I know this thread is very old, but I just had to comment. Sorry for the spelling errors, no spell check.
What an awesome story of a person overcoming her fear and pursuing something her heart desired. We could all learn a thing about her courage (courage is not the absence of fear, but doing something inspite of it). It was very eye opening to hear about how her family tried to cut her down and discourage her, when they were likely just projecting their own fears on her.
The truth is, as I read this, I thought it was so interesting to see how fearful someone was to make such a small drive (in my mind), but then I remembered my own fear when I took my first trip. I was 21 and I drove from michigan to california on my own, sleeping in rest areas along the way (a HUGE no-no, but I was inexperienced). Once you get a taste of adventure, you want to up the anty and go for bigger and more brave trips.
My first ultimate, hardcore trip was driving from Michigan to Alaska and back - alone! I often tried to talk myself out of it, but eventually decided that I just had to take that trip. The night before I left, I was awake with fear but I left anyways. Driving on my first day through the Winsconsin planes, I was consumed with fear and considered turning back, but I just kept going. I was on the road two months, drove 13,000 miles, camping alone in the wilds of Alaska and Northern Canada. When I returned home, I litterally cried out with joy that I had made it, and changed myself in the process.
The point is, it's better to live now and take chances than to "play it safe" and regret what might have been.
Since that trip, three years ago, I am absolutely ADDICTED to solo travel. I am a nurse and frequently have lots of time off, so I typically go on between 10-12 solo trips a year! To up the anty even further, I have started doing solo trips in different countries. I have driven the western Fjords and Ring Road in Iceland (AMAZING!), drove up to the artic circle in Norway, flew into Milan and drove through Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France and even took road trip through Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Greece (had a friend with me that time, though).
Hopefully, Birdybirds experience helped seed that lust for travel and experience! I am curious if she has gone on any other trips since then