As I wake up from a nap, my legs are sweaty and sticking to the leather seats of the van. “It’s so hot, I wish the air conditioner worked.” I think to myself. My neck is sore from sleeping awkwardly in the passenger seat. I stretch out my arms and rub my face and neck. I am still so tired. My eyes are still half closed as I think to myself, “How long have we’ve been driving? How much longer till we get there? What’s that smell? Oh my gosh, it’s me.” I am overly tired and getting irritated, but as I look out the window, all the irritation fades away and I am filled with wonder as I stare at the never-ending vastness of the desert. Arizona looks exactly as I pictured it; land and cacti for miles. The landscape in front of me is so uniquely beautiful. I pull out my camera and start taking blurry pictures from the van window. “How did I end up on a road trip to LA?” I chuckle to myself and continue to admire the beauty of the desert.
A few years ago, I went on a road trip from Colorado Springs to Los Angeles. It was an amazing journey that changed my outlook on life. I know that sounds cliche and it’s the thing that everyone says after they go travelling, but let me explain.
After exploring haunted castles in Romania, hiking to hidden waterfalls in Hawaii and tanning on beautiful beaches in Greece, driving around mainland US didn’t seem quite as exciting. Being from Canada, I was already super familiar with America. Even though it was not my home country, I grew up two hours away from the Canada/US border. America has always been easily accessible to me, the “Big Apple” is only an hour flight away from Toronto and I don’t even need a travel visa to visit the states. In my travels, I’ve met people from all over the world who dreamed of visiting the states, and I was always a little confused about this. What about Australia or New Zealand or Iceland? How could these people choose America over wandering the streets of Rome, or exploring the Amazon rain forest or backpacking through Southeast Asia? Don’t get me wrong, I knew North America was great. I’ve lived there my whole life, but I just couldn’t understand why it was so many people’s number one destination choice.
This road trip helped me to understand. Driving from Colorado to California opened my eyes to how beautiful America is. On this journey, I got to see the Rocky Mountains, Arizona deserts, the four corners, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Laguna Beach, the Hollywood sign and countless breathtaking landscapes. I had known about these iconic landmarks my whole life, I had seen them in movies, read about them in books and seen pictures of them in magazines and online. But somehow, I was completely awestruck when I finally saw them all with my own eyes. The more we drove, the more I saw and the more I realized how unique and wonderful these stops really were. I realized that my whole life I had been taking all the incredible things North America had to offer for granted. Once I realized this, my outlook changed and all of sudden, I realized that backpacking through Southeast Asia and camping in the Rocky Mountains were too different, yet equally amazing adventures.
Driving from Colorado Springs to Los Angeles was a life-changing experience. I learned so much about life and how we should never take the familiar for granted. I never expected this road trip around America to become one of my all-time favourite adventures, but it did.