Assignment: Road Trip, the Ultimate Escape


All right, I’ve given you enough time. You should have a hobby now, and as promised, I have an assignment for you.

With the state of the economy, and the Christmas season in full swing, stress has come to town and taken a seat on your front porch. It greets you each morning as you leave for work, and gives you a punch in the stomach as you prepare for sleep each night.

How do you escape the madness? Throw caution to the wind; that’s how. Pick up that hobby and hit the road.

That’s right. Road trip! But not ANY old road trip. I’m talking spontaneous, seat-of-the-pants type road trip. That means get off the travel websites. No looking for hotels, calling relatives to make sure they’ll be in town, planning routes in the AAA road book. None of that.

Here’s how it works:
(And so you know, I just returned from completing my assignment. Like a good educator, I would never ask you to do an assignment I hadn’t first completed myself.)
Step 1: Pack a bag with clothing for warm or cold climates. I packed three days’ worth of clothing, but ended up wearing the same thing all four days. I can roll like that, though. Not everyone is comfortable being scummy like I am.

Step 2: Take your hobby with you. If you remember my last article, I told you a GOOD hobby was one that could be done anywhere. My ‘hobby’ is photography, and my camera gear was in the van.

Step 3: Sleeping gear. This is where it will get scary for some. Unless you’re extremely wealthy don’t sleep in hotels. You’ll be living in your car (in my case it was a van.) Trust me, there is something amazing about parking, going to sleep, and waking up exactly where you want to be.

Step 4: Food. Pack some, but I’ll allow you to buy some on the road, since sometimes it’s cheaper, and not everyone has the means or space to keep their total daily caloric intake at hand.

Step 5: Bring a friend. If you have a friend who shares the same hobby as you, bring that person. Your cost is now cut in half. Don’t have friends? Brings dogs. Don’t have dogs or friends? Go anyway. Personally, I brought a friend AND dogs.

Step 6: Pick a direction and drive. Want to see the Oregon coast? Good. Go! Want to see Mono Lake in the snow? Have at it. (If you checked the weather once before leaving home, I’d understand. I did.

The point is to be spontaneous, not dead.)

Now you’re on your way. All I ask is you follow a few conditions.

Condition 1: Spend at least two nights. ANYONE can suffer in their car one night. It is not until the second or third night that you really question your decision to leave the comforts of home to sleep in your vehicle. BUT, it is during THIS time where you develop pride in your resolve and adventurous spirit (or hypothermia).

Condition 2: Get lost at least once. Nothing builds self-confidence like getting out of a bind.

Condition 3: Take risks (not TOO dangerous). Push boundaries and take a step outside your comfort zone. For me that was taking my van down a snow-covered road in the middle of the night to sleep. The thermometer read 8 degrees. Did I hate it? Yes, very much. HOWEVER, I was rewarded with one of the best sunrises for photography I’ve ever seen, which made it worth it (on a side note, had I slid off the road and gotten stuck, I’d feel differently.)

Condition 4: Spend time doing your hobby. After the first few hours stress will start to leave your system. Thoughts of holiday shopping and crowds will fade, and your focus will become improving and enjoying your hobby, (or survival and writing me a nasty letter when you return.)

Condition 5: Keep it cheap. I did my entire trip under $80. Remember money = stress. When you spend money you think, “Can I afford this?”

Condition 6: Come back …

When you return, hopefully you’ve gained new appreciation for all you are capable of when you push yourself.

You survived! You were spontaneous! (And hopefully you’re a little better at your hobby, too.)

Brian Rueb is a north state writer, photographer and educator. Click here to see more of his photography.

is a north state writer, photographer and educator. A large selection of his images is hanging in the HDR imaging gallery at 2531 Victor Ave. (corner of Victor and Cypress).

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar Erinfriedman says:

    Spectacular picture — thanks for braving the elements and for the good advice. I DO like the idea of an adventure — I'm going to mull that one over.

  2. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Wonderful picture. You are fortunate to have a great hobby. I don't like traveling much, but enjoy hearing about yours and others. My husband likes traveling — too bad I'm such a dud.

  3. Avatar Joanne Snyder says:

    The longest time I lived in a car was for 10 days when I was a kid. You learn a lot. When you huddle together with other people (or one friend and two dogs) you can get warm enough to sleep. If you're far enough from home, who cares what you look like. I have no memories of bad smells, although, given the circumstances, we all must have been pretty ripe. A huge advantage to the road trip that you just took is that, your perspective on necessities and comfort change dramatically. When you do without what you think you need, you find out what you really need. Which is pretty basic. Plus you, in particular, end up where you need to be with your camera at sunrise to take breathtaking photos to share with the rest of us.

  4. Avatar ThomG says:


    One of my 43 Things I vowed to do this year was to "Take a road trip with no preconceived destination." I had three friends who found out and were itching to go. And while I practiced much of your thoughts on my way out to South Dakota (who needs motels rooms when you've got a 4Runner and loads of camping gear?), I never got the chance to travel.

    Next year. Oh, yeah. The coming year is my year to be a Dharma Bum.

    Thanks for the post.

  5. Avatar Flexabull says:

    I hope you don't inspire any "Stolpa" like experiences from your suggestions.