Today was a work day – and I realize by the relief I feel tonight that I’m gonna need to plan one of those every week or so. I had my first tiny meltdown last night (and it really was pretty minor). I got to a campground 15 miles (40 minutes by way of winding roads through mountain passes) from cell phone service, and my spot was a mess (thanks to some punks from the night before, according to a neighboring camper), there was no running water, and the bathrooms were trashed (again, thanks to my predecessors). I felt…all alone, for the first time (I know, I know; I was only 2 days in!), and I couldn’t “fix” the situation except by rushing (slowly) back to a place where I could re-“connect”…and then, I sat on the side of the road at first sign cell signal studying three different maps, reaching out to anyone who might provide help or encouragement, and frantically Googling for better options. (I wanted to camp in natural spaces, to avoid campgrounds whenever possible, but there’s something kind of daunting about that, being ALL alone in the wild; it’s what I want, but it also feels scary…so for now I’m checking out various “types” of more “public” sites [insert sideways glance]…) Next thing I know, a cop appears at my window. “I’m sorry; I know I shouldn’t park here; I just need to regroup and can’t do it without cell service, which I’m sure you probably know is hit or miss at best around these parts…” (I didn’t even let him get a word in, just blabbered my shiznit all over him.) Of course he would ask “What’s your destination?” Well, I don’t have one, per se, but that’s an awfully long story… My goal is aim-ful-ness (and if that’s not a word, it will be when I’m done with this journey). I want direction. And in those moments, I had none. BUT…I didn’t cry. He was kind. Not super-helpful. But kind. And once I got a grip, I moved on up the road, found no room at one inn (campground), then sweet-talked the camp host at the next full grounds and wound up sharing a spot with a really nice older couple there. They invited me to share their campfire too (gosh, the kindness of strangers…), but I just hid away in my Snail Space for the evening, and looked forward to resetting things a bit today… Long story short, I spent several hours in a coffee shop studying maps, books, and websites and making very specific plans for the next few days. Tonight, my soul feels a little lighter. It appears I’ve learned a few things in my journey already. ❤ (This picture of the Siskiyou National Forest and Mountains represents to me the great expanse of opportunity this journey presents; it won’t be without challenges, that’s for sure, just like the wild is not, but the opportunities are as abundant as these trees and hills.)
I’d never been to California before, so I planned to spend the whole of my first day on the road just getting here. I felt like I wouldn’t really begin my journey until I got outside of Oregon…but as I drove away from Portland toward the coast, into sunnier weather south and west of the city, I remembered that life is the journey, not the destination. So I made stops along the way, trying to settle into my snail’s pace (this will be my first challenge – slowing down and taking my time). Still, driving into California felt like arriving. I’m in awe of this trip I’m taking and amazed it’s underway.
I spent the day wandering among California’s giant coastal redwoods. I hurried to get away from the crowds of the park, and when I found a fallen tree that looked like the perfect resting spot, I laid back on it to watch the clouds pass overhead, to marvel at the canopy of trees, and to read the collection of John Muir writings I picked up at the visitor center. In the couple of hours I spent in that place, I felt myself sinking into the essence of what I hoped to find out here – the quiet, the solitude, contentment. This is what I’m seeking, and I look forward to creating these moments in all the places I wander.
I hope the spirit of John Muir keeps me company wherever I roam. ❤
I can’t believe I’ve begun this journey. A year ago, I couldn’t have even imagined it. Six months ago, I thought it was the batshit craziest idea I’d ever conjured. Six weeks back, I told the Universe “If this is meant to be, make it happen. I’ll do what I can, but I’m counting on you to work some magic…” And somehow, it’s all coming to fruition. I quit my job, drove a cab for three months, sold a bunch of my worldly belongings, attempted and failed to rent my house and wound up selling it for 45% profit…and now I’m setting out on what seems like it might be the journey of a lifetime. One of my Lyft riders called me an “intrepid spirit.” A dear friend endearingly calls me a “vagabond gypsy.” Some folks have called me crazy; others have called me brave. I really don’t know what to think…except that I’m hella excited for all that’s about to come my way, even if I’m simultaneously terrified. It’s gonna be difficult at times (I’ve got no doubt about that), but I’m beyond mystified that I’m braving a solo camping trip across the west. I hope it’s everything I’ve wished for it to be – and that I come out the other side feeling less lost in space than I’ve felt for a long time. Here’s to…wandering!