Just two best friends and a pup, road tripping from the eastern hills of North Carolina to beaches of sunny California. I've lived in the United States my whole life and I hadn't seen most of it. The west coast was virgin territory so at the age of 25 I finally took that road trip I should have taken fresh out of high school.
Let me take a moment to break down the route because I don't want this to be a travel guide but rather a reflection of one of the most memorable trips of my lifetime. We started in North Carolina, then Tennessee, then Arkansas, Oklahoma, a little bit of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally California. We mainly used I-40 west (formerly known as Route 66).
The first thing that comes to mind is WOW the United States of America is big, much bigger than you think. I now understand why this country of ours has four different time zones. Secondly, there is so much variation in landscapes. North Carolina was rolling green hills and then Tennessee has the Great Smokey Mountains. As soon as you enter Arkansas, though, it is as flat as the eye can see. Then things start to get a little dry and desert-like on through to New Mexico and Arizona. Of course, once you enter Southern California, it looks more like Mars than anything else (that drought is for real). I loved discovering how different this country is. In New Jersey, so much of what I see is concrete and steel.Don't get me wrong--I am a city girl through and through but to see nature, virtually untouched, for miles and miles is something spectacular.
Turning everything into a photo-op
This girl is my best friend, Syamala. I couldn't have asked for better company.
Laugh out loud at my butt! Just being a bunch of goofy tourists. I had to climb a rock to get these pictures. I was scared.
The icing on the cake was our trip to the Grand Canyon. I love places that remind me how small me and my problems really are. Sometimes all you need is a beautiful place to clear your head. We caught the sunset and found a little place away from the crowds to watch quietly. At night, we slept with the stars. Not to be underestimated, the night sky away from city lights is its own kind of magic. But morning was my favorite. The sunrise over the Grand Canyon is a sight I won't forget. I probably witnessed every color imaginable in those few minutes--the way the light reflects off the red of the canyons is really indescribable and photos don't do it justice. If there was ever a moment of clarity, it was sitting on that edge, overlooking the sheer vastness of it all. A small crowd of onlookers were present but there was almost a kind of hush, as if everyone knew we were witnessing something sacred.
I love this girl.
After that we finally got to California! We had been dreaming of lying on the beach as a sort of cherry-on-top after being on the road for so long. It didn't disappoint--although it was windy and the sand kind of smacked you in the face. I'm laughing about it now but it's funny how I'd blocked that kind of stuff out.
I'm so incredibly happy that I got to take this trip. I feel like it's the first thing I've crossed off my mental bucket list. It was a good reminder of how very big the world is and how very small I am. It instilled a craving to the see as much of this world as I can. It almost reminded me that who I'm with is just as important as where I'm going. Syamala and I were both at a crossroads in our life. Where we were in our lives during this trip is so different from where we are now, I'm quite astonished at the change! These memories and pictures are some of my most cherished by far and I picked the best girl to share it with. By the way, my dear friend Syamala is expecting her first child in October, almost a year after our trip, and is going to be the best mom ever.
And me? I'll also be embarking on something special in a few months. It gives me butterflies when I think about it. But more on that later. I know, such a tease :)
PS--these photos were all taken with an iPhone since I didn't have a camera at the time. Sorry about the quality but I did the best I could!