I have made it back home from a 10-day long road trip out west with my ever-so-patient boyfriend as my travel partner. Due to a delayed flight, we arrived back in Ohio this morning at the natural human waking time of 3-effing-A.M. BUT nonetheless, we have made it back in one piece. For those of you who had your doubts, yes, my limbs are all still attached despite the fact that I didn’t work out once before this hardcore hiking trip (I wouldn’t recommend it, my legs barely survived). My physical state remains intact (surprisingly) and mentally I am still in slight awe from this experience. My bank account is laughable and will need a while to bounce back, but I feel exponentially richer than before I left.
The past 10 days have been far from what we’ve known as life. We have gone from hiking secluded mountains, untouched by the modern bustle of tourists to screaming at yellow cabs in eclectic, crowded cities. Over the course of our trip we made our way through 5 states and saw the diversity each one had to offer. Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona—they were all bold, beautiful states that I would naturally gush over. Being consumed by the smog of the city or surrounded by colossal mountains—merely seeing a view other than my own backyard was its own form of enlightenment. The essence of the true old world of the deserts, the mountains, the forests, the shores, still loomed in these areas. The fact that timeless relics still exist in a country that is changing and growing at such a rapid pace—well, it seemed a bit like a miracle to me.
Aside from the luxurious aspect of breathtaking sights and savory foods that came with traveling, there were moments of complete chaos and frustration. We made plenty of mistakes and had our fair share of obstacles to overcome because of it. Regardless of the perils and miscalculations that came along the way, each trial left us with a rich source of experience and compelling stories to tell—our gateway to meeting new people. Others were more than willing to give two aimless college kids a slice of life advice and laugh with us as we shared our own stories of failure and bewilderment. We quickly realized that so much of the experience is defined by the people encountered along the way— the conversations and exchange of stories that allowed us to see the world from their eyes for a moment. We continued to leave our mark while gathering others to save as keepsakes throughout our trip.
Travel is its own form of education and I have learned more than expected on this trip. Like everyone else, I have sat through the required American history classes and learned the cultures and quirks of regions across the U.S. But the material taught in the classroom can only go so far in fulfilling a complete understanding. They don’t do much to indulge a hunger for experience. By seeing more of the world, I am reminded of how big and culturally diverse our country really is—and that leads to an unlimited and unfathomable amount of possibilities. Whenever I grow tired of the city I live in, there will always be new places to occupy. Whenever I feel smothered, there will always be more crisp air to breathe. Whenever I feel restricted, there is always more space to continue growing. Whenever I feel alone, there will always be new and fascinating people ready to share their story with me. Traveling has challenged me, changed me and given me a sort of longing that few things ever will. So, world, I know I’ll be seeing more of you soon.