West Side Story?

(Scroll all the way down for a map of the trip)

I’ve traveled the world over the years, but there are trips that you never forget.

I started the year doing exactly what I have resolved to do this entire year: travel solo. I didn’t go anywhere exotic… whatever that means anyway. I left the San Francisco Bay on December 31 and drove all the way to Gallup, NM with no goal in mind other then I wanted to see the petroglyphs in Albuquerque, NM. I drove parts of Route 66 just for fun, saw incredible landscapes. I celebrated the New Year sleeping after eating a nice steak at the local native-owed casino. Absolutely perfect.

I woke up in the morning of January 1, got ready and headed to breakfast. There, I met Tullie, a native Navajo who now lives in Prescott, AZ. Cool guy. It’s crazy how you always end up meeting people when you travel alone. And so I got in my car and drove to Petroglyph National Monument, crossing the Continental Divide on Route 66. Boy, was it cold. I guess it does get cold when you are at 7,245 feet of elevation. At the National Monument I met Tony, a Vietnam War vet full of great stories. I’ll post photos of the petroglyphs in a separate post. We ended up walking the trail together for 1.5 hours. I then went to a couple breweries before heading north to Denver, CO.

It was time for me to stop driving for a bit. Don’t you think? I stayed in Denver for two days and met with my good friend David. He has always been an important part of my journey as a whole. I’m not sure he even knows how much of an impact he has had on my life. David, thank you for being you. Thank you for believing in me. I also saw Nikki. Well, I’ll keep this part to myself if that’s ok.

Saturday morning. Time to head back to California. I drove north on Highway 25 to Laramie, WY where I got on Highway 80 East. So much wind, trucks, snow blowing all over the freeway. That’s where I realized how little we really are. This trip was the beginning of an incredible spiritual journey. I pulled over at a rest area and walked in the snow for a while. That part of America is like a white desert in the winter with not very many things around. Ideal to meditate and regroup.

Somewhere along the way, I caught wind from the gas station lady that the locals were expecting a huge snow storm that night. My plan of staying in Salt Lake City vanished right then. I wasn’t going to take the risk of being stuck in SLC for 3 days while they cleared Highway 80. No thanks. You know… I have a job. So I drove and drove and drove some more. A total of 1,100 miles until I hit Reno, NV. I stayed at the Peppermill Casino for the night. I deserved a drink after driving relentlessly for all those hours. I went down to the bar and got myself a beer. There, I met Chris. He works at one of the higher-end restaurants at the casino. Cool dude. We talked about our girlfriends, work… life. We ate together. Time to go to sleep.

Sunday morning. Last leg. Reno to South San Francisco. I had driven thousands of miles but those last 3-4 hours seemed longer than the entire trip combined. I was back in California. My anxiety picked right back up where I had left it 5 days prior when I crossed the Bay Bridge into San Francisco. Ugh.

But I felt different. I felt good. I had essentially seen almost the entire American West in 6 days and met incredible people… 7 states: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada. I drove trucking style: nonstop unless you need to pee and get gas all in the same stop. There is no time to waste. A great exercise in resilience if you ask me. I’d do the whole thing again in a heartbeat… maybe not the exact same states though. Time to explore something else, meet other people.

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