I drove from Central Florida to Central Oregon myself.

photography, photos, traveling, writing

I was asked a lot while I was stopping at  interstate gas stations in the middle of nowhere.

“You’re really alone? Thats awfully brave of you.” the clerk would say, knowing that I am obviously not from around there.

Watching the landscape change and hearing the accents evolve simultaneously. It was fascinating, and as I reached each clerk I asked them all to filler’ up. I drove through flat oak tree covered Florida, watched it get real swampy. Then the vastly dynamic landscapes of Texas until it started to get very red and rocky. Finally, further north I am in the mountains.

Leaving Florida was bittersweet for me.

I didn’t want to do it, but I knew deep down I had to.

The Mini Cooper I drive was filled to the very top, with just enough space to form an empty window that I can use for driving. Off I go. May 10th. Got to New Orleans, LA late that night and slept in a hotel room located in the heart of the city. It was very close to the beautiful French Quarter.

Adventures in New Orleans brought me into the window of a stranger’s van to hit a joint, and the stoop of a strangers home in the lower east side. They led me to get completely lost in circles, on a public bus and frantically searching for my car. I was in a huge city of which I have never lived and on a dying phone. I ended up buying beer for locals to help keep me safe as an act of self preservation.

This worked eventually and after 9 hours on my feet I finally found my Mini tucked away in a small parking area in the middle of the French Quarter and made my way Northwest towards and through Texas.

Texas took a very long time to drive though, it was vast and empty and beautiful.

I drove 100 MPH through a small stretch of highway near the New Mexico border. My heart was racing as I clutched onto my life at the steering wheel.  Feeling pleased at how happy my car was purring along the highway. It was made for this. I only speed up to 99-102 a few times during the trip, and for only a few seconds at most.

The roads were so empty for so long, and when you have over 3k miles left, you need to do something to keep yourself excited.

At least thats how I justified my dangerous speeds. The few days traveling from Florida to Colorado forced me to grow into myself. I had to stand tall and be defensive, strong and alone.

There’s something about the solitude that makes you feel so vulnerable in the world. Some days its clearer than others that my discomfort is because I am a woman more because I am a human.

Only in New Mexico for about 30 minutes while I traversed from Texas to Colorado when I got a speeding ticket. Thanks, New Mexico.

I got to Colorado City, CO the next day at 3am and slept in my car. This was uncomfortable to say the least. In front of an empty lot in a trailer park, I was unsure which was my dads. Defeated, I went back to my cramped car and nervously slept until dawn. The experience isn’t one I would suggest to anyone.

I woke up, of course as soon as the sun came up and met the handsome mountain across the street.

He had snow on top and was one of the many mountains surrounded this small town and the surrounding towns of Pueblo county. At an elevation of  ‎5,853 ft , I was way up high for a gal from Florida for the past few years of my life.

I stayed with my dad, who is a blues guitarist and musician and a retired pot dealer. I had a great time with him and we went to several gigs where I could see him play and have a few drinks and dance! He is playing with an amazing group called Sonrisa.

Traveling through the rest of Colorado, Wyoming and then spending the night in Twin Falls, Idaho was an adventure filled with the most amazing landscapes I’ve ever seen. I had to pay minimal attention the beauty surrounded me because I was also driving in the snowy mountains.

The rest of this journey, and a lot of my summer 2017 are kind of hard to think about, and especially to write about but I feel like with 2018 rapidly approaching, it’s about time I at least dance around it.

The truest description of this beautiful, crazy summer was just an explosion of very intense emotions that left me a little scared. Living in Eugene in nice and I have a nice bobcat brain on a shelf in my living room with a small tv and a couch and sure it’s a little cold outside and it will be for a while but I have someone to snuggle now and I have my cat and that’s the end result, then I’m ok with it.

I don’t know what I was really looking for when I left Florida.

But this seems alright. In 2018, I am opting to have less income and more time, for as long as is necessary to take something off the ground. What exactly? ///…

just sitting here with lipstick on

I sometimes like to sit on the bathroom floor with my laptop.

writing

I pretend its like my own miniature office, complete with a toilet and a  pile of clothes on the floor and various colors of lipstick in disarray with my two toothbrushes and vitamin supplements and incandescent lighting.  There is also a publix reusable grocery bag on the floor, but it lacks a bathroom specific purpose and I cant reason why it would be in here. Cold applesauce is stirring in my stomach right now, or maybe that’s the feeling I know I deliberately broke a heart and there’s nothing I can do to stop him from hating me. I need a hug. My feet tire from walking 8 miles to and from work every  other day. I cant even call it work because I am just an intern and no one knows what lengths I go to get there to sit in that cold office and design graphics and strategize social media accounts for free.

Yesterday, at 7:30 am I left the door with my chromebook, charger, some water and a few other personal items in my bag and started walking. It was pretty out, one of those mid September in Florida days where the clouds covered the beating sun and the birds were traveling with the wind. I walked and walked and walked, right through this suburban area that I live. Passed old houses that have been around for decades and look dilapidated but still so full of life. As I traveled, the houses became less cared for, the houses turned into buildings. Auto garages, antique shops, psychics and Cuban restaurants, a barbecue place that was smoking ribs and making my belly grumble. I passed a daycare center, a thrift store, a building littered with presumably homeless people waiting for free food and several massive churches. I walk through the societal hierarchy, leaving from suburbia, walking through the ghettos, and arriving in the bustling downtown Tampa where I am greeted by beggars, people sleeping in small flower beds, and people in business casual clothing unaware of their surroundings entirely.  The most memorable part of yesterday morning was watching the ground as I walk, with the pixies serenading me through my ipod, and seeing a flock of tiny camouflage birds emerging from a bed of leaves.

A flock of tiny camouflage birds emerging from a bed of leaves.

Just think about how beautiful that was. It made me cry. This is my life, three days a week. Eight miles. Working for free, exhausting my little feet, and crying about birds.