When deciding between being spontaneous and having a plan, my general tilt is toward the plan, especially when organizing a trip or vacation. I am just more at ease knowing that options have been considered, reservations have been made, and a general schedule of events has been logged that will guide the journey. For me, an itinerary takes pressure off so I can better enjoy the adventure.

Despite my personal preference for planning, I admire spontaneity in others. I can see that my more spontaneous friends tend not to stress out over much, happy to play things by ear. Wherever life takes them is where they are headed, even on vacation. I get it, but go-with-the-flow as the “plan” is well beyond my comfort level.

My husband often forces me out of my comfort zone, as he is keen to wander. As a result, his roundabout journeying has led us to sights we would never have seen via my exacting itinerary. His adventuresome spirit has taught me to ease up on goal-setting for vacations to allow for some unexpected delights.

Even with my penchant for planning, I know there will be times when a detailed escape can quickly morph into an adventure tinged with danger, risk, and excitement.

Growing up, my family did a lot of camping, and we made a lot of memories, including one particular escape that unexpectedly transformed into an escapade. I was camping with two of my brothers and my only sister-in-law at the time. Planning to stay a few nights, we ventured to Pisgah National Forest with a tent, camp stove, sleeping bags, and plenty of food for the journey, including a case of soft drinks in a cooler. The bitter cold weather is one of my most distinct memories, but we were snug in the tent and sleeping soundly, until…

Out in the darkness, we heard loud grunting accompanied by the sound of all of our supplies that we thought had been secured being tossed about. Not only did we hear it, we could smell a bear, close enough to touch right outside of our tent as it tore open cereal boxes and whatever else it found. As we huddled together, my oldest brother wanted to open the tent flap and scare the bear off by shining a flashlight in its face. There was no way that my sister-in-law and I were going to let that happen! Then, a moment of quiet and some heavy bear breathing, followed by the sound of every carbonated can of soda being popped and gurgled. Sated, the bear eventually lumbered off, the biggest miracle being that we all went back to sleep.

The next morning, we surveyed the damage and saw huge bear paw prints at the edge of our tent. Among the refuse were a dozen empty aluminum cans with teeth marks measuring three quarters of an inch in diameter. For many years, I saved one as a trophy from our unforgettable bear camping experience.

Now more than ever, we are dreaming and scheming our next escape. An unplanned adventure along the way will leave you with some incredible memories.

I’m here if you need me. Until then, y’all behave.