Loneliness on the Road

So, I’m back. Two weeks early.

The trip started out fine in my beloved Salida, CO. Here’s Sam enjoying the campsite at Four Seasons RV Resort:

Sam at a Salida, CO campground

And here’s Sadie, holding her own against our giant neighbor:

Sadie the Scamp in Salida, CO

I planned to take a few days to myself to write, then hang out with a friend for the weekend, but the friend couldn’t come. So I ended up spending a full week in one place by myself. Sure, it’s a delightful place, but one week sitting still, alone (no offense, Sam), didn’t feel right. I was restless and lonely, despite the gorgeous landscape:

Salida, Colorado

I took that picture from a trail on BLM land, across the river from the campsite, and somewhere on it I lost my iPhone. (Note to self: when running, phones bounce out of unzippered pockets.) I didn’t want to be without a phone traveling alone, plus I didn’t want to deal with pain-in-the-ass issues like no Google Maps app.

Replacing the phone took way too long, and then Verizon could only ship it to my house. In Taos. Which is hours in the opposite direction of where I was heading.

All this pushed my timing off, so I then missed other friends I was supposed to meet in Yellowstone. Which made me cranky. And still, I couldn’t shake this sense of loneliness, of feeling like the trip was, I don’t know, random. I kept asking myself, What the hell am I doing? Which felt like a much bigger question than one about travel plans.

So I went home, and a couple days later my new phone arrived. But by then I was done, I didn’t have the motivation to pack up again and head back out. I couldn’t gear up to finish my Scamp Interrupted.

Which, once I got over my crankiness, turned out to be fine. I was so happy to be back in Taos. I woke up in my bed, Sam curled beside me on the floor, and felt calm. Not lonely, even though it was still just Sam and me.

I realize none of this was life-threatening or even Scamp-threatening. I had time to restart the trip. But it felt (feels) like something bigger was (is) going on.

I’m wondering if any of you have dealt with this loneliness on the road. I don’t remember it being so intense when I first started Scamping – is it a phase? I’d love to hear your take on it.

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  1. Sadie looks wonderful! So classy!

    I have those moments traveling alone. So many miles away from the 2 and 4-legged people that I love, suddenly I’ll say “what the hell am I doing?”. Fortunately it doesn’t happen often and passes quickly. Maybe because I don’t stay in one place very long?

    Sometimes I get cranky too. When nothing looks interesting or tastes good. Fortunately, this sour feeling passes very quickly too.

    If the loneliness and discontent lingered, it would be awful! I’m sure yours will prove fleeting as well. You were wise not to push yourself and head out again when you just weren’t feeling it.
    Kim recently posted..Home Again!

    • Kim,

      You might be right about the moving around being an antidote for loneliness. I didn’t have any loneliness on my recent trip through the South, and I was moving around a ton. But there was a fair amount of that sense of randomness, so who knows what’s going on with me. I trust it’ll sort itself out if I continue to pay attention.


  2. The only time I felt lonely was on a month in Guatemala.
    I’d met some nice folks but was pretty much alone a good part of the time. And finally I began to wonder what I was doing, just roaming and hanging, and not enough money to get to Tikal, even though I wanted to go.
    It was the only trip I’ve ever taken where it sort of (not completely) felt good to leave.
    But I got home and had a horrible re-entry! Culture shock on a massive scale. I couldn’t adjust to the language, the food, the pace. The wealth. I longed to return to Guatemala! I wept for not appreciating it enough when I was there.
    Emilie Vardaman recently posted..Bisbee Pride

    • Emilie,

      Thanks for sharing your story. There is that tension between the wanting to be away and the wanting to be home. I suppose we should feel lucky we have the option to do both!


  3. I don’t think Sadie looks that tiny when she is alone, but had to laugh out loud when I saw her next to that giant thing. And happy you went back home. Would worry being by yourself without a phone.

    • Mom,

      It is funny, how tiny she is! Like 10 of her could fit inside that one giant RV. I’m glad I came home, too, and certainly don’t want to worry you (or anyone).


  4. I don’t ever experience the feelings of loneliness. (In fact, I wrote a book called “Alone but never Lonely.” LOL!) But as a newly adapting, solo full-timer, I do have those moments of “What the hell am I doing??” Especially like now, when things are not going quite right (just discovered my brand new Michelin is leaking!) But when it happens, I just stop and ask myself, “What is the alternative? If not this, then what?” So far in my case, the alternative never has felt better than where I am right now. If as in your case, it does, then you know you did the right thing…..Nice having an internal GPS (our guts!)
    Suzanne recently posted..What it means to be a “Skinnie Winnie!”

    • Suzanne,

      Maybe I can learn something from you about not feeling lonely! Glad to know I’m not alone in the “what the hell” department, though. I may go back to more focused, less rambling trips and see if that diminishes my problems.


  5. I have a confession to make: It’s my fault you were lonely and came back early. I was emitting too many I-miss-Deonne-why-did-she-abandon-me vibes. Guess I don’t always know my own power :D Can you ever forgive me???
    Susan Carpenter Sims recently posted..Reimagining Graduation Ceremonies

  6. I’ve been solo full timing in my Scamp almost two years. For me the lonely factor is a phase. The “what the hell am I doing” feeling just means something is out of balance. Stopping for some introspection reveals the cause. Then I make whatever plan correction is wanting and life is good again. In “Travels with Charlie” Stienbeck described the trip end moment well. Basically, you know it when it happens. (Like so many other things in life.) Maybe losing the phone was your moment. As for loneliness only you know what bigger factors may have been at play. Why did you stay a week instead of moving along to explore elsewhere? You get the drill. :)
    B0B recently posted..Sunscreen

    • Bob,

      That’s a good way of putting it – something is out of balance. I’ve been trying to pay attention to that. I stayed in Salida because I’d paid for the week, and there was a festival going on through the weekend. Funny enough, I lost my phone the last night – Sunday. Thank you, universe. Ha.


  7. I have felt that loneliness even though I’ve mostly had Dave with me. For me it is the randomness. When I’m on the road or at the end of our road at our destination, if I don’t have activities such as jeep trails or hikes planned, I feel like if I’m just putzing around I could be doing that at home and sleeping in my own bed (holy run-on sentence!). For me it’s about thoroughly enjoying our destination and if I’m not, it just doesn’t feel right especially if we’ve driven for two days to get there. I’m glad you followed the trail of crank to your home. It happened and you did it and soon, I’m sure, you will be ready to go out again. Funny how so easily addicted we get to phones and such. I just have a flip phone and I am here on the North Shore without Dave and his phone and it feels strange not to have him and tbh, his phone.

    • Manisha,

      You’re right about the randomness. That’s exactly what I thought when I got home – I could have written, hung out in coffee shops, and took walks with Sam in Taos and not felt lonely. But yes, the trail of crank (love that) led me back, and that’s probably what was meant to happen. Always a learning process.


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