The rest of the trip to the coast were a blurred stream of long grey days filled with inactivity and frustration with few bright spots of comfort and ease. My main goal was just make it to the coast. Cautious of time we cut our time in Breckenridge, Colorado short due to a terrible case of altitude sickness . As we headed west, the cold gave way to the rain. It started in western Colorado, as daylight fell the clouds rolled in with the night. Surrendering for the day to the grim weather we stopped in Fruita, Colorado, just shy of Utah, just hoping for a half decent place to sleep for the night.If you’re worried you’re supposed to know where Fruita, Colorado is, don’t. From what saw it’s not much more than a couple of motels, fast food chains and a dinosaur museum. Surprisingly, this little town was one of the brightest bright spots on our trip. More specifically, the Comfort Inn in Fruita, Colorado. We’d decided that between the three of us it made more sense to stay in moderate motel rooms and split the price than endure hostels with the same price. Without much thought or expectation we checked into the Comfort Inn and I’m not being over dramatic when I say that that night was one of the best nights on the trip. We spent the rest of the evening sheltered in the strong, bright motel walls, playing music loudly and enthusiastically smiling and laughing as we jammed, eating subway, enjoying the communal hot tub and finally drifting off to a satisfying sleep in nice, warm, clean sheets. At the time I was simply so grateful for such a relaxing and easy night but looking back I realize that travel was reminding me of lesson I know yet too often I forget, it’s not so much where you are but the company you keep. And a good clean bed doesn’t hurt either.
The following day the sun came out for a few hours just enough for us to enjoy Bryce Canyon National Park. This was the last time I remember it not raining. It rained in Zion a few hours later and though the park was still beautiful, it seriously dampened our hiking opportunities (please note and appreciate pun). It rained in Las Vegas, where the trip was as disappointing and bleak as the weather. We left Vegas as fast as we’d came, after the natural force of beauty we’d beheld in Zion and Bryce Canyon against the magnitude of consumerism and industry built up in Vegas made me uncomfortable to say the least. W
Fleeing to the desert, the rain followed us, darkening my mood along with the sky. We made it to Death Valley, whose annual rainfall averages 2.36/ in per year. Apparently it was an above average year for the park, lucky us, it was as wet and rainy as can be. Still, I’d never really been anywhere like Death Valley before. The best way I can describe it was like being on Mars. It was an enormous. The angular dramatic orange slopes meeting the matching cracked earth below created a kaleidoscopic effect. The weather was miserable and we were grumpy but the desert held us in a sort of calming trance, bewitched by its unique beauty. The rain had made the usually dry earthy mushy and unstable. The hillsides crumbled to the touch making it fairly difficult go up them. Still we wandered through the bottom of the park in awe until Dave suddenly veered left finding a trail leading us upwards. Anna and I followed. The climb was slippery and steep, but easy enough to maneuver. I think we all gained a sort of energy then. So pent up from the weather and the car we continued to climb faster and higher until suddenly Dave from behind me said “Don’t look down”. Obviously I looked down. We were high up, extremely high up on a slant that was nearly vertical. Suddenly the trance was broken and reality set in, the reality that I was in fact very scared of heights. Instinctively my eyes welled up with tears and my body sank to the ground. Being scared of heights is a convenient fear to have, one you don’t have to think about often until you’re actually faced with that fear. For example, I often forget about it until I’ve finished a route rock climbing and I finally look down as I’m supposed to let go and be lowered to the ground. Normally I can’t let go, I just uselessly cling to the side of the rock, mentally freaking out, wondering how I could possibly forget I am scared of heights again. Or when I sign up to go skydiving and be fully strapped up to my instructor as the plane is reaching adequate altitude I suddenly start questioning my decision to jump out of a perfectly functioning plane. In most scenarios I overcome my fear. And find for the most part these experiences to be rewarding and thrilling. But not in Death Valley. In that moment I didn’t want to to deal with my fear on top of dealing with what felt like every other emotion on the planet. I was overstretched, burnt out and partially surprised at my own reaction. I caved to the fear. I pathetically whimpered the whole way back down while sliding on my butt, much to the entertainment of Anna and Dave. Covered in mud and humbled to say the least I got back in the car andwe pressed on.
Night came while we were still in the park. We blindly drove through the dark; through valleys, straight up mountains, and down the winding, twisting roads on the other side, hoping to get to LA that night. Unfortunately the rain was not having it; every highway, road, alley we attempted was blocked by flooding. Defeated we called it quits in Boron, California, LA would have wait another day. We did get there, eventually. We spent the day wandering aimlessly around the city (with the rain of course) spent the night at an old friend’s house and got ready to leave for San Diego, our final destination. The rain broke for a few hours the next day and before we left we caught up with a friend from home in Santa Monica, ate ridiculous food and getting a couple rays of sunshine on the beach. At last we got in the car for the last long haul on this trip. Catching a fair bit of that famous LA traffic and killer sunset along the way we finally pulled up to my grandparents home in Tierrasanta. The rain broke. We had 3 amazing days of sunshine. We went hiking, wandered along the beaches, ate amazing Mexican food and relaxed for what felt like the first time in many, many days and many, many miles. Dave headed back to LA and Anna and I got ready for the next part of our journey. 3,500 miles traveled; the great American road trip was complete, and yet I didn’t feel the sense of satisfaction that I so crave and need when I travel. The feeling that you are fulfilled by the experience is so integral and it was a hard bite for me to chew for awhile.
Sometimes trips don’t really get it together. Whether it is your own lack of activism or uncontrollable variables or most likely a combination of the two. Sometimes our travel plans don’t go as expected and it feels as though they don’t really go at all. There’s a lot of things I wish I’d done differently but the overall experience was not enticing enough to try again. Still, I’m glad to know that I‘m still open to trying new things, I haven’t completely debarred the cold from my life (thought I probably should), and discovered places in America that genuinely amazed me (#Utahisthebest). In the grand scheme of things I’m glad got to explore a little more of my homeland. The roadtrip served as a little teaser of what’s out there. I discovered parts I liked and parts I didn’t like, both equally important. If you can end a trip knowing a little bit more about yourself and the world, then I’d say your road is a little bit more well traveled.