Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reap the relaxing rewards of road trips with a few pointers

Road trip to the top of the world:  last week, up the Beartooth Pass on the famed Cooke City Highway.

John Steinbeck had
Charley, and Keller has
Nick and Nora, below.






JOHN STEINBECK described, when beginning a trip, that delightful sense of the unknown in his engaging "Travels With Charley."
He said, “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
Some of my favorite times happen when I'm on the road -- with Keller and "the pups," who are nearing nine years old.  The sense of adventure, the thrill of the new unfolding, are the bookends to the trip.  We know not where the journey is taking us, except perhaps literally, to "point A" or "point B." But we don't know the subtleties, the small pleasures, the unexpected delights that will fill the book between covers. Each day on the road is full of surprise!
We're open, waiting and willing. And that's the thrill of the road trip.
Steinbeck found that Charley was the conduit for all sorts of new friendships and adventures.

Near Bodega Bay, we stumbled upon the church from Alfred
Hitchcock's "The Birds," filmed here in the 1960s.
Below, Cookie, Nick and Nora transit Beartooth Pass.
THE YORKIES, Nick and Nora, go with us everywhere on the road -- to the fruit stands, into the dog-friendly motel lobbies we book before we head out, even in Carmel, into the restaurants -- thanks to community icon Doris Day and her love of pets. In Europe, no Yorkies, but plenty of adventure in every village and roundabout.
Consider these surprises from our recent summer travels with Nick and Nora.
THE CHERRIES we bought from a roadside stand.  The picnic by the brook with the blue heron in the tree overhead.  The little cafe with terrific clam chowder and chocolate malts made at an old-fashioned soda fountain.  Plus a tiny ice cream for each Yorkie.
Meeting a theater lover from Ashland, Oregon, at a B&B in the mountains of Wyoming and talking plays with her over homemade berry pie.
Virtues of a road trip are many: No telephones or e-mail to sort.  No cell reception on some of our routes (even better!).  If fires erupt in our family-friends world, someone else can douse them.
We eat when we're hungry and we always find fun places to stay in and interesting people to write about.
WHAT COULD be better than packing up for a road trip, then heading out --  comfy in our car, a sunny morning unfolding, a thermos of strong coffee, a half-dozen maps, the Yorkies asleep in their traveling bed and the day spread out before us like an inviting magic carpet.
Fresh California fruit, picked that morning, one of the pleasures of the road.
WE MIGHT be on the California coast, or on the back roads of Montana or Wyoming.
We might be leaving Barcelona, to Costa Brava, north from Barcelona for a perch at a favorite seaside parador, Aiguablava.
We might be traveling through the Loire Valley, or Tuscany, plotting our next gastronomic adventure surrounded by cypress trees and 13th Century buildings.
Or we might be heading out of Sydney, Australia, pointed northeast toward Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef with a side trip deep into the rain forest.
The best clam chowder of a three-week coastal trip -- right here
A LEISURELY road trip is great for romance.  You may be in love with one another already, but to fall in love again on the road -- sharing the beauty, wonder and surprises -- is a bonus to the relationship.
Cookie and Keller hadn't planned to feed a giraffe -- but they did, on the road!
Steinbeck and Charley, his beloved standard poodle, had their own version of love, and Steinbeck had particular fondness for Montana, my native state.  He said, “I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”  He also said that while it was important to make some sort of plan, it was wise not to expect it to unfold exactly as anticipated. “Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless." So it was an unexpected delight when we realized we had a few extra days on our California
A side trip to the town of Salvador Dali's birth, Figueras, in northeast Spain. 

odyssey.  I called  my nephew, James, and his partner, Kelle, who quickly welcomed us to drive a few hundred extra miles north to remote Mendocino County.
 THERE WE visited their beautiful farm, orchard and wine making operation, and toured an African wildlife preserve -- feeding giraffes in northern California.
To cap our spontaneous sidetrip, they  treated us to a fabulous meal at their favorite Point Arena restaurant,  to which they supply organic produce. Ah, I love our roadtrips!

An impromptu family reunion occurred in northern California.
The road trip segued  to a wildlife preserve and organic farmt.
COMING UP: Have you been to Cody, Wyoming, lately?  Buffalo Bill Cody named the town after himself (why not?) and it's full of lore of his life and a world class museum.  Plus California's coastal hotels, an all-girl "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (can you picture it?) at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This top theater is fun, and we convey its spirit. Plus a Montana couple who make iron art their livelihood. We share their gorgeous one-of-a-kind creations.  All with a sense of fun and pleasure in seeing the world, at:
Remember to explore, learn and live and tell your friends about us.

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