One of the craziest things about Road-Tripping is that you have a strong impulse to go off the beaten path. This can sometimes lead to wonderful stories about the crazy things you found, but sometimes it can lead to a waste of time.
If you’re from Hartford, don’t go getting all offended – this story isn’t really about Hartford. This story is about a spur of the moment decision that resulted in us almost getting lost and not finding food (the latter of which is a travesty).
We started driving early in the morning, catching a quick bite at a Duncan Donuts in Maine, so when we reached Connecticut we were getting hungry. Our solution: let’s go to the Olive Garden in Hartford!
The problem was that we didn’t know where the Olive Garden was in Hartford. Hell, we didn’t even know if there was an Olive Garden in Hartford. It was an assumption we made, followed by another assumption that since there would obviously be an Olive Garden in Hartford, it would be super obvious to us and we’d drive right past it the second we got into town.
We drove for a while, keeping our eyes peeled, but finding nothing.
We drove down a nice-looking residential street, but there was no Olive Garden to be seen. Since this was a spur of the moment decision, we didn’t know anything about the town. Eventually we gave up our search and decided to get back on the highway. Of course, first we had to find our way out of Hartford (which involved us using a laptop to steal internet to googlemap an escape route).
The truth is that you can handle situations like this a couple of different ways: you can freak out and run (like we did); you can just go with it, search for a different interesting place and see what kind of food you end up with; or you can do the damn research beforehand so that you don’t end up lost and hungry in Hartford.
Since 2008 I’ve become a mix of the last two. I’d prefer to have things figured out before I get to a place, but I’ve also decided that if things don’t go the way I’d planned, I’d roll with it. You have no idea how much better a trip can be if you just go with the flow.
Endnote: If I’d had time to do research on Hartford I would have discovered its many theatres, Mark Twain House, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Centre, lots of parks and historic cemeteries. I also would have googled their locations and printed off a map of the aforementioned sights. And I damn well would have discovered that the closest Olive Garden is in West Hartford.