A collection of photos and thoughts from my 4 month, 13,000 mile road trip around the western United States. For the full story, visit my Instagram.
This is my car. I’ll be living out of it starting today.
It’s June 27, 2018. I just finished working a 1 year gig at the end of April. I’ve been job searching for a while but I haven’t been able to find something that I want to be doing yet.
So while I don’t have a job (#funemployed, am I right?) I do have lots of free time, some money saved up, a good car, and a National parks pass with 8 months left on it.
I really value time as a resource so I want to use this time in a smart way. I’ve always wanted to take a long road trip of the U.S. to see all the great things it has to offer, so I figured this is my shot. I’m going to do my best to share my experiences along the way.
Got the bed for tonight set up…
The first spot I was hoping to park and sleep at tonight is no longer available so it looks like I’m sleeping in the parking lot of this touristy drug store.
I’ve laid out in the car before and I should just barely fit but this will be my first night actually trying to sleep in it. Should I have tested it before? Maybe. Oh well…
I love being up early in the morning…
Maybe not the actual waking up part, but everything after that is great. It's so peaceful and quiet, I have everywhere to myself, and they day feels so full of time and potential.
I hiked up to this fire lookout tower with this great view of Mt. Baker…
It was a pretty tough hike, 8 miles, up the whole time, lots of trudging through slush and snow.
I was the first one up there for the day, so I had a snack and started reading a book for a bit.
Another older gentlemen showed up. We got to chatting about how beautiful this spot was and I said “it’s a great place to relax and do some reading”.
And he said “Yep. Or not. Or just BE.”
And I sat there and thought about that for a minute. And I liked that idea of just “being”.
So I put the book down for a bit and just “was”.
I’m really bad about being mindful of living in the moment. Something I’m going to work on more over this trip. Thanks for the reminder, Dave.
So apparently all National Parks and National Forests in Washington do not have showers of any kind…
...best option is to try and find a state park that may have showers, and you have to pay to use those, but that isn’t always an option. The nearest state park/shower to me now is probably 1-2 hours away. So this was my attempt at “showering” yesterday after a sweaty hike...it’s a washcloth and a lake...it kinda worked.
Being clean really only last for a few hours anyway. I have to put on another layer of bug spray and sunscreen, and then I’ll go do some other hike or something and get sweaty again.
So yeah, I pretty much always smell and feel gross. And I’m covered in bug bites. But that’s life when living out of your car.
Here’s hoping that Oregon has more showers…
Today marks a month since I hit the road…
Feels kinda crazy. Time flies. This month has been pretty easy, I’ve had friends to hang out with and connections to stay with occasionally. I’ve probably spent roughly half the nights so far sleeping in the car.
There have been some challenging parts of this trip, as there always is. I consider myself an independent person, with lots of experience being alone on other trips, but there are still many times where I wished I had someone else to share an experience with, or to talk and joke around with during down time.
Sometimes I feel a bit aimless or purposeless, thinking “what am I doing with my life?” and I have to remind myself that this trip is for me and I can do what I want when I want. I can do this for as long or short as I want. There is no pressure. I just need to relax and enjoy the moment and just BE (thanks again Dave). Not always as easy as it sounds for me, but this gives me the chance to work on that.
Anyway, it’s been a good experience so far, looking forward to whatever’s next (like finding a shower for today).
I am totally solo on this trip.
I may meet/chat with someone occasionally, but most of the time it's just me. And that's ok. Sometimes the loneliness is so strong, that it starts to make it hard to enjoy what I'm seeing or doing. I think about how this would be better if so-and-so were here.
But then I had a thought.
Yeah, it would be better if they were here, but ya know, it's also pretty damn good right now. I can't bring them here, so why worry about it? Acknowledge the thought, and then shift my thinking to the positive. The incredible view, how lucky I am to be able to do something like this, how lucky I am to have friends and family so good that I miss them.
On this evening, I was in Cannon Beach, so I grabbed a beer, and went to the beach and sat in the sand and enjoyed the sunset on my own.
Find the silver lining.
I don’t think I’ve slept in a single glamorous spot with a great view on this trip…
…like those perfect pictures you see of people living the sweet #vanlife with some crazy view out the door. Most of the time it’s random parking lots or side streets where I hope I won’t get caught. Sometimes the view is still good though. This one was from a casino parking lot in remote California on a cold, misty morning.
A sunrise worth sleeping in the parking lot and waiting in the cold.
adults can play in the dirt too.
I’m super impatient.
I like to move quick. It’s probably not the best thing for me. This trip has been an excellent challenge for me in that regard. Reminding myself I have nothing but time. Reminding myself to slow down, try to live in each minute. If I pass something that looks cool, turn around and go check it out (this waterfall was one of those times).
Coincidentally, long exposure photography forces me to do that. I have to set up the tripod and camera and frame the composition and get the camera settings right, and then I had to stand totally still for 15 seconds for this picture. And I had to do that 5 times before I got the right one.
Instead of multitasking, this trip has been about trying to get back to single tasking. I don’t think I fully understood mindfulness, but now I think I do a bit better.
For me it could be as simple as putting down my phone when I’m alone and having a meal. Sometimes I’ll even close my eyes when I take a bite to try and focus even more on the taste and texture. Or look at the people around me, enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant.
In general, I think it’s about making the minutes count. Being mindful of the present. Remembering that tomorrow is promised to no one. Gently reminding yourself: “Hey. This is a good moment. Put the future and the past and anything else away for now and really go deep into this moment. Make it stick.”