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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On the Road with Two Best Buds

Think Thelma and Louise here, but without the downer ending. Last year, three of us did a driving, hiking and pueblo-discovering trip across New Mexico and Arizona. I hadn’t taken a trip with anyone but family for quite some time, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. Doing a road trip with two other over-the-hill friends seemed like it would be complicated.

Take, for instance, bedtimes. One of us is an early riser, and I do mean early. She’s up way before dawn to meditate and get her day started. She’s asleep by 9 pm. The second one is an early riser by my standards, up by 5:30 or 6 am. She has big critters and has to get them watered and fed. But she will stay up later, until about 10:30 or so. And then there’s me. I’m a night owl. I can read until 2 am and will wake up by myself in the summer with the sun in my eyes about 7:30 am. (Add an hour to that for winter.) Before that, I need an alarm. So our solution in a room with two queen-size beds was for the two night owls to share a bed and a reading light, while our early sleeper got the dark side of the room.

Hot versus cold: That can be a huge divider when three women of a certain age are sharing a room. The early riser doesn’t have a heat problem. The other two of us are throwing off covers all night. Seriously, who wants to share a bed with that? Luckily, the early-to-bed gal is also the colder one, so she piles on a full sweat suit to sleep in so we can crank up the air conditioner. Luckily, she is also the one who turns in early, so she gets the bed in the dark corner and the farthest away from the air-conditioner.

Driving: One of us (that would be me) is severely directionally impaired. I can get lost coming out of an elevator. So the other two decided right off the bat to keep me out of the driver’s seat. Because one of us (not me) had planned out the route beautifully beforehand, much of it familiar to her, we had a lovely stress-free itinerary.

Diet: Two of us are carnivores and the third, a vegan. We eat vegetarian/vegan a lot on these trips, which is really good for us; and most restaurants cater to a variety of preferences for those occasional meat cravings. We all like wine, so we’re good!

The only downside of a vegetarian diet is that vegetables, especially raw food, are higher in fiber. That, combined with an aging gastrointestinal system that has a harder time absorbing some fibers, sugars and starches and we tend to toot more. But since the trip is mostly about being outdoors and hiking, we can toot away! 

Physical limitations: We’re all about the same age with the same abilities, so hiking and nature discovery have been some of our most enjoyable pastimes. After a couple temporary physical problems, we know the value of flexible planning, so we don’t worry about them. For now, we keep on pounding up and down the mountains.

Road trips with good friends are a treat and help nourish our friendships and overall well-being. If you aren’t a hiker or a bicyclist or a kayaker or a bird watcher, road trips are still a good option, even without driving. Train travel can be very relaxing and allows you to get out into scenic places stress-free. Bus tours with a good guide and someone to schlep your luggage can make travel enjoyable with physical limitations.

So get out there. Hit the world or your corner of the USA. See things you haven’t seen before. Try things you’ve never done. And do it with good friends or people you think might be good friends if you spent more time with them. Your life will be the better for it.