John Steinbeck and his French poodle, Charley, embarked on a road trip across the United States in 1960. He wrote about his travels in a 1962 book, entitled, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America.”
It’s one of my favorite books. I initially read it after my own cross-country road trip in 2001. Among his nuggets of perspective, Steinbeck wrote about the connection between the journey and the destination.
“In Spanish there is a word for which I can’t find a counterword in English. It is the verb vacilar, present participle vacilando. It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but does not greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction.”
The concept of vacilando was the source of some of my most memorable travel stories.
One time, I explored a dirt trail near the Grand Canyon’s south rim. I didn’t expect the dirt to transition into snow. I braked and got stuck! Because I learned to drive in New England, I knew about the drive-reverse-drive method of rocking my car’s engine if I got stuck. I eventually was able to free myself from the snow. Then, I got stuck in the mud! Thankfully, a park ranger appeared as dusk approached and he towed me backwards to drier land. Finally, with thanks and a wave, I drove away to find dinner!