The Drive Back Home to California 🛣 | Overall Reflections
June 12th, 2017
The sunset was like any other sunset, I guess.
Beautiful, Lovely, Breathtaking…
I think I’m running out of words to describe this trip.
The feelings that surface while driving back home after a life-changing camping trip is a difficult thing to describe.
It’s a little bit heartbreaking, a little bittersweet. I’m happy to return to the place I call home, but reluctant to go at the same time. It’s not that I don’t love my home — it’s just… do I really want to return to routine, to normalcy? Why can’t this adventure last
I had thought that going back home would make me forget about the beauty of my camping road trip. I worried that I would be so caught up in daily stresses that I would forget how lovely the feeling of using actual clean water to wipe the grime off my skin was; that I would take my showers, sleep in my bed, and go to a grocery store all for granted without realizing how lucky I am to live where I do; that I would wake up every morning, see a white ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars instead of twinkling, distant ones, and not recall how magical it was sleeping beneath the open sky at the Labyrinth Campsite in Canyonlands National Park.
I didn’t think I would forget these experiences, but I worried that I would in the midst of returning back to civilization.
Society is a strange thing. Being part of a community is wonderful, but it can also make me forget about the most basic things in my life that I am grateful for. There’s this occasional tendency I get to suddenly want more than I have, and I have to force myself to remember that no — I have enough and all that I need.
And most importantly, I am content with that.
I guess in the end, I didn’t need to worry as I was driving back home to California. Though there have been moments, days, and weeks where I’ve forgotten to be more grateful for everything that is in my life, to this day I haven’t looked at clean water the same way again. I walk out of bathroom stalls toward sinks and marvel at the clean water spilling out of the faucet. I press my palms against my cheek and an amazed at how clean and soft my skin is. I remember how dry and chapped my skin was and how my skin was covered in an ever-present layer of sunscreen, dust, and silt during my camping trip. I’ve learned to view my daily life as a luxury, not a boring must of schedules and routines.
And if remembering those little moments don’t help me boost my gratitude or mood, then all I have to do is transport myself to a moment in time during the trip in which I felt
Standing on top of places like the Shafter Trail and the Upheaval Dome made me feel like the world had arranged a masterpiece just for me. The land was displayed for me and only for me in that time and moment in space and life to see, to soak in, to breathe. My heart beat with each slight ruffle of stiff bushes as breezes floated past me, each trickle of sweat down my neck, and each click of my camera.
I was there, yes,
but I was insignificant.
I was nothing compared to the canyons that sliced through this Earth and the stars that pierced the sky. I was present on this Earth, but my presence didn’t matter. I had faded in with the land, but I was just a foreigner, a visitor.
No matter what happened, I would have to leave. I could lay claim to a piece of land and call it mine, as people have done for thousands of years, but no one can own this part of Earth. It’s too grand, too harsh, too… untouchable.
I can fool myself into thinking that my steps on sand will mark my presence in this land forever. I can pretend that my shouts, echoing against these layers of canyon walls and rocks and hot, still air will tell the animals and plants and living creatures of this land that I am here, and I shall stay.
But there’s a reason why the footsteps on sand disappear overnight and why echoes fade after a few seconds — nature is subtly telling me that my presence, my existence, is the same as my footsteps and my echoes.
They don’t last forever,
and neither will I.
I was reluctant to just leave for home after driving through Valley of the Gods, so I snuck in two extra destinations: Wupatki National Monument in Arizona and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
They were short detours with nothing much attached to them other than feelings of fatigue and bittersweet sadness that this trip was about to end. I wanted to extend it longer, but there was only so much I could extend it by.
I’m still glad I went to these two national monuments, though. Going to them were lovely detours, and I’m glad I could add them to my memories of this trip.
Looking back on this trip feels a little overwhelming — I experienced so much, went to so many places, and most importantly, left so many parts of my heart in those places. I never expected Canyonlands National Park to leave such a big impact on me, and I didn’t even drive through the White Rim Road (the supposed most life-changing part of Canyonlands). I also became more aware of what different lives people within the U.S. have in comparison to my own.
It’s so mind-blowing to think that there are highways in the U.S. that are just empty roads for hundred of miles, and that, for a few hours, I was on one of those roads experiencing the eerie solitude and silence of that little patch of land on Earth.
I saw a gate made of deer antlers, a bar telling hippies to use the backdoor, and random gas stations — all located in the middle of nowhere. How amazing is it to think that somehow I stumbled across these things in the world?
Whether these things are meaningful or not, the act of me discovering the existence of these things make them meaningful to me.
Does life work this way?
I’m not sure,
but I still have to rest of my life to find out.
Thus was my drive back home to California.
It was bittersweet and lovely, fascinating and tiring.
It was my return back home, a place very familiar to me,
yet I came back a different version of myself:
and more alive.
Thank you so much to everyone who followed me on my adventures road tripping through California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and back. I hope my posts introduced you to parts of the world that you never knew existed before. I learned a few things here and there about the world as well throughout this trip, and I’m happy I was able to share them with you. 😊
So… this is the end of my road trip of summer 2017.
It’s been a long journey. 😉
Thanks for joining my on my adventures,
and until next time,
🌲 I’ll be exploring in the forest of my own mind. 🌲
It’s a lovely place to take a vacation in. 😋🌃