Hit the Road

Vehicle. Most people hearing about my dream think I'm talking about the big behemoth RVs that blow you off the highway, guzzle gas, and require a power plant to plug into at night. I have read and visited and researched and pondered, and decided on a Roadtrek, a sleek and tidy 21-foot self-contained gem that has an on-board generator, sometimes solar panels, can park in a regular parking spot (so you can "sneak sleep" if necessary) and gets great gas mileage. You can see them at www.roadtrek.com. Unfortunately, they're not easy to find to purchase, and even more difficult to rent. After much digging, I found Sande Cagen at rvsanfrancisco.com. Book early because they sell out. And brace yourself: it's expensive, just under $3,000 a week. But I tell myself I'll save a lot by making my own tacos for lunch.

Anticipate. Sit up every night in bed, the covers strewn with maps, books like 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, Road Trip USA, and Roadside America, and your laptop, where you can calculate mileages and note your route. Don't skimp on time here. Three or four hours a night for months and months is about right.

Study. Read On the Road, Jack Kerouac's 1940s road trip across the United States and Mexico with Neal Cassady; Travels With Charley: In Search of America, a 1960 road trip by John Steinbeck with his French standard poodle, Charley; On the Road, Charles Kuralt's reports from a motorhome about Americans on the back roads; Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, who, after a divorce, decided to drive a van around the country, sticking to the forgotten roads drawn in blue in the Rand McNally road atlas; The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey by Douglas Brinkley, a professor who takes his students around the United States meeting authors and visiting historic sites; and Anthem: An American Road Story by Shainee Gabel and Kristin Hahn, who travel around America interviewing more than 200 visionaries and cultural icons.

Luster Kaboom
The Nichols family hiking the Narrows at Zion National Park.
Courtesy of Judy Nichols
The Nichols family hiking the Narrows at Zion National Park.

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Community. Follow www.roadtreking.com, where Mike Wendland connects Roadtrek enthusiasts and offers advice and tips. Read Camp Skunk's blog about his Roadtrek travels with Fiona the Fearless Kitty at roadtreking.com/home/campskunk/. Google boondocking and read up; there are more options than parking in Walmart parking lots. Research dump stations and macerators and learn to deal with your own shit, literally and figuratively. You'll be a better person for it.

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Judy, I loved this article and look forward to hearing about your adventures...check out the roadtrek site on facebook.