Final Thoughts From the Road

September 26, 2016

Sunset in California

Friends! Oh, my dearest friends. I’m writing this from the patio of my cousin’s home in Malibu, with a dog on my left and the ocean on my right. The outline of my sandals are imprinted on my feet, my cheeks are splashed with red from the sun and you couldn’t pay me to stop smiling right now. California has been so good to me.

I’ve been on the road for 43 days, driven almost 11,000km (6,900 miles) and entered 17 states. Before, I would’ve told you that Colorado was my favourite – and for many reasons, that will remain true – but the experiences I’ve had in California have been life-changing. If the trip had to end today, I would go home feeling truly blessed. Fortunately for me, I have 10 more days on the road and I’m going to soak up every last minute of this experience.

That means I’m giving myself permission to step away from the blog for two full weeks. I’ll be camping for most of that time, and don’t want to have to worry about finding wi-fi or replying to things. The list of posts I want to write when I get home is long, and I can’t wait to share it all with you when I get back! But I need to give myself this space to drive home at my own pace, live in the moment and really take in everything that’s ahead of me.

So before this trip ends, I thought I’d share one more list of thoughts, ideas and experiences I’ve had on the road. I’ll be back on Monday, October 10th, and can’t wait to settle in for a productive fall/winter. There is so much to do and so much to write, but for now I will leave you with this:

  1. Everyone told me Kansas would be the worst state to drive through. Even the locals I spoke with wished me luck before I left. But you know what? Kansas ended up being one of the easiest to drive through. It helped that I listened to some great podcasts and caught up on the phone with Amanda Sandlin. <3
  2. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette is my favourite podcast. I’m a proud supporter of what she’s putting out into the world. The episodes on getting sober and long-distance hiking and writing through hard times (especially this one!) stirred up so many things for me. I’ll be listening to all three again.
  3. The best way to avoid getting altitude sickness is to stay hydrated (drink twice as much water as usual) and eat. I’ve always felt a little wobbly in Colorado, but managed to nix that early by following that one simple rule.
  4. Everyone in Colorado has a dog (or wants a dog).
  5. I want a dog. And I want to live in Colorado. Specifically, Boulder. More specifically, in Carrie’s spare room in Boulder.
  6. Also, Carrie is not just my friend – she is my family.
  7. The Colorado National Monument is a sight to be seen, and I have a feeling (based on how little traffic I saw on Rim Rock Drive) it’s often overlooked on the map. Don’t overlook it. Go. Drive. Marvel. I was literally moved to tears by it.
  8. I’m 50% sure I saw a tiny dead zebra on the side of the road somewhere between Grand Junction and Moab. I know that sounds crazy, which is why I’m only saying 50%. But I’m 100% sure I saw a small black and white striped animal that resembled a miniature horse.
  9. Maybe I need glasses?
  10. I went to the Grand Canyon (South Rim). It was pretty, but it was also full of tourists. I don’t love tourists. And I especially don’t love tourists who litter at the Grand Canyon.
  11. The desert is HOT. I lived in 100+ degree temps for a week and I do not miss it.
  12. You know what’s not hot? Flagstaff, Arizona. I thought I’d be driving into the desert. Instead, I found myself surrounded by trees and mountains. It truly looked and felt like I was in BC.
  13. Gas was $2.17-$2.49/gallon between Colorado and Arizona. As soon as I crossed the state line into California, it jumped to $2.89 – and it just keeps going up. Clearly, my cheap gas days are behind me.
  14. Everything in San Diego seems to be within a 15-minute drive. I feel like I saw so many different parts of the city, and surrounding cities, and I barely had to drive to do it.
  15. Drivers seem to be more aggressive in California than any other state I’ve been to. It’s interesting to think about, when you consider that everyone also lives (and walks) at a slower pace.
  16. The sunsets in California are unlike anywhere else. Absolutely stunning – every single time.
  17. I seriously overpacked for this trip. I thought I had done so good, by only putting three bags in my trunk. But I haven’t used the contents of one entire bag!
  18. I still haven’t felt homesick… but (no joke) I did dream about sleeping in my own bed, a few days ago, and I can’t stop thinking about how amazing that’s going to feel.
  19. One of the best things about this trip was the significant amount of time I spent with married couples. That might sound strange, but there was something so beautiful about witnessing the way two people interact with one another; teasing each other, finishing each other’s sentences and speaking in their own language. It felt good to be surrounded by so much love.
  20. I met someone who made me look back and wonder, “What the heck was I thinking before!?”.
  21. I thought FinCon16 would be my last. Instead, it was my best. And I’ve already bought my ticket to FinCon17. See all y’all in Dallas.
  22. I don’t want to be a full-time freelance writer anymore. Part-time, yes, but not full-time. I’m ready to make ME (my book and this blog) my full-time job.
  23. When I told my friends this news, I thought they’d freak out. Instead, they’ve all said something along the lines of, “FINALLY!”.
  24. Why are we always the last ones to see what’s right in front of us?

33 Comments

  • Reply The Green Swan September 26, 2016 at 4:37 am

    That’s a funny list and I can totally relate! I’ve visited a number of places out West but there is so much more to see and do.

    I hope that wasn’t a dead zebra! I’ve seen a lot of animal shows in the past and it seems like the only thing that kills zebras are lions and tigers… And I hope there aren’t wild lions and tigers out there! :)

    • Reply Kate October 2, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      Grl… I’ve been following y ou since I read your post on Miss Minimalist. Couple of years now? On and off. However, you are ahead me on the same path I’m on.

      I have little notes around me at home/work reminding me “NO DEBT – ALL FREEDOM” I’m less then 2K in debt and getting excited each time I pay it down. My “plan” is to travel and see this wonderful creation by our Creator!

      So just wanted to give you a shout-out and cheer you on in your journey of life abundtly!!

  • Reply Shelly Seward September 26, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Ok, first, you lost me after the word Malibu for a little bit. Had to go off and do some California Dreamin’. :) And second; you (well, and my coffee) made my Monday morning so much better. It was a wonderful distraction for me this morning. My 15 year old teenage daughter, who suffers for major social anxiety, has Drama class this morning at school. It may be her last Drama class because she said this morning, “It drains me for the whole day.” She had a terrible time last class(nothing to do with her classmates or teacher who are awesome and supportive) and I even had to have a short meeting with her teacher right after. As a parent it breaks my heart to see her like this, and as much as I know this course would do her a world of good, I can’t let it affect the rest of her school work. Ok, enough about me. And finally, #22 OMG YES!!!! Even I could have told you that. You are an inspiration to others and wise beyond your years. Much wiser than me. :) Keep those trip photos coming and I’ll be waiting for the next blog post. ☕

  • Reply Amanda September 26, 2016 at 6:00 am

    I cannot wait to hear about FinCon. I’m so glad it was the best! It makes me think I should buy my ticket to Dallas now…because my FOMO is still strong from missing out on this one.

    I’m also eager to hear about the shift from freelance writer to “you.” I’m incredibly interested in that item on the list.

  • Reply Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies September 26, 2016 at 6:04 am

    8 and 9 made me laugh. I’m thrilled to hear FinCon was so great that you’ll be back next year. I hope that maybe I’ll be able to attend – and by attend, I mean go and be too nervous to say hi to anyone! ;) I checked out that podcast based on your recommendation. Thanks for that. More than that, thanks for your honesty and always chronicling your experiences like this!

  • Reply Rob September 26, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Why are we always the last ones to see what’s right in front of us?”

    Well Cait, just like when we don’t often recognise our own voices sometimes when we hear a recording of it (and if you google you’ll discover the reason why), often we don’t really see ourselves as reality (and others) see us. Our inner voice has a lot to do with it. Self inspection, meditation, and seeking feedback from others (not necessarily just friends with biased opinions) can help us a lot to discover our true situation in life.

    So happy to see how much you have been enjoying your road trip. Later, and this goes back to my mention of self inspection, re-read your blog posting of Aug. 15th and my comment to you back then. See what I was referring to? You can’t fear or over-analyse whatever the future holds for you. You are an accomplished minimalist so here’s a challenge – strive to become a minimalist worrier and more a hardened optimist. You’re well on your way to becoming that already based on what I read you saying.

    Enjoy the rest of your road trip adventures with your friends. Thanks for sharing with us this morning.

  • Reply Tara September 26, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Yay to a good time. Double yay to writing for yourself only full time! You can do it. :)

  • Reply Laura September 26, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Awesome! Yeah! Woohoo! :-D

    Cali is on my list of places to go – would love to have a cousin in Malibu.

    Can’t wait to read your posts when you are back in a couple of weeks!

  • Reply Terri September 26, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Did you drive through Arizona at all? Because the sunsets here are amazing too! Such wide open spaces. You feel like you can breathe! But I know what you mean about Flagstaff – I love going there because I do feel like I’m in a different world with all the lush greenery surrounding me. Plus, it’s about 20 degrees cooler than where I currently live.

    I am very happy for you for deciding to make these changes in your life. I can definitely see you being a full time author and being very successful at it. You have a great writing style. Can’t wait to see your book when it gets published by Hay House. I’ve loved your blog and your podcast – did a lot of binge listening to you and Carrie! You guys are inspiring me to do some side hustles on the side – still trying to figure out what all of them might be, but you’ve definitely got me to thinking of alternative ways I can make money.

    Can’t wait to read the rest of your posts when you are back in BC. Interesting how it takes your going away to realize sometimes what you’ve really missed and left behind (aka your bed!) :-)

  • Reply CarrieH September 26, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Love this, and so grateful you are sharing your experiences. It is funny how sometimes we need to go away from our normal lives to find ourselves. Enjoy these last few weeks of your adventure. Amazing and wonderful that you are doing this.

  • Reply L Winter September 26, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Cait, I have been fascinated by your blog the past several months. Way to go on embarking on such an incredible adventure! I’m a native (and passionate) Californian but claim dual-citizenship in Texas, where I have now lived for several decades. My husband and I happen to live about 25 minutes from Dallas. We would love to host you during your time here for the FinCon. If you are at all interested, please email me directly with so I can tell you more about us and where we live.

  • Reply TJ September 26, 2016 at 7:59 am

    So many reactions to this post:

    1.) I can’t wait to see how you are going to build yourself as your brand. I am beyond excited for you.

    2.) I selfishly like that you might be able to help me not overpack for a long road trip.

    3.) I’m sad that it didn’t work out for us to meet on this trip, but I’m so happy that I will be able to meet you in person after all at FinCon17. I only spent 30 minutes talking to people on Wednesday night, and it was so much fun, and it caused so much FOMO and sad faces while watching the festivities on Twitter as all of my favorites got to hang out and affirm each other’s awesomeness.

    4.) I also love Nicole. I went to Bloggers In Sin City twice, which was her event. She gave up alcohol athe first year that i went and it encouraged me that I don’t need to drink to fit in. She is amazing on so many levels. I think five years ago, I just wasn’t ready to put 100% effort as a blogger or entrepreneur. I was writing on BlogSpot about prior dating horror stories. Some of the other BiSCuits thought it was pretty entertaining but I eventually ran out of stories.

    5.) it’s nice to hear that drivers outside of California are less crazy. That’s what I’ve always heard.

    6.) I hope you really do let yourself relax these next few weeks. My biggest fear with pursuing any form of working remotely is knowing that there are all these e-mails coming in at all hours. I tend to tackle my personal e-mail account asstuff comes in (hence the whole “reply to Cait 15 minutes after she e-mails me”)

    7.) I’m very seriously considering doing some sort of “Podcast Across America” I know that my personal money story isn’t all that helpful to most people, but if I can find a way to help bring what other people are putting into the world more attention, that makes me feel so much better about the whole self-promotion and me as the brand thing. Plus, I feel like podcasts would be way more fun in person vs. phone party, but not the ones where people record in a big conference halls amongst several side conversations where there’s all the distracting background noise. The logistics of that idea might prove to be too difficult to implement, but it’s fun to think about!

  • Reply ESI Money September 26, 2016 at 9:22 am

    1. I live in Colorado.

    2. It IS awesome!!!

    3. I don’t have a dog and don’t want one. :)

  • Reply Calee Spinney September 26, 2016 at 9:25 am

    It’s been so fun to read about your travels! Those 43 days have flown by… of course, I’ve been sleeping in my own bed every night. Enjoy your trip home! I’ll be waving from SF.

  • Reply Tawcan September 26, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Love hearing your thoughts on your travels. Interesting that people in Colorado have or want a dog. Is it big dogs or small dogs that people want/have?

    FinCon sounds amazing from what I have read. Really hope I can make it next year.

  • Reply ChooseBetterLife September 26, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I love the wisdom and inspiration you share with us and am so glad you’re finding your own on this trip too. It was lovely seeing you- hopefully it was the first of many visits.
    Have a wonderful time camping off the grid.

  • Reply Annet M September 26, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I hope the story behind #20 comes out sometime – seems intriguing, because you could read it two ways (good and bad). I also love to see the shift in your work (as I contemplate freelancing) and how you manage and enjoy that journey.

    • Reply Cait Flanders September 26, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      #20 is good :)

  • Reply David September 26, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Number 15 is really interesting… I definitely noticed that too. Drivers were really aggressive but the sidewalk traffic was so unhurried. It was always so relaxing to walk around. The polar opposite of Manhattan walking. Southern California and New York are like bizarro versions of each other.

    Anyway, what a blast! I am so glad you talked me back into coming. I’m looking forward to Dallas already. Drive safe and enjoy your offline time :)

  • Reply Mackenzie September 26, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Glad you love California, Cait! :) I look forward to hearing more about making this blog your full-time job and the transition that will take.

  • Reply Ms. Montana September 26, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    I’m so glad you had a great time. I always feel very reflective and inspired when I travel. I find my best ideas come on long road trips. It has a way of clearing my mind. I’m excited to read all the things you have come up with!

  • Reply Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life September 26, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I think CA drivers get blamed for bad driving everywhere. Jerk on the road in DC? CA driver! Jerk on the road in Florida? Thanks, California!

    Sadly, I can’t say that it’s totally unwarranted … ;)

    I’m so glad that we met, you take the prize for Best Hugger! It was wonderful catching up with you. Even if it felt like it was only for a minute, it felt like we were just picking up the conversation from the last time we saw each other.

    I am always in support of adopting dogs (or having them, really) if you’re prepared for the costs. They make life better and more snuggly.

  • Reply Nick True September 26, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    What a great post!

    Couple of things:

    1. You should totally get a dog. My wife wanted one for a long time, and I put it off because they can be (read: are definitely) expensive… But we just got our little Borderdoodle a month ago and she’s the best thing in our lives. We love her so much and she’s worth every penny.

    2. Super interesting to hear that you thought FinCon would be your last! I had no idea, especially since it seems like you’ve been going for awhile. But glad to hear it was great, and I’m excited to see you in Dallas next year!

    3. Also super pumped to hear you’re going to dial back your freelance work and focus on growing the Cait Flanders brand. I think you deserve it to yourself and to other people for the impact that you have.

    4. Thanks for writing about Colorado. My wife and I have never been, but we want to so bad. Thanks for solidifying how awesome it is and our intent to go!

    Thanks Cait, it was great to meet you last week :)
    Nick

  • Reply giulia September 27, 2016 at 4:16 am

    love to read this post and I hope to read more later. You need take off of internet Enjoy your adventure!!!

  • Reply Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope September 27, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Great list! It really gets me excited about our big family road trip, even though it’s still five years away. There is so much we want to see – but hopefully no dead zebras, that might traumatize the kids! Best of luck as you change your focus to more on writing for yourself. It really does take a lot longer for us to realize things about our self, in comparison to everyone else on the outside. Enjoy your camping adventures!

  • Reply Amanda @ centsiblyrich September 28, 2016 at 7:42 am

    What an inspiring post! Your trip sounds utterly amazing (it makes me want to pack up and take off!). I love Colorado too and visit as often as possible. This year when we went, I had altitude sickness almost the entire time, but maybe I needed to drink more water!? And I’m with you on Colorado National Monument – we’ve been there twice and there were very few other people there. It is truly a jewel.

  • Reply Andrew Hallam September 28, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Cait,

    I loved reading your story on MarketWatch. Scott Burns (one of America’s most widely read Personal Finance syndicated columnists) sent me a link with a “You’re going to love this story,” email.

    Best of luck with your book. I’m the author of Millionaire Teacher, The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • Reply Liz September 29, 2016 at 6:18 am

    Cait!

    This sounds like an amazing trip. I also live in Colorado. The little animal you saw was possibly a pronghorn. They’re like miniature gazelle and they are all over the Kansas and Colorado plains. They often have a few stripes.

    Have fun camping!

    -Liz (I rarely comment on your stuff, but I’m an avid follower!)

  • Reply Finance Solver September 29, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    You can bet that I’ll be attending FinCon 2017 if the company I’m working for decides to place me in Texas! I haven’t bought my ticket yet but I know for sure that I’ll be attending if I’m going to be based in Texas, everyone in the PF community has been so friendly and helpful, it would be a crime if I didn’t attend.

  • Reply NZ Muse September 30, 2016 at 3:07 am

    Flagstaff is surprisingly lovely, isn’t it? It was actually pretty cold when we were there … but it was October by then.

    Looking forward to seeing what you do with the blog <3

  • Reply Mustard Seed Money October 1, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    That sounds like an epic road trip. It is something that I’ve always wanted to do and you’ve inspired me to pursue this goal sooner rather than later. Additionally, I am looking forward to attending FinCon next year. I’ve read so many positive things about it from this year in San Diego that I need to go next year for sure.

  • Reply Tyler October 1, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    It was very different for me going to San Diego. I live in Clearwater FL which has a beach that was rated the number one beach by TripAdvisor this year. Not that I didn’t really enjoy the trip but the scenery is similar to what I have at home.
    It was awesome to meet in person, and I love that you are going to spend more time on your book (please let me know when I can pre-order) and this site. I look forward to the all of it.

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