Reflections from the Road | Part I
© Whim and Fancy
Editor's Note: I'm back from my little jaunt on the West coast! It was amazing and I have so much inspiration to share. From the beautiful sights to the beautiful lessons learned from our ultimate destination of the World Domination Summit, the trip was a beautiful chapter of life. My brother and I took the trip together with my newly restored Elsie, a 1960 Shasta Deluxe, exploring Northern California, the Oregon coast, Portland and everything in between.
To hopefully inspire you in your everyday adventures and dreams, I've decided to share my personal essay of the past weeks. It will be posted in Part I, Part II and Part III and feature photography from the trip as well as the story behind Elsie. I hope you enjoy it!
What is it about traveling on the road that brings the perfect soul detox? A fraction of the process happens the same way via plane, but something about the vast landscape of this earth zooming by at 70mph brings a wonderment of the mind and sharpening of the senses I can’t seem to recreate elsewhere. I’m already back home and the feeling is just a memory I’m craving tremendously. It will fade with time and whenever I hear a quote or see an image of travel, the ashes will spark and an ember will again light the desire for the road. I don’t feel home now. It’s home with my family and close friends, but the rest doesn’t feel like home. My possessions are not my home. The environment I’ve known for 26 years isn’t my home. It only feels like home when I feel. When my senses are heightened and sharp and not dulled by my familiar story of how I’ve passed through time.
Oregon Coast © Whim and Fancy
There’s a quote by Donald Miller in his book Through Painted Deserts that I shared with you last week, “We are shaped by our experiences. Our perception of joy, fear, pain, and beauty are sharpened or dulled by the way we rub against time. My senses have become dull and this trip is my effort to sharpen them.” I couldn’t agree more.
When you’re on the road, you appreciate more, notice more. Your eyes are wide open, your thoughts are at high tide. It wasn’t even the things we ate or the places we stopped. It was the movement on the road. The true nourishment for the soul. We were stripped away of our creature comforts and had only what we needed and what makes us smile. In my case, I brought books to read, my camera, my music and my sketchbooks. I never read the books. I found too much of a story in my experiences across each landscape. It is only when you are in this observant, open state, that you are truly quiet enough to notice the subtle, but powerful romance of nature – God’s most beautiful expression of love.
I try to always go to new places in my home city. I try new foods, meet new people, attend the latest events, but it never seems to shed the jaded layer blocking my senses. It takes at least a full day, I think. In this case, I had been craving travel for so long that I dove right in as soon as we put it in drive. We entered through Wyoming and watched the first of many silencing sunsets along the way. The feeling of freedom ahead is thrilling. It’s almost the IV before soul surgery. It kickstarts your senses, wakes them up after months, sometimes years of hidden slumber. Oh, there you melting rays! I see you hiding behind washes of orange and pink, waiting for your red hot leader to sink into another day. Oh, how I feel I’ve never seen you before! But, alas it was my clouded senses that have been holding me back from this true sight. My brother asks, “Why don’t we set alarms every day for this magic hour?” He has a great point. Why don’t we allow a break from burying ourselves alive to re-center in front of probably God’s most romantic daily act of love? How much happier could we be if we stopped to realize the magnitude of another day faded and the cusp of new time born ahead? Our senses might actually get some due exercise.
Courtesy of my brother © NoStepNoStory
My imagination flourished. I imagined new lives, alternate directions and would dive for hours around the simplest roadside beauty. I imagined life with Elsie and I and all the visions we’d see with wide open eyes. She was reluctant in her old age, but she puttered along, happier with wind in her original wings. The only break we took from the coast over asphalt was in the back of a sleepy Walmart. But, even then, imaginations continued to burn from the first day’s launch. I imagined this as a life and lived it accordingly. I played the part beautifully. I enjoyed the open breeze and the early delivery trucks. This is a part of the life, I told myself and I basked in it. Breakfast on the road was natural and energizing. We weren’t conforming to the societal crutch of the Mcmuffin, but instead delightfully indulged in the natural fuel of fresh fruit, granola and yogurt. It was a relief to know that taking a break from your life didn’t mean you had to sacrifice any of your core values that serve you well. Change where change is meant to be.
I was so happy to show Elsie off. I put blood, sweat, and tears into her (literally all three) and managed to recruit my family to endure the hardships of her transformation with me. We all wanted her to shine and be free – or was that instead what they wanted for me? I wanted everyone to notice Elsie and her polished natural beauty. Most passed by with their brand new RV’s that were three times the size of my apartment back home. But every once in a while, I would catch someone reminiscing in her sight. I loved carrying the stories she’s lived and giving her another chance to create memories. It’s most of what fuels my love for “vintage” – the stories, the history. The laughs, cries and fights. The confessions of love and honesty, the silence of nature in its awe-inspiring energy. It’s like you can still feel all of that in her 52 years later.
She was refreshed to give another go at life. Not unlike myself, she had been sitting in a halted state for years, underutilized and rusting in her old beauty. I rescued her in 2011 in a mad attempt to jolt myself out of a paralyzing life of other people’s misguided dreams. We both needed a makeover and a breakaway. I jolted her from her dead end grassy plot while I left my parked career path. And onward we went, testing our new found freedom for a couple of weeks. I wish it could’ve been longer. I have a good feeling that this will not be the end of the story, but rather the first chapter after a long preface.
The Salt Flats were beautifully symbolic. It is a vision of something dead, once alive, but now dried up in all it’s vastness. Though, I see more than that ending. I instead see a blank canvas, a large, pure and sandy white canvas. A canvas much bigger than you. Almost symbolic of the future ahead and you, as a tiny colorful, alive dot, making your movement and mark as you dance and skip and play. ‘Tis life, isn’t it? At least the best we could all hope for.
I wonder about people’s stories. I always have, and the combination of heightened senses and moving landscapes only exaggerates it. It’s the best kind of movie to watch – one that’s your own life with senses that are alive. I love it all the more as I see a vintage airstream roll by and I wave openly as if to connect our vintage affections together for a glimpse of time. He seems to not register – probably lost in his own movie, imagining the next scene.
The soundtrack is my favorite part. There’s always a perfect song for the moving, breathing, changing landscape. It engages you in your present time movie just like when you watch someone else’s. You don’t always notice it’s there, but that’s when it’s the best – when you suddenly come up for air and realize how the music took you to a whole other level of new that you were already watching, with more depth and injected passion and feeling.
Breaking at an RV park at the cusp of Lake Tahoe, I finally got a shower. It’s amazing how easy it is to be a hippie – only caring about needs as they come to you in their own natural path. Moving from vast mountain lakes to rolling countryside adorned with vines – ah, this is beauty I’ve never seen before. Fruitful, delicious beauty. We stop at a winery in Sonoma Valley, sweetly perusing the fields in curious wonder. It is so perfect that right then the sun continues on it’s descent and we can not more easily proclaim – what a beautiful day.
Courtesy of my brother © NoStepNoStory
Then, the fall.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II of Reflections on the Road.