Life on the Road: The Beginning

I write this to you from a Laundromat in a suburb roughly 10 minutes outside the main strip of Las Vegas. Having spent the last 5 days in the desert, visiting Joshua Tree and Red Rocks, it was time to wash the bed sheets and clothes and get that beautiful red desert sand out of our belongings.

This is week three of a seven week road trip. To rewind a little and give you some background, a few months ago I asked to take a one year leave from my place of employment. It was pretty spur of the moment, but something I have dreamed about for a long time. I am not the greatest at making decisions. I am sensitive, emotional, and think way to hard and in depth about things. So the decision to take off and travel for a year wasn’t the easiest thing to do. But one day I snapped. Life caught up to me, and I realized there was never a good time to make such a decision. With an Australian boyfriend who’s visa was up in Canada, a job sucking the life out of me, and finally some savings under my belt, I decided it was time. It was time to follow my dream and experience more of this beautiful world.

The plan is simple. There really is no plan! Which is pretty out of character for myself. I am a planner, to the t. I love to plan. So, to take the time off and see where the wind would take me, well that was new and crazy as well. But what I have kind of figured out so far is a seven week road trip through the states, a week back in Banff to get my winter fix, a few weeks at home spending quality time with family, Japan for some snowboarding, Australia for some sun and rock climbing, Nepal for some mountain climbing, and then back to Banff for June 1. Whatever else comes at me in between, I am ready. I am open.

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So here I am, in a Laundromat outside of Las Vegas, 19 days into our road trip. How did we get here you ask? Well, it all started with building a bed to fit in our Dodge Caravan. Next, we put in some drawers and curtains, and boom! This is now our home for the next month. We started in Banff and drove all the way to Portland in a day. It wasn’t as horrible a day as we thought it would be, minus the hour hold up at the border getting questioned about weed and how we had the money to afford such a trip. After Portland, we made our way out to the coast to see Cannon Beach. It was beautiful, but very foggy, so we pushed on to a road side pullout just outside of Crescent City. From there, we checked out Redwood National Park and spent the next night in a friends apartment parking lot in San Francisco. From San Fran, we continued down highway 1 to Big Sur. People weren’t lying, that coast drive sure is beautiful! From Big Sur, we pushed straight through to LA, making a pit stop to see a hundred elephant seals along the way. Finally in LA, we settled down for a week of time with my family.

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For me, the time with my family has been the highlight of my trip. Adventures are amazing, nature is beautiful, but when you’ve lived away from family for nearly the last six years, quality time with your loved ones truly is the icing on the cake. Also, my family rocks. Like, if you dreamed up the most fun loving, kind, generous, amazing family ever, you’d get the family I was somehow lucky enough to be born into. Not sure how I drew that stick, but I thank my lucky stars everyday that I did. From concerts, to great wolf lodge, to backyard fires and wine, to BBQ’s and swimming, hikes, Netflix watching, baby cuddles, school Halloween parades, trick or treating, and amazing conversation, that time with them was the world to me. I was pretty homesick and sad to move on to the rest of the trip. I know, that sounds weird with such an awesome road trip ahead, but as I said I’m pretty emotional, and my family is pretty freakin’ incredible.

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A lot of hugs and a few tears later, we were back on the road to Joshua Tree. We decided to try our hand at bouldering so we rented a crash mat and a guide book and headed out only to get served up a massive slice of humble pie. Bouldering in J-Tree is HARD. My ego was pretty happy to hear that other people have had similar experiences.

Next up, we were headed to Vegas. We spent a weekend on the strip enjoying some drinks, nice dinners, and trying our hand at the casino. I was the big winner of $12 but luckily my boyfriend had better luck and walked out a few hundred. We didn’t go crazy in Vegas, but it was a nice treat.

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After the weekend, we headed just 30 minutes outside of Vegas to Red Rocks. Ahhhhh Red Rocks. I love that place. Awesome climbing, hot desert sun, and friendly company at the crags. We did three solid days of climbing until we both hit a wall (no pun intended). An incredibly generous friend then offered us a shower, dinner, and a bed for the night. It was heaven, and that kindness will never be forgotten.

So here I am, on my rest day, doing some laundry, and writing this blog post. I am not exactly sure what I want to say. Mainly, I hope some family and friends get an update of what I’ve been doing/where I am in the states. But living on the road has given me a lot of time to think. Its pretty amazing all the time you suddenly have when you don’t work eight hours a day. Ill admit, sometimes I feel antsy, like I should be doing something more productive. But then I stop and think, and remember that this time was exactly what I wanted. Time. Time to think and sort through my emotions, time to soul search and explore different parts of the world, time to re-connect with my true self, time to experience new things.

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Well, I have already started to notice some of these things happen. For instance, time to sort through my emotions. Life can be crazy and hectic and sometimes we push aside important feelings or emotions or store them and build them up in some box never to truly deal with them again. Stress, anxiety, anger, hurt. With lots of time to think, came lots of time to feel, which led to a lot of seemingly random crying and frustration. It all came out, it made now sense, but now I feel refreshed and lighter. Acknowledging those emotions, truly letting yourself feel them and working through them, it really does help.

Time to explore different parts of the world. Well, its all starting with the USA. Although I’ve been to the states many times in my life, there is so much here I haven’t seen. Driving highway 1 down the coast, standing beside the giant redwoods, looking out on that California coast, climbing new routes in the desert, its been exciting and there is only more good things to come.

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Time to experience new things. Well, living in a van has been a big one. Sleeping at some beautiful campgrounds and some terrible spots along the highway. Driving through the Mojave Desert to have the roof box suddenly pop open and your stuff go flying for miles. Running down the highway in the hot sun to collect your things. Pooping in a bag in Red Rocks. Eating fresh Clam chowder on the Oregon Coast. Seeing an alternative performance in a hole in the wall studio in San Francisco. Watching the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” with a live orchestra and vocals. Watching my little cousin climb his first climbing wall. Meeting new baby cousins. The list goes on… I am grateful beyond measure.

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There has also been time to slow down and notice the little things. The kindness of family who host you for a night or a week. The generosity of a friend to put you up for a night. The patience of people as you ask for help finding your way to different places. We are absolutely bombarded by negative stories, images, and headlines these days. Its tough. Its depressing. But all I can say I have experienced and noticed on this trip is pure and utter kindness. Humans are naturally good. The little things you do might be huge to someone else and make all the difference in their day.

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So there you have it. The thoughts, experiences, and feelings of being on the road for three wonderful weeks. Its not all sunshine and rainbows, but there is a lot of good time. Its something we all need to do more; slow down. Truly take in life. Soak up the views. Enjoy the memories. Notice the kind moments. That’s where the beauty of life truly lies. You know that quote “it’s the journey, not the destination that matters”? Well its true. Enjoy your journey. Don’t let it pass you by too quickly.

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