Lessons Learned: Vol 1


This road trip had its ups and downs. I've gotten to spend time with great friends and see amazing things but on the flip side, I also had my window smashed and a ton of my stuff stolen. I guess the universe had to keep me in check. Overall, the good outweighed the bad for sure. Would I still like to rip out the spines of the thieving bastards who stole my stuff? Yes. Did I let it ruin the rest of my trip? NO! I went to REI, got a new pack and raincoat and moved on. I've tried to spend this trip seeing things clearly, just as they are. Most of the time, things are much more wonderful or absolutely hysterical if you just focus on what's in front of you. Here are a few things I've learned along the way:


PEOPLE WANT TO SEE YOU HAPPY-SHARE THE JOY
I had several bikers in San Diego pull over so I could see the dogs they had riding on their handle bars. I guess me staring with a big goofy smile was enough to get them to stop. Nobody denied me a good rub down of their pooch either. Kelly and I went out for dinner and I overheard someone at the communal table say they wanted the sriacha for the end of the table but he wasn't "confident enough to ask." I immediately asked the other group of folks for it and handed it to him. He was shocked that I would do that. Give people a hand when you can.




IF YOU'RE OPEN AND HONEST WITH PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR SITUATION, PEOPLE ARE OFTEN WILLING TO HELP YOU OUT
I fled the most disgusting little Airbnb (still trying to get my money back from the wench at Hotel Nipton near Mojave-DON'T GO if you're opposed to potential underage prostitution) and drove to Vegas where I knew I could find a clean, safe room. Bizarre to think of Vegas as more wholesome than anywhere, right?

I told the girl at Caesar's that it had been a rough night and I really just wanted a room where I didn't have to lug my stuff all the way across the hotel (it's about a mile walk from the parking lot to the front desk). She upgraded me for free to the newest tower and a suite!



After my stuff got stolen, I told a girl at Walnut Canyon's visitor center that I was bummed because some of my patches I got at the parks were stolen with my pack the day before-she gave me discounts on stuff from their park to try and make up for it! Unexpected but so nice!




BASED ON MY PREVIOUS POINT, IF YOU FEEL UNSAFE OR UNCOMFORTABLE, PACK UP AND ROLL OUT
I had already paid for the creepy and disgusting Airbnb that didn't look at all like it did in the pictures. I tried to convince myself that the shared bathroom (didn't know that when I booked it) was ok, that the door not locking could be dealt with...maybe...and that the girl going into the old biker's room was over 16...but then I couldn't anymore. I packed up my crap and ran out of there. Sometimes, it's better to just cut your losses and head to Caesar's. Money will come and go-diseases from truck stop toilet seats stick with you.

DON'T ALWAYS STICK TO THE PLAN
I went to Walnut Canyon in Arizona per the recommendation of my waitress from the night before. I had never heard of it and didn't have time allotted for it in the initial itinerary, but I made it happen. I am so glad I did-one of the most amazing anthropological sites ever. You can actually go into the cliff dwellings! I also ended up at Homolovi State Park and Little Painted Desert, neither of which were on the docket for this trip. I met an amazing ranger at Homolovi who told me about Little Painted Desert where I had a pretty hysterical interaction with two cows and a road runner. Who gets to see road runners in real life?! Me!  He also told me to get off earlier on the interstate and take the scenic drive through Petrified Forest National Park-best advice ever. Sticking to the plan would have left me missing out. Also-the restrooms at Homolovi have lights in them to make them look like sunrise and sunset ha! The ranger let me peak at the men's purple lighting when I said I really liked the Burning Man look of the ladies' room. Being Type A has served me well the past few years but this trip, it was nice to explore the other side-booking hotels the day of and just stopping when something looked interesting!





BE PRESENT 
Some of my favorite things I've seen on this trip occurred because I was conscious of everything around me. I saw a whale driving along Hwy 101. I saw hummingbirds around cacti and at the botanical garden. I saw a dozen incredible sunsets. I watched an awesome dad take his kids out for breakfast and juggle everything with a smile on his face. I got to see that people, for the most part, are kind.






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