Rolling down the highway if I have a destination or driving the backroads meandering the countryside it is all part of this RV Life. Roadtrippin as I affectionately call it could be a four hour tour exploring the sights or a 14 hour drive along the highways. Although sometimes I will take my girlfriend as our tour of Labrador and Newfoundland this year most of the time I am a solo female traveler.
Do I do things differently when I am solo?
In some respects I do. I have certain rules I travel by whether I am alone or not. I do not drive dusk till dawn. When it is dark I like to be parked. In a Walmart or a campground, I do not like driving at night. Not to mention I miss all the great scenery I can see during the day.
When I am alone I will make sure I am fueling at a populated place as a truck stop or a main intersection gas bar. I depend a lot on feel. If I pull into a parking lot to stay for the night I will often sit in the driver’s seat and watch what is around me. If it does not feel right I will know soon and will just find another place to park.
There are places I will not go on my own but will if my girlfriend Kim or other people are with me. Bars are a place I avoid. I am not a big drinker, a good whiskey on ice once in a blue moon is good for me. Even a roadhouse restaurant that is a sports bar or has a bar attached I normally will not go to. I am just not comfortable in that kind of atmosphere by myself.
Places with large crowds is also places I avoid. I am not a big crowd person anyway but I do like going to a baseball game or a concert once in a while. Blessed with my friends I will find one that wants to go. Lol.
It has taken some getting used to doing things on my own. It took me the longest time just to go and sit in a restaurant by myself. I had been married for 30 years and before that parents and kids. I always had someone with me. Being without a partner and on my own has taken some adjustment. It is a strange feeling walking in alone. When the person seating says only one? I used to feel a little nervous or sad when I said yes just me. Now it’s a little more comfortable, but I will go to places I am already comfortable like Cracker Barrel. I do find I am getting more adventurous in that department as in my stop at a Mexican restaurant that I thought served breakfast. Lol.
For the first time this year I went on a tour on my own… twice! The tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg Tennessee was my first. To say I was nervous was an understatement but I really wanted to see the making of my favorite whiskey. As everyone else was a couple or a group I kind of kept back from the crowd. It was Jacob the guide who really made me feel apart of something and for that I am grateful. My second tour was the Homosassa Wildlife Park. Although it was not really a tour I had to take a tram to get there and get in line for tickets. As I was standing behind a couple a group came in behind me. The ticket person assumed I was with the group. As I and the gentleman beside me said I was not, the gentleman said but she could be if she would like to join us! Lol! I politely declined but thanked him for his generosity. It was a big tram and a lot of space for the people on it. As the couple before me sat on the first tram and the group behind me piled into the third tram I chose the second one with no one on it. Sitting on the tram alone it was uncomfortable at first but as we wove through the Florida forest I became more and more at peace with it and actually was enjoying the serenity of the moment even surrounded by strangers.
When I am hiking or taking a walk through the woods I am very aware if I get hurt I am alone. I am extra cautious when hiking down embankments or even meteor sites. As in The Brent Crater in Northern Ontario there was no cell service and the walk was steep in parts and on wet leaves in the fall. Falling and breaking something was not an option. At some points I had not seen anyone for a long time. It was late in the fall and there were not many people in the park. As I found out when I fell in Metropolis Illinois, the home of Superman, there are no heroes coming to catch you, sometimes you have to be your own hero.
Many people laugh because I am totally comfortable in a forest all by myself. The deeper the better. I do not feel uncomfortable going for a walk, other than getting lost a few times, or sitting outside my van listening to the sounds of nature, big or small. I guess the animals of the forest do not scare me, it is the animals of humanity that scare me the most. That is sad but a fact. I have grown to love my alone time. I walk into the back of my van and close the curtains and shut the world out even for a little while. I do like the fact that I am becoming more comfortable out in the world on my own. I genuinely like meeting new people. This last year of traveling really helped to instill that. The beauty and the heart of Labrador and Newfoundland then the wonderful trip to the US to hug my friends I have missed so much. The two van shows they were able to put together here in Ontario and Quebec where I got to hug old friends and meet new ones. It all helps me grow as a Solo Female Traveler.
Let’s talk about driving!
Now as you all should know by now I love to drive. I started driving at the age of 13 when my Dad would tape blocks on the pedals of his 1973 Ford F-150 pick up, put a pillow behind my back so I could push the clutch all the way to the floor and could drive him home from the euchur tournaments when he was in no shape to do so. Lol! There were a few other reasons but I am sure that was his driving force.
Funny story I must tell you about. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone. As I was driving home one Saturday night with my Dad with a few drinks in him (he did not drink often but when he did he did it well) a police officer pulled us over. Officer Funger was a great guy and he held the respect of both adults and kids in our little town. He asked if knew why he pulled me over and I said I was not sure. He then informed because he knew I was 12!!! Lol! I politely informed him I was 13 and he laughed. Still not old enough to drive on the roads. My Dad leaned over and said I was in much better shape to drive then him and he did agree and told me considering the pick up was three on the tree and Armstrong steering I was doing pretty good. We were not that far from home so he said he would escort me. We pulled into the driveway and my Dad said “ohhhh that was close”, just then Officer Funger put on his lights and siren to wake my Mom up!!! Hahaha! My Dad whispered “bastard”. Lol! To say my Dad was in trouble was an understatement. Lol!
Driving for me is like therapy. I have always been the driver even when I was married. I will tell you I am not a very good passenger. I use that imaginary brake a lot! Lol! There have been many people that have mentioned they are afraid to drive that far, or to certain destinations. Do I get nervous sometimes? Oh yes. I do not like heights so driving through the mountains with steep drop offs are a hold on tight and don’t look down kind of drive. Big cities are also a major source of pain. Again crowds in cars do not make a comfortable ride. My Dad used to say every stupid person has a driver’s license so be aware of what is around you. Have I come close a few times to thinking this is it?? Oh yes. On my last trip coming through Nashville the traffic was flowing, then it was not. As I managed to get stopped I looked in my mirror and a tractor trailer was coming up fast, like very fast. A big white one!! I turned my wheels and tried to point myself into the other lane. If he hit me and my propane tank did not explode maybe I could avoid being squished between the tractor trailer in front of me and him. I watched as he swerved into the other lane just missing me! As I straightened out I gave a sigh of relief and checked my pants because oh boy that was close.
I am a slow driver. Not so slow that I am a hazard but I have never got a speeding ticket or a moving violation of any kind. In all the years of driving and all the miles those roads have taken me I think that’s pretty good. I got pulled over in Pennsylvania once. I was doing 40 mph in a 35 mph zone. I had not seen the sign as I was looking at the scenery. When I explained that I had missed the sign because of the scenery so I had guesstimated the speed, he laughed and told me to guesstimate lower next time. Pheww!
On the highways it is not too bad as people have another lane or two to go around me. Still they feel the need to get so close sometimes I cannot see them behind me and I am driving a class b. I am not sure what that is about but sooner or later when they realize I am not speeding up they go around. On two lane roads it is a little different. Roads that weave through a forest or along a coast line are not the ideal passing zones. If it is a scenic area you can be sure I am doing under the speed limit. If I get 5 or more cars behind me I will pull off at the next safest point and let them go around. How many times have I had to put on my brakes or swerve off the side of the road because the jackass behind me cannot wait? Way too many! I have seen way too many close calls that way. Getting where ever you going is the priority. If you have a deadline leave early. There is no where that is so important you have to die to get there, never mind the people you take with you.
One of the most asked questions is are you afraid of breaking down?
Breakdowns are always a possibility. I am driving a mechanical vehicle and no matter how good you maintain something there is always a chance it could break. I do my dillegence and always make sure my fluids are full. I pay attention to the sound of the engine for slight changes. If something is wearing I change it. I do not “Mickie mouse” anything. If it is broke fix it right! I go into some pretty remote places. I depend she is going to work when I need her to work. Have I had a few breakdowns? Oh absolutely! But luckily, cross my fingers and knock on wood, they were all in places I could get help. I do have CAA which also works in the US as AAA. That is comforting. I also have the blessings of many friends in many places. That is a godsend. When my motor blew in Timmins Ontario, which is the last major city in Northern Ontario before you reach nothing, a friend Peter in Hamilton, knew a friend in New Liskerd, a small town about 2 hours from Timmins that did engines and by the next day she was on a CAA tow truck to get better.
My best advice is never panic. I do not really panic about much. Stop, Breathe, Think applies to many situations in life! I use it a lot.
2021 was a traveling year for me. Here is hoping 2022 is a travelling, drinking coffee kind of year for us all!
From all of us to all of you! Happy New Year!!
Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure! See you next week!