In a few weeks I will be riding in a motor coach heading towards the north woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Aboard will be 35 other women who want to dog sled and snowshoe through Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The trip will involve four travel firsts for me: transport in a motor coach, a large group, women-only, and dog sledding. Thoughts thrash through my head while anticipating my dog sled journey. I think of the advantages firsts.
Traveling in a motor coach
I’m told that motor coaches have an onboard bathroom, reclining seats, tinted windows, movie monitors, door-to-door service, efficient fuel savings (carbon imprint relief) and a reasonable cost. I will add that being in a confined space for hours offers the chance to build camaraderie among fellow travelers. The last time I traveled by bus was Chicago to Salt Lake City upon graduation from college. I went to see my boyfriend Rudy, who was living in a state-subsidized forest ranger hut in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. But this is not a public bus. It’s a reserved luxury motor coach.
Large group travel
Advantages of traveling in a large group can also include less cost. Group fares to attractions and accommodations are often less than those purchased individually. There’s also the safety in numbers factor. When adventure travel finds you on remote snow-covered paths unreachable by car, it’s comforting to know someone is behind or ahead of you. Being with women who don’t get lost, can read a map or are familiar with the area brings comfort. Sharing laughs with new friends is always welcomed. Strangers are sometimes better to travel with than friends. Expectations are fewer and surprises greater. Curiosity, not familiarity drives the show. Personality conflicts and privacy issues may be a concern. In a large group, I think it will be easy to avoid any antagonists. A single occupancy room will offer respite from the group and provide time alone.
At the top of my advantages list for women-only travel is the support, encouragement and respect women often offer to each other. Most women are social creatures. They like to talk. They tell their stories and ask about yours. While in India, I met Sonya from Switzerland. She was recovering from several traumatic events in her life. She was very sweet, wounded and open about herself. I recognized in myself how emotionally guarded I had become. She opened me up, just by sharing her story and some sights in India. Traveling with like-minded adventurous women is fun because we can all be whoever we want to be or hope to be. Some people think women-only travel is safer, but I do not. In some travel situations, it’s safer to be with a man.
Dog sledding is action packed. Physical challenges within a natural environment are ideal for me. There are many ways to move from one place to another. By dog sled will be a thrill. I love dogs and will have to leave mine behind for this trip. After watching the dog kennel’s videos on YouTube, I believe the dogs are well treated and loved by their owners. I don’t think it will be like when tourists ride sad-eyed, sandy camels in Morocco just long enough to take pictures or pet dolphins trapped in a bathtub park in Florida.
Packed in the storage bay of the motor coach will be my travel bag and snowshoes. My purse will hold a book and some snacks. I don’t know if I will have a window seat. In the end, or in this case, the beginning I can only guess what it will be like when I arrive and am surrounded by ice caves, waterfalls and old growth forests covered in snow. The trip will not be what I am now imagining. There will be smells and sounds in the forest. The women and dogs will have names. They will show me Michigan in a way not anticipated by me.