Into the wilderness, out of the woods (Part One)

 

Every trip effects me differently…

Going home, going back to LA, taking a day trip to pick apples and drink wine out of a bottle- they’re all so different and awaken parts of my soul that only improve the person I’m becoming every forthcoming day.

 
I’ve been lucky enough to go on several road trips. In my early twenties, my friends and I decided we didn’t want to sit around wandering what California looked like or imagine just how beautiful a New Mexico sunset was. We packed our (sometimes) small cramped car and made a (tentative) plan. Many times these trips were only short weeks.

 

Sometimes my road trips brought me to new destinations I’d soon call home. A few times they’d settled me in places I’d spend months utterly lost in. But always have they shaped me in ways I can’t put down on pen and paper (or fonts and formats).

 
Our plan to venture into the great wild of Colorado and Wyoming began one night after one too many dirty martinis and bourbon on rocks. We discussed the need for nature, for cool breezes and just the desire of feeling significant in this oh too big city. Drunk with animated plans (and booze, of course), we decided to head out into the wilderness. I half thought our decision would be in vain; eventually dwindling as the weeks approached to our determined date of departure. Be that as it may, the traveling Gods were in our favor and with one connecting flight in Charlotte we landed in Denver, Colorado. Not knowing what really lay ahead but eager with open arms for the adventure.

 
I can’t say any of us had any specific goals for the trip. I think we just wanted to leave NYC. Remember what the real world felt like outside of Manhattan’s endless chaos or perhaps remember what it felt like to find solace in nature; to find solace in simpler days. Whatever the reason may have it, we left and embarked on our own sort of 5 day pilgrimage.

 
Taking a road trip of any kind bonds you with the people you wish to share it with. There is an unspoken kinship in which you hold. You begin noticing that words sometimes escape you and that’s ok. Silence can be golden and the journey through the woods is all part of the charm.

 
I took the reigns as a pseudo- leader to our she-wolf pack only because I had taken a similar route and I live for the spontaneity of a good road trip. Car rented, (a Toyota 4Runner we soon nicknamed Monster Mama because of its huge size compared to my tiny being) supplies purchased, stomachs fed and bodies caffeinated, we drove into the woods to pitch our tents for the first night. After taking advice from a friend of mine, (shout out to Chris it-should-have-been-a-highway Donaghue) we drove off a well beaten path in Fort Collins, CO.

 

The road was more off road than I can admit I’d ever driven on, especially in a monster of a vehicle. The drive was breathtakingly beautiful though so I didn’t fret- at first. We stopped and took it all in (and took a few pics for the Gram, duh). Soon we realized the path seemed never ending and rather than coming upon our campsite, we sink deeper and deeper into the woods. The sun was falling and we all began to become nervous of being lost (let’s face it, we were lost) and without knowledge of where this path, if we could even call it a path by that time, would end.

 
Nothing challenges your issues with anxiety like being lost 20 miles in the middle of the forest on an off road path with no cell reception. That’s when that fight or flight kicks in. That’s when surprisingly I remained calm enough to make the conscious decision it was time to turn back.Today’s adventure had come to an end and I was brave enough to wave the white flag. All right Colorado, you won. Three girls from NYC got a little cocky and was kindly reminded that we were not, in fact in Kansas anymore, Toto. We settled in for the night at one of the many fond glamping campsites I’ve stayed in, the trusty KOA camp site- electrical outlets, hot showers and real bathrooms. Please hold your judgement, it had been a long 16 hours folks.

 
Something I noticed about that first day was how calm I had remained. This is significant because I feel in the past, I wouldn’t have been in the driver seat (literally and figuratively). I would have let anxiety overtake the situation. I find this as a reflection of my recent struggles with overcoming and accepting my anxiety and feelings of loneliness.

 

Baby steps. It’s all a growing process.

 

Driving through Colorado the next morning, the air was damp and crisp with the lingering smell of rain looming throughout the morning. Layers and layers of fog blanketed the road and at some points I could barely see right in front of our Monster Mama. It was beautiful and terrifying simultaneously, but the urge to go further once again took over us.
When it seemed like the fog would continue on, it suddenly lifted. Parting the road allowing for the endless flow of sunlight to illuminate the landscape. Through the fog, there was clarity and beauty and peace.

 

By this point of the trip, I was starting to realize this trip was acting as a sort of fog lifter for a specific part of my life right now. I have a tendency to not stay present in the moment and nothing makes you more of aware of the here and now more than trying to survive in the middle of a forest when it’s 30 degrees outside and raining.  You forget about the outside world of filters and likes and statuses. You remember what it feels like to not worry about emails and text messages. You remember what it feels like to actually feel.

 

Nature has a tendency to give you exactly what you need, when you need it if you simply shut the hell up and listen. And I needed to find a quiet place where my brain could chill out and let my soul breathe. For all the things this trip was not, it was so much of what exactly I needed to experience.

 

 

… to be continued.

 

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