“The best laid schemes o’mice an’ men, Gang aft a-gley.” In plain English: Even the best laid plans go awry. Robert Burns said it best, and he wasn’t whistlin’ dixie.
HAH! It’s Day 2 of our summer spectaculaire, and something has become very VERY clear to me today. Our original itinerary is OUT THE WINDOW. Already. Did I mention it’s only Day 2?
The original plan was a meander (and by that I mean a haul at a very brisk clip) from Vermont out to the PNW via North Dakota and northern Montana. It was to be a month out in the PNW hanging with one of my best friends, Erica, and her husband Robert, and then a meander back east via southern Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota…..you get it.
If you know me well, you know I love trip planning. I love the research. I love the tangents that it takes. I love that you find 8 different things you didn’t even know about because of ONE of the things you were looking into. There’s a German word, Vorfreude, which means the joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures, and this really describes me to a T. So I have been full of Vorfreude for the last several months, while filling in my calendar with blocks of time. Color-coded, of course. Basil was for the things actually reserved, Tangerine was places I wanted to go but they don’t take rezzies, Graphite was a change in time zones, so I’d know what time I had to get online to train clients, and Grape was for things that would be fun to do en route to our next location. I had Plans A, B, and C, and also the option to do none of them.
Naturally, I had researched how many miles/how long it would approximately take to get to the next location. This seems to be where the trouble sets in. You see, I did know that whatever time Google Maps gave me was going to be the most optimistic version, and I thoughtfully added an extra 10-15% or so to that travel time. It seemed like I had it all figured out. And I did. On paper. It was a lovely, lovely theory, that in application, plainly put…..FAILED.
On Day 1, our launch day, we drove from our home in western VT to Rome, NY, a modest 150 miles away. It took 3 hours, as I’d planned, and by the end of it, I was exhausted. Driving a van is much more difficult than driving my Subaru. Not only did we go from ground level driving to basically needing an oxygen mask from the altitude (why is this necessary – there’s a crossbar under a ProMaster that will always make it a low clearance vehicle, so why do I need to be boosted so high I could look Andre the Giant in the eye? You know, if he were still alive.), but for some reason the height of it makes 45 MPH feel like you’re in the Indy 500.
We almost made it to Copper City Brewing without incident, until I made a left turn onto a One-Way street. Oops. I blame the height. The One-Way sign was at regular car level. I must’ve overlooked it. Luckily, there were no oncoming cars, so I temporarily felt like an asshole, and then went on with my day.
We enjoyed a flight (my favorite was the Guardians of the Galaxy IPA), grabbed a chicken sandwich with jalapeno coleslaw from the food truck, and got settled in to enjoy the tornado watch we were under. Of course, I’d forgotten my phone in Hecate, and by the time I got the pup settled in the bar and had ordered my flight, I was far too lazy to go grab it, so not a single picture of Copper City Brewery. You can Google it if you’re really interested. I digress.
Tornado watch, oppressive heat, rain, an occasionally questionable solar connection, random wild thoughts about mountains, rattlesnakes, and gas prices made for a really shirty night’s sleep. I was almost glad for 6 o’clock to arrive so I could just get on with it instead of tossing and turning.
I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.
All I can really say about the drive on Day 2 (which, BTW, Google maps had estimated at 6 hours, 47 minutes, so I’d generously (I thought) rounded up to 8 hours), was windy as fork, and took damn near 10 hours! I usually LOVE driving that stretch of I-90……east of Cleveland is usually so chill. Now I know that we’re not always going to have pristine driving conditions, but this was like steering around a sailboat on wheels. Shiver. Me. Timbers. Even going 55 (okay, that’s optimistic. It was more like 50 but please see below – I was in the correct lane to be driving like Miss Daisy was in the backseat) in the right lane, I was being buffetted around, and the Driver’s Assist feature kept asking me if I was asleep at the wheel because I was “drifting.” Ummmmm, no bitch, I am just trying to keep it in my lane, but thanks for checking! Like, my shoulders hurt and I’m pretty sure I gave myself arthritis in my hands from that drive. Meanwhile, semis and other RVs (like the 40-foot kind with drivers who are older than Methuselah) are sailing past me. WTF?! Maybe they figure they’re closer to death and therefore give fewer forks?
It was when I was approximately 2 hours (read 3.5) from my destination that it dawned on me – I CANNOT DO THIS TRIP AS PLANNED SAFELY OR WITH ANY VARIETY OF JOY. Basically, I needed to tack on 25-45% drive time to whatever I’d already had planned, turning every day from something manageable into an absolute shitshow. Not to mention if the weather was ever less than ideal, I ran into some steep grades, my vertigo kicks in, etc. Which all of those things will happen. I just didn’t allow enough time for these things. It was cute how optimistic I was!
So as I was driving along (also calculating gas prices in my head, which I had known were going to be astronomical, but again, the calculated variety was different from the applied version, and I calculated we’re now looking at $5K worth of gas this summer), I thought to myself……what a fine chance to be less rigid than you normally are! Reframing, man……no need to get upset, let’s turn this into an adventure. The places you wanted to visit this summer aren’t going anywhere. They will be better enjoyed when I am more comfortable and confident in Hecate. What I was trying to do was like asking a 4 year-old to play for the Red Sox. We've at least got to get me into the minor leagues, first. Luckily, although Erica was disappointed, COMPLETELY understood. Then she shared with me her story of when she and Robert had been driving somewhere around Pendleton, and she panicked so much, she made him unhook the Smart Car so she could drive herself down the mountain, and then followed that up with a three-day emotional recovery period. So she gets it. She will also be getting my mail, which I’ve had forwarded to her until the end of July, so that’ll be fun to finagle. Thankfully we’re in the age of smart phones with cameras. Also, so she doesn’t end up in Federal Prison, Erica, I give you my written permission to open my mail to photograph and send to me.
So here Gatsby and I are in Norwalk, OH today at the lovely D&D Smith Winery. When we got in yesterday, I immediately slammed a wine slushie to take the edge off the day, managed a decent night sleep, and have started off the morning of Day 3 with a posterior chain workout. I’ve cancelled every Harvest Host reservation I made, will cancel all west coast campground reservations once I’m in the land of internet, and have rescheduled my Minneapolis dates with my friend Hoyt, which actually works out in our favor, since now we can not only go to a baseball game, but celebrate his wife’s 40th birthday while I’m there! He said the magical words, “Mad Hatter,” and “British Tea House,” and I was SOLD.
So between now and 28 June, I am left up to my own devices, with no plan in mind. And then after 2 July, I am once again plan-less. What will we do? Maybe a Great Lakes loop. Any of my MI friends have a flat driveway they'd like to let me squat on for a couple of days this summer? I’m not sure, but as you can see, Gatsby doesn’t give a flying fork. We’ll see where the wind takes us…….