I love my annual trip to hike the Appalachian Trail. My mom and I have driven from Chicago to Oklahoma City on old Route 66. The pace draws me. Both are slow-pace tours. Driving non-interstate through main streets of tiny downtowns is almost as slow a creep as hiking up and down (and up and down) rolling mountains.
The above photo is from our second leg of that journey, just outside the Rte 66 museum in Missouri. It was at the end of a dead-end road. We had to turn around here and pick up the old road on the other side of a now-crumbled bridge. That’s why we were moving slowly enough for me to take the shot. Both my mom and I clearly remember when this took place.
This is how I wander. It’s how I prefer to travel. I want to get a feel for the places I go, for the places I’ve passed through. I want to build tiny snippets of memories of those flavors. I want to remember being there, seeing things.
I don’t want to fly over things. I have no value in bypasses. I want to have my interest piqued and hang a quick left into oddities and attractions. I want to poke through antique stores and to talk with people who live there.
Two weekends ago, my husband, stepson and I were introduced to geocaching. It’s a fun, geeky scavenger hunt. It encourages players to get out and see new things close to home and far from home. We’re really hooked. So hooked, that last weekend we went on a small road trip to grab caches in a few neighboring states. We took the long way up through North Carolina over to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the trip.
I get walk in the woods time. Brett gets caches on the game. We both got to discover Chattanooga’s river walk, neat views of the Oconee National Forest, and the Walasi-Yi wayside on Blood Mountain’s Georgia AT.
Caching encourages you to wander at a slower pace and to find new things, to follow curiosities. It’s a good way to wander, if you’re not an experienced meanderer like me.