Last Minute Prep

In my mind, the final days before a trip are filled with hours of relaxation and joy. Coffee with friends, reviewing and fine tuning the itinerary, and maybe picking up the perfect pair of Tevas for the trail. In my mind, the road trip has already begun and the physical presence of my home is just a fading illusion as I usher myself out the door.

In reality, the final days before a trip are a scramble. Clients need long-forgotten files RIGHT NOW! The sump pump stops working. You need a hair cut and an annual exam on the same day and the dog pukes on your bed. You realize your swim suit has shrunk and the amazing secret reservation you blissfully made last month and stashed in the perfect hiding place is now hiding from you as well.

Getting out the door can be as challenging as walking back in…a little process I like to call the “post-trip reentry and decompression”…a little process that I have never been particularly successful at.

Planning this trip to the Black Hills, I had one request of the entire family. “We have to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind before we go.”

We’ll be in tents for most of the trip. We lean toward state and national parks, but for one night we will make an exception and stay at the KOA just outside of Devil’s Tower National Park, the geologic hero of the movie.

They have clean biffies, as my dad used to say when there was nothing else good to say about a campground. But this one also has a great view of Devil’s Tower, a swimming pool, places to charge our phones, and maybe even satellite service beamed into our tent for all I know…but none of that would have seduced me. It has an outdoor movie screen. Outside. And every night, you know what they show? Close Encounters of the Third Kind, baby. So you can look to one side and watch the classic movie, starring the iconic hulking mass and geological wonder of Devil’s Tower. Then, you turn your head just a little tiny bit the other way, and you know what you can see? Devil’s Tower itself. The real deal.

Kitchy, quirky, and there’s no place else on earth that you can do that. Count me in.

There are some places you have to see just ‘cause. Vegas, Disney, the world’s biggest ball of twine. Wall Drug and the Corn Palace.

I hear tell there is a drive in movie theater in Kansas that you can ride your horse to. On Lake Superior’s Isle Royale there is a lake, with an island. And that island has a lake with an island. And that island has a lake, too. Or something like that. And it makes me want to go to that lake in an island in a lake in an island in a lake and pile up rocks in that inner lake until I’ve made a new island.

Sometimes the myth grows so large in my head that reality has trouble keeping up. But other times the reality is even better.

So this week we watched the movie. We turned the lights out and held bowls of fresh popped corn on our laps. We watched Richard Dreyfus sculpt the tower out of shaving cream, then mashed potatoes on his dinner plate, and then build an enormous 3-D diorama in his living room.

I decided to spare the living room, but it did occur to me that we had time to cook mashed potatoes before we departed.

So here we go. WideEyedRambler is back on the road.

When we are not on the road, WideEyedRambler will post every Wednesday about the wonders of travel. When we are on the road, it will be more. Just how often will depend on when we can plug into wifi (I have a feeling the KOA will facilitate). I won’t pass up an hour on the trail to post, but it’s a little like journaling for me. I’ll do it when I can, and as long as it’s still fun, I’ll keep going.

So keep an eye on my Facebook feed for updates. Sign up to “follow” the blog at Share it with your buddies, fellow road warriors, and armchair wanderers. ‘Cause hitting the road is always more fun with friends.

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