Well folks, I’m sorry for the long absence but we drove from Philadelphia to New Orleans in four days on the Back to the Big Easy Rally. When the rally was over, we had traveled through twelve states! Needless to say, I didn’t have much time to write. We drove with six other teams and participated in challenges along the way. Our challenges centered around a “Back to the Future” theme mostly, but occasionally we stopped for a few “just for fun” challenges. I learned this week that road trips become so much better with groups and challenges along the way. It makes the journey equally exciting to the destination.
First of all, I admit we did not complete all the challenges. We found it difficult to find any of the cars in the “car sighting” challenges, but it was still fun to look! We could have found a few of the cars in museums, but we spent so much time exploring in the car, we missed the museum open times anyways. Besides, cars were worth 10 times more points in the wild, so we gambled and lost on that one. Jim from Asphault Adventures admitted his surprise at the end of the rally that people weren’t more successful with these challenges. In fact, the teams who placed at the top were the only ones who found anything on the list.
We had the most fun tracking down parks and visiting Tiny World in Shippensburg, PA. What is Tiny World, you ask? Well, a cat lover originally built Tiny World as a retreat for his cats. After he passed, the location became a refuge for some peacocks, but the tiny little buildings still stand. Anthony chased one of the peacocks around and we discovered the distress call of the peacock sounds exactly like the Snipe in the Pixar film, Up!, which incidentally is our favorite movie. I never made the connection, despite its colorful feathers and defensive demeanor, but now I wonder if the species would have been distant cousins! Check out our friend Joe with the Courthouse!
Although the challenges proved to be great fun along the road, the heart of the rally are the people with whom you travel. We could not have asked for a better crew of people to travel with. There is an instant camaraderie when you travel with a bunch of people who have that same little bit of crazy it takes to take a long road trip in a $500 car. Some people took vehicles from previous rallies, but pretty much everyone else had a newly purchased burner car. Despite that fact, the only repairs done along the way included two brake jobs. Overall, very uneventful for one of these road trips, according to Anthony, who has been on two others previous to this one.
Unfortunately, what we lacked in break-fix, we made up for in hospital visits. When one of our teams wiped out on the highway (he’s okay!) on his bike, four out of the six remaining teams rallied together in the emergency room, leaving no man behind. Don’t be too harsh on the other two teams–they had already forged ahead before learning of the accident and upon hearing our friend Ron was okay, planned to meet us at the next stop. As we waited for Ron to get cleaned up (he miraculously only had scrapes and bruises), everyone exchanged stories of previous rallies, some of their road trip experiences, and the resounding astonishment that Ron’s injuries weren’t more severe.
The Tail of the Dragon
As if that weren’t enough to bond us together, we made the rest of that day’s trip in a caravan. After all, the sun set long before we left, and we still had the Tail of the Dragon to tame. Usually a test for motorcyclists, this was our most direct path to our next hotel. We traversed the 11-mile stretch through the mountains together, around all 318 turns, in the dark. My heart jumped around nearly every turn as I tried not to imagine the cliffs that disappeared into the pitch blackness to my right. Anthony’s arms grew tired and every turn looked the same. For a while, it seemed the turns would never end. While I’m sure this road is a beautiful, albeit petrifying, treasure of views and picturesque moments during the day, driving it at night was completely terrifying.
Why Road Trips Make the Best Vacations
While the number of resorts and destination vacations increases, I firmly believe road trips make the best vacations. Many people never see the vastness and beauty of their home country. Even more amazing is how much of the country you can see without paying more than the gas money to get there. The fact remains, you can’t experience the views of mountaintops and sweeping valleys in any better way than seeing them in person. We discover many local restaurants, ma and pop shops, and other neat things by traveling “off the beaten path” and away from the tourist traps. Also, having a t-shirt and car that has Asphault Adventures plastered across it tends to draw some curiosity from the locals.
You can’t create those kinds of experiences by the pool at a resort or tanning on the beach. I have nothing against those things (except for my allergy to pool chemicals and my affinity for sunburn), but I much prefer the chase of a new experience. To live is to adventure. My heart calls to the road and to the things I can discover along the way. Road trips are as much about the journey as they are the destination. Sure, flying will get you there sooner. Some people prefer to be among the clouds, as I prefer to keep company with trees. Different strokes for different folks, right? Still, there is something about stumbling across something you’ve never seen before, something unique, that makes a road trip so much more worth it.
It’s Good to Be Home
While I love a good road trip, it’s also wonderful to return home. I’m excited to get moving on a lot of home projects in the coming months, so look out for more on that in the future.
Are you planning your own road trip? Have a road trip you loved that you suggest taking? I’m constantly looking for new road trips, long and short, so comment below or contact me directly using my Contact Me page.
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