This essay complements the Ultimate Road Trips feature originally published in Adventure Kayak magazine.
With a little common sense and ordinary caution, road tripping offers a freedom and perspective not found in the daily routine. From the snowy Siskyou Mountains to the stunning volume of Los Angeles traffic to blooming desert cacti, the view from the roof rack is the perfect antidote to the dust of the garage.
A road trip is a journey into another story. It’s not your everyday narrative or identity or even your everyday eyes. The freedom is not just a freedom to go, but to be; the newness isn’t only the scenery, but the internal chemistry. Awareness piques, and you can feel that energy from your paddler. From bow to stern, you just about tingle with possibility.
Explore remote coastlines where no kayak has been before. Share the sea with whales, perhaps a mother showing her calf their first migration. Meet other boats, and rest with new friends on a roadless beach while your paddlers drape themselves over sunny boulders to dry out. Cruise with old buddies along the quiet shores of a lake to a campout under the pines.
Rinse your parched hull in the Baja surf on ride after clean, green ride. Do it in the sunrise, by moonlight, against the afternoon wind. Feel the rumble of breaking waves shake the beach as you lie beneath the stars awaiting the next play. When you and your paddler are ready for another new view, load up and off you go.
When you take your paddler on a road trip, be sure she sets you up with some comfy saddles or a well padded bar, since road miles can rub you raw in sensitive places.
Do keep an eye on your paddler, as she will be out of her routine and liable to do brainless things. Don’t let her set the paddle on the ground to load you onto the truck, then get to talking with her traveling companion and drive off without it. Have her keep spare keys someplace safe. And have her tie your hatch covers on. They’re harder to replace when you’re away from home, and losing one could mean the end of your paddling.
Remind your paddler to apply the usual safety precautions: learn what she can about the area before launching, bring all safety equipment even if the paddle is intended to be short and easy, let someone who is not on the trip know the plan and let them know when you are back.
In the end, you will forgive your paddler for the scratches, the rack rash and buckle bruises, and the sun bleaching if you’re out that long. You will both bring home stories, fresh momentum and a reminder that even the everyday details are special when one has the eyes to see them.
”Green Flash” has logged 10,000+ road miles atop Ginni Callahan’s pickup truck over the years, and some 6,000 miles aboard a sailboat across the Pacific in 2012.