Tripping. Tramping. Vagabonding. The art of the extended drift.
At age nineteen, a friend and I scraped together enough loose change to buy a 1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan. We ripped out the back seats and retrofit the cargo bed for sleeping. Then, with $200.00 each, we set sail across the great American countryside with absolutely no direction in a physical sense, but a sense of direction in an esoteric sense that could only be understood by those who’ve been stricken with wanderlust.
We saw forty-six States, seven Canadian provinces, a skosh ofMexico and limped back into our home state of Alabama eight months later in a 1978 Honda Accord. All told, we covered about twenty-three thousand miles. Slow, trundling miles with sunshine blowing through the windows, our feet propped atop the dashboard, and, of course, a cooler full of cold beer tucked between the two front captain’s chairs.
I realize I probably shouldn’t advocate drinking and driving in any sense. But, at the time, we didn’t really consider ourselves to be driving so much as being passengers in a spectacular safari. Besides, I was only nineteen—I wasn’t even legally allowed to drink in the Sates. And is it really considered driving if you’re steering with your knees?
Nonetheless, within twenty-four hours of returning to Alabama I was planning my next safari. Where would I go now? Or, more importantly, where wouldn’t I go? I was in the maw of the trip, addicted in an almost physical sense. I felt I had a natural born feel for the road and an insatiable urge to exercise it.
Luckily, I was not alone; I soon discovered—particularly after leaving the States—that there existed an entire subculture of people who roamed the globe, drifting from continent to continent with no particular direction other than to see and experience and be alive. A sect of people who were not willing to surrender themselves to the nine-to-five grind. People who believed there was more to this existence than merely clocking in and clocking out. But, most importantly, people who were able to drown out the naysayers, sack up, and actually take that first step on the trip.
Without question, the most difficult thing about hitting the road for the first time is overcoming the negativity doled out by other people. But once you’ve broken away from the hometown gravitational forces, once you’ve pierced the bubble, the world opens up in wonderful and mysterious ways. Once you’re out there, amid the vast unknown, it’s easy just to let yourself drift, rip the top off some cold beers, and let the trip have its way with you.
My ebook, Nectar, is a novel about what happens after you take that first step and give yourself to life on the trip.