Hey Everybody! I’m feeling much better and back on the road in northern New Mexico, hoping to come across another Memorial Day community BBQ in some small town. I’ll be posting soon about climbing Hermit Peak and hiking in and out of the Rio Grande Gorge. In the meantime, enjoy this post from Memorial Day weekend in Nevada two summers ago!
“Don’t you get lonely?” is one of the most common questions I get from people curious about my life on the road. The short answer is no, loneliness is not one of my problems and never has been. I’ve been a loner all my life.
Occasionally, I can talk my friends and family into copiloting on my road trips, but if I always waited around for somebody to join me I’d rarely go anywhere. Besides, going solo is great for one of my favorite things about traveling: meeting new people. When you’re not insulated by what’s familiar, you’re more likely to seek out new things.
Driving “the Loneliest Road in America” also known as Nevada’s Highway 50, I met all kinds of people: Great Basin tourists, veteran park rangers, genuine cowboys, life-long Nevada residents and even a few fellow vagabonds. How do I meet these people? I just smile and start talking and lo and behold, most people smile and talk back.
Starting conversations with total strangers is an art that I’ll probably never perfect, but I love hearing people’s stories. Everybody has one; the trick is getting them to tell it to you. The Teardrop is a great conversation starter. So are my dogs, so is my camera.
Once I tell people I live on the road, they’re usually hooked. They light up. My story seems to stir the fires of freedom that we all stoke or smother at some point in our lives. Conversations with total strangers quickly run deep, into dreams realized and dashed. A few people I’ve met have walked away with their eyes bright, their fires relit. Those are the conversations I love most.
As for the inevitable question – isn’t it dangerous to talk to strangers?! – in my experience, no, it isn’t. Sure, I’ve met some weird people and some creepy people, but in my seven years on the road, nobody has ever actually threatened me. Despite what the media and the authorities might have you believe, the world is not full of psychos. Use common sense and project self confidence and you’ll find that there are a lot of friendly, interesting people out there.
Over Memorial Day weekend, I pulled over at a scenic overlook to check out a working windmill and started a conversation with three Nevadans. They ended up inviting me to a community BBQ up the road in the tiny town of Middlegate (Population: 17!). When I showed up, they were so pleased that they bought me dinner and we had a great conversation about vagabonding over all you can eat BBQ. You never know who you might meet on the road!
When’s the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a total stranger? Try it! Buck this awful isolating trend of only relating to other people you kind of sort of know through Facebook! Don’t let conversation – real, true, meaningful conversation – become a lost art. You never know when you’re going to meet somebody who tells you a great story, teaches you something new or inspires you to seek a little more freedom in your life. 🙂
Hi Mary, I’m from Nevada and have traveled Hwy. 50 more times than I can count. Last summer I crossed Nevada on the Extraterrestrial Highway (Hwy. 375), and it is MUCH lonelier than Hwy. 50. Some really cool scenery, too. Check it out if your in the area.
I’ve been there too: https://theblondecoyote.com/2011/10/23/the-extraterrestrial-highway/ Almost ran out of gas! 🙂
Nice post! Last time I went through I also had to make a side trip to Tonopah for gas! The last few summers I’ve been Cris-crossing the state to record the sounds of those remote mountain ranges for my blog: http://www.wildmountainechoes.com.
Do be careful out there. People have been known to disappear.
So well written Mary !!! I agree with you wholeheartedly. I travel alone often as well and LOVE it. It definetely opens you up to meeting new and interresting folk. I have been told by some of my friends that I am so brave to travel alone , to camp alone. But, the way I look at it is when you are out in the wilderness you mainly meet likeminded people. Most loonies are in the big cities not out camping in the woods. Fear is such a strong nonmotivational and crippling thing to deal with . What is the worse that can happen if you take to the highway alone with a tent or a camper??? You might discover something new about yourself . You might find out that that strange looking man over there is actually a real kind soul. etc…
I feel the way you do about traveling solo. I’m rather a loner too but, when on the road, I tend to open up to people. Good people. The world is filled with decent folks – this comes as a surprise to most people who watch the news. Then fear becomes the reality.
Mary, I’ve learned to appreciate desolate stretches of highway much more, seeing them through your eyes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has benefited from your photos and blogs. How fun it will be to run across you when we are out on the road. Safe journeys, Carol
Those wild mustangs! I should add them to my bucketlist.
I am loving your blog for all its adventure and I so admire you for what you are doing out there all alone. I love the mustangs too for they are also running free. And your advice on making friends of strangers rings true too. Thanks! 🙂
I love the way you think. We were instill these fears and if we are not aware of them, we live in this psychological prison. Only a few break away from that. You have a great gift. You have inspired me. I am sure you get tired of these same old questions about loneliness and dangers on the road. Please keep on sharing your thoughts and strengths because you never when it might take seeds in someone’s mind to live freely like you.
Love reading about Your traveling, and I plan on doing the same when I can afford to strikeout on the road! Once My Social Security kicks in maybe? Got two Special needs Children to support now, but once My S.S. kicks in I’m praying that will take care of them, and My Ex…
Happy Trails to Ya Blonde Coyote!
17 not 18? hhhhh 😀
Reblogged this on JoUrnal to sUccess and commented:
17 not 18 ? 😀