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One feature of extended travel is that you’re always fulfilling recurring bodily requirements (eating, sleeping, and so on) in unfamiliar contexts. Those of you who read this regularly and who still travel for a living will certainly know exactly what I mean.

Recently, and because of our method of travel, I’m thinking that my choices might be more interesting than yours, though.

To begin with, I’ve got more time than most of you and maybe broader options when it’s time for a meal. To begin with, do we stop and cook a hot meal or prepare cold food in a park? Or do we look for an attractive local eatery? (Chains are a last resort, and fast food is definitely out.) So where we eat is an open question. There are often not so many options to shop for groceries, although we’ve still got more options than most of our friends in the Dominican. I’m pretty sure that those of you reading this in the US have more options in the grocery than what we find in small towns.


Sleeping presents another opportunity for us to choose. In the tent, or in a motel? Do we pitch the tent in a park or a forest, or in a private campground? If in a motel, do we bed down in a one-off mom and pop establishment, or in a national chain? (And where’s the Wi-fi connection?)

As it turns out, we’ve spent about half of our nights in the tent so far, and about half of our nights in one motel or another. One or two have been wonderfully comfortable and several have been downright desperate. The others have been quite adequate.

Come to think of it, most of you professional travelers probably fare better on the road in this regard, also.

We’ve camped on Bureau of Land Management land, and in state and national parks and in private campgrounds. Our outdoor domiciles have ranged from nice to awe-inspiring. There are one or two photos on the website, but they don’t really do justice to the whole road trip outdoor sleeping experience: the temperature, the breeze, the animal sounds in the night. Or the leaving of the warm sleeping bag in the middle of the night, staggering blindly to the bushes to answer nature’s call.

Despite some drawbacks, we’ve discovered that we actually prefer camping to sleeping in a motel. It’s somehow simpler and easier.

Nevertheless, we do occasionally choose the motel option.

Not surprisingly, we’ve not had much luck in small towns locating motels where the staff are represented by a labor union. As a result, our primary criterion has usually pivoted on the choice between local owners and national chains.

My initial inclination was to avoid the national chains in favor of the local little guy. Denise was predisposed to patronize national chains. I’ve come to appreciate the reasoning behind her preference.

With a national chain there is at least a chance that there are uniform standards. Sometimes local standards can be more than merely lax, about which more only when we’re together.

I hadn’t expected it but my favorite sleeping place so far has been when visiting my brother-in-law in Denver. Denise and I filled the bedroom graciously vacated by my niece for the couple of nights we stayed with them. The time we spent with our niece and nephew certainly made it a extra difficult to pack up and move along when the time came to depart.

Michael sent us off with a swell brisket dinner served under a beautiful Colorado sky. He made me promise to tell you. So there you have it.

We’ve been gone from Washington for a month and are only a third of the way along our projected itinerary. Clearly, compromises will have to be made. I’ll sacrifice visiting the antique washing machine museum for example, but I AM going to get a look at the Chapman Elementary School chimney swifts in Portland, Oregon this year, come hell or high water.

We spent Labor Day with old and new friends in Estes Park in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, where we enjoyed each other’s company and ate good food, including some sort of fire roasted banana desert. We walked a bit, and talked about life and work and the Dominican and other interesting things.

I hope your holiday was stellar and that the coming year brings you much joy and success.

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