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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Everyone in Colorado has a dog (or wants a dog).
- I want a dog. And I want to live in Colorado. Specifically, Boulder. More specifically, in Carrie’s spare room in Boulder.
- Also, Carrie is not just my friend – she is my family.
- 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.
- 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.
- Maybe I need glasses?
- 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.
- The desert is HOT. I lived in 100+ degree temps for a week and I do not miss it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The sunsets in California are unlike anywhere else. Absolutely stunning – every single time.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- I met someone who made me look back and wonder, “What the heck was I thinking before!?”.
- 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.
- 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.
- When I told my friends this news, I thought they’d freak out. Instead, they’ve all said something along the lines of, “FINALLY!”.
- Why are we always the last ones to see what’s right in front of us?