I’ve decided for a little change of pace. While at work today, I had the opportunity to give directions to a lady in her early sixties, traveling alone, in unfamiliar territory through the mountains, guided via GPS. She had decided she wanted to drive the scenic route. So, using her handy-dandy internet pre-printed directions and her Garmin GPS, she set out to drive across the state. I am a huge fan of both adventure and drama in my own life and can understand the need of others to put more into theirs. I’ve run into ghost towns, abandoned towns, settlements and structures from days long past. (Self-inflicted drama, should you live through it, makes for some great and even comical stories to share with others, if you live long enough get the opportunity.) I believe this post will fall somewhere along the lines of Rob’s, http://simplesurvivalguide.com. This is certainly not a replacement for his recommendations, and not packaged as cogent and coherent, but I believe it follows nicely with his theme of being prepared.
First and foremost: If you are traveling into remote areas you are unfamiliar with, take along a good atlas or map of the area (and surrounding areas) and even more important, know how to read them. A good travel atlas of your particular state will identify paved roads, gravel roads, county roads, fire roads and even areas you don’t have any business being in in great detail.
If your travels take you thru the mountains or the desert or other such remote locations, your cell phone (GASP) will not work!!! This is a great way to annoy any teenagers you may have in your life, provided you brought earplugs to mute out the incessant whining, Oh wait, the Ipod still works, never mind… Seriously, communication will be virtually nonexistant, so make sure someone responsible knows where you’re going and when you plan to return. I’ve been on an “afternoon” hike turned dark that led me four hours up a mountain, and two-and-a-half back down, in the winter, with no flashlight, no matches, a non-working cellphone and just the light of the moon to guide me back down. I was able to follow my own footprints in the snow. Hey, I can be incredibly uh, silly? at times, too.
As with any trip, take along appropriate amounts of emergency food, water and protection. (No the prophylactics in the glove-box don’t count). New Mexico has a state law that treats the vehicle as an extension of the home, therefore as of this writing, it’s legal to carry a loaded firearm in the vehicle. Research the laws in your state and any others you may be visiting just to be up to speed on your rights and responsibilities regarding firearms, or other weapons you may possess. I am not now, and do not consider myself to be paranoid, but there are bad people out there who don’t share your or my values, and even wild animals who, to the best of my knowledge, have an even more limited respect or commonality with our particular values.
Take it from someone who’s been there more than a time or two, be prepared and you’ll have a lot less interesting stories to tell, but you’ll be around long enough to tell them.