23 Oct 2015

U-Haul, We Haul: I do it for the stories

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He pokes at this phone. “If we keep the rental car longer than 26 hours, the price goes up to $400. That’s ridiculous.”

“Think we can get an Uber to the Grand Canyon?” I ask, only half joking.

“You know…” he says. “A U-haul for the same trip is only $150…”

IMG_3247We look at each other the way we always do when we hatch a wacky travel scheme, eyes wide and shiny. A look that says, Are we really about to do this?

“I’m in!” I say.

“Me, too,” he says.

Yes and…

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I’ve always loved travel. I get it from my father. Growing up, we had our share of summer beach trips, but only because my parents had conferences in Destin and Gulf Shores, so their companies would put us up in swanky hotels for a week, where my brother and I built sand castles and tried not to burn our fair Irish skin. When it was time for family vacations, we explored cities. Boston, New York, Washington D.C. We never took guided tours or hopped on buses. Dad would consult travel books and maps, and we’d take off walking in the morning, bound for whatever landmark had caught his fancy. If, on the walk, we got sidetracked by some sign or other distraction, that was fine, too; it was all a part of the adventure. We were taught the value of people-watching and talking to locals. (Stranger danger? Not for the Scott children.) Picking a direction and walking was a totally valid way to spend an afternoon.

(Side note: When people comment on how adventurously I travel, I have to tell them that I was raised by a man who took off on a solo, three-week motorcycle trip to Key West at the age of 62. I certainly come by it naturally.)

Travel is my vice. I don’t shop much or spend money on luxuries. I’d rather have a plane ticket in my hand than fancy shoes on my feet. Planning travel excites me, and the rhythm of travel soothes me. I’m happiest when I’m on my way to somewhere else.

It’s also well known that I live for a good story. Travel is best when you get to come home and share a wild tale with family and friends. I’ve longed believe that some experiences get better in the re-telling, when you see the wide-eyed, jaw-dropped reaction and realize, “Oh, yeah, I actually did that! And it really was as wild as I remember!” There’s something about sharing a story that makes it bigger than just you, more than just a small image in your own mind. The more you share, the more it becomes an adventure you all went on together.

Unsurprisingly, as I continue to practice the power of “Yes,” I find myself coming home from adventures with more and more great stories to tell.

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“Your chariot awaits, madam!” he exclaims as he comes to pick me up.

We’ve been giggling about it all day. The fact that we’re really about to take off on a road tripIMG_3287 in a ten-foot U-haul truck. We’ve exchanged glances like we’re each waiting for the other to call the bluff. But an improv performer and a certified travel junkie can “Yes, and…” each other into some crazy situations and keep the game going way past the point of rationality. We load our three suitcases in the back, where they will rattle and bump around in too much space for the next 400 miles. We take pictures. We laugh at ourselves as we pull away from Phoenix at sunset.

In the next two days, we will drive our unique set of wheels into sleepy tourist towns and right up to the edge of the Grand Canyon. We’ll get turned away from the Hoover Dam for looking just a tad too sketchy. (Honestly, I get it.) We roll down the Vegas Strip and laugh at the shocked look the valet guys give us when we pull up in front of our fancy hotel.

Through it all, I post on Facebook and Instagram. My posts have a “Can you believe I’m really doing this?” tone. And people respond. Laughing, cheering, wowing. It feels as though I’m reaching back home and pulling my loved ones along for the ride.

One of the valet guys opens the back and exhale loudly in relief at distinct lack of cargo we’re hauling.

“Man, I expected this thing to be packed! I wasn’t looking forward to unloading it.” He chuckles.

IMG_3304“Nah,” I say. “Just a few things.”

“Why do you have this thing, anyway?” He asks.

I shrug and smile. “Why not? Makes for a great story.”

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