Embarking on a road trip is loaded with excitement and a feeling of freedom in every sense of the word.
I always envision “Thelma and Louise” and their crazy adventures across the country, and how the notion of letting go, jumping in and being spontaneous chips away at stagnation and routine.
It called to me and I just had to go.
There were larger than life forces working on this adventure and I paid attention.
If it wasn’t apparent from the get-go, it most definitely became crystal clear as the miles ticked away. I needed the month away from ordinary life to grow, learn some valuable lessons, be more present and commune with nature firsthand.
Before I even left, the questions arose, synchronistic signs were coming at me from random places and all I could think about was the beckoning in my heart.
l could almost sense the salt water thousands of miles away, as California was my final destination, or so I thought.
The landscape going west always peaks my interest, it enlivens my creative self and it brings it all home as to why I chose to go on the road.
The only loose plan I had was the length of time I was going to be away, but even that wasn’t entirely clear. If something tugged at me along the way, I was open and willing to see where it would take me, and divert my path to wherever my heart wanted to go. If it didn’t make sense, then I wanted to explore that even further.
It was the simple things that inspired my aliveness and propelled me forward for an entire month.
Being solo on the road had more imagination and discovery than I can ever begin to express.
There were so many extraordinary moments of discomfort, and although I knew I was between two worlds emerging, I had to do it in my own way and on my own time.
The trip was so full of human connections, cajoling with nature and imperfect ways of day-to-day living that I wasn’t sure I could enter back into normal society in a way that I understood as before.
Things were fuzzy prior to leaving, even chaotic, but I mustered up some unforeseen strength, took a deep breath and leaped.
Even living out of a bag or two didn’t disappoint. It showed me that I don’t need much, and made me wonder why on earth do I have things in storage to begin with? When was the last time I actually used that small step ladder or box of sewing items, or wore those few pairs of high-heeled shoes?
The time on the road gave me a chance to rediscover living off the grid and minimal ways of being, and that I truly don’t need much to be happy or content.
The first order of business was getting my car checked out. It’s a good car, a small economical car, and one that hasn’t let me down thus far. I even referred to it as my “bestest little buddy” (a moniker I used to give my last remaining dog) at one point, and patted the dash board often when I was gunning it at almost 80 miles per hour.
I had to put the idea of Mercury being in retrograde completely out of my mind, otherwise the very notion of mechanical failures would have plagued me embarking on this trip for the entire month the planet of communication and electronic meltdowns was going backwards.
I was determined to move forward, not just in the physical sense, but in every inch of the spiritual and the emotional sense.
Karma was on my side, and I still can’t believe how fortunate I was to head down a path of much-needed alone time, the places I visited, the photos of the most spectacular sites that I took with my phone and sent via text to loved ones and visiting friends and family far and wide, who happened to all be at home versus being away on their own vacation.
Things just lined up and flowed, almost like it was predestined.
As the trip began in Austin, I wrote down my mapped plan every evening prior to the next days’ travel. I didn’t have a fancy GPS system in the car, or on my phone for that matter; I just wrote stuff down and followed it loosely.
Yes, I got lost.
I often couldn’t read my own writing, and sometimes when the windows were down the paper with the directions written on them flew into the back seat. Heart-pounding and funny, all the same.
But, I drove for six to eight hours per day, traveling through west Texas, Albuquerque (historic Route 66 and seeing the wolf sanctuary), Vegas (surprised visit to Mom), up to the Sierras in California (Yosemite camping, historic Nevada City), other cool cities in Northern California (Los Gatos to visit my brother and his family was included) down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur (a beyond magical stay!), Santa Barbara (met up with my Boulder soul sister for an awesome reunion), San Diego (an inspirational stay with my incredible friends) and looped back towards Texas with a big ol’ stop in Sedona, Arizona (the spiritual apex of America).
Everything about the trip was either unfamiliar and different, or offered me a mind-blowing experience that will stay with me forever.
I ate meager amounts of food, some of which I prepared ahead of time and had hoped it would stay relatively fresh in a small cooler (challenging).
Other times I would pull over when my eyes were tired and I needed to stretch my legs, and buy a hot cup of tea to generate that little caffeine rush and a sense that my ever-present home ritual was still intact. The hot beverage also made me less hot when I was smack dab in the middle of blistering dry temperatures in Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and the inland cities of Northern California.
Something about keeping the interior of the body in sync with the external temperatures worked wonders for my overall mental health.
Aside from the sustenance and the small motels, where I managed to practice yoga and meditate every day, it was the people I met, the unique small towns and communities I drove through and how my body and soul felt for the entire duration.
I woke up. I was calm. No amount of heat or road traffic and detours, or gas gauges hovering near empty on many occasion, or dwindling funds in my bank account, or uncertainty of where to go next and how it would all look, or being a woman alone on the road, or not knowing how to change a flat tire (still need to learn that one!), or what day I was going to return or anything else that could have plagued my time away, got to me.
When I noticed the time I arrived in my Sedona motel was 2:22 p.m. (another synchronistic sign of hope and new beginnings), I felt in my gut that the trip was the best decision I had ever made in my life.
It was a necessary move I had to make to ensure that my path was continuing to take shape and the Universe was there to support me. I got out of my own way each and every day.
It was the first time in my existence here on earth that I felt taking the leap that I had intended was fully supported by a power greater than myself.
And being in Sedona for a few days was a life-changing experience all its own.
As I have returned to day to day living away from the road, I can’t help but have the most incredible memories offering me every chance for tears to well up in my eyes when I think about the simple nuances of people and places, who so generously and compassionately presented themselves in a way that has forever changed me.
From the kind owner of the convenience store in a small town (Pine Valley) on the cusp of the California border who gave me a rather large amethyst stone to protect my journeys on the road (he sold a few crystals in his shop), to the trucker who allowed me to draft on his wheel for many miles, to the portly biker dude who chatted with me at the gas station pump and admitted being afraid of snakes, I was presented with all kinds of stories and experiences.
It was these random eye-to-eye conversations, and the loving heart-to-heart words and smiles from friends that showed me more of who I am.
I treasured every second of road time, and am now open to whatever life presents. It may feel weird for a while, but I will always do the best I can with lots of humility and love. And naturally, a big yes to this:
“If you want something you never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Randy Heinitz/Flickr