It’s a rainy autumn morning. Summer is over and so are we. We left as a couple and came back alone, on our own. And that’s alright. Because life is messy and so is traveling. We are messy and complicated and that’s a tragedy and a blessing at the same time.
Though the house smells like coffee and tears, I am trying really hard to look back gratefully and appreciative to the most adventures three month of my life. While Chet Baker is playing one of his most melancholic tune, I’m thinking about the wind in Chicago and the blissfulness and genuine happiness I felt when we arrived at Tybee Island.
We walked around San Francisco like lovers and climbed the Grand Canyon like real travelers and adventurists. The radio was playing the greatest jazz tunes in New Orleans while we decided to have breakfast in a bar. In this true New Orleans style neighborhood bar, opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, people were still drunk while we arrived for coffee. I tried Shrimp & Grits, the New Orleans favorite, served with, a biscuit of course. It was the best place we’ve never been to before. Though we were in a hurry, because we had a deadline to attend, we had to stop and hide in the car because of the torrential rain. I will never forget the sound of rain pouring on the car melting perfectly together with the gloomy jazz music on the radio.
We got a little confused in Las Vegas, but who’s to blame? It’s just crazy. In California your eyes were shining brighter than all the stars on the Walk Of Fame. We met your family and it was heartwarming to see you reunited with them again. Not that it wasn’t warm enough in California already. We went to the beach, explored Hollywood, went to cheep movies and had all the dates we never had before. We caught the most spectacular sunset from the Griffith Observatory, we ate donuts and hamburgers and bought souvenirs like real tourists. Believe it or not, we even visited 'Ripley's Belive It or Not!', we drank milkshakes and ate the lettuce wrap and animal style fries at In-N-Out Burger. We also ate a pickle in Old Town San Diego, and we ate the best soup made by your brother-in-law. Weren’t we happy, having a chef cooking for us?
I almost died in Laguna Beach because of the big waves. Luckily we both survived. And we also survived the Hurricane Hermine driving like crazy through the heavy rain, because we had to deliver.
Good thing we went to Raging Waters in San Dimas at the beginning of our trip. Otherwise we would've probably been over the weight limit at most of the slides. I had the best time at Universal Studios in L.A. with you. The 'Harry Potter'and the 'Mumy' ride were absolutely insane!
We picnicked together and showered together at countless gyms. We played golf and went bowling. I had a daily Starbucks coffee (or tea), just like you promised I would.
We made pictures at Miami Beach, where I drank a Pinia Colada and we ate a Cuban Sandwich. We also made pictures at the Golden Gate Bridge, where it was windy and cold. You won the ugliest toy every made for me, which we afterwards donated to Goodwill. I wonder if somebody will ever buy a toy like that.
We saw New York and The Statue of Liberty. I bought you a Brownie from Carlo’s Bake Shop. And then we went to Folly Beach, were I lost my heart. I absolutely fell in love with this place. I would have wanted to just stay there with you, forever.
We walked around Charleston and had the best house coffee at the Coffee House. I was breathless when we were on the boat at the Niagara Falls. While we were driving into the rainbow I felt love and freedom. I will never forget that moment, like I will never forget all of the other moments as well.
I had the time of my life.
Now I'm looking out the window and it's still raining. Maybe we're just too young, to keep good love from going wrong.
Our adventure may be over. But our memories will remain forever. Keep me in your heart for a while.
Thank you for everything,
Take care of your soul Sol,
Tybee Island GA | Savannah Beach
Our first delivery brought us directly to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Or at least pretty close to it. We had to go to ‘the Heart of Georgia’, how it’s called. And I’m sure, that there are some interesting things to see in Macon, Georgia, but after 17 hours of driving without resting, I still insisted to go to Savannah or more specifically Tybee Island. My biggest desire was to see the Ocean. So we switched drivers, I took over the wheel and drove the last three hours while Solo was asleep. I must admit that it’s pretty easy to drive the Van. After you’ve driven in Bucharest, Romania, there’s basically nothing that can scare you, not even the highway. We didn’t shower in a while and the heat was suffocating. We were sweaty and tired.
But with every mile I came closer to the Atlantic Ocean I got more and more excited. The moment I saw the Ocean through the window of the Van, I instantly bursted into tears. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to find a parking spot for an Extended Cargo Van. It’s not like parking a Smart, and even that would’ve been a problem on Tybee Island. That’s because Tybee is a ‘Pay to Park Community’ which means that there are absolutely NO free, public parking spaces on the Island. This was a problem, because we had almost no money at that time. We weren’t sure if we’d get any delivery jobs, so we had to really, really count every penny we spend. That’s why spending 20 $ on parking for a couple of hours, was just out of question. Of course there had to be alternatives to the expensive hotel parking. Some of the streets in Tybee had parking meters which were 2 $ per hour. The only problem was, there were no free spots and we, since this was our first tour, didn’t have any nickels, dimes, quarters or dollar coins, at all.
So, basically, I was trapped in the car, one step away from my bucket list moment of diving into the Atlantic Ocean, and yet farer than ever.
I was crashed. Solo was very tired and extremely irascible. Now I was crying because of despair not because of excitement. We spend more than 20 hours in the car, and now more than one hour and a half searching for a place to leave the car. Solo was angry and in all this mess we started fighting. While he went to a store to change 5 dollars into coins, I was crying my heart out in the car. I couldn’t take it anymore, I just wanted to jump out of the car and run into the water. Instead I was sitting there like a trapped animal praying for my release.
When Solo came out of the store his face seemed totally different. He didn’t seem mad anymore, so he must’ve gotten the coins, at least that’s what I thought. It was even better than that. The guy in the store told him that the parking regulations are enforced only from 8 AM to 8 PM. Instantly I checked the watch on my phone: 8:30 PM. It felt like somebody just opened the doors to my cage and I was finally able to fly out.
When my feet touched the warm sand for the first time, I just let go of everything and cried. I cried for all the souls that died, for broken relationships, and broken trust. For all the unhappiness trapped inside my body, I cried out all my frustrations, all the negativity that was eating me up from inside. I was crying my eye’s out silently, almost unnoticeable. After I was done, I felt a pure emotion of freedom. It felt almost like I was born again, a sentiment of love and affection was all around me as I entered the Ocean. The sun sank almost entirely into the water. The sky was one with the Ocean, as I became one with the warmth and tenderness of the wind. I let my body rest in the water, and it carried me. It carried my weight making my bones feel like feathers and all my burdens transformed into waves, crashing into a rocky shore. I felt genuine happiness, probably for the first time in my life.
And suddenly I started to ask myself, what if nothing is divine? Or more than that, what if everything is divine? Because for a blink, I was almost sure I felt divinity itself, touching me. For a second I knew, that nature itself is divine, and that there’s no superhuman being or spirit worshiped that has power over nature or human fortunes, but we ourselves are the deity. We are part and source of the universe all in one. We are energy, just like everything else surrounding us is. In this small moment, nothing and everything made sense again.
We fell asleep on the beach, listening to the sound of the waves. It felt deliberating and comforting. The wind was our blanket and the sand our bed. Never before in my life have I slept that good.
That evening I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t need souvenirs, shopping, food, drinks, entertainment, comfort, winning the lottery, showers, books, a hotel room, scuba diving, money, surfing or anything one might normally desire.
Just being at the Ocean was more than enough.
First of all, living in a car is challenging, especially if you’re a women. You will find out very soon what is, and what isn’t necessary. No doubt, showering is indispensable. But such a basic need becomes a treat when you’re on the road.
After we spend an eternity on at the airport and on the plane we finally arrived in Chicago. I was stunned by the impressive architecture, the skyline and skyscrapers. We were just in time for the ‘Taste of Chicago’, and I was thrilled. This iconic festival serves culinary delights on the city’s astonishing lakefront. I’ve never seen such a big variety of dining options, Pop-Up Restaurants and Food Trucks in one place.
Sadly, we didn’t have enough money put aside for such a random, improvised moment. We didn’t taste anything, but needed a double look when we saw Crocodile Sauce on some menus. Our Chicago experience was similar to that episode in How I Met Your Mother where Ted plans a two minute date for his doctor Stella. We had 60 minutes to see Chicago, and normally doing my make up would take more than that. But nothing’s normal when you’re on call, when you’re living in a Van. Your priorities change. Would you rather waste time doing your make up, or take a walk through one of the greatest city in the USA instead?
So, we fast forwarded to the famous Cloud Gate (aka ‘The Bean’), we walked south of Millennium Park and discovered the Art Institute. Clearly, we didn’t had any time to explore it from the inside. Although we were on the run, we made time for a ‘Chicago-Style Hot Dog’ and I have to admit it was delicious! The city was colorful and vibrant, with jazz musicians on every street corner, like you see in all the movies.
So, what did I learn from my hour in Chicago? Well, first of all, I acknowledged that you have to get out there, in order to see something new and exciting. Seeing it live, is incomparable to seeing it on TV or in a movie.
Feeling it, is better than reading about it in a book. Time is relative. One hour can pass like a second when you’re happy, but can feel like a lifetime when you’re in a car, driving for 40 hours with a deadline that’s impossible to make.
Would I be happy if this would’ve been the last day of my life? Probably yes!
Why is traveling important in life?
I honestly have to say, I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I agreed to travel through the USA in a Sprinter Cargo Van for three months.
Of course I was super excited when we got the tickets, and my feeling of anticipation grew with everyday.
I always loved traveling and I think that it’s important to learn something from every journey you take. I think that traveling is the best way of having new experiences, and Lord knows, how we need those to handle the monotonous day to day life. Sometimes we just have to break the routine in order to find ourselves again!
It also gives you a lot of time to reflect on the big questions in life. If you’re lucky you may also find out something new about yourself. Maybe your perspectives will shift after your trip, maybe your priorities in life will change and you will lose some prejudices. What can be more exciting than having your mind blown away by interesting food, adventures, discovering music, learning about new cultures and different mentalities?
Just stop for a second and think about walking on a white sand beach on a sunny day, or visiting a national park, or even just sitting in a big square observing people passing by. Think about the salty taste on your lips when you’re at the ocean, the cool breeze of wind, the birds singing or the sound of rivers. Doesn’t that wake a desire in you, to just pack your bags and go?
So, why did I choose to travel like this?
I think that I spend too much time wanting to do something like this but hesitating, probably mostly out of commodity. I spent so much time, thinking and imagining a trip like this, creating this imaginary bubble, that if I’d go, I would finally manage to reconnect with myself again. Deep inside I was hoping to find a path back to the present.
What do I hope to get out of this trip?
I hope to find some kind of peace of mind. I feel that on a daily basis I am always in a rush to keep boredom away, moment to moment. I try to keep myself occupied at all times with, tastes, sensations, art, books, music or food. But still, I always have a deep feeling that real happiness is elusive and so, on this trip I will have a lot of time to think about this inner restlessness and hopefully find some answers to those hunting questions. I hope to discover the feeling, that where I am right now, is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Am I concerned of living in a car for three months?
I am pretty sure that the way I think about an experience, can influence how I feel about that particular experience. I am curious to find out how it feels to cut loose on comfort and stability for a while, just let a moderate kind of chaos rule this trip and try to make the most out of it at all times. I want to discover everyday things again, as if I was doing them for the first time.
I am very curious to find out what your reasons for traveling are!
Do you think, that traveling is important in life?
And also, if you could travel anywhere today, where would you go?
Leave a comment below and stay tuned for my weekly travel stories!