Road Trip, Unleashed—A Ruff Start

Editor’s note: After 15 years without a vacation, Phyllis Cohen, along with her husband and two dogs, embarked on a road trip from Pennsylvania to the Grand Canyon and Utah. This is the second of a four-part series. Read the first feature, “Hitting the Road After All These Years.”

I reveled in the preparation of my road trip for weeks. The euphoria from mapping out each leg of our course to the Grand Canyon and Utah was exhilarating. Only a week prior to our decision to go I’d read an article about travel and its correlation to happiness. The experts that study happiness (and where, pray tell, can I apply for this job?) posit that the “high” from traveling is short-lived. Studies show that after the trip is over, vacationers return to their baseline happiness levels — until they plan for their next journey.

Tucking this tidbit of information into the back of my brain, I was determined to buck the theory. I would make it my own personal challenge to enjoy my two weeks on the road without crashing when I returned, depressed and rummaging through the house for Milky Way bars and my next vacation fix.

I scrambled to tie up loose ends at work, unplugged all ancillary appliances in the house for safety’s sake. We finally hit the road on a clear Friday night, Born to Be Wild filling the truck at high volume, with my dogs, Bhakti and Cecil, firmly harnessed in the back seat. I could practically feel the surge of endorphins swimming through my bloodstream.

I’d fearlessly traveled alone in my 20s, determined to leverage the discounts and opportunities from my stint in the travel industry. These excursions included a two-week cruise on the Mexican Riviera, snorkeling off Caribbean islands and a helicopter fishing trip in Nemo Bay near British Columbia that I’d won in a work competition. I’d almost made it to New Zealand, but flying standby had its downside and I had to settle for a layover in Hawaii for a week. In retrospect, I realize how easy it is to travel alone. You can eat when and where you want. You can decide for yourself if you want the sheets tucked in or flailing freely in that too-immense-for-one-person, king-sized bed. I knew that this road trip would be an exercise in patience and compromise, not exactly my own or my husband’s greatest strengths but nevertheless resources we’d be forced to muster for the next two weeks.

The first leg of our journey took us through the southeast corridor, from Pennsylvania through Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas. I work from home and, frankly, I didn’t think I could sit in the passenger seat for five to seven hours at a time. Frequent stops for the dogs and ourselves to stretch our legs certainly helped.

Read More »

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Stephen M Pitman October 7, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Change in roadkill… Whole Hog Cafe.
    Just may have to hit the road again…