Earlier this year, I came up with this idea that I wanted to take some solo road trips (with my furry friend) and explore Alberta and BC. I had it all figured out, and would take every weekend off of my evening job so that I could get some me time, writing in nature, and exploring on my terms. No one to answer to, and no obligations. I would drink when I wanted, eat, and sleep on my schedule. And the best part, I could get some serious writing time in. Well, as the title suggests, this, so far has not gone to plan.
My first solo trip pretty much ended and if I am honest, began with me in tears. I got the car all packed up in the pouring rain, drove in frustration for an hour, and then everything really went amuck. I don’t want to bore you with the rainy details of all the soggy sights I did not actually leave my car to see. Or the fact that my dog started panting about an hour and a half in (which did not cease for 5 freaking hours). Or the engine light coming on. And wait, there is more… I was pretty much followed at every single off road exit I took and completely overwhelmed by cars choosing to park right beside me (in empty fields) numerous times. And the one guy who parked behind me and shone his high beams into my car for over an hour. It was a deserted rest stop, and I was trying to lay down in the back and do some writing. Exhausted, frustrated, and worried I might have broken my car, I drove home in defeat. Oh, sorry, I bored you with the details after all. My bad!
The second trip, a few months later (because I needed to sufficiently lick the wounds from my bruised ego), went a little better. I drove to BC, found a beautiful campsite to write in. Drank a beer, and ate my homemade lunch in the sunshine. I even managed to do some actual writing at both a brewery and outside! Rejoice… I could actually travel by myself. Oh wait… it was time for bed, and that’s when I became a total stress case. Where could I sleep? What if someone broke in? Wait, can I actually sleep in nature by myself? Sorry Bowser, but you don’t have much in the way of intimidation. So, I parked by the river and proceeded to crash for a few hours, and then drive my little butt right back home. It was marginally better, but still, I couldn’t figure out what was making this so hard.(affiliate)
And then I realized, it was the mental block of solo travelling. Men, you may have difficulties understanding this, but just being a woman out in the world comes with obstacles. Ladies, have you ever put your keys in between your knuckles while walking across a parking lot, just in case someone jumped you? Have you ever sat at a bar, had a few drinks, then been followed to your car by a complete stranger? What about having someone walk just way to close to you in the grocery store, leering in every isle? Look, I think of myself as a confident, independent woman who can pretty much handle herself in any situation. But, what if something bad should actually happen to me. Do you think I would get sympathy or even help? Nope, the reality is I would be met with judgment for travelling alone. And then shamed with an, I told you so. Or wouldn’t it be better if you just waited to travel when you had a partner?
Here is a random memory that I think explains where I am coming from. When I was 16 I had a job, and was able to buy my first car. Here I was, driving to a friends house when boom, I hit the curb and blew a tire. It was completely my fault and I was horrified. I tried calling my parents, but both of them were busy, so I locked my car and hopped on a bus, headed for home to wait until they were free. An hour later, my uncle called and he picked me up, drove me to my car, and proceeded to change my tire for me. I asked him to show me what to do, in case this should happen in the future. His response was that it would be too difficult for me to do, and the I should have just flashed my bare leg towards traffic and hope that a kind male stranger would come to my rescue. Yup. Rather than empower me with the tools to tackle this myself, I was told that I was weak, and needed to use my sexuality or feminine whiles to achieve my goals.
And this life lesson has stuck with me, my whole adult life. Thus, here I am, finally understanding the real reason I feel compelled to tackle a solo road trip by myself, even though it is difficult for me. Everything about the trip, I love doing: Sleeping in the car, exploring nature with my dog, drinking at breweries, and writing whenever I feel like it or inspiration strikes. But, there is something about putting everything together in one weekend that makes me feel like I can’t. Like somehow, something bad is going to happen and I will need a male rescue. It is a sucky feeling. But here I am, tackling this beast again, with my optimistic self in full force, hopeful that this third time is the charm to breaking this spell.