Covered wagon

Thelma and Louise

As I prepare for another art adventure this week, I have been thinking about all of the travel adventures I have had with my best friend Anne. She has played Thelma to my Louise over the past 40 years, all without picking up any deadbeats, killing anyone, or managing to drive our car over a cliff. But what to do when Thelma lives 3,000 miles away? Anne was our foreign exchange student in high school and she lives in Wales. Although we have traveled all over the world together, she is not always available. So rather than stay at home, I have discovered the charm of solo travel.

“I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my bucket list.”
– Susan Sontag

I think I have already mentioned how shocked a young waitress was recently when she learned I was dining alone. Her eyes became the size of saucers when she learned I was heading out on a hike afterwards, “Really?” she exclaimed, “I didn’t know you could do that, I will have to try it.” I was afraid if I told her I also went to the movies alone and traveled solo she might drop my dinner on the floor and I was pretty hungry, so I kept that information to myself.

Many of my female friends also think I’m just plain nuts to travel alone. They always want to know if I am afraid. What they don’t know is there is little to fear except the fear of the unknown, which really is the point of travel to begin with. It is a fallacy to think that bad things happen when you are away from home, most auto accidents occur within one mile of your home, air travel is safer than driving your car and someone can break into your home just as easy as a cabin, hogan, or hotel room. Heck, I never could get the door to lock at the last National Park residence where I lived for two weeks this summer and no one was really concerned, “Hardly anyone comes down here after closing except the rancher that lives down the road.” That was good enough for me, I grew up on a farm where we never locked our doors either until one of the neighbors reported a peeping Tom looking in her window and my Mom put her foot down. See what I mean about s*** being more likely to happen at home?

A little shot of adrenaline now and then wakes you up, helps you to notice your surroundings and makes you feel alive. Luckily, common sense runs deep in our family, so I do make an effort to avoid deliberately putting myself in harm’s way. In order to avoid plowing into a random buffalo or Black Angus, I avoided driving on the prairie after dark. I also endured severe cravings for a good steak dinner while in Nebraska a few weeks ago, a state with more cattle than people, after I figured out that the only place to get one was in a beer joint with about 50 pick up trucks parked outside. Something about the proposition of being the only female in such a fine dining establishment puts a real crimp in my appetite, and remember that door that wouldn’t lock? I draw the adventure line at anything but a stray bit of livestock following me home.

I will be off on my next National Park adventure at the end of this week. Stay tuned here to learn what happens next, and stay safe out there!

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