what is it all about, anyway

Eagle Lake, Sequoia National Park, California. Kate: 1, Crazy Switchbacks: 0.

Eagle Lake, Sequoia National Park, California. Kate: 1, Crazy Switchbacks: 0.

I am on Day 15 (July 14, 2017) of my trip so far, but honestly, it feels like Day 2. I left Austin and practically jetted to Los Angeles. It wasn’t until yesterday that I left LA and its luxuries of daily showers and comfortable beds to start on this trip for real and get out into the woods.

But, my actual first night on the road was spent outside of Las Cruces, NM in the middle of nowhere. It was a stopover situation, just really to sleep and get on the road in the morning and I scouted a spot ahead of time in the Organ Mountains on Free Campsites. I got to test out this whole sleeping in Rosie thing and it was NOT IDEAL.  My car was packed with a lot of stuff I was taking to LA to leave, which made getting my sleeping arrangement in order very difficult. I put up these Reflectix panels my mom and I painstakingly made for each of my window panels to insulate and provide privacy only to realize I couldn’t see out, which was real freaky and needed to be ameliorated as soon as possible. I was in the middle of nothing and I kept having these terrifying visions of someone rolling up on my car in the middle of the night and trying to break in. In retrospect, that is crazy. But this whole experience made me realize a few of things:

  • Holy hell, do I need to get my sea legs back. Like maybe I need to ease into regular ole camping again before I attempt this dispersed camping thing. My badass confidence from before is currently laying dormant.
  • Further to that, I need to remember that people are mostly good and not once during my last trip did I feel threatened or in danger. Quite the opposite, in fact. More times than not, I was blown away by people’s friendliness, kindness, and generosity.
  • Rosie needs to be ready to go when I need to sleep. That means, everything must have its place and, in particular, the entire back passenger side where I sleep needs to be kept free as a bed, or at least easily transformed.

Since this is “technically” Day 15, the last of those bullet points was accomplished. LA provided for a nice road trip limbo. It allowed for me to have a home base after I had been on the road for a few days. Not much happened between LA and Austin, but it did make me realize I needed to entirely rethink Rosie’s organization, which I did, and I am pretty happy with her now. She has curtains (so I can see out if I need to), stuff stored away in all kinds of nooks and crannies, motorcycle nets for more storage, the Oxalis (I am currently accepting suggestions for names – I am throwing around Xena, Warrior Princess, and Roxi) is planted and hung on the window, a makeshift bar for storage of my six (god help me) bottles of bourbon, and bungee cords and carabineers galore for hanging all kinds of things. There’s also WAY LESS STUFF. Christ, I think back to two years ago and all the crap I hauled around America with me and shiver. Being able to come to LA first and leave a few things behind that were unnecessary was helpful. I probably still have too much stuff, but at least this feels manageable.

::::::

When I left yesterday, I cried. I cried as I was leaving my folks’ place for obvious reasons. But then I really cried when I was driving over the Grapevine, listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland. There is a mixture of shit floating around in my head and I am having a hard time making heads or tails of it right now. My boyfriend and I broke up a few months back. It’s been hard and made even more difficult in the aftermath to move on and get my head right. That was a piece of it. But, honestly, I have really grappled with this trip and I think that played a larger role in the stream of tears that unleashed itself on the 5 at 94 degrees going 77 miles an hour.

When I left Brooklyn a little over two years ago, I can honestly say that I was the most excited for the unknown that I’d ever been. I was ready to go out and do it. My head was in the right place. I felt like a badass taking on an adventure not many women (hell, not many men) have. I was inquisitive. I was curious. I wanted to explore and adventure and see all the things you only get to see by car. It had been too long since I’d traveled through America this way, and I was ready.

When I left Austin a few weeks ago, none of that resonated with me. And, man, did I ever try to reconnect with it, shine it up, and put it out there for the world to see. But, it’s just not there like it was before. I do think some of it has to do with the breakup – so much has been clouded by sadness and anger and genuine “what the fuck,” that it’s been difficult to psych myself up for adventures and exploration in the way I needed to ahead of a big road trip. But, I also think I’ve been a different person since I made my way to Austin. A person that I liked in some ways, but really didn’t connect to in others, and who probably isn’t the kind of person who packs her life into a car and heads out for the great unknown. Austin this time around signified a growth in my professional self, and a huge growth at that. But, what I found was the person I was on the road didn’t fit in with the person I had to be for my job. And, probably, also my road self didn’t fit in with the person I was in my last relationship. It wasn’t until I was in New York in May, surrounded by all of my best Brooklyn people where I was reminded of who I am at my core; a person I hadn’t fully recognized in months and a part of myself with whom I'd lost touch. .

That is a hell of a realization.

So, this trip doesn’t feel the same as it did last time. I am not the same. But I am trying to find my North again. And I’m starting to think that’s what this trip might just be about, after all. Getting back to the woman I was and the woman I like the most.

PS, I’m in Sequoia National Park (I decided to ease in on the camping thing). I did a 7.6-mile hike today that had a 2200-foot ascent in roughly 3.5 miles after not doing any significant exercise since April and severely slacking off in recent weeks on my PT exercises to help with my feet. I did it in new hiking shoes. After coming from just above sea level to a 7500-foot elevation campground yesterday. Sometimes I don’t make the smartest choices. Tomorrow, if I can walk with any semblance of grace, it will be a miracle. But, goddamn it, I did it and the top was magnificent and so was the feeling of accomplishment.

I just re-read this post from when I did my first major hike on my last trip and so many of those feelings resonated with me.

Maybe that badass from two years ago is starting to wake up a bit.