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Covid - 13,000 miles, 8 month road trip.

Covid,  2020 has altered the life of many people! One thing for sure it has given everyone the opportunity to reflect, adjust, stay the course or make major changes in our lives.

Some I know have completely reinvented themselves and some are frozen in time and space. To each their own.

I decided to follow a major dream I have always had and that was a Nationwide Road Trip. This decision was made March 17th long before travel companies touted the benefits of open road travel.

My son is a Doctor and my Dayton friend's daughter works for Johns Hopkins so I had plenty of professional insight. I felt protected along the way. 

I had two speaking engagements and one dinner party planned. I cancelled them and  all other engagements,  packed my car with my bike, paints, canvass', books and all the CD's I ever owned! Yes CD's. 

I headed to Dayton Oh to quarantine with a friend for a month or so. After a million hours of Netflix and 12 paintings I headed North to Michigan to visit my sister. I watched the dormancy of winter turn to spring in both Ohio and Michigan. I witnessed the nesting of Finches to Robins, Geese to squirrels and the birth of many deer on her farm. It was a wonderful experience. 

The itch to head out was upon me. I first headed back to Tampa where it seemed everyone I knew had covid. I took the test, payed low and headed back out. I live in a very social neighborhood and social was not the thing to be doing. 

After a brief stop in Michigan I headed West. A love of Travel and my freedom gene kicked in. With a general plan and a few maps I headed to South Dakota first.

I got to enjoy Mount Rushmore, Cray Horse, Devils Tower. I chased buffalo and was chased by buffalo at the 777 Bison Ranch in Rapid City.  I Walked the hallowed ground of the rolling plains of Little Bighorn Monument. It is something you don't see, It is something you feel. 

I flyfished in Idaho, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming. I hiked in Yellowstone, Glacier National Parks. I was lucky enough to score cabins in each of the Parks. Something unheard of without a year advance reservations.  I saw the stars overlooking Lake MacDonald at 2 AM. Covid provided the opportunity. 

I got to spend time with my grand babies in Denver. I got tested on the road prior to my visit. I had the opportunity to stay in great Mountain towns such as Vail, Breckenridge, Jackson Hole, Park City and as I write this I am loving Crested Butte. 

I saw wolves in Yellowstone, Bears in Glacier,  Moose, Elk and my personal favorite watching a Great Grey Owl hunt for it chicks. I fished some of the iconic rivers including the Snake, Frying Pan, Gallitan, Blackfoot, Rushing, Yellowstone and Slough Creek. I was lucking enough to catch fish in all areas and landed a 7 # cutthroat in Yellowstone. With anticipation I scouted Bear 399 and her four cubs. The most famous of all Bears except for Yogi. 

I hiked more than I ever thought I could and was pushed harder than I ever expected. I toured cities such as Bozeman, Missoula, Rapid City and the parks on my bike. May favorite thing to do. 

I had several friends brave enough to meet me along the way. 

Rarely did I have accommodations in advance. I let the spirit move me to the next location. 

Hotels and Airbnbs sufficed along the way. 

There have been so many great experiences on my 13,000 mile journey and I have no plans to head home at this point. Certainly not until the weather breaks from rain and heat in Florida. 

I have learned many lessons along the way, the most important is being alone with my own company. I kinda like me I found out!

Gratitude - I thank God every night for giving me this opportunity, and the courage to chase this dream. 

Patience - You can't fly fish without patience. Things don't bother me as they once did. 

Humility - I have not been lost but I have learned there are many ways to get where your going.

Mistakes- I have made several wrong turns that took me to incredible locations. Sacageawa Hotel in Three Forks, MT and Spearfish Canyon Resort, an outdoor paradise. 

Flexibility- Most days don't turn out as they start. Thats part of the beauty. 

Priorities- I have a strong freedom gene and it is a wonderful feeling living a dream. I have traveled the world but somehow this trip is beyond special. 

New  and Interesting People -  Coivd had made meeting people challenging but I have met many great artists in their galleries along the way. I have picked up many new ideas and techniques to try. I interviewed all of them and will share their stories later.

Overcoming fear - I hiked trails I had no business hiking. Huckleberry trail in Glacier surrounded by bears. I climbed heights I thought I would never achieve. I hate heights. 

Being alone- Though I traveled alone I shared many of my experiences via Facebook. Most seem to have enjoyed my journey.

Kindness - When in doubt Just be kind. It transcends the hostility in the world today.  

This has not been a vacation but a way of life. It is a wonderful feeling listening to blaring music on the open road. I now know every lyric to the Bosses musics! 

Yes Covid has changed the lives of many, me in particular. Make the most of the opportunity. 

If you care to follow my travels as I proceed please send me a FB friend request. You can share along.

I have 100's of painting ideas that will follow. 

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts.

 I apologize in advance for any typos. 

Enjoy your journey - after all you only have this life to live. 

Ron Laker 

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