Hypertouring on the Fly

Planning a route is a good idea.

Most of the time I like to plan my travel. Making sure I don’t miss an opportunity to see an unusual sight is important if I might not travel that way again, but when the opportunity to slip out the door unexpected happens, then it’s a free-for-all.

Hypertouring is just what it sounds like, a vacation that offers a lot of entertainment packed into a brief amount of time. In recent years this is the primary method I’ve resorted to for vacation time. Wake up, stagger to the coffee source and then hit the pavement. My method is a little unorthodox. I pick a direction and drive (this is unfortunately limited by the accessibility of roads). Next…I wait for omens. These come in a variety of forms, usually odd sightings or events that signify a locale worth investigating.

Teakettle Junction in Death Valley.

Signs often unexpectedly change our direction, like this one at Teakettle Junction that lured us up Hunter Mountain. Could you pass up that opportunity? I didn’t think so. That one got us into a spot of trouble. That’s what happens when you hypertour through Death Valley and don’t plan ahead. *head slap*

We survived.

Later we ate breakfast at a restaurant that looked like it was in imminent danger of collapse, but the locals assured us “the place has been here for almost 70 years.” Yes…and it looked like every one of those years was rough. The omelets were divine. Another advantage of local cuisine is chatting up the neighbors. You learn about interesting events, like the woman who took off after her cheating husband with a chainsaw, “lucky for him, she was too slow.”

Yes, indeed.

Local people are great for sharing information about nearby places to visit. Without helpful directions I would never have found the guy selling cypress knees on a trip through Louisiana bayou country or encountered the guy offering unguided tours of the lava tubes stretching a mile under his Idaho property (not one of my brighter ideas).

We survived.

Cypress knees.

On this particular visit, despite a set of lengthy and complicated directions, we found the site commemorating some long-ago historical conflict between early settlers. The place would have remained completely obscured without the noteworthy blackberry patch, “when you see the blackberries that crest the roof of the old Wheeler house, veer left.”

I’d like to publicly apologize to the toothless-man-who-owns-the-gas-station for doubting the existence of a road. We did indeed veer to the left, and after crashing through a barrier of brambles, discovered the route. I suppose that dirt trail could be considered a road. Nevermind. The point is, you can wheedle information from the local populace about places you’d never otherwise see.

Sometimes it backfires. Usually it doesn’t. 

Get off the beaten track and have some fun! Small towns are also notorious for sharing bizarre information in public venues. Don’t forget to check the crimesheet on the local newspaper. This is an excellent way to make new friends, open yourself up to all sorts of lunacy, and discover some gems hidden behind the trees.

When was the last time you took a hypertour? Take a day off and set out to explore the backroads of where you live. Come back and tell us what you find….don’t you want to know what’s around that bend?

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  1. #1 by Patricia Sands on August 12, 2012 - 7:26 am

    Oh yes! This is right up my alley and a fine way to have an unexpected adventure. Just make sure you have your camera with you! Loved taking this trip with you here.

    • #2 by Leslie Berry/ @LesannBerry on August 13, 2012 - 10:55 am

      I love wandering down that country road and finding unusual places. I need to be better about whipping out the camera and making a visual record…I never seem to take enough pictures.

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