I am not a huge Willie Nelson fan, but I do subscribe to his sentiment, because like Willie I can’t wait to get on the road again. It is time. I have ants in my pants, itchy feet and can’t sit still. Were I six and were my mother here, she would wonder aloud if I had swallowed Mexican jumping beans.
This happens to me when I am close to travelling again. It is eleven more sleeps, which means I am in final preparation mode.
The past couple of months have been about the planning. Ben and I have been online and on the phone, swapping ideas, websites and our latest toy, customised Google maps. We read up and revise, and discuss and decide. It is a fun process, and one that lends itself to building anticipation.
We will both fly into Los Angeles where I have friends, and where we will stay for a couple of nights (a short stay, but we will be back). We then fly to San Francisco, where neither of us has been, and where both of us are excited to go for the first time. I bought us a tiny guidebook, but really, we are governed by the ‘laws of first-timers’. We are staying near Fisherman’s Wharf, where we will eat sourdough bread and seafood; we will ride a tram up an impossibly steep street; we will see the Golden Gate Bridge and visit Alcatraz.
Importantly, Ben and I have promised each other that while we are following these obvious tourist tracks, we will be travellers. We will find wonder and fresh perspectives in our touristy endeavours. It will be our mantra: ‘travellers, travellers, travellers’.
From San Francisco, we hit the road. We pick up a hire car and will continue north to Seattle where Ben is due for work, taking five days to get there. We have some varied stops planned, the first of which is The Napa Valley. Oh, Napa – the scenery, the wine, the Chintz!
In seeking out a Bed and Breakfast close enough to several wineries, but somewhat off the main strip, we viewed more shots of Chintzy bedrooms that I ever care to again. Some rooms are even named after the Chintz: The Pink Rose Blossom Room, The Room with Two Many Pillows (Ben: “Where do we sleep?”), and The “Oh my, Grandma’s Sewing Box Threw Up’ Room. Resigned to the fact that Chintz is a given no matter what, we decided on the place with a spa tub and gourmet waffles.
After being spoiled in The Napa Valley, we will rough it in a Northern Californian coastal town, replete with Redwood Forest. Yes, we go from wine tasting to woodland trekking, a challenge for even the most experienced packer. From there, ever north into Oregon, a state I will get to add to my ‘I’ve been there’ list.
I have friends from Oregon. They all extol Oregon’s beauty as its greatest virtue. To honour that, we will drive the coast for as long as possible, and then head inland up to Portland. At this stage all I know about Portland is that I should shop there, as Oregon has no state sales tax (and Washington State has one of the highest in the U.S.). I will be as true to my wallet as time allows, for we are due in Seattle the next day.
Ben has work there Monday to Thursday and then we will be able to explore further a field for a couple of days. For me, four days alone in a favourite city is a gift, and then of course, we can head out to the wonderful array of Seattle’s restaurants in the evenings.
We fly out of Seattle on a Saturday, giving us that night in LA, where I have been promised we will Par-Tay. My LA friends are in the know, which is important when in a city of that size. LA visitors without a ‘local guide’ can suffer from ‘Disney-itis’. This is a condition whereby they think they have been to LA, because they stayed in Anaheim and went to Disneyland. Disneyland is not LA. LA is a vast and energetic city with much to see and do that does not include a giant mouse and mass merchandising.
So, eleven more sleeps. At this stage I write lists: To do, To buy, To pack, To take on the plane. I am a list-maker in everyday life, but when in travel mode, they are even more crucial. They keep me sane, grounded. And for a girl who swallowed a handful of Mexican jumping beans and can’t sit still, some kind of tether is necessary to keep my feet on the ground – for the next eleven days anyway.
“On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again…”