It's three days until I leave for Chicago to catch the train. True to form, I'm getting all the last minute details lined up... the ones I can get lined up at any rate... and making sure my pack is together.
The fine art of traveling cheap rests almost entirely upon contingencies and preparedness. You take certain parameters into account and move from there. On this trip out I'm taking the new rucksack, the blue guitar, and a sleeping bag. It's all light weight, all easy to combine and carry. It's summer, but I'm packing in case an impromptu chill descends. My boots are solid. I've got a poncho-bivy (it can work as a simple shelter as well as be worn as a poncho.) I'm taking some trail mix, a few apples, and a bottle of water. I'll have a little.. very little... cash to play with.
I'm also taking a digital recorder, leftover from my days as a small town muckraker, and enough technology to be able to blog and send out updates to you, Dear Readers, and to those loved ones who would prefer that I return safe and sound.
There are other parameters to consider; in this case, the story-gathering project. I'm giving myself a short amount of time in Williston -- 9 days. I was hoping to give myself more leeway, on the long and short end, but finances dictated the mode and methodology of travel. I opted for a multi-city train ticket because it provided the most flexibility for what I could afford. And while this particular jaunt has some built-in reasons behind it... partially my curiosity and love of an interesting story, partially because after the winter I need to stretch my legs a bit.
But I'm not much of an over-planner. It's important to be flexible when you travel, and go where the winds sometimes send you. Too much over planning and over scheduling and traveling runs the risk of turning into something else entirely... like a vacation. Ye gods. How is it that people -- who over schedule themselves and their kids to begin with -- decide to take a break from it all by packing up and going to some other geographical location, where they proceed to OVER PLAN AND OVER SCHEDULE every minute of their time there? By the time they get home, they're exhausted, just in time to go back to work where they can relax and reintegrate into the humdrum routine they wanted to escape in the first place.
There are some variables I won't be able to take into account until I there. Weather is the primary consideration. It's probably not going to snow, but there's been a lot of rain rolling around this year. I'm hoping to camp a bit while I'm out... particularly when I get to East Glacier Park, Montana. I want to spend a few days there, close to nature and in as much solitude as I can stand.