by Robert Waltz
Not for the faint of art.
PROMPT January 19th
Do you like things to be carefully planned or do you prefer to just go with the flow? Do you get upset easily when your plans change unexpectedly or for reasons beyond your control? Imagine you are taking a road trip - how much of the trip do you plan in advance?
Oh yes, please, by all means, make me imagine doing one of my favorite activities during a time when I effectively can't. That won't irritate me in the slightest.
I mean, sure, I could take a road trip. Technically, there's nothing stopping me from getting in the car and driving. It's just that a lot of the reasons for me to take a trip -- restaurants, bars, and breweries -- are closed, have limited hours, are outdoor-only and it's winter, or are simply a Bad Idea during a pandemic. So there's not much point.
Anyway, I'm predicting that not too many people are on either extreme of the planning/pantsing scale where this is concerned. Like most things, it's a spectrum, and most people fall somewhere in the middle.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to plan everything down to the last minute. You get traffic jams, unexpected detours, closures, squirrels (meaning, like, you're concentrating on doing something and then you see something shiny and you're like Dug the dog from Up going, "SQUIRREL!"), etc. It's equally unlikely to be able to have no plans whatsoever; at a bare minimum, your plan is, "I'm just going to tag along with this other person and do whatever they want to do." I mean, sure, technically maybe it's possible to get on the road and choose a path at random whenever you get to an intersection, but even planning to do that is a plan of sorts.
I haven't done that, exactly (though now that I think of it I might have to try it sometime), but one of my favorite ways to take a road trip is to choose a destination literally at random - I once found a site that would generate random coordinates, though I suspect it's based on latitude/longitude, which makes destinations toward the poles somewhat more likely than destinations toward the equator (think about it - it's because lines of longitude converge, so you have a denser array of possible points in, say, Canada than you do in, for instance, Mexico, while on the flip side, there's literally nowhere to actually go in Canada once you get out of southern Ontario).
So it's not as random as I'd like, but keeping it to the US alone, it's close enough for what I want to do.
Oh, incidentally, sometimes you hear about people throwing darts at a map. That's semi-random, but the map is a projection, so again, some areas are more likely than others. If you think about it, throwing a dart at a globe wouldn't work either. I still haven't worked out a way to get a truly random location, with each point equally likely, on a round planet.
Another thing I found was an app that generates a random zip code. Twice, I've rolled up a zip code and headed there; fortunately, both areas were in the Northeast: one in NJ and one in Massachusetts. Random coordinates, on the other hand, have put me in places like Montana, Alabama, and the actual middle of actual nowhere in central Nevada. To name but a few.
The other downside of random coordinates is that I have to ignore any that are generated in large bodies of water. Other people might follow their GPS into a lake, but I'm not that stupid. (Don't blame the technology. It's always the driver's fault.) The obvious downside to using zip codes is that some have much bigger areas than others.
I said "close enough for what I want to do," but what I want to do is visit breweries and see whatever sights are near (or on the way to or from) these random destinations. Because I take very literally the maxim that "it's the journey, not the destination, that matters." I mean, sure, there are times I care where I end up, like when I'm visiting someone or decide there's something in particular I want to see, but for the most part, I just want to see and experience everything I can. I would even say that there are no destinations; there are only stops on the journey.
So to address the second question, no, obviously I don't usually get upset when the plans change. Normally, I see it as just another part of the adventure. There are exceptions, like when I've made plans with other people and something happens that makes me inconvenience them (for instance, a cancelled flight or heavy traffic delays). But for me alone, nah, give me something new and interesting.
I should probably go ahead and "plan" my next road trip, by which I mean pick a few random destinations and research nearby breweries. Or take a few WDCers up on their offers to meet at various locations. Problem is, I still don't know when I'll be able to do it, and it makes a big difference whether I'll be able to go in June or have to wait until next winter. There are roads that close down completely in the winter, especially out west, and there's always the chance of getting stuck in sn*w. I once thought I'd avoid this by doing a winter road trip through the southern part of the US -- and ended up in a blizzard all the way from Winslow, Arizona to Amarillo, Texas. No one told me there were blizzards in goddamn New Mexico.
And really, my next trip is probably going to be to Belgium, which was supposed to happen last year. That one's going to take a fair bit of planning, but I'm still leaving room in the plans for squirrels.