Planning the unplanned trip


Andrew, Yosemite National Park, Mariposas Grove, 2003

I admit it, I have a problem;  I pour over TripAdvisor, books, maps, charts, websites, and don’t even get me started on GoogleEarth; otherwise, I may not come out for hours.  I’m a planner.  There I’ve said it.  I developed this little ‘quirk’ (it sounds so much better than obsession) after visiting Yosemite in April.  Why then?  Well, the thing I didn’t know when I flew my then 15 year old brother all the way out to California and then stuck him in the car for 10 hours was that April is the WORST month to visit Yosemite.  Granted it’s great for viewing waterfalls, but April is the absolute WETTEST month as that is when the storms back up all the up into the Gulf of Alaska waiting to dump rain (or snow depending on your elevation) onto the Yosemite valley.   The entire trip had to be replanned on the fly because of my poor planning.   Granted, we got to experience the Giant Sequoias in solitude, but sitting around because of weather is not exactly thrilling for a 15 year old.  For the record, I did have a Plan B, but still not my best effort.

Since that time every trip I’ve taken there has been one more reason (missed sights, roads potentially controlled by drug cartels, trails I didn’t know about, needed yet unpacked gear, etc) that has only further drilled into me the need for proper planning  A few years back my cousin and I, in an attempt to ‘wing it’ down the coast of Maine failed epically when we attempted to find a hotel room only to discover that there wasn’t one to be found for 75 miles and wound up driving all the way back to NY in one day vice the 4 we had hoped to spend.  Yeah, I’m a planner.  It brings me comfort what can I say.   That leads me to this trip.

This trip is suppose to be the “unplanned trip”.  Ha!  That’s like asking a parrot to be a giraffe.  It started small with just the list of sights that Dad had wanted to see with a couple additions of the things I wanted to see, which I rationalized as prudent.  Then I started reading the parks websites to determine where Perry the Trail Dog could and could not go.  Again, in my mind exceptionally prudent.  Well those two tiny cracks in the foundation opened the flood gate of research.   I now own multiple guidebooks;  Hiking the Oregon Coast, The Best Hikes with Dogs Oregon, and several of Moon publishings books; Montana and Wyoming, Washington, and Oregon. I’ve been pouring over maps, and spent more time analyzing the back Forest Service roads than probably most USGS cartographers.  I’m sure by the time this trip is over I will be able to tell you more about traveling with a dog within DOI lands and various parks to write my own book!  Or at the very least accumulate several more badges on TripAdvisor!

My cousin Mary, Cadillac Mountain

Cousin Mary, Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

While there are those people who can travel without a plan I am not one of them.  I like knowing that the best time to get to the top of Cadillac Mountain is before sunrise as it is the first spot in the continental U.S. that sees the sun.  I find comfort in guidebooks that steer me to beautiful parks in New Mexico that allow me to swim in amazing clear (and soft) water.  Most importantly, though, I like being informed so that when I travel I know that I can pay attention to what is in front of me in that very moment and find the utter joy in it because that is the reason that we are there in the first place isn’t it? 



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