I’ve been debating the two paths in front of me, and now I see that it’s really the same choices I’ve been making all my life: do what is expected of me (plans already made, promises of visits) or do what I really need to be happy.
So I’m choosing the latter. It’s what my vagabond spirit needs. I’m going to head south from Quebec, be a total NASCAR geek for a weekend in August, take the fall to explore a part of the US I’ve mostly just flown over and driven around, watch the summer turn to fall in places where the leaves turn, and then hunker down in Gainesville for the winter.
For that last few years I’ve collected places and photos, ideas and experiences, without having the time to really work with any of it. I feel the urge, stronger now than ever before, to create more deeply than blog posts, to process all the traveling and memories, to make a colorful, coherent mosaic of everything. I don’t know how it will go. And that’s kind of scary. But it’s what is calling me now.
I’m not stopping the vagabond life, or selling the trailer, or anything close to it. This is the next phase, the evolution of the vagabond from constant traveler to, I hope, thoughtful and creative artist in motion. Just a slower motion that before.
I will fly to California in December to keep the unbreakable promise to a birthday boy and visit friends and family. I’ll miss Seattle and the PacNW this year and that does make my heart ache. In the end, though, heading south and having a quiet, creative winter is what I need. I’ll see all you you west coasters at some point, just not in 2018. And I know you’ll understand. When I do get there, we’ll party, OK?
Trust your own instincts, go inside, follow your heart. Right from the start. go ahead and stand up for what you believe in. As I’ve learned, that’s the path to happiness.
Lesley Ann Warren