lost, for a little while

travel advice: alison
October 14, 2010, 5:26 pm
Filed under: advice, ideas, inspiration
Alison pre-ziplining

Ready for ziplining in the Smokies

So, remember Alison? Lives outside of Boston, owns a silly dog, bakes a mean chocolate cream pie? I already knew Al was badass just from hanging out with her for six months in Santa Fe, but this little gem was revealed when we were at her friend’s house for dinner two weeks ago:

Alison did this program in high school that let her take courses in Colorado (again with Colorado!) for a semester, learning about the history, culture, and geography of the area, but also some outward bound-ish skills. Each student had to go on a solo hike/overnight in the woods, and when Al did hers, she went to pitch camp and found that she had forgotten her tarp. In December. So Badass McGee here MacGyvered herself a little set-up by making use of her ground tarp as the roof of her very own snow cave. And made it through the night to live to tell the tale of her other adventures–including this road trip:

Where all did you go?

  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Though we only stayed here for a night, it was by far the most beautiful campsite we had the whole trip. On the border of Texas and New Mexico, the park is surprisingly lush. Park rangers were friendly, we made some new friends from Oberlin at our neighboring campsite, and the morning light was unbeatable.
  • Austin, TX: Austin is Texas’s saving grace. Fun bars, nice people, delicious food. Get a pulled pork sandwich, then head to Sixth Street for good music and cute bartenders.
  • New Orleans, LA: We put two days aside for NOLA and I’m glad we did. We skipped the whole Bourbon Street scene (too many strip clubs), but we heard a fantastic brass band in Treme. The guy we stayed with had connections with Catholic Charities, so we volunteered for a morning mixing cement and putting up drywall for houses. It was a great way to really understand and appreciate the struggle the city has gone through, and there were lots of motivated young people. Warning: oppressively humid.
  • Great Smokey Mountains National Park: We made the mistake of not booking a campsite in the park beforehand, so we were stuck at a roadside RV park. Driving through the park was gorgeous, but hiking in June was rough because of the bugs. If I could go back, I’d make sure to go tubing on the river–it looked sick.
How long was the trip?
This particular road trip was about 9 days, going from Santa Fe to Boston.
What prompted this trip?
Moving home from Santa Fe.
How much did you plan your route?
Somewhere between ‘extensively’ and ‘on the fly.’ We had to work out where we’d be each night because I had to be back in Boston in time for my flight to Ireland. Most of our activities were spur of the moment, though.
What’s your previous travel experience like?
This was my second big cross country road trip, the first one being when I moved out to Santa Fe. I’ve spent a lot of time in many parts of Colorado, as well as trips abroad.
What was the method of transportation for the trip?
Car, my 2003 Honda Civic.
Where did you stay? (friends, hotels, hostels, camp)
We stayed mostly with friends or friends of friends, did some camping, and had one desperate night at a hotel. However, when I was traveling in Europe, hostels were definitely the way to go.
What sort of tools or sources of information did you consult before the trip?
I got advice from people I’d worked with, as well as just compiling a list of places I’d always wanted to go. I picked places I’d never been and selected out of those which places I had friends.
How did you budget for the trips?
I guestimated gas, one hotel night, food, and some camping fees.
What do you wish you had packed?
A cooler.
What do you wish you had left behind?
Genna, my travel partner. (Just kidding!)
What would you have done differently?
Bought a map! GPS are tricky creatures, not to be trusted.
Any mishaps?
I lost my credit card at a Subway in Texas. Don’t do that. Try to have two credit cards, or at least a checkbook.
What’s next? (in life and travels)
No idea! Trying to settle in to a life where I can’t take off on a trip at a moment’s notice.  Fingers crossed!
It seems as though my only adventurous friends are girls. Nice. Got a road trip to share? Tell me!

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