Even before chatting with a friend about vacation destinations and finding that she likes to go overseas every other year, I came to the realization that I’ve gotten into a bit of a travel rut. In the past year, I’ve made a couple of trips to see my parents in Vermont, a , and one long-haul excursion for a . Other than that, it’s mostly been a series of back-and-forth journeys along I-95 to check out a few spots between Niantic and Mystic.
I would love to travel more, but there are plenty of factors that generally keep me from doing so. There’s only so much time you can get off from work, or so far you can go on a weekend (). Gas prices are a little daunting for those driving expeditions, and the credit card bill can climb pretty quickly from hotel stays and other expeditions. I’m still hoping to find a good place for a vacation in a few months, though, so I’m up for suggestions.
I’m always amazed to find those stories of people who have managed to live a good portion of their lives managing to get by while having one hell of an adventure. There was the man who made a 46,000 circumnavigation of the world based solely on his own pedaling power. I knew a man who, before settling down to open a coffeehouse in rural Maine, spent time in four continents rock climbing and teaching people how to paraglide and working as a cowboy in Australia, among other things.
Meanwhile, I’ve decided to live the adventurous life vicariously through the writings of people who have actually done it. I’m halfway through AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, a book by David Miller about his 2003 decision to leave his job and hike the legendary path from Georgia to Maine. After that I’ll pick up Bill McKibben’s Long Distance, about an author who out of the blue decided to spend a year cross country ski training with Olympic coaches.
For travel stories, the classic may still be William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways. The author lost his job at a Missouri university, and decided the best way to deal with the setback would be to load up a van and travel around the edges of the United States. He used only the lesser-known routes, making sure to stop in as many towns with odd names as possible and meet the people there.
Recently, I’ve been more tempted to take an unscheduled stop or two when I’m on the road for a long distance. At pretty much every exit along any highway, you’ll see brown signs trying to lure you (or maybe just guide you) onto the off-ramp to check out the local attractions. The photo on this article is of one of the ones here in town, on Huntington Street, advising travelers of the plethora of nearby cultural sites.
You could almost argue for a Brown Signs journey. Someday I figure I should take a weekend journey to stop at the , or the , or Gillette Castle…
It would be a bit of an ambitious project. I haven’t even gotten around to checking out everything on the brown signs around here. From that sign on Huntington Street alone, I’ve yet to see the , , or even the full extent of the . But maybe, just maybe, I’ll take some time out of one of my longer trips someday and see just what lies behind a certain highway marker or two advertising a certain oddball attraction. It’s no thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail or journey around the world, but hey, it’s a start.