The road is an open place for discovery. Discovery of one's self and discovery of the unknown. A chance to reconnect with the soul; a chance to reconnect with the spirit of adventure. WIth the busyness of this life, we often forget the child within us and get caught up in schedules, duties, and feeling like we cannot disconnect from the world around us. But, every once and awhile, we should silence these voices. The road calls us to let go.
Taking a road trip alone is scary to most. The thought of not knowing who you're going to turn to when you get lost, of not having someone to talk to when you get lonely, and the possibility of bumping into strangers along the way can be terrifying. The fact is, however, that being alone and hopping in a car and heading out to the great unknown is actually exhilarating. It quiets your mind and allows you to forget about the responsibilities at home. It is the greatest way to meditate on the things you're grateful for and on the things you want to do next in life. But most of the time, it keeps your spirit still.
There are, of course, a couple requirements when taking a solo road trip.
The first: Make a great mix tape. Nothing is better than rolling the windows down, and letting the wind blow through your hair as you belt out the words of your favorite song. My recommendations are classic rock, especially when you want to feel free and on top of the world. Play this as loud as you can and remember...roll the windows down! Another recommendation is something melodic and peaceful. Something that reminds you to be thankful for being alive and being able to see the magnificent country that is before you. This is great when driving through a tunnel of trees or winding around a mountain. Remember to breathe as you take it all in.
The second: Either plan your trip ahead of time and memorize the route, or bring a road map. Using your cell phone connects you to the world that you're taking a break from and it is nothing but a distraction. Another option is to have an idea of where you want to go and just drive. There's nothing better than exploring and happening upon things that were not planned for, such as finding a great swimming hole or a great place to have a picnic. You might be surprised by what you find!
The third: Bring a journal and a great book to read when you take a break from driving. Document what you see around you, who you have met, what things you're learning about yourself. Then, catch up on the reading you've been wanting to do and get lost in a great story. This time you'll have nothing to pull you away from those pages.
The fourth: Don't be afraid to talk to strangers. Of course you must use caution, but you'll find that most people are pleasant and willing to help you along the way. Usually they'll fill you in on the best places to eat or the cool spots to hang that only the locals know. If you meet an interesting person, get their contact information and keep in touch. The next time you head in that direction, you may have someone to visit or possibly some place to stay!
The last and final thing: Disconnect from all that distracts you. Turn off your phone, don't check in on facebook or twitter, and tell your friends and family you'll call when you get back. If you don't do these things, you won't enjoy the freedom of being on the road. You don't get the full recharging your mind and soul needs and you forget to connect to what is in front of you. Get out of your car, take a hike, and explore. Let go and be free!
LOCATION: Sequoia National Park
DATE: August 2012
Photos and words from my solo journey north
from Los Angeles, CA to Sequoia National Park.