Revisiting 6,657 miles of solitude, and looking forward to an autumn of personal adventure

This time last year, I was waking up in a deep, soft bed perched inside a home sitting on a little hill in Hendersonville, North Carolina. It was the first day of my bold solo adventure, and I woke up groggy from the previous night’s drive from Tallahassee.

It was the first of many mornings (33 to be exact) that I would spend waking up in an unfamiliar place – but to call my journey one of total isolation would be a lie.

My adventures were aided by many wonderful people who helped transform my trip into a lifestyle.

There were Dena and Marie in North Carolina, who took me out for my first apple picking experience. The night I spent with Sheila, noshing on Venezuelan chocolate gelato in the heart of Kansas City. Most notably, there were the Denver boys, and that little blue house on Emerson Street. By the end of my journey, I had found a new home. The location ended up in Colorado, but the concept was much more difficult to pin down.

My home is adventure.

At the end of my roadside traversing, I settled down on a fat leather couch in a living room sitting in Denver’s Washington Park neighborhood. The first few days felt odd; I felt like I needed to be going somewhere. I felt anxiety about not being on the move, and I grew homesick for a life without a ‘home’. [Read more…]

Completing my solo journey after 33 days, 17 states, and 6,657 miles on the road

That short succession of numbers will forever be engraved in my mind: I spent 33 days visiting 17 states along a 6,657 mile course. You may remember my projected route, which formed a fat, misshaped path through the southeast and mid-west. My car traveled along as planned, until I arrived in Denver, Colorado – and decided to stay.

So the path was shortened, you assume? A fair conclusion to draw, but in fact, my permanent move to Colorado generously added an extra leg to the trip. Here is the final version of my solo trip route:

The center stretch and loop down to Miami from Tallahassee were the result of Denver’s slick ability to make a girl fall in love with a city and decide to jump Florida ship in favor of mountains and snow. After my buddy Douso altered his 1,300 mile cycling tour from Vancouver to San Francisco to hop a train in Reno and join me in the Mile High city, we both abandoned any half-assed plans we had been toying with and decided to stay in Denver. We enjoyed a few weeks in Denver, then loaded up in my car for one final visit down to Florida.

After 33 days spent traveling across the country, I am settling into this suddenly unfamiliar lifestyle of stability. Of course, sleeping on a couch in a household with seven climber men may not be most people’s idea of calm and stable – but this sudden lack of constant change has made this cramped living room I share with my three future housemates the most familiar thing in the world.

What have I learned on this journey? I’ve collected a wealth of perspective and insight to share and remember throughout these upcoming chapters of my life, but the most outstanding idea I now carry is the concept of change and time. Everything is changing, all the time. Change is sometimes difficult to cope with, but will ultimately lead you to better things, with time. And time is always on your side – this trip has taught me that a destroyed perception of hours and minutes opens up your life to a whole lot of living.

In truth, I’m already planning the next trip.

On spuds in the dirt, lemons from life, and rediscovering everything you thought you knew.

Well, a lot has changed since my last update on June 17, 2011, and I feel like I owe my readers an explanation before I dive back into the world of travel, photography, and adventure. I’d offer a choice between the long story or the short story, but the long version could fill a book. Here’s the spark notes version:

The last we met, I was living in Tallahassee, freshly graduated and itching to travel with my wonderful beau, Niko. The plan was to stick around Florida until he also graduated and could join me on worldly adventures. I had two jobs (amongst a million side projects), too many options, and about 2,000 photos that needed editing. We’ll use this as the before shot:

Cue the oohs and aws – aren’t we adorable? Ready for the after shot? Both were taken during the same day on my road trip in Death Valley National Park, but I think they provide a pretty damn accurate visual contrast to assist in describing the huge changes in my life. Here’s the after:

So here I am. Suddenly standing very alone in a very big sea of nothing. After almost two years of teamwork, and the most amazing trip of my life, Niko ended our relationship with no warning and a very vague explanation. With no clue and no plan, I packed up as much junk from my Tallahassee condo as I could stuff in my little Scion, and this lady promptly sped 7 hours back home to Miami.

I left and lost everything that was real to me. I scribbled ‘I love you TRG, always’ on my locker at the rock gym, grabbed my climbing shoes and filled up a mason jar with that dirty gym rubber so I could keep it close forever. I said a few goodbyes (and still owe most of you a proper one, I’m sorry!), and now it’s time for a new plan.

So here I am. The boxes and bags that cluttered my room in Miami were overwhelming, so I ditched my hometown to spend 4th of July weekend in Key West with my two closest lady friends. With a little help from tequila, fresh salty air, and Marisa’s no-nonsense attitude, I put on my big girl panties and am ready for a new plan.

So here it is: I put in my two weeks notice at my Tallahassee job, decided to purge myself of everything I left up in my condo (anyone need some furniture?), and I started dreaming of my next big adventure. I left my comfortable recluse shell, and have begun exploring everything and everyone in Miami. I’m mapping out an autumn trip to North Carolina, New York, and the rest of the eastern coast up to Maine.

I’m still trying to find peace without Niko, but eventually I’ll have to come to terms with the fact that we’re all just spuds in the dirt. I’m learning how to roll with the punches, and am enjoying suddenly not having a plan. I’m just going, and it’s been working out so far. I even had the pleasure of being approached by a fan during an open mic event – Lori, you really have no idea how much it meant to me for you to introduce yourself that night, you may have saved the fate of this blog.

Enough rambling. Ha, that was the short version too. Told ya the long one could fill a book. Folks, I am back. No more pity parties, no more sulking in bed – life is calling. I only have my job with LivingSocial now, and my unedited photo count is pushing past 5,000 images. I’m back on my grind, and vow to pleasure your eyes with plenty of photos and daily updates.

And while we’re at it: ADD ME ON TWITTER! @themorningfresh – I’m twitter-tarded, but why not? Keep calm, and carry on my friends.

Happy Holidays from The Morning Fresh!

Happy Holidays, readers! I’m down in Miami, enjoying a warm winter vacation complete with ripe avocados from my backyard, sunbathing on the patio with my greyhound mutt, Rusty, and snacking on all the homemade goodies my beautiful mother creates. I wish everyone a wonderful holiday filled with celebrations, food and love.

This Christmas, may we give more than we receive, may we count our infinite blessings and may we all relish in the gracious company that surrounds us. As I get older, the holidays become less focused on gifts and money; the meaning of the holiday season has transformed into a collection of family memories, spreading cheer and drinking lots of beer with my relatives.

As this year draws to a close, reflect on your successes and mistakes from 2010 as you prepare for a brand new year. Upcoming posts will feature my new years resolutions, as well as plans for enormous progress with The Morning Fresh, including a serious refocusing on the art of climbing. Expect weekly videos from Tally Rock Gym, daily climbing photos and an overhaul of the site’s design. 2011 is going to be a big year, folks!

Merry Christmas, everyone!