Seven Days – Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona & California.
I had a measly three-hour drive home ahead of me. I had done the same drive 20 times. I knew where I needed to go, but my mind and body craved an adventure. It craved new roads and new sights, it craved the mystery of “where are we?” … and after very little thought, that is exactly what I gave it.
I drove to Utah that night instead of going home. I drove to Colorado 2 days after that. I drove to New Mexico 4 days after that, and Arizona 5 days after that. I had no clue where I was going each time I got in the car. I had no clue how long it was going to take, what my actual destination was or when I would see my next gas station.
I’m sorry what?! You may be thinking.
Let’s start with how this all unrolled in this brain of mine to do this.
How else do most things start rather than drunken, in the sun conversations that lead to “questionable” decisions? The Lake.
Lake trips were known as the party days where we drank our faces off from sun up to sun down. The motive was far from a relaxing vacation at the lake, more like, how much beer can we drink and still stand up on the wakeboard, ya feel me? We enjoy our times at the lake with a little more relaxation and conversation these days as we all get older.
On this specific lake trip, I met one of my best friend’s girlfriend for the first time. We stayed up late talking about road trips across the US. We talked about solo trips, trips with friends, short trips and longer trips; you can definitely say that I had a road trip on my mind when I woke up the next morning. I was picking her brain asking questions like where she stayed, where she went, how many hours a day/night she drove, how she decided where to go, how much money it costed her, what apps she used on her phone etc. just putting answers in the bank for when I could actually carve out the time to do a trip like this.
Still at the lake for another day and a half, I thought about my new friend’s travel stories the entire time, knowing I had one full job-free week ahead of me. I just WISHED I could do something like a road trip, but to me, without question, one week was just 100% not enough time. What was I about to do drive somewhere for 10 hours and have to come back? My idea of a road trip was to drive several hours even days to a certain destination, post up, and be able to explore and experience that place for longer than just an afternoon or a day. I wanted my road trip to be an epic, all over the country, 2-3 month adventure. And that was my first problem…I had a vision of what I thought it should have looked like, and when conditions weren’t perfect, it deterred me from starting a.k.a a road trip was about to be a dream in my mind forever and never really happen.
As I am driving towards Santa Barbara I still had that hunger for adventure. I last minute saw an exit for Cambria. I thought it said “Carmel” so I zoomed over from the far left to exit the freeway to go adventure this little town. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I got there, but I arrived in a super small town, where I parked and walked around many awesome antique/thrift stores, and some more modern ones too.
In a store called Trading Post, trying on some sandals, I saw this pair of UGG hiking boots. I grabbed them, told the sales lady that if she has my size that I am buying them(all excitedly). I didn’t have anywhere to wear them at the time, but I had in my mind, that they were a great investment for Iceland adventures (which has been calling my name lately). I thought about it a little more logically (hate when I do that) and decided not to purchase the $200 shoes for ICELAND…..that I don’t even have a trip planned for. I was out of a job at the time, so spending extra money randomly was probably not my best option.
I walked around the town a bit more, got my adventure/spontaneous fix, and then decided to drive home. I got my GPS out to navigate me back home. On the way out, while driving through Pismo, my GPS picks up on traffic ahead and re-routs me to a different highway I had never heard of before. It went along some backroads I had never seen either. It was a long road, which I could still kind of see the freeway, which I didn’t notice any traffic on…
There was a road that came to a stop sign, and you could turn either left or right, both along the countryside looking really beautiful. Not a car or building in sight. GPS was telling me to turn right, yet for some reason, all I wanted was to do was make a left down that road, before I had even fully approached it. It looked like one long beautiful meadow… like it went on forever. I wanted to drive until I “got lost or found something cool.”
But I did the boring thing and turned right to go home. It was 6-7pm and starting to have less light out. After I made that turn I still thought about wanting to go down that other road. It was a small obsession in my mind for a few more minutes. Until the obsession wouldn’t stop and I decided to do something about it. I pulled over at the next random exit that I saw and drove into a shopping mall parking lot, pulled into a space, got my apple map out on my phone and started to look for a place to go. This process took a total of a whole 75 seconds probably. I found where I was, realized, Sh*t…I’m kinda Central California on the COAST, (I know, duh.. but It was annoying to see how far away I was from another state).
I zoomed around the closest state, Nevada…Las Vegas, nah, been there. I go up a bit on the map and run into Zion National Park. Done. Easy as that my mind was made up. I didn’t even look around from there to see what was around I literally just, “Siri, to Zion National Park”, and Siri just, “Ok, directions to Zion National park, get on the freeway for 1.2 miles, then make a right.”
Get this, the right that she had me turn on, was that exact road that I had been obsessing over, wanting to drive down and “get lost”. And only shortly after I am on my way to Zion, I realize and laugh to myself, that I literally just almost bought some hiking boots while I was in Cambria, and now I was mad that I didn’t! Now I have to stop along the way to get some because all I have packed is the 3 bikinis, sundresses, and sandals that I packed for the lake that weekend.
I’m not going to do it justice, the way I felt after I realized that I was turning down the road that I initially wanted to go down. I felt incredibly free and alive. The pure definition of living in the moment is what that was. It was insane, all of a sudden my tired, sore and hungover body from the lake that was ready to be home and in my bed, was so excited for whatever this adventure was about to bring. I remember actually screaming (loud) to myself in my car with excitement. Have you ever done that? Or into a pillow? My dad used to tell me to do that when I had too much energy as a kid.
Anyway, I drove down that road with the biggest smile on my face for about 15 minutes. As I am driving I come upon this huge body of water and awesome bridge, it is just about sunset, which I am watching from my review mirror and it’s freakin’ beautiful. Right then I just get all zen on myself and I absolutely knew I was in the right place and doing the right thing at the exact right moment. I drove past it with such happiness, then I realized wait… what’s the rush? So I flipped a b*tch, stopped, went outside, walked around, took some pictures, took some deep breaths, watched the sunset and thought to myself, “This Is My Life. I’m Creating This!”
I drove well into the darkness on Sunday night, my first real landmark coming up was Las Vegas, still maybe 4,5,6 hours away. Around 11pm I started to try to GPS my way to a Wall Mart parking lot. I remembered my Dad telling me recently that if you have a motorhome, you are able to park it for free overnight in a Wall Mart parking lot. Otherwise, I had no idea where to park or what to do haha, I was in the middle of nothing. I ended up driving until I found a rest stop, where I pulled in, parked, totally peed right by my car because it was creepy and the bathrooms weren’t exactly close. Especially for it being close to midnight, a bunch of truckers around, and having seen one too many scary movies. I made a little bed in the back of my car and pretty much just got a little bit of sleep.
Even though I took a short rinse down shower in the motor home before I left, I was still in my swimsuit, sundress, and sandals from the lake, just desperately wanting to take a shower and change and use soap.
Quickly found out that rest stops: 1. do not have showers, 2. they tend to be cleaner than I would have expected and 3. they are just a huge parking lot pretty much for truckers and weirdos like me who sleep in their car on super long hauls. They include 10-15 bathroom stalls each, a few vending machines with drinks, coffee if you’re lucky, possibly outdated snacks, and sometimes picnic benches and grassy areas. Separate parking for the truckers than the short cars. Everyone walking around is probably normal, but since your at a rest stop, you just kind of automatically think everyone wants to secretly kidnap you and murder you. All great thoughts while you are trying to fall asleep with the windows cracked.
OK, so without a shower, I washed my face, teeth, changed and strangely feeling freshened up (to an extent) I was back on the road and so flippin’ excited about it!
What did you do when you were on the road? Weren’t you bored?
Let’s talk about my entertainment on the road for a minute. This is going to questions a lot of you. I don’t have any music on my phone, besides Spotify/Pandora/youtube which requires wifi. I drive a 2000 Toyota Camry, so I wasn’t exactly sporting Sirius Radio or XM or whatever is free without commercials these days, or even a Bluetooth. I used to carry this CD case in my glove box, it was filled with a bunch of my old CDs: Blink 182, Chumba-wumba(Sp?), Sixth Pense None The Richer, mixes from friends that were made as long as 15 years ago (I kid you not back to my Lazy J Camp days in Malibu), Mike Jones, Epileptic Hero and Grizzly Business (friend’s bands), it was just a mixture of interesting sounds in there to say the least. At least I had that if I was bored with no service. EXCEPT, somehow, I had only 2 CDs, Mike Jones. (Who?) and that 15-year-old mix tape from camp, where the first song was Katy Perry “I kissed a Girl and I liked it” it also had the “Cha Cha Slide” and a few other gems on there that kept me rockin’ out. The beauty of these CDs, also, was that they have been floating around in my glove compartment, so really only 3/4 of the songs on both were scratch free. UGH, pains even me thinking back to it.
Other than those two CDs, I listened to the radio…..the radio was cool for a while, until I would run out of service and there was no radio. At least 100 times during the whole trip I pressed scan and the radio would scan through every station and not stop at a single station. That was usually when I would bust a CD (they were considered my emergency back up tunes) and when I just would hate myself after listening to them, I would turn them off. (I think this is the part that stresses people out the most haha)and I would literally dive for hours, without any music or any podcast, no automated books, just me, listening to me.
I had recently spent a lot of time “in my own head” while I was lifeguarding in Saipan. There was a lot of crazy busy times where you’re never alone, but a lot of time I had time to think to myself too, which I missed when I got back to the states. We don’t ever just sit and think to ourselves. Even if we are in the car for hours at a time in a daily commute, we have different channels to fill our heads with, not allowing us to ever be “alone” with ourselves, which I think is a huge disconnect that we lack with ourselves in this generation, but that is a different topic.
Doing a road trip (a rad trip) alone gives you back your mental freedom to think about, and in-depth, anything in your life that needs the attention. My thoughts had more depth and more creativity than I had noticed in a very long time. It was simply because, at least I think, I had so much time to think and expand each subject. There wasn’t a time frame, time on the road was unlimited. I wasn’t dwelling on past subjects or past what ifs, I was over there making inventions in my head, having them start out as one thing, and having them pivot a whole 360 within just a few hours.
If I had a good idea, or a good thought or something I wanted to remember, I would get my iPhone out, and if there was service, I would tell Siri to start a note, and I would just start talking into my phone about the idea, and Siri would be writing it down for me. If there was no service, I would talk into Voice Memo, and then later when I had service, I would listen to it and go between Voice Memo and Notes, listening and dictating it back to type notes. The latter obviously took a lot of time, but hey I had a lot of time, and I was happy to do it because I knew that later I would love myself for it. KInd of like writing in a travel journal or taking photos to look back on.
If there is something that I know, it’s that having a written journal to go with photos of past trips to look back on is one of the coolest memories hands down. This exact reason is why I wanted to create a very easy and quick travel journal so people don’t miss and forget their awesome memories being created. Read about and see a sneak peek of that Travel Journal in my Post titled, “ S I X Week Program: Travel Journal”. It’s amazing because, at the time, you are having such a great time, the memories feel so vibrant, everything so real that you think to yourself, “HOW could I ever forget this? I just won’t, I know it.” You will be surprised how much of that vibrant life you do actually forget now that you are back home in your everyday life. However,iIf you write it down, even just a few words of how you feel at those moments, I guarantee you will never forget even the exact feelings you were feeling as you wrote down those memories. I used to write my dreams down as a little girl, and because of that, I can still remember dreams I’ve seriously had over 20 years ago.
I remember being back in Spain, doing my research on Kebabs, gyros, shawarma, I can’t even remember exactly what they called them there; Doner?! Because I didn’t write it down. As I am doing research on a food truck that I once wanted to open, (and gosh still do, the things I would do to be called the kebab lady haha *accepting sponsors for my dream VW Bus food truck :b ) I remember talking to a friend about it and she told me to write down everything! From ingredients to proportions, to the order of operations they take to make it, everything. I thought at the time, that I would never forget! That I had eaten and watched so many being made that how could I forget. I remember working on that business plan for weeks, not having really added in proportions, or order of operations, thinking I would just remember, well a few months later and I have no clue. I can make up my own and do my best of remembering, and I can easily ask friends that I made that live in Spain to send me that information, but if I would have just written down a few notes, I know I would have remembered even the way I felt while writing it down. Writing, actually writing in person with a pen and paper, is powerful stuff.
This is going to conclude Part 1. I got off topic and that’s just the end of that. Will be back with part II for things that actually happened while on this awesome start to my first road trip.