10 Jul
2017

Visions of travel terror bring to mind crying babies on intercontinental flights and lost luggage, but it wasn’t circumstances that created my nightmare.

As a burgeoning writer, I was traveling to America’s West to research my latest project. A friend, we’ll call her Adrienne, came along.

I planned a packed itinerary: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming. We hiked, camped, took a wilderness pack trip and a slovenly trail ride, and drove cattle on a dude ranch. Honestly I just wished I invested some better travel items, and taken a look at a site like this to get some ideas.

I sorely overplanned. The highways looked easier on a map.

My friend looked better from afar, too.

Picture long drives. Picture a meek peacemaker and an assertive feminist. I woke up early to research. She slept in. From travel decisions to philosophy, we disagreed.

We disagreed over the Navajo woman who narrated her sand art–Adrienne disbelieved her tales.

We disagreed over the women in a Nevada bar. One cowgirl sported a T-shirt with a rough-and-tumble cowgirl proclaiming, “I’m tired of being a sex symbol!” I thought it was funny–Adrienne thought it demeaned women.

We disagreed over the strength of women in the West, me stating that they had achieved early equality, Adrienne that Eastern feminists were the only groundbreakers.

The trip nearly ended in Idaho, Adrienne yelling that she was going to catch a plane to fly home early and me tearful in the passenger’s seat. Do you know what it’s like driving hundreds of miles with someone who’s steaming?

That evening, over many drinks, we made a tenuous peace pact, and cordiality settled in. That’s good, because sharing a two-man pup tent when you’re pissed is really awkward.

The wrong travel companion can make any itinerary disastrous.