Entertainment, Katie McDowell, Life & Leisure

Washed out: Best laid plans a thing of the past

Katie McDowell
Katie McDowell

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a planner

I’ll dog the details to death — Google menus at restaurants where we’re going, check the weather a thousand times, curate an outfit for any possible outing.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me to look into something for them, because, well, I’m really good at going down rabbit holes, researching the museums, passes, tickets, start-times, rentals, tours, what have you of a place. And that’s before I take on the food potential.

My friends used to call me “The Cruise Director” — a pretty amazing compliment for a girl who grew up wanting to be Julie on “The Love Boat.” (I also couldn’t wait to be old enough to be allowed to wear nude stockings with denim shorts like Daisy Duke, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

Put plainly, I’m a girl who likes a plan. A schedule. A strong itinerary with prepaid entry and reservations for every meal and very little left to chance.

But, as I’ve mentioned a few times recently, I’m also a girl undergoing an apparent sea change — a once nature-averse woman who now embraces the outdoors and lives — at least, ideally — much more in the moment than I’ve managed to in the past.

So when Chad and his authoritative hat invited me on a cross-country trek to see the U.S. and tour Yellowstone, I said yes without hesitation. Never mind that I hadn’t requested the days off yet — in fact, didn’t even know the dates. And when those dates turned out to be the worst possible ones — my boss, Pam, was already on vacation that week — I still didn’t let it stop me. I just promised to work from the car.

When two days before we were set to hit the road, we heard Yellowstone was washed out — closed for flooding, and would stay that way “indefinitely” in some areas — I didn’t freak. I just accepted. It was an incredibly strange feeling, I’ll admit, haha.

In recovery meetings you hear the phrase a lot: “Let go and let God.”

I’ve decided to embrace this mantra, with a small amendment. For the next couple of weeks or so, I will simply let go and let Chad. He and his hat will call the shots — I will simply sit back and enjoy the experience. Nary an objective in sight.

And so it is that I am writing this from the passenger seat of my Subaru Crosstrek, en route to Rocky Mountain National Park now, with stops who knows where in between. I will hit Park City, Utah, after all those mystery trips, to visit my best friend Lacey and fly home, while he continues on to a retreat with friends in Oregon.

As I type, I look up occasionally to see the fields of Indiana out the window. In a few hours, maybe the arch in St. Louis. I’d love to stop and take a picture with some idiotic all-American landmark somewhere along the way : The World’s Largest Ball of Twine, maybe. Or a diner shaped like a spaceship. I think Paul Bunyan and Babe his Blue Ox is off our trajectory — but hey, we’ll see.

I’m at the mercy of the adventure.

For the first time in my adult life, perhaps, my only plan is to have fun.

Live it up where you are, too, my friends.

Katie McDowell is the managing editor and lifestyles columnist for The Dominion Post. Email her favorite trip ideas to kmcdowell@dominionpost.comm