I’m having a love affair with the road and all the places that it leads. It only took an hour to get out of the LA traffic before I got myself entangled in the enjoyment of this threesome – the road, my van and me. We make for a sexy combination – just sayin’. What do you do when you have ultimate control over your freedom? You sing bad pop songs really loudly of course! Also I tend to get naked on hikes in the desert where no one else is around, turn left when I’m meant to go right just because I’m feeling curious, cafe hop buying drinks only enabling me to afford gas, browse carefully curated thrift stores for as lonnnnng as I want, engage in conversations with strangers more often, wake and drive straight to the best place for sunrise then race those tired eyes to the summit before the show starts, write, photograph, smile and dream.
If you told me I was headed to a barren, rocky wasteland where there is little water or shade in sight you would have me nervous about the enjoyment at the destination but it turns out the desert can be just as charming as the sea in more of a tough love approach. Like any badass you have to work a little harder to break through the rough edges to discover the hidden gems that the desert can offer. The openness which appears empty and harsh during the heat of the day leaves room for the Coyote’s call to vibrate the rocky walls of the campground under a full moon, much to mine and a nearby neighbours delight whose “Wow, what the fuck?! That was awesome!” statement echoing across to where I was seated summed up the brilliance just as well as any romantic poem. My last day in the desert was complete with a visit to the Integratron. The Integration is a purpose built dome intended for time travel. Created by George Van Tassel who built the structure under what he claims to be instructions from extra terrestrials in the mid 1900s. I’m not sure if I travelled time in the same way as it was intended by the aliens, but I travelled through time and space leaving my body behind during a sound bath session in this giant, wooden, dome in the middle of the desert. The sound of the crystal quarts bowls being played rocked through my body and aligned my chakras leaving me deeply relaxed as I walked out of that dome floating on clouds. I left Joshua Tree clear and born in to a dream like state where all my desires corresponded with creation, healing and positive energy.
But like any romance we hit a speed bump. Along the coast of Big Sur I was unmoved like I had anticipated and this disappointed me and made me want to seek out company. My aloneness suddenly transcended in to loneliness. As much as I adore my family and friends and appreciate the comforts of home I’m not one to get homesick very often. But here I was missing one of my closest friends 21st birthday and I was struck with that gut twirling longing for home. I tried to perk myself up with a visit to the beach but although striking in beauty it was cold and the fly’s attacked me at all angles which left me feeling even less amused then previous. I was falling in to that trap where the further you distance yourself from society the more you despise it as I sat there picking on all the people passing by. I had to get out of there. Driving further north my mood lightened when I stopped in at a gorgeous Inn (sitting amongst the woods looking over the sea) where the young lady at reception greeted me with so much warmth and enthusiasm even telling me about a short walk up the hill to a seat overlooking the ocean usually reserved for guests. I arrived in between meal times and didn’t pay a single cent to this property which sparkled in affluence. I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and felt as though I was treated no different to the rich and famous that fill their guest book. My cynicism ceased and mood restored as I sat looking out to the ocean from the previously mentioned seat after wandering property.
Onward to Yosemite National Park. I arrived in the heat of the day and took refuge in a nearby river. I sat on a large flat rock where the water flowed loud and proud around me. My afternoon was spent reading in the sun. I’m easily entertained. I can do both stimulating, activity laid out for me or you can simply give me a book to read or write/doodle in and I’ll be set for the day. My accommodation wasn’t high rise luxury apartment but I felt as though I was leading an equally luxurious life with the ultimate freedom to play choose your own adventure with no one to answer too. Yosemite was undeniably grand. I had just conquered a hike that not only took my breath away due to the near dead, upright, paths (okay I’m being dramatic but it was a hella steep grade) but because the views were pretty damn special! Anddddd there was even a bright and vivid, rainbow dancing in and out of the waterfall I’d hiked too when I finally made it up the last step. I know right!? I have so many moments in the natural world where I am so blown away by how impressive it is that I just can’t fathom how anyone chooses to destroy or harm our world in anyway. Each new sight I lay my eyes on I feel increasingly inspired to walk lighter to care for the habitat I’m blessed with. My life is not at all strictly eco friendly but I believe any intention and step we take to live harmoniously with the land is one worth making. That evening I was once again soaring up to the highest elevation to watch the sunset. I sat on the edge of the earth on my granite cliff face overlooking the valley, wide eyed, tummy tingling taking in every last changing hue painted around me. As a woman sleeping in a van alone in a foreign country and places I was surprised to have conversations with strangers that thought what I was doing was outlandish. Sometimes I feel sad that girls let themselves become submissive to the threat of violent and crazed men and society’s expectations surrounding that. In my experience confidence and our intuition are some of a female’s most valuable strength’s of defence. I’m not denying that people can be dangerous but I’m of the opinion that their are many more good hearted people than sick minded people in the world and despite gender it is very unfortunate to encounter the latter. As woman we shouldn’t feel like we can’t embark on solo journeys because of these issues. Yes, we must be aware but do your research, assert yourself and listen to your gut. Don’t be told what you can and can’t do because of your gender.
I found myself freezing and craving a hot drink to cuddle my hands around after driving out of Yosemite. At Lee Vining I thankfully found just that at a small, mismatched and colourful, cafe complete with a waiter I developed a small crush on during my 2 hour stay where I peaked up from the photos downloading on my computer screen to admire this majestic, mountain, man with striking, blue, eyes. That night I stayed at a nearby road side pull out with some fellow nomads needing a place to rest for the night. I parked with my van door facing the lake so I could wake and watch the sunrise from my bed side. Bliss. Away I drove towards Lake Tahoe. I took a detour to walk around the abandoned gold mining town of Bodhi reflecting on the society that once boomed here imagining the chaos of the men in the pubs drinking away their day’s work thirsty for the riches hidden in the mines surrounding them. At Tahoe the water dazzled my senses with it’s turquoise allure glittering from the warm sun’s reflection. I was eager to have a wash as I was well over due for one but as my toes hit the water I quickly retreated as the water snapped at them with it’s cool touch. The higher altitude and cooler evenings were not in the water temperature’s favour so I had to dismiss my bathing plans. Once again I lay in the sun reading a book. Behind me a couple argued about a $20’000 water installation. Harsh tones and complete unrest habituated itself between the souls just a few feet from me. I wanted to shake them. Calm waters lapped at the ankle of this crazed woman. I made a silent vow to myself that I never get so disillusioned by the money trap that I forget about the beauty offered for free in the world around me. On Saturday evening I treated myself to a meal at a swanky, farm to table restaurant revelling in it’s tasty, organic goodness before watching the story of the NWA in Straight Outta Compton at an Art Haus Cinema escaping the cool air outside warmed by a micro brewery cider in the charming cinema. I drove back to my camp site afterwards thinking about the intense fight they had within for their rights feeling thankful for how far we’ve come and also inspired to keep on going with issues we are yet to resolve.
After two weeks on the road I was excited to return my van and re enter society. San Francisco traffic greeted me in all it’s painfully slow, glory. Sitting in a van at a stand still in 35+ degree heat was not ideal for 2 hours (no exaggerations). I flicked between radio stations and with windows rolled down I stopped on a channel belting out Ludacris’ Move Bitch Get Out The Way. I had a giggle at how fitting this lyric was for how I felt about the situation I was in. We all collect our movie scene moments. We just need to pay more attention. After breaking the traffic I drove over the famous Golden Gate Bridge and around Marina Headlands. A tiny little beach situated between two large rock faces framed my last sunset for the trip so postcard picture perfectly. I saluted the sun with hands in prayer position above my head balancing on one leg breathing it all in with a humble smile. On the plane home I watched a new release starring Reese Witherspoon, The Wild. Many quotes stood out to me in this film and served as valuable reflection on some of my findings on my own small journey alone both hiking in Kauai previous to my road trip and whilst driving across California. One that resonated with me deeply and summed up my never ending fascination with the golden hour is where I will end this reflection “There is a sunrise and a sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.” No matter whether you are travelling to new and exciting destinations or are going about your every day life at home you can always be moved by a sunrise and sunset, breathe in this magical light each day. It’s soul food.