BY: BRAELYNN HAWKINS
West coast, usa
Day one. Ellie and I were on a southbound train, from Seattle to Portland. We were headed towards the commencement of our adventure, to convene with the rest of the crew who had already been exploring Washington for (a mere) three weeks. Ellie, our resident cartophile, had purchased a map of the western US states. We spread it out across our tray tables and dove in. She and I spent a couple hours line tracing and retracing, date marking and erasing, googling lesser known national parks ("Yeah this looks awesome, let's go here!"), till the perfect plan was composed. We knew it would never be followed to a T. We used pencil for that reason. For the record, it was one hell of a plan, taking us down the west coast, back up through AZ, UT, ID, MT, WY, CO, IA, IL, then a big send all the way east to land us in NYC, perfectly timed with a birthday celebration grand finale. Lofty, I know. Ellie and I did make it to NYC, though we had to skip a few states along the way.
But what was gained in lieu of the plan and that elusive 'northern loop' was - as the entirety of the trip could be described - priceless.
Having no plan allows you to say "let's stay one more night" and then "okay, maybe two more nights!" when the Road Trip Gods bless you with a beachfront bungalow in Carlsbad, CA just yards from Pacific waves that could pummel.
Having no plan gives way to those impulsive Joshua Tree one-eighties that result in unforeseen afternoons at a stunning country club and the introduction of the World's Sweetest Grandmother (See Rule #3).
Having no plan, in fact, led to the trip's very conception. I think many of us ended up on the trip because of rule #5. We had no plans. Out of college, summer job recently ended...what better way to spend your unplanned time than on a road trip with 7 other adventurous souls?
Looking back, it was naive to draft that overly ambitious master plan. And those occasional group 'map meetings' were quite frankly, silly. No matter what we had in mind, the road would lead us in another direction - and beautifully so. Because in this society of nine to fives and schedules and budgets and bills, when can one truly live life unplanned? Ah, on a road trip, but of course!
I guess what I am trying to say is this: It's good to have a plan, but you don't necessarily need to follow it. It's good to have a plan, but maybe not expectations. It's good to have a plan, but at the end of the road... No plan is the best plan.