Q: What’s the most *exciting* thing about a road trip?
A: Getting the chance to explore, get outside of your comfort zone, expand your horizons, and see beyond what you know.
I grew up in somewhat of a bubble in a small, rural town in Idaho, and since then, I’ve learned that most people actually live in a bubble of some kind. The most exciting and most valuable thing a road trip can offer is the opportunity to be exposed to new places, new ideas about the world, new insights about yourself, and new possibilities for your life.
That, and some really great food…
Q: Speaking of new possibilities, what’s the most *surprising* thing that’s ever happened to you on a trip?!
A: It’s impossible for me to choose just one! Every day is a surprise. But OK, I’ll try to keep this list brief…
On two separate occasions, I’ve pulled over for the night and was surprised to wake up in the morning with the RV literally surrounded by a grazing herd of cattle.
We also once randomly crossed paths with comedian Craig Robinson [from The Office] and ended up doing an impromptu interview with him on the stage of the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club.
On another trip, after spending a few nights parked in a nice Washington, D.C., neighborhood, we were approached by members of the Secret Service…Turns out we’d unknowingly been sleeping in front of former Vice President Joe Biden’s house!
Another time, a curious cowboy stopped to ask what we were up to, and it turned out he was a “horse whisperer.” We spent the rest of the day on his ranch learning about his incredible life story, hearing some of his cowboy poetry, and getting a demonstration of him working on taming a wild horse.
But perhaps my favorite “road surprise” of all time came when we pulled into Jackson Hole, Wyoming, one afternoon. While idling at a stoplight, the car next to us shouted, ‘Y’all headed to the pig wrestling?’ We ended up saying yes and following them from there, and spent an unforgettable evening watching groups of brave locals attempt to wrangle greased-up pigs in a mud pit.
The moral of the story is this: Over the years, I’ve learned to wake up each morning and let go of any illusion that I know what is in store for me that day. At a certain point, you learn to just roll with it and enjoy whatever the road sends your way.
So how can you end your summer on a high note, according to the Tao of the Roadtripper? Here’s the secret: you can’t “roll with it” if you never get going in the first place. So for the rest of August, don’t use the heat as an easy excuse to turn things down. Don’t give into the summer scaries! Instead, say “yes!” more, and embrace those spontaneous, turning-off-the-beaten-path moments in life. (We’re going to work on being better about this, too.)
You don’t necessarily need to take a road trip to “enjoy whatever the road sends your way.”(Although, we always recommend a road trip as the cure for any sort of ennui.) If you can’t swing a big travel adventure, spend the rest of the summer trying to find opportunities to say “yes” to any and every warm-weather adventure, from paddle-boarding to picnicking. Sure, it may be August, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to be the “summer you” that you’ve always wanted to be.
You can hear more about Willie’s adventures on the road by watching his incredible TEDx talk! Or, you can experience road-trippin’ life through his eyes by watching episodes of our latest series of “Roadtrip Nation.”