This current lifestyle of mine is not unique at all, but is still uncommon enough to be interesting to the vast majority (this isn’t the 9-5, mow the lawn, make dinner, and get hitched lifestyle, after all).
I’m fortunate enough to have lived in a house in Santa Cruz where I became acquainted and connected to the van life lifestyle. Over the last several years, I’ve watched women I admire travel the continent in their vehicles (buses, vans, station wagons, even a prius!). Sometimes alone, sometimes with a partner. Because of this, I’ve picked up on some general trends on how to make it possible. And the night before I left, one of my close friends called me up to offer trajectory tips: the do’s and don’ts.
While traveling, I’ve met more fellow gypsies, vagabonds, van-lifers, travelers. All with similar insight. While there are consistent rules, there are a few things that are debate-able and wind up a very learned, personal choice.
Debate 1: Curtains If you have followed my blog religiously, you’ll know that I left later than expected because I needed to finish making curtains with my Mom. This was with the understanding that curtains are a safety issue. While I’m glad I have them for many reasons, this is a very flexible “necessity.”
Obviously, I am an attractive young woman. This requires not only privacy for privacy sake, but privacy for safety sake. Someone could peer into the windows, see that I’m a solo female, and make the decision to harass, break in, or God knows what. Curtains can also protect against bugs, reflect light (mine have a silver side), and create a homey feel.
Several travelers, however, go without! The ones who forego curtains always have very tinted windows, and don’t seem to be sweet-blooded (mosquitoes don’t chase them). I’ve met men and women alike who say that the curtains have been a non-issue. That by the time anyone realizes they’re sleeping in their vehicle, it’s daytime and doesn’t matter.
I’ve slept a couple times (in safe locations) without curtains to give it a try. For the most part, it makes the vehicle a little less conspicuous, which is a plus. It also allows me to see out without any effort, another plus. But in the end, I prefer my privacy, shade, and an extra barrier to bugs.
Debate 2: Truck Stopsand Pull Outs So many people know that truck stops are legal places to stop for the night. Older travelers have told me that’s all they do–they stay at truck stops religiously. I’ve stayed at a few, and agree that they are a good option, but there is etiquette!
Truck drivers can only legally drive for so long, so it’s only okay to stay at truck stops if there is room. When I stay at one, I’ll sit in a spot a bit off, and watch the traffic patterns: where do trucks turn around at? How close together do they park? And then I will choose a place that is out of their way, yet still safe for me. Some travelers don’t believe in staying at truck stops at all, going instead for pull-outs, parking lots, and other places (I can’t give all the secrets now, can I?).
Sleeping in the vehicle isn’t always considered camping, so there is wiggle room here. Many people in an RV adhere to this loophole as well, and will sleep in pull-outs on the side of the road. This seems dangerous to me under most circumstances. Pull outs are often close to the road, and way too easy to get hit if a driver is sleepy and swerves. And when a pull out is further off the road, it’s often easy to get blocked in. I’ve utilized pull outs for naps and breathers, but haven’t felt good about sleeping a night in one, yet.
Debate 3: Laws While it’s universally agreed upon that you move with a calm smile when asked to, legality around van-lifing-it is up for debate. My close friend told me “Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean people are okay with it, remember that.” While another traveler told me “rules are merely suggestions.” These are conflicting messages that are both valid!
Colorado says it’s completely legal to live in your vehicle, while other states (like Arizona) differ. Neither of these states necessarily have designated spots for vehicle sleeping, though. So while it is legal in Colorado, that dispensary parking lot may not be okay to sleep in. While on the same note, it may not be legal to live out of your vehicle in Arizona, but if you vehicle sleep in an open parking lot that says “no camping,” you’re more likely to get off with zero consequence versus someone who parks and leaves their vehicle to set up camp. It’s all about common sense!
Debate 4: Waking up for Weather This one seems to be common sense, but is still debated, for other sensible reasons. Many travelers will check the weather the night before, and wake up before any drastic heat incline (you know that vehicles get way hotter even with cracked windows). However, some travelers are also not morning people. So depending on the temperature, and the location of “camp,” some van lifers will roll the windows all the way down once sunlight and crowds hit, and sleep until they’re ready to get up (one person confessed to sleeping until 11 on average)!
Personally, I’m with the majority here and wake up with weather. This morning, for example, had a 9 degree temperature incline between 8:30 and 9. While I would normally get up before it ever hit 70 degrees (that’s usually 7AM or earlier), It was only to be 75 degrees at 9, so I decided to sleep past 8. And I felt it. the heat woke me up around 8:10, even with the windows further down (I woke up at 7 to roll them down more). So while I’m a night owl by nature, van life is changing that. I will opt for the afternoon nap under a tree, instead. For any of you that can sleep in a sauna without heat stroke, I applaud you despite not being able to join you.
Rules: I’ve heard these from a few people 1) DON’T DIE 2) Use common sense and instincts (Trust intuition) 3) Have fun 4) When asked to, move politely without argument 5) Don’t draw too much attention to yourself (Okay, I break this ALL the time. My website is all over my CRV) 6) Find what works for you 7) Be respectful of the land and people around you (basic courtesies here like don’t litter or peel out)
If you find yourself annoyed with the sharing of secrets, please read this blog carefully. I did not share where it is totally chill to sleep, how to blend, and what laws are malleable. This post, instead, serves as a basic insight. Not a guideline. If you’ve read this looking for more info, reach out to me via e-mail (email@example.com). Chatting is the easiest way to help one another. Which is always my goal. To help. That is love.
Miles Driven:854.2 Average gas: $2.60 Slept: Campground, Family house, truck stop
Rocky Mountains all around in the distance, waterways everywhere, and well-detailed aesthetic comprise Colorado in all its wonder. Some places I was able to visit: Telluride, Gunnison (and the Gunnison National Park), Westminster/Denver, Golden, Arvada, Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, and Trinidad. All of these places had the aesthetic in common. It seems that the community in this state values clean, cute towns and store fronts. Nearly every public building has brick, and even many streets are paved with brick or cobblestone! It really is quite precious the way everything looks so clean and well-maintained.
This state is surprisingly very friendly to those wishing to Van life it up, as there are pull outs, national forests, truck stops, and campgrounds at nearly every turn. Another plus is the water. It seems every town has a creek, river, or lake, and I am a sucker for that!
The bulk of my time was spent with family, and I was fortunate to get in a day or so of rest, and several days of a full belly. Something I have yet to discuss on this blog, despite it being a prominent reality, is the nutrition situation. Choosing to camp/van life and keep costs down also mean sacrificing the ability to cook or eat in a regular way. The majority of what I eat is similar to hikers and backpackers–nut butters, seeds, jerkies, dried fruit, protein powders. Occasionally I’ll get some fresh produce, and even less occasionally I’ll use my camp stove and heat up some pre-made meals (like quinoa or jackfruit bags). Every now and then I’ll stop and get food from a restaurant, but without a motel room this isn’t really worth it to me, as I most often require a doggy bag for the size of meals these days! Fortunately, I worked for an amazing company for several years before this excursion. The community at Frog Hollow Farm gifted me an amazing care package loaded with yummy snacks (rosemary crackers, olive oil brownies, dried apriums), and pounds of legendary produce. I was so excited and am so grateful to receive this. The farm fresh produce of California has been the largest noticeable absence in my life!
Something else I noticed the absence of but hadn’t realized until hitting Colorado is traffic. Ranked at #22 in the nation, Colorado has only one-sixth of the population of California, but the traffic is definitely real. It took 20 minutes to go less than 6 miles on the freeway. I had not experienced that since leaving California 18 days ago. That is an absence I’d prefer to stay away! Everyone has been so calm, such courteous drivers until Colorado. All throughout Colorado people sped way over the speed limit, rode a little too close to the rear, and did the infamous “cut-offs” from exits. I tell you: the struggle is real. So real, it almost took away from the beauty of the state.
The weather in Colorado is notable and worth mentioning. On the Western portion of the state, the weather is cooler, about 80ish degrees (farenheit) during the day, and drops to the 40s at night (this was the first night I needed my fleece blanket). Around Denver, it’s closer to 100 degrees during the day, 80 at night, but it storms something fierce. There were several rain, thunder, and lightning storms while I was there. One night there was even a flash flood warning! That was a treat to experience. A flash flood warning on a warm August night.
I went into Colorado with a huge hype–so many people I love discussed the beauty of the state, how fun it is, and several people have mentioned wanting to live there. While it is definitely a worthwhile visit, it didn’t strike me in ways that other states have. The traffic is similar to California (negative points), the trail access is nowhere near as vast as Utah, and the altitude is real (while in Colorado, my bones ached, I felt dizzy, and simple walks turned into heavy breath. This is supposed to take 6 months to adjust to!). People are a lot happier though (cost of living here makes for a more rounded lifestyle), the aesthetic is out of this world, and if you ski or snowboard, there are mountains everywhere! Ultimately we all make our own opinions, and Colorado is gorgeous, but I will not be living here anytime soon. Thank you for reading. As always, if you have suggestions, questions, or writing gigs, please reach out! XO, @thelostqueenofatlantis
Fun Note: I went to Trinidad on happen chance. I saw it on the map and thought it looked close enough to NM to sleep for the night. In second grade, peers used to call me Trinidad in jest. It drove me crazy, I’d get riled, fight, and tattle to the yard duties. For no reason, I HATED this nickname. So I wanted to stop here for some inner child healing. Huge bonus (learned post-arrival): Trinidad was featured on South Park because it is known as the “sex-change capital of the world!” Of course, the doctors and practice have since moved to California, but the town still remains adorable with cobble streets, lively restaurants, several museums, an 800-acre lake, and a happening blues fest called Trinidaddio. Oh, and a huge economy focused around dispensaries (too bad I’m the only Californian who doesn’t smoke). Trinidad is a precious town worth a visit.
Average Gas: $2.90/gal Miles Driven: 1300 Slept: 3 air bnbs, a campground
Grand Canyon: A trip across the US would not be the same without a peak at the Grand Canyon. I decided to go the roads less traveled, and explore the North Rim and East Entrance. I spent limited time at either, but the North Rim held invaluable experience.
There is a trail called The Uncle Jim Trail. Since I am away from my Uncle Jim in a time when he needs support, I decided to go on this 4.8 mile loop as a sort of prayer for him. The only thing I failed to consider before beginning: there was a blazing fire (currently under control) that created air thick with smoke. I have lung issues that are very sensitive to smoke.
He has always lived a life with the example to do what is best for you and yours. So while I began the steep trail with every intention of having it be prayer for him, about a mile and half in, my lungs were heavy, leaving a metallic taste in my mouth. So I turned around, knowing he would be proud of me.
The North Rim didn’t feel like enough of the iconic Grand Canyon, though, so I went to the East Entrance, where there were far more tourists and typical views.
Navajo Nation: Recently, I saw a map of languages across the US, and Navajo seems to be one of the only native languages going strong. After traveling through the AZ portion of Navajo Nation, I can see why. There are many historically preserved spots and monuments, all with plaques offering historical insights.
Canyon de Chelly is still ran by Navajo rangers, and police, as is the Navajo bridge. The bridge crosses a canyon surrounding the Colorado River where the Navajo people would traditionally cross, and has an amazing look-out and souvenir shop. Canyon de Chelly has many look-outs show casing old Pueblo homes, battle grounds, and other various points of interest.
Between the two are several shops with handmade Native American goods, and different cuisines. While it was sad to see how impoverished the area is (the majority of housing was trailers, modulars, and those “tiny homes”), I also had to recognize that this judgement of impoverished came from my deep lack of understanding. I spent a day driving around Navajo Nation, and have to say everyone I stopped and spoke with was filled with kindness, stories, and general friendliness. It would have served me to remain here longer.
Sedona: Let go, Let flow
“Ah-hooooo!” The crowd howled as the full moon rose high in the sky above Cathedral hill.
“Ah-hooo!” and then silence. Everyone stood and sat in stillness and watched it illuminate the sky from a higher point. And then began the celebration.
The steady beat of drums, the motion of arms, feet, and hips as everyone found their rhythms to the drumming. The scent of sage and marijuana filled the fresh Arizona air. Circles of massage and people humble-bragging about vows of celibacy, discussing tales of change, and everyone seeking to honor the energy of the moon. The warmth of the ground betrayed the night’s secret of the hot hot day. I sat on the side, enjoying the energy around me, content being a type of voyeur, yet forming a new friendship at the same time.
I sat beside a lady who was flown out to Sedona by her cousin, to break her away from a routine that no longer served her. She was nervous, as was I, and it was perfect because that meant we both needed a safe friend. So we sat there together, alternating between chatting and silently watching the motion all around. Our host, friend, landlady came up, and we moved to the other side of the cliff to meditate. Up walked a man with a camera in tow, taking a photo.
“Look at this photo of Jupiter I just took. See that light over there between the split cliffs? That’s Jupiter.” I lit up. Jupiter is my planet, and the name of my car, and the planet responsible for this leap of faith (ask if you’d like to know more, or are curious as to how this affects you). The picture was super clear, as the camera was a special one. This man and I began talking, and it ended in an invitation to join in a sweat lodge the following day. Of course I joined.
The following day led my new friend and I on a hike to the Boynton Vortex, and a restful afternoon of lounging in a recreation area. We chatted about everything, from childhood, to experience, to schools, to dreams. For the first time of this entire trip, life felt pretty regular–in the best way possible! It was an afternoon of not being separated by newness, but rather bonded by it. It sparked within me excitement for what lay ahead, and I know it affected her as well, as she was all smiles and hugs when it was time to bid adieu.
That night I attended the sweat. Excited, confused, unsure. There were about 12 people there, and as it turns out, the man I met by happenchance is well known worldwide–people flew in from Japan just to meet him at this sweat!
I sat in the yard outside of the tent, looking at the crystals which rested centered in display, listening to the cicadas (a rare treat for a Californian), soaking in the remaining warmth of the day, concentrating of releasing the stress in my shoulders (caused by being far from the comfort and familiarity of home), politely chatting with anyone who wanted to speak with me.
We all crawled into the lodge, after bowing down to mother Earth, that moon still bright over head. People of all ethnicities, genders, and sizes crawled in. Sitting in meditation, taking in the new sensation, it hit me: I’m here healing with a community of strangers. But a community all the same, as we are all there seeking the same purpose.
We took turns, clockwise, stating our intent and what drew us there, as well as what we would like to pray to the four elements for. Everyone had an interesting take and intent. Our leader spoke to each of us throughout the ceremony, creating community as the heat, steam, and different scents steadily grew. Tears welled during the prayer circle. One lady, whom I had spoken with before the sweat (she had a similar toe ring, but had 5 lines carved in hers–one line for each of her children), spoke a prayer that seemed to vibrate through my center. “Bless, bless, bless, I pray for the healing of all the fathers. For the fathers of my children and for the fathers all around the world. May they find the healing they need in this world and may we find forgiveness for them. Bless, bless, bless.” Her voice was soft, airy, her appearance divinely feminine like Aphrodite. After the sweat, she would say to me “we must join the sweats and pray for those who cannot.” During the sweat, I would tear up, my face glistening with a mixture of sweat and tears, but salt water nonetheless. A good sweat makes us harder to define separate from the creatures of the sea.
After about 2 hours, we exited the lodge, our swimsuits drenched with so much sweat, it was like going for a swim. The air now felt cold as I peered through the telescope at Grandmother Moon, trying to make kind conversation, but now deep within my own mind.
I drove to my airbnb for the night, to meet someone who had much perspective (from a decade of experience) to offer on the lifestyle I am currently living. This conversation resparked in the morning, and a mixture of the introspection catalyzed by the sweat and the hours of perspective he shared, I now feel ready to further let go of fear and dive further into how I envisioned this lifestyle is best spent.
On the way out of town, I stopped by the water store and stocked up. Another step to preparedness. What a blessing Sedona has been. Sedona has been good to me and I’d like to believe I left behind some radiant energy to touch others miles after I’m gone.
Thank you so much for continuing to follow this journey! As I inch along, I am learning more and more about just how little I know about life outside of my comfort zone–and it is invigorating! It is also another way of confronting what I bring to the table, how people act/react to my presence, and what brings joy. This is a trip of a lifetime not only because it is fun, but because it is catalyzing growth and encouraging me to embrace it all–strengths, weaknesses, perceptions–and find a way to work with that. The more I let go of, the stronger I feel. The more I see, the more humbled I become. Letting go of control and fear are very difficult, yet worthwhile tasks. At this point, it seems that the journey is my goal, and my dreams will fall in place en suite.
Thank you for following, and please feel free to reach out about anything. So much love and gratitude. XO, @thelostqueenofatlantis
Miles Driven: 1193.95, around 3k total (will update this) Average gas: $3.15 Slept: At a truck stop, in hot springs, in yurts, at a campsite (5 nights)
This post is going to be a little different than the last, as well as a little different than the ones to follow. Utah, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Massachusetts all have me wondering how there will ever be enough time! Instead of separating experience by day, rather, it makes more sense to separate each experience by place. Spoiler: I ran into car trouble which lead me to staying in Utah even longer than expected, and I’m so grateful for that! The universe and God work together if you are patient enough to see it. I was reminded of that.
Evanston Located along Highway 80, it’s very difficult to avoid Evanston when coming in from Wyoming. What a treat that wound up being! I’ve decided to take online courses while traveling so as not to prolong the acquisition of my BMBA in Global Business Management from Sierra Nevada College. While driving along the 80, I found it real difficult to stay in the moment. Rather, I was stuck in my head, trying to figure out how I was to finish the final summer assignment (Wifi is required for this. And for the Californians reading this: No, there is no Starbucks!). Almost on cue, I look up to see a sign for Bear River State Park: free Wifi! So quickly I pull off and enter this beautiful park. There are several parking lots, all with their own restrooms and gazebos. About a half mile in, there is a parking lot alongside a large gated off field labeled “Bison habitat.” There weren’t any bison out and about, but there was a creek, and while sitting beneath the gazebo using the Wifi, it began to sprinkle. In the end, I got an “A” final grade, and thoroughly enjoyed the Utah State Park. I’ve yet to see another park offer Wifi! What a treat.
Ogden Ogden made the list because of the lovely lady in Wyoming who was fishing with her son. She had recommended a river trail, said there’d be nice people, and left it vague like that. Well, after showering and working out (Ogden has 2 Planet Fitness), I discovered the trail she spoke of: 29th Street Trail head. She was entirely right. It was the true start of the fun of this trip.
Since it was set to be hot out, I started the hike at 7:30AM after sleeping at a truck stop for the night. Upon arrival, the parking lot was 2/3 full, and many smiling people were heading towards the trail with their water bottles. I caught up to a couple with a pup-pup, and asked them which trail led to the waterfall, and although they had never been there before, they recommended staying to the left. So that’s what I did. For nearly 2 miles. I reached the top to see a beautiful view, but no water! Meanwhile, several people passed by and said hello. There is a sense of community on some trails, and this one was strong. I asked one person where the water was. She stopped running, and pointed to the other side. “You need to stay to the right.” So I climbed back down, just to climb back up. This trail is much, much, steeper, and everyone is drenched in sweat by the halfway point on the waterfall trail. However, by the halfway point, a creek becomes visible. An hour passed on this trail, I’m sweating, breathing heavy, and about ready to turn around. There is an older couple standing there, the man talking about his ex wife “She wanted to have fun, just not with me!” I giggle, he blushes, and the lady turns to me “You are a lot closer to the top than you think. You have to keep going.” Water now rushing by, fueled by a little attention and connection, I say thanks and continue on. Only, it’s getting rockier. I look around and see a better paved trail and skip that way, only to hear the couple “Check over there and make sure she’s on the right trail, she needs to see the top.” I turn around and wave. This couple actually cared! The first connection of the trip. I make it to the top, and it was such a pay-off. Pictures truly cannot capture the reward of it, or the feeling of accomplishment, or the sense of community that was so strong on that trail, even on the way down.
The couple made it up, offered to take my picture, and we spoke a bit about Utah. This day was the start of my trip. The world slowly looked more like a playground.
Great Salt Lake The scent of salty ocean yet the feel of fresh water. The Great Salt Lake has an extra pungent scent thanks to the digestion of the Shrimp in the water. Overall, the marina and concert hall are both beautiful! There were several families out and about, a yummy snow cone stand on site, and beach access.
Mystic Hot Springs and a little chaos The Atlas Obscura has been my friend in finding cool destinations, when word of mouth isn’t available. Suggested was Mystic Hot Springs, a hot springs campground in Monroe, with decked out “hippie” buses available to rent for the night. Ultimately, its a mini escape from reality and feels like walking onto a 70’s commune, with a crystal shop and all. The campground was easy to find, was pretty, felt safe (I actually slept well), and had a community feel. On the way in, my AC decided to stop working. This was on a Saturday evening, and all mechanics are closed on Sundays in Utah (this IS God’s country after all). I couldn’t help but laugh at a memory of cockiness. A market acquaintance had warned “Be sure you have a good AC for driving through the South.” “Of COURSE I have a good AC!” Well, it conked out right before I was to head into Arizona. This left me with a choice: Go to AZ as planned and deal with the heat, or bide time until a mechanic is open. Community at the campground gathered as a couple tried to help me look at the issue, a childhood friend called and tried to walk me through troubleshooting, and family used connections to try and find me a local mechanic. A sense of community told me it was best to stay in beautiful Utah. I was grateful that a broken AC was my biggest problem.
Pando the Trembling Giant, Fish lake National Forest Lucky for me, Sunday didn’t get past the mid 80’s, so off to other worthwhile destinations! First was Pando the Trembling Giant. (Warning: If you’re going, don’t type this into GPS, you’ll get stuck on private, flooded roads. Instead, type Fish Lake, it’s 1/2 mile before this). Pando the Trembling Giant is the largest living organism IN THE WORLD. It looks like a forest of Aspen, when really, it is all one Apsen tree just sprouted up in different areas from one root system. It dates back to the last ice age! Pando is located in Fish lake National Forest, which is loaded with wildlife, rivers, camping, and off-roading ATV trails. It felt like another world driving through it. Knowing that I wanted to start making way towards Zion National Park, I took the 72 to the 12, which led me through a beautiful historical town called Torrey, and through another vast National Forest: Dixie. The drive got prettier and prettier, and eventually led to a section of the highway that is a cliff on either side. It was unique, scary, and gorgeous, and led me to a place that stole my heart instantly.
Escalanteand Panguich I made my way over the cliff highway, only to find myself surround by beautifully colored-rocks, a highway in a canyon. The sun was getting ready to set, the moon was rising, and the area was beyond gorgeous. I fell in love with it. A little further down the road was a creek, and a pull out. 7:30pm, I sat there and watched the flow of traffic for a few minutes: Could I safely camp here? The answer was no, so the drive continued on. To the right is the Heritage center for the town of Escalante, so I turned in and walked around. I needed to know the history of this beautiful place. Maybe I ought to rent a room and stay here. It is soooo pretty. The I see it, the sign: “Difficult from beginning to end…excavation began on December 14..” This place of beauty and I shared a birthday! That was is. I pulled out my phone, looked at motels, AirBnB and felt…disappointment. I crawled back in my car. Maybe there would be a camping spot further down. Everything was booked or too out of budget. On what I thought was my way out of town, I saw a sign for Escalante Yurts and had to follow it. It led down some peaceful roads into a country plot of land where the owners were riding ATVs, setting up another portion of the land. They had one more Yurt available for the night. It was a splurge that was beyond worth it. The yurts felt like a mini apartment, were spacious, and accommodations offered a yummy breakfast each day. Beyond that, the owners were once again that sense of community. The husband was the son of the man who actually began the heritage sight, and the wife gave me a list of hiking trails. Even better: they had a name of a trustworthy mechanic to share! Needless to say, I stayed there two nights, visited them a few times and the biggest bonus was getting to pet their lovey kitty, Smokey.
Escalante is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. Had my AC been working just fine, there’s a strong chance I wouldn’t have landed here. If you need a vacation, go here. Stay in the Yurts. You will leave refreshed, happy, yet sad that it has to end!
Panguich was the town of the mechanic, roughly an hour West of Escalante. The town has a western feel, with brick houses, teenagers working the registers of the eateries, and quaint little shops featuring work of Native Americans. I bought myself a knife here made by a Navajo man named Ed. It felt like it was my Dad calling to me (his name was Ed). The lady who owned the shop it was in was kind, and was about the only person I met happy to talk about California (she herself was raised in CA farmland). Many places look down upon Californians because we’re the ones raising rental and property rates in other places by jumping states. But really who could blame us? I’ve been having some meaningful political conversations about rent and population.
Devils Garden/Peekaboo Canyon/Bryce Canyon These are the hiking trails that Jan from Escalante Yurts recommended.
Bryce Canyon is a National Park, but for sake of time, I stopped by a short trail: Mossy Cave. It is connected to a waterfall/dam that still serves as a fresh water source for the citizens of Tropic. It’s also a family swim spot. People of all ages (young to 70+) can be found enjoying this spot.
Both the Devil’s Garden and Peekaboo Canyon require a 12-26 mile drive on a grated dirt road called “Hole in the Rock Road.” Driving into either feels like adventure in itself..I kept humming the Indiana Jones’ theme as I drove in!
Devil’s Garden is serene, peaceful, silent, yet powerful. It appears to be sculptures made of rock, but is actually nature’s handiwork of erosion. These sculptures are called Hoodoos. I felt mesmerized and honored to be close to such magnificent works of art. I sat in awe with my hand on one, looking at the smoothness of the rock. Long after we are gone, this garden will still be here, mesmerizing another human. If I wasn’t so close to Peekaboo, with the promise of slot canyon hiking, I would have sat with the Hoodoos for hours.
14 miles further, or 45 minutes further, I got to Peekaboo canyon. Only, there was only one other car. I stepped out, and something did not feel right. This was to be a lesson on trusting intuition.
I begin on the trail with my water, phone, keys, knife, and forget my map. A step out. A sign warning about rattlesnakes. A step further, a tumbleweed and some cacti. A few steps further, the “stairs” that are part of this trail (rock formations, really). A few steps further and a sign that says “The desert is not your friend, look for landmarks, bring a compass.” This is a trail though! How is the desert not my friend? A few steps further and I see a stubby tree and the first glimpse of the canyon: Is this why it’s called peekaboo? Because you can only SOMETIMES see the canyon? The wind picks up and I feel strange. I decide this isn’t a good idea, that I should come back with a more experienced hiker. I turn around. The trail is gone. I breath. The trail cannot be gone. I began to walk back where I know I just came from. It’s only been about 7 minutes of walking (this is accurate, I looked at the time). Stay Calm. Panicking will not help you. I keep walking, only now nothing is looking familiar. I don’t see the stairs, I don’t see the canyon, or the tree, or the signs. I start thinking about a hike I did in college with friends, where I took a wrong turn and took the steepest way up to the top, but made it. I see a hill and climb. The higher I can get, the more likely I am to see the parking lot. Fail. I see nothing. So I walk in the direction I believe the car should be. I’m walking in circles, looking for higher ground to see. An hour passes. My water is down to about half. That’s ok. You have water, you are ok. Meanwhile, it’s 94 degrees out. I get to a high point and see dust. That car from the parking lot is leaving, and I can see the road! I walk briskly towards it, only to lose site of it when the dust settled. Snap. I look up. I see a road sign in the distance. That cannot fade. I keep my eyes on it, all the while trying to avoid getting more cactus needles in my toes. I’m wearing my hiking sandals. I get to the sign, to the road, and walk a half mile to my car. All is safe and I am humbled. If something doesn’t feel right, do not do it. I won’t always get so lucky. The desert is NOT your friend. It will always be more powerful.
Zion National Park This place is beauitful, and now I understand how the government is able to borrow against itself and its land–State parks are magnanimous and beyond valuable. The roads are paved perfectly, the staff is organized, and people from all over the world pull over to take that perfect photo to show friends and social media. So glad to have my National Parks pass. I drove through Zion twice, so the pass just about paid for itself already!
Note: I stopped in Kanab, with no photos. John Wayne did lots of filming here, so I intentionally passed through to revive some pleasant memories of my late Step Grandpa Keith, who loved John Wayne.
I’m sad to say my time in Utah is done for this round, but I’ve been entirely blessed to spend so much time there! I will definitely be back–there is so much to do and see, Utah is one giant playground that demanded my attention and frolic. Thank you universe for breaking my AC so that I was forced to slow down, connect with others, and see some of God’s creations. I’d like to keep it on this fun, historical, connected note, without the added cost of car work, of course.
As always, thank you for following my blog. I promise to try to keep them shorter in the future! If there is anything you particularly enjoyed or are curious about, please leave a comment or send a message. I want this to be interesting for you, too. XO, @thelostqueenofatlantis
Day 1: Nevada Miles Driven: 308.1, total Average gas: $3.65/gal Slept: At a truck stop
I didn’t think that I would stop in Nevada, as I’ve already been there several times. However, since I left for this journey late in the day, I decided that stopping Elko to honor my Dad would be a wise way to begin.
Before he was diagnosed, my Dad believed that he would get his life together and move to Elko, NV because there is a veteran community, and really good hunting and fishing there. Everyone around him knew more or less this wouldn’t happen, but him and I talked several times about me driving him up there, with a stop in Reno along the way.
I wound up stopping in Lovelock to sleep that night, but I did get to bring my Dad to Elko. I brought his ashes, and I’ve felt his spirit with me several times. This couldn’t have happened when he was alive–a 20 minute car ride hurt him greatly, and after 7 hours of driving, I was pretty achy. Couldn’t have imagined how he would have felt.
Everyone I spoke to in Nevada was friendly, kind, and made positive conversation with me. Still, sleeping at a truck stop is scary when you’re a young woman! Every noise I heard, every shift in the ground, I was awake–if you could even call what I was doing sleeping. When I got up in the morning, around the sunrise at 5:45 pacific standard time, I was bitten up by bugs. The curtains Mom and I worked on were not quite secure enough—bugs were able to fly right in and apparently I’m very sweet blooded.
Day 2: Idaho Miles Driven: 520.4, 828.14 total Average Gas: $2.90/gal Slept: Craters of the Moon Campground
Idaho, Idaho, Idaho. So many people told me that Idaho is surprisingly beautiful. Even all of their signs say “Idaho is too beautiful to litter in.” And, that’s not entirely wrong. I went to Twin Falls and saw Shoshone Falls (the “Niagra Falls of the West”), I drove through many towns (one was even celebrating it’s centenial year!), stayed at Craters of the Moon (this was awe inspiring), and ended the Idaho route in Soda Springs (too sulphury to sip).
I am jaded, though, by this state. Having passed through it when I was 14 en route to Montana, I decidedly didn’t love it then. This was the redemption round. I drove into Twin Falls to go to the gym to run, shower, and sit in a massage chair. However, after driving 20 minute to find it, it turns out this gym doesn’t exist until November.
Annoyed, I hightailed towards Craters of the Moon, wondering why I am even planning to stay in this state (I was that annoyed. My bug bites and achy body wanted a shower). As I creeped along, the beauty of the state became evident–mountain ranges, open fields, creeks. Though, I can’t imagine living here–every town seemed to be at least an hour apart. Oh, and no one was all that friendly, but rather stand off-ish.
The campground was beautiful. It was raining upon arrival, and full of Europeans also doing Van life in the mass produced sprinters. I slept more soundly that night, but with the moon in Scorpio, I woke up several times, lost in thoughts inspired by dreams. At first I was annoyed–I really needed some sleep. But then it dawned on me–I’m sleeping in the ashes of a volcano. Of course tonight is about the rebirth of self.
I left for Soda Springs at 7:45 mountain time.
Days 3-4: Wyoming Miles Driven: 574.6, 1402.74 total Average gas: $2.90/gal Slept: Super 8 Motel
Wyoming is a place of beauty, kindness, and is like walking through several different genres of movies. I feel so blessed to have been here 2 nights.
The first stop was Freedom. This place was recommended to me by a friend who did a mission out here. Freedom is the oldest settled town on this side of our nation, and was used by the Mormons to escape persecution: this town lays on the state line, so it was presumably very easy to escape the law. Freedom is located in Star Valley, one the most picturesque places I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in. Mountains of trees surround in what feels like a giant circle, there are open patches of green fields where citizens ride their horses, rivers wind through the towns, and the buildings are made cute in the shabby chic way that belongs to equestrian communities.
The kindness of the people shifted drastically from the coldness of the Idaho-ans. I pulled up to little Salt River, and saw a mother and son fishing. The little boy was so excited to tell me about his close encounter with a trout, and the woman lit up with excitement to see a brave young woman traveling solo. She began telling me of all the places she’s lived–Utah, Nevada, Wyoming–and some worthwhile trails where I can meet more great people. She had such a beautiful smile and there was something about her demeanor that reminded me of all the younger-year photos I’ve seen of my Mom. Wyoming began stealing my heart in this moment.
Continuing on the journey, I drove into a forest–Briger Teton National Forest. There were a few rangers and Road workers–all smiles and waves, and an amazing creek with pull outs. So I pulled over, did some homework and took a nap. Further down the way, I began seeing signs for Cottonwood Lake. Little did I know, this road would dead-end at the lake, forcing a turn around to take the same hour-long dirt road in. As I was sitting there, an older couple pulled up next to me and asked if I was okay. Even volunteered to lead me down the road if I felt lost. Kindness. Wyoming is full of this. Something about the surrounding beauty must make the residents beautiful.
The day was winding on, I got some stretching and rest in, and decided that it was time to head to the next area, where I’d sleep for the night. Green River was next on that list–connected to a Jupiter landing and the Flaming Gorge (which is another recommendation).
The sun began to set a quarter of the way in, but that was okay. Certain parts of Wyoming feel just like California–golden hills for miles. When I finally got into town, I was pooped, exhausted, had homework to finish, and just wanted a shower. So despite all the self criticism to be tougher, I rented a room. The first hotel was booked. The second motel had no desk attendee. Finally, I landed at the Super 8. The attendee there told me that Railroad Workers are in town–railroad workers! I thought for sure I had died and went back in time. But alas, I am typing this, so the year is still clearly 2009. I meant 2019, haha. 🙂
Green River is precious, the people are all very kind and friendly (nothing but positive interactions, despite me sticking out here with bohemian style), the layout is intriguing, and I’d love to visit here again in the future. It’s a worthwhile vacation spot. Oh, and it rained 3 times already! 78 degrees with rain. Hello!
I finished my homework, ate some real food (was snack fooding it up until this point), did some yoga, watched some Hulu, saw the Jupiter landing spot, and feel more alive and ready for this journey. Still in budget, too. (By the way, gas is A LOT, despite the cheaper prices. So grateful that the world is my bedroom with my CRV–which is named Jupiter, FYI).
After stopping in the Flaming Gorge, I’ll be on the next leg of this journey. Check back in 2-3 days for another post!
As always, if there is anything you are curious about, please ask! I want this to not only chronicle this journey, but be of interest to you! Thank you for following me, it means a lot. Really. XO, @thelostqueenofatlantis
Go to my Instagram, LucyLushe, or my Facebook, to see a video of Freedom. It was a bit too much to upload here.
Today is the day. I am leaving. This journey begins. My CRV is loaded with everything I will need for all seasons, hopefully for all situations. I am nervous and figuring out distractions so I don’t think too much about the anxiety I associate with this. It’s pretty difficult to write and not think about the same thing, though. Silly me 🙂
Some things I’m bringing: -Clothing (and shoes) -Tent/sleeping bag -Bedding -Food (mostly snacks, dried fruit, nuts, nut butters, protein powders, and packaged goods) -8 gallons of water with a pump (it’s my “sink”) -Camping stove with cooking utensils -Make up (for days I want to be in society) -Gym bag (with all shower stuff) -School Stuff -Tarot Cards, cards, crystals, smudge sticks, a few books -Towels -Some safety measures (intentionally vague) -AAA travel guides -Maps and an atlas
The items I’m bringing took months of planning and figuring out–I wanted to be prepared. I even bought a top-of-the-car bag to hold my winter clothing for when I reach the colder states late September.
So here I am, 3PM, ready to leave. I’m leaving later in the day because I wanted to leave relaxed, with my fur babies well set up, after a good night’s rest. Leaving this late means adjusting my itinerary, and being prepared to take the adventure as it comes.
In a few days from now, I will hopefully have slept in 2 different states, and will have some interesting stories to share. If there is anything you are curious about specifically (what people are like in each state, how the hiking, how it is sleeping outside, etc..) please feel free to leave it in the comment section or send an e-mail off! Having contact with my internet community will help me feel like I’m still part of a community while living this nomadicly, so any question or suggestion is much appreciated!
And if you have spotify, I’m open to playlists. Thank you in advance.
Frustration, fear, anxiety. These are just a few of the emotions that revealed themselves last night as my Mom and I hung up the custom curtains, the final step of the conversion. We’ve spent 2 nights working on these, her exhausted from balancing work and driving over to me, me getting anxious and acknowledging fears as my leave day once again came and went by while still at home.
When we hung the curtains up last night, at 9pm, we realized that THEY WERE COMPLETELY SEE THROUGH. Some curtains. I started tearing up, verbalizing whether or not this is meant to be, whether or not I’m making a huge mistake by spending my savings on this trip. The curtains are a safety function. Without them complete, I cannot go. And believe me when I say that I have skills, but sewing is not one of them. My Mom was exhausted and thought I was blaming my belated leave date on her. I absolutely wasn’t, so I immediately apologized and explained again what I was feeling. Her and my “little sister” Simone pointed out how hard I’ve worked at preparing this and we all began joking and laughing about my brief fit. Mom went home on a good note, with a plan to help fix it all today.
Simone and I pass time frequently in what we call “car therapy” which is basically us driving to a comfy spot, and talking about all of our woes, dreams, and hopes for about an hour or 2. After the fit, she promptly suggested we do this. She attempted to sit in the passenger seat, and saw my favorite picture of Dad (I was cleaning out glove boxes to clear space earlier in the day).
This is a favorite picture because it sums up Dad so well. He’s one month away from 26 years old, back from Vietnam, dressed like a clean hippie, sitting around a table with his brother and best friends, eating, drinking a beer, lounging with people he enjoys. His face stares forward with a mixture of emotions, there’s a calm sadness at the same time there’s playful curiosity. Juxtaposition–the way he always seemed to feel despite his wanting simplicity. He may be rolling a joint, but this is unclear as he leans forward, poised as he always was.
I had considered removing this from my car, as I don’t want sun and heat to ruin the only copy. But I couldn’t do it. Instead, it was left on the passenger seat, where Simone found it, picked it up, and chuckled. “Maybe it’s your Dad holding up your trip. Look at the date on this picture.” August — 1978.
You’re going to learn a lot about yourself on this trip. This thought rang loudly as I realized that Dad was asking my to let go of control and trust. Trust in the process, trust in the timing. Trust in the memories forming. Live more in the moment with the calm sadness (if necessary) and playful curiosity that my Dad showed 41 years ago. Love the ride, there’s only one round, after all.
A friend had suggested that it would be interesting to hear about the mental preparation that goes into this kind of journey.
This is the type of thing that can only be written at night, while I am tired, so the guards are further down. So, please do excuse typos!
I ordered business cards to hand out in hopes of keeping in contact with the amazing people that I’ll surely meet along the way. Of course, with the chaos that is my comfort zone, I ordered these last minute and it appears the trip is delayed, yet again, by 3 days. I’m trusting in the universe that this is how things are meant to be. So instead of leaving on my Grandpa’s birthday, I will be leaving on my cousin’s birthday.
And I must confess: this is relieving. Aside from the fact that there is much left to do, each day proves itself imperative to the success of this trip. While completing everyday tasks, I can feel my core shake with anticipation, boredom, excitement, fear, joy, impatience. All of which equates into 3 words: “Let’s do this!”
The part that’s the hardest–the only part that has made me shed some tears–is saying “See ya” to so many amazing people. I have a best friend and a college sweetheart that have gone wild with throwing me goodbye parties–none of which I’ve been able to stay sober for. So much can change in a few months, and I don’t know who we are all going to be when I return to the area. Work, and all my team members there, went beyond too. I’ve worked farmers markets for half of my life, and at this point, the colleagues, bosses, team members, and “customers” all feel like family. Many of them dawned me with cards, tokens for the trip, and well wishes. Beyond blessed for this community. And my family (and the friends who have been like family, you know who you are), they’re being incredibly supportive as I see glimpses of fear and love and tears fall from their eyes. They know my past, and how good this will be for my existence, and how this can only strengthen our relationships, even if it means not having me around to laugh with. How lucky I am, that the hardest part of preparation is to recognize how many people are going to notice when I am gone. To recognize how many people I am going to miss the warmth and time shared with.
I initially thought that I would be leaving late May, and then early July, and now departure won’t be until nearly August. This has given me more time to spend with the people mentioned above, more time to build that anticipation that fights away the fear and anxiety, and more time to prepare with little details (such as maps, itinerary, and other mini things). Each day raises the volume a little to the truth of it all: this. is. Right.
Side note: I’m also going to miss my pets sooo much: Kitty Purry, Valona, and Sir Gustavo. They are staring right now, angry that I’m on the computer instead of nuzzling them! Shout out to Simone for looking out for my fur children while I am away!
Next to come: pictures and explanation of the CRV to camper conversion! I’ve just about completed collecting the things needed to make this a live-able vehicle, and will be completing it after the wedding this weekend.
And as always, please contact me with any writing gigs, or suggestions on what you’d like to hear about on this blog! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello and thank you for your finding yourself on this page. My trip is set to launch in about a week, and the nerves are sneaking in. By nerves, I mean the seeds of self doubt: “Is this necessary?” “Is this wise?” “Should I even do this?” And, of course, the appropriate response is to shut these insecurities down.
Today is the first day I’ve had to begin the nitty gritty for this adventure since quitting my comfortable life as a Market Coordinator. I had decided to tackle online school immediately, wound up in an intensive course (16 weeks condensed into 11 days), and am now certain that I can accomplish whatever I wish (got an A+ in that class!). Most of the items I need have been collected, with the exception of a tent and a large water jug. These are my two most picky items, so I’m waiting to find the right ones.
Today, to fight away insecurity, I focused on intent: What is my intent with this journey?
The Story: As you may know, my Dad passed away February 12 of this year. I started out as a Daddy’s girl, he gave me my name, but he left when I was 6 and our relationship had been rocky at best until February 25, 2017.
I practice prayer and energy transfer nightly. On February 24, I changed my prayer line from “May Dad find what he is searching for” to “May Dad know I love him no matter what.”
As a result, he showed back up into my life February 25, in need of help. To save on details, we ended up living together until fall 2017, when he had gotten too ill for me to care for him alone. (His final home was the Martinez Veterans Affairs building). A few months later, he was diagnosed terminal with lung and bone cancer with 6 months to 1 year to live. I fully believe that it was destiny for us to find such deep healing at the end of his life, as my heart feels full knowing that when I look in the mirror, I can see him. We have always been so much alike, and nothing but time together could have exposed that. I know he found healing too, as we sat through deep talks several times, and always ended them with a laugh. We found what we needed from forgiving each other, and forgiving ourselves. I can exist knowing that my Dad does indeed love me.
Now he’s gone and I’m left with memories of his last years. Two months before he passed, my Aunt Char and I had accompanied him on a cruise to Hawaii. This was his 50th state, a proud feat of his. We played cribbage together while docked in Maui, and he looked at me and said he could die happy.
That is the legacy I want to remember him by. The strong, social traveler who saw our country. So this begins my intent. To learn my Dad a little bit better through a challenge of stamina and discomfort. I will be camping out of my CRV converted to a camper (to be completed within a few days from now), at various spots, and will stay with friends, acquaintances and relatives along the way.
My journey will begin through the South, up the East Coast, through a portion of Canada, and the final loop with be through the North (I’ve seen many of these states already). Some things I plan to investigate are: Historical places/museums, haunted/spiritual locations, bodies of water, and cultural landmarks. I’ve been gathering a list of destinations for several months, and will write about them as I go!
Along the way, I intend to work on my writing skills, meet new people, expand my knowledge of life, and to learn to trust intuition more fully. Continue following this post (or subscribe) to read perspective on the states, on traveling in this new-age way, and ultimately, to savor the sweet tales of what it means to heal into full truth.
If you find something particularly interesting, or want to know more, please reach out to me through e-mail at email@example.com
I’m also open to writing gigs, editing to content building, that you may need assistance on. This journey is going to take a large chunk of savings, after all!@thelostqueenofatlantis