Between kids, jobs, friends, pets and my boyfriend, I am rarely alone. Sometimes I take the long way home from work so I can have an extra 10 minutes to myself. When the folks at OARS asked if I was interested in going on a last minute Wilderness Gourmet adventure, it never occurred to me that I would end up going by myself. Joe tried to rearrange his schedule so he could join me. Frankly, I think he was relieved that he couldn’t. He tries, but he really just isn’t that into the outdoors.
And admittedly, once the idea of going by myself sunk in, I was somewhat relieved too. Four days and three nights taking care of just me.
I checked into the Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge, an idyllic mid-century inn right on the banks of the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. “What do you want to do now?” I asked myself. I wandered, roamed, and paddle-boarded in the river. I jumped in the pool, hopped on a bike, worked out, and then I sat on an Adirondack chair and had a glass of local Oregonian Wine. Then I had another. After that? Came back to the room and watched whatever I felt like on TV. (Turns out when no one was watching I really wanted to see what all the fuss over Duck Dynasty was about.)
In the morning, I met the guides and other travelers. Turns out there were three of us flying solo on this trip. Jean, from Palo Alto, CA, learned long ago that traveling solo was more relaxing. “I get to spend quality time with people from all over the country,” she told me. “It is a richer and deeper experience,” she added.
Craig from Los Angeles, was supposed to come with his girlfriend – she had to cancel at the last minute. He told me, “I thought about canceling too, but at some point you have just got to live the life you want to live and not worry about anybody else.” Amen, brother.
Of course, you are never really alone on a river trip. In fact, it is the group effort that makes the trip possible and the group dynamic that makes it fun. But on this particular trip, although I was not actually alone, I was only in charge of me. Sweet relief.
My first just-for-me-decision was to not use my tent. I slept unprotected and under the stars. One night, I chose to set up my campsite for one on a tiny rocky island, 30-feet from the shore. And even though a British poet once said, “No man is an island,” this solo lady thought I might have just been the luckiest person on the planet to sleep smack dab in the middle of one of the most spectacular American rivers.
I traveled with the others, ate with them and socialized too. And much like Jean told me it would be, I was able to spend time getting to know new people, including the trip’s gourmet chef, Chip Roberts. Chip is a bear of a man, quiet and really down to earth. Learning about his culinary training, awards and the path that brought him to this particular trip made his delicious meals so much more meaningful.
But when it was time to wander into a stream, read a book, go to sleep, get up…I was on my own. Turns out I am pretty good company.