The Open Road

The open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities! Here to-day, up and off to somewhere else to-morrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!
— Mr. Toad, The Wind in the Willows

What kind of traveller are you? I am a planner, a die hard list maker, carefully mapping out the quickest route to my destination and exhaustively trawling through online reviews before choosing where to eat. Does this sound familiar? I like to know exactly what is going to happen at any given moment along the way and as a result I am successfully sucking all the fun and adventure out of travel. The result is the destination but the fun is in the going. When was the last time you got in the car and just drove? Not for the sole purpose of getting to a specific place but just to go, to get lost, for the pure enjoyment of the journey itself?

On the way to visit my parents a few weeks ago, I took a different turn off the highway, a turn I'd never taken before and as soon as I did it stopped being the same old trip I could do with my eyes closed and started being something completely different - it was an adventure. I'm not sure why I did it but am so glad I did. It forced me to slow down, to take in my surroundings and notice the little things instead of just focusing on getting from A to B. I drove through villages I didn't know existed and passed beautiful old cottages, a blooming flower farm and fresh produce stands with honesty boxes for payment. Instead of the usual background of rolling hills that I was used to seeing, I found myself in the dappled light of a thick forest and revelled in rolling down the windows to breathe in the cool, fresh air. There were pinecones and wildflowers begging to be collected and a quiet moment to be had, standing there on the edge of that empty road. After years of relying on my phone to tell me exactly where to go, the small actions as simply reading the roadsigns and trusting myself felt big and freeing and fantastic. I was getting lost (without being lost) in the most wonderful way and all I did was take a different turn off the highway. 

I'm heading to the mountains this morning. Accommodation has been booked and that is it. There are no dining reservations, no exacting route has been chosen, no other plans have been made. I'm just going and I can't wait to see where the road takes me.