I have been reviewing past articles and stories I’ve written through the past few years. I came across a few that brought smiles as well as some that reminded me I was NOT accepted by The Huffington Post. I seem to have softened the blow by completely forgetting I submitted to them. Yikes.
I wrote this piece based on an adventure I was challenged to during the Adventure Semester. It is written in an article format and I submitted it to Huffington Post at 2am after having a random girl across the world edit it for me. Looking back, I am not surprised I was not accepted, but give myself an A for adrenaline-fueled-writing. I received no response from Huffington and feel that over half a year later, it’s safe to say it will not be gracing their front page.
Without any further ado, I present…
Your Timelapse Video Won’t Be Able to Capture This Road Trip; It’s About the People This Time
It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongues, and at the front of their minds by May of their senior year. No one has ever escaped the lure of a road trip up the West (best) Coast to go see their bestie off to college. And if you ask where they’re going, they’ll most likely say a big city to see the big attractions and go to the big parties. But what if they planned a road trip based on all of the undercover, secret, local places? What if they spent their time finding the small, family owned restaurant instead of waiting in line at the crowded, touristy one?
My past few months have been spent out in the Rocky Mountain Range adventuring with my community. One of these adventures was the perfect road trip, as dictated by locals. We would arrive at a location, enjoy the recommended attraction, and then seek out locals to give us our next destination. Sometimes it was easy; the naked man at the hot springs was very eager to invite us back to his house to smoke some weed and “chill out for awhile”. We politely declined. Other people were less inclined to spill their secret spots to some random kids on the street. We muscled on.
Our group of adventurers explored Ashcroft, a ghost town outside of Aspen, and when it came time to go hunting for some locals, we came up empty handed. This spooky old town brought an air of mystery and total awe to us as we wandered through the ruins of a part of Colorado’s history. After we saw all manner of abandoned buildings, we went on to what would turn out to be one of the most disappointing places of my adolescent life: the actual town of Aspen. No one wanted to talk to us, everyone wanted to go back to their warm homes. At one point, a woman working at a coffee shop walked by us with a tin stuffed with a tragic number of donuts, clearly intended for garbage, addressed us with an apologetic “I’m sorry, I can’t give you any”, and dumped them in the trash right in front of us. I almost screamed. Finally, we cornered a nice man who told us about stargazing on the Continental Divide. That was some of the most incredible stargazing of my entire life. It was also some of the coldest. We all stood in a little penguin huddle, heads facing up towards the heavens, totally in love with the world. It seemed like the stars were shining extra bright for us that night as they reflected off of the snow capped mountains all around us. The rest of the road trip went a lot like that. Hunt down a local, hear about their favorite restaurants, hikes, and hot springs, and travel there.
But let’s talk about modes of learning where the hell you are. Normally, you hold down on your home button and ask Siri. Most of us, myself included, don’t even have paper maps in our cars at this point (oops). But on this road trip, I challenged myself to work without my dearest, closest friend, and relied solely on a paper map of the West. It definitely resulted in a lot more circling back to find some of the more hidden locations, such as the hot springs on the side of the road. The only directions we were given were “go straight for about 25ish miles, park at the dirt patch on the side of the road, and climb down the hill to see them”. Least to say, it took us awhile. But after we got used to it, the map became our friend, our companion, and all of us kissed it goodbye when we returned home.
It felt like a real adventure; we didn’t know where our next destination was, how we were getting there, or who we were going to meet. Our simple 36 hour Colorado road trip resulted in hot springs, a ghost town, the best stargazing of our lives, the best sunrise, the best coffee/monkey bread combo paired with the best conversations. We talked with locals about the road trips they’d been on, their favorite childhood memories, even how one of them came to own the building his bakery was in! It was a never ending learning experience. Four games of twenty questions, many playlists, and 8 pounds of Chinese food later, we arrived back at our hostel with a multitude of stories, adventure in our hearts, and a craving to do nothing but sleep.
By senior year, most people have been on a road trip. Almost 90% of the time, there’s a location in mind. These road trips are the stories people tell for years. “The trip of a lifetime”. But why not make it stand out? Why not push boundaries in a way that they aren’t pushed on the daily?
A challenge for anyone looking to bring more adventure into their lives is this: get a car, get some friends, turn off your Google Maps, and just go. Find a paper map, pick a town, and go there. The rest will come from talking to locals and making friends as you go. Adventure is waiting for those that take the chance and go a step further than they thought was possible.