Life on the road brings with it many unexpected surprises. We travel with destinations in mind, but what we discover along the way is often more meaningful. When travel reveals something as special as a previously unknown landscape, charmed town, history or cultural nuance that is when the journey becomes the destination. Often what catches us off guard are little things like the quality of sunlight in a specific place, the different colors of rivers, or the cultural juxtaposition of Texas and Wyoming cowboys. The U.S. is a country of regions and sub regions each offering unique experiences. Most of this was unknown to me prior to our travels, minus my impressions through media and brief vacation stays. While well known landmarks like major cities, national parks, and storied locations are impressive and provide a travel guide, it is the discoveries along the way that are the sweet filling that make RV travel so delicious.
Cultural references take on new life and meaning when experienced first hand. When a country song references “a good-bye town,” I know exactly what that is. I’ve been to a Hootenanny, know why it is called bluegrass music, and have tasted Carolina Gold. I can tell the difference between a Kentucky and a Georgia drawl. I have seen places where races and cultures mix well, and others where there is a dividing line through town (and they are not where you’d think). I know why Northern Californians dis-like Southern, and that Oregon and Washington want nothing do with either.
The landscapes of the country are varied and distinguished. The West is filled with spectacular beauty, while the East has a lush elegance. Time, climate and geology all make a mark on a place and tell a story. Each landscape affects the people that live there and how they use and interact with the land. While the effects of the recent ice age and its melting are most apparent today, buried below are mysteries dating back millions of years. It is the little discoveries along the way delight the eyes and tantalize the mind.
Travel can inspire a child-like curiosity. The newness or difference of a place can change the way an individual looks at things. These new perspectives lay the foundation for growth and learning. Even the most hardened and crystallized beliefs and habits can break down in an instant of unexpected awareness. For us, the greatest benefit of this lifestyle is being open to these experiences.