Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Paid Summer Road Trip

I did something I would never have imagined myself doing before. And in doing so, I discovered a new meaning in life.

In early July, I replied to a gig listing on Craigslist. A few days later I packed my bags and headed out to Carson City for work. 
Well, I wanted to do something that would take me as far away from my everyday life as possible. I wanted to go somewhere where only I know me. Where there were no obligations, no responsibilities for anyone or anything else, just me. I wanted to go on an adventure and possibly get lost and to never EVER return...just kidding, that’s going a little too far. Anyways, getting a gig in a city almost three hours away didn't seem like a bad idea at all. 
On July 22nd, I took off to Carson City at 4:40 AM. Arrived at Costco at 7:30 AM. And the rest was history. Well, not really. Here’s the story.
Carson City. US 395. 
After working a full 8-hour shift, I drove around the city for a bit. Drove down south of US 395 and figured I better make a U-turn before I end up in California again. The city is very small and antique like. The countryside is wide open and bright green all over. These weird birds wouldn't stop crossing the roads, which makes me wonder why they just don't fly instead. Need I mention I almost hit a deer? I was peacefully driving with all windows rolled down and BAM there it stood. For a long while, it just stood there and starred at me. I nearly panic from the thought that that poor dear might just run head on into my car and commit suicide. Luckily, it turned away and crossed the road. I was relieved. 
After returning to the main city, I decided it was time to find a place to sleep. I didn't know anyone in Carson except for my coworker, who was a sweet sweet person, and my "friend" (it was complicated) who lived in Tahoe. I didn't want to get a hotel so I figured why not reach out to my Tahoe friend and see if he'd let me crash at his place. Of course, I wouldn't have his number. I deleted it months ago! So I direct message him on Instagram. And trust me, it is the most demoralizing and ego threatening thing I've ever done my entire life-asking for help from another person I no longer had any sort of relationship with. He saw the message. No reply. It's cool, I said to myself. At least I gave it a try, no hard feelings. 
In desperation, I texted my coworker and long story short it was against company policy to share the same hotel room. Embarrassed and somewhat hurt by how stupid I made myself look, I wiped away my salty tears and used Priceline (recommended to me by my roommate) to find a hotel. The cheapest place I found was America's Best Value inn for $44/night. I figured the cost of driving all the way back home to sleep was far greater than the cost of staying at an Inn. 
The next morning I slept in and I went to work at 12pm. 

After work I decided to kill some time and went to Wal-Mart (also so I can use the restroom). 
There I stood in the romance novel section, contemplating if I wanted to spend $5 on a book I might not read at all. I kept looking around and spotted a book by JK Rowling. Definitely wasn't a romance novel though.
JK Rowling
I picked up the tiny book and read it. One quote that particularly touched me was, “So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away from the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” Every letter, every word, every punctuation and every sentence, I swallowed all the while my eyes grew misty. I no longer pretended to be this girl who's had it all. I was merely trying to do whatever it take to survive and get my shit together. 
That night I said fuck it and slept in my car...outside of Wal-Mart. Was I scared? Heck yes I was! Who knew, a cop could have come knocking on my window and written me a ticket. Or a biker could have kidnapped me. I woke up a hundred times. I was incredibly uncomfortable and felt too exposed so I migrated from the passenger’s side to the back seat. I woke up again only to be freezing cold yet too lazy to put on an extra pair of clothing. 
The following morning I went to Starbucks, did my dues, and washed up a bit. Yes I brushed my teeth in the restroom. To make it fair, I ordered two shots of espresso. 

With a couple hours to kill, I drove to Reno. Gosh, the drive to Reno was quite enjoyable! I listened to 80's music with my windows rolled down. I felt like I was in the “Breakfast Club.” Heck, I’ve never seen the Breakfast Club! When I got to Reno, I thought to myself, “Ehhh?…This is it?” A bunch of hotels and casinos. You see, I wasn’t too excited because (1) I’m not much into gambling, I don’t know how to either and (2) I wanted to find a place that would offer me a good scenery. I kept my hopes high and drove around. And what do you know, I found a place! It’s somewhere east of downtown Reno up in the hills. Anxious for a picture with a cool scenery, I set my camera to ten seconds, ran to my position and took the picture. I got caught by a couple jogging by and tried to act normal. Once they were gone, I did the same thing except position myself better this time.

After taking some detours into some Louisiana looking neighborhoods, I drove to Lake Washoe. The lake was a lot smaller than anticipated. I almost ran into those silly looking birds a million times. It seemed as though they were teasing me and purposefully waiting for me to get close before they attempt to cross the street.
Crystal Clear Water
Setting up my camera to take some solo pictures. 

Back to work. I got off at 8:45 PM, drove myself to Wal-Mart, and fell asleep.

The next day, I went to South Lake Tahoe. Now this is what I’m excited about! The place is breathtakingly beautiful! Lot’s of good memories popped in my head as I drove down some all too familiar places. I got a pretty good spot at Emerald Bay and once again, set that timer on my camera. I was there alone and for some odd reason when people started showing up, I was shy to be myself and felt obligated to leave. That my friendsss, is an example of a sore introvert. I was excited to see animals, lakes, tree, mountains, and possibly air, but not humans.
Emerald Bay 
Anyways, I drove down the hill and ended up on a place call Tallac Historical Site. I hesitated to walk into the woods but gathered up the courage to do so and ended up on a beach! I spent an hour on the beach and took a dozen photographs. Right as I left, I saw a couple entering with their paddle and oar (whatever you call that stuff) followed by more people. I was pretty glad I left in time for them to not see me being a beach bum loner. 

Back to work.

On my third evening, I got off work at 5:45 PM and headed straight to Incline Village to witness the sunset. I found a parking area off the side of the road, unsuccessfully took a nap in my car, and waited for what seemed like the longest two hours of my life. I was drenched in sweat and struggle not to waste the battery on my phone. As the sun began to set, a car pulls up and a couple takes a seat on the fence, arm in arm. I did my best to conceal myself. I did not mean to be a third wheeler. They left and I immediately took out my phone to snap the sunset. Unfortunately, it was not as majestic as shown on Instagram, however it was a rewarding feeling. I find it silly how I can witness so many sunset and yet each one never fails to awe me. 

I returned to Carson City at about 9PM and was wide-awake. I needed some time to kill. So after much contemplating and what not, I found myself outside the parking lot of a movie theatre in the downtown area. There were only four cars, mine being one of them. It’s got a two star rating on Yelp but hey what can you say, a ticket only cost four bucks.

I swear to God this is one of the most creepy, spooky, haunting movie theatre I’ve ever been to! As I walked into my room, it was freezing cold and pitch black. I had to use the flashlight on my phone to find a seat and only to realize that I was the only person present. I wonder how they manage to keep the place open for so long.

Terrified of a random ghost popping up in front of me, or something whispering right into my ears, I pulled out my cell phone to distract myself from my fears. As the commercial begins, the screen continues to remain black. I got up to go see what's up with the screen and can feel a cold chill from behind my neck down every bone of my spine. The gent, who seemed like the manager, raced to the back and soon enough there were images on the wall. Pitch Perfect Two was a great movie, very funny, and yes very stereotypical. But we’ll leave that discussion for another day.

The next morning, I explored Carson City some more. I found myself on some private property. The roads were quite narrow and unofficial. I came across a trail and everything around it told me I should probably just stay in my car. But my curiosity got the best of me. Just as I got out of my car, a young lady walked toward me. She got three dogs with her and I thought to myself, "Hey, that’s a great idea!" Except I didn’t have any dogs with me...or at home. So I shouted over to her and asked, “Is it safe to go there.” She replied, “Yeah...I mean if you keep going it’s just a loop.”

“Cool, thanks.”

I grabbed my headphones and off I went, despite the rattlesnake sign warnings.

Enter at your own risk.
Of course, I took pictures of Prison Hill. The place is more than rocks, and here was no prison in site. The rocks were used to build a prison some other location. I was safe and sound and I made it back to my car without a single scratch or snake bite. I just have to say, the entire area with it's barns and tumble weeds made me feel like I was walking through a 50’s western film movie set, except there were no handsome cowboys, pistols, and wild horses. Welcome to the wild, wild west I said to myself.

That night, as soon as I got off work I zipped all the way home. A part of me was starting to miss home and my friends and family, all the while a part of me died a little more and more as I got further and further away from Carson City.  I knew that returning home meant returning to responsibilities.

Thinking about taking a nice, 
long shower as soon as I get home.
I said my final goodbyes to certain things that had been bothering me and gave myself permission to make my own decisions and to think for myself. During the trip, there was absolutely no one to tell me how to be me and I felt the most free I've ever felt my entire life. The trip allowed me to let things fall into perspective. I understood, I forgave, and I moved on. I had the chance to embrace my introverted nature. I ate by myself, slept alone, traveled alone, and talked to myself. Not once did I felt lonely or alone. It opened up my eyes and reinforced the fact that I am in charge of my life and I have the power to do or become whatever I wish to be. That quiet desperation to be free and wander the world had been addressed. I had the best experience of my life and would not trade it for anything else.

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