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If you didn’t know, I went on a road trip in the fall of 2020 shortly after my engagement ended. I traveled through 14 states, visited 10 national parks, and drove 6,000 miles— all by myself! Consider this my Eat, Pray, Love moment.
If you know me in real life, I’m a planner in real life. I have to-do lists for my to-do lists. And I made a 20-page itinerary for the trip. It had all of the details for my reservations, down to what I would be wearing each day in case I went missing and someone needed to fill out a missing person’s report.
My anxiety makes me the best planner. If you need any help planning one, I’m your gal!
The rules of my trip were simple:
- Pack my trunk
- See the western half of the US by myself
- Make new memories that didn’t include my ex-fiance
The road trip for me was filling my brand and camera to replace some of the painful memories from the last 5 years with the person I had spent the entirety of my time with. I don’t plan to share most of the photos from the trip. It was private. It was healing. Sharing the trip goes against why I did it in the first place. But lemme tell you where I went.
Badlands > Denver
Denver > Utah (I hiked the Mighty 5— Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion)
Utah > Death Valley
Death Valley > Yosemite
Yosemite > San Francisco
SF > Redwoods
Redwoods > Oregon
Oregon > Bozeman, MT
Bozeman > Wisconsin
What I Learned From the Road
1. Things Won’t Always Go as Planned
You can have a 20-page itinerary and things will still go wrong. For me, my car was broken into. I went into fight or flight mode, sat on the sidewalk and cried for 20 minutes, and hit a dead end. The police couldn’t do much since I didn’t know who had done it.
My car being broken was SO important though. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but it forced me to slow down. The town I stayed in was just a halfway point. I was only there to sleep and then get back on the road. But because I had to figure things out. I watched movies, read a book.
I also planned to meet John Mayer in Bozeman. Maybe he was there, but I didn’t see him.
2. Things Won’t Always Go as Planned
When I started the trip, I planned to only buy postcards as a physical memento.
I didn’t mention this in the last part, but the only thing that was stolen out of my car was literally my postcards. And I realized so fast how unimportant it was to have those little tokens with me. They weren’t needed. I didn’t have to have them. The police told me they were probably thrown away, too.
I still have the memories and the photos, and that’s more important.
3. Being Alone is Hard
By the end of a trip like this, you might hate your own voice.
I sat in silence or had playlists while driving 8-10 hour days. I had so much time to sit and think about things like the engagement ending, my assault, my upbringing, everything. It was a lot to process. And some of them I didn’t feel like I was ready to face, but I had to.
I also brought a journal and filled out one page every night. Looking back at those pages, I’ve realized how far I’ve come. I had no idea where I was going with life. My identity felt like it had been stripped. But being on the trip, even alone, I was Jordi. And I had to do it alone.
4. Talk to the Locals
The best tip I could ever give is to talk to the locals. Ask them how they got to the town they’re in. You’ll learn so much: where to eat, where to hike, where to avoid.
I still rave about the best meal of my life at Little Star Diner in Bozeman, MT. I learned about it while talking to someone in a boutique.
5. There are Good People Wherever You Go
There were so many moments I wanted to give up and go home. But the kindness of strangers are some of the reasons I made it. There were (3) stories that proved it:
My headlights went out in the middle of Montana. I had pulled over to get gas and someone told me a light was out. I thought, “Cool, I’ll go fix it.” But I didn’t know how hard it was to change a headlight in a Prius (aka my car). A woman at an auto parts store stood with me for 45 minutes and walked me through how to change it. I was so empowered after it— I felt unstoppable.
When I was in Moab, I did a tour of Arches and Canyonlands. I went on a tour (highly recommend them!) and another family was with. I sat next to the Grandma and she told me about how she had been divorced, too. After the divorce, she met the love of her life who just happened to be on the tour with us— my whole life was ahead of me. The tour guide chimed in and said he was divorced, too. He met his best friend and they watch Disney together.
He told me, “YOUR person should be on this tour right now with you. They shouldn’t be at home and you shouldn’t feel guilty for them not being here. Your person should want to be with you if this is what you want to be doing.”
I silently cried in the backseat, but I needed to hear it. Strangers could tell I deserved to be with someone that wanted similar things.
After the tour, I was invited to eat dinner with this sweet, sweet family. Who does that?! They knew I was by myself, treated me like family, and invited me to eat with them on their vacation with family they hadn’t seen in years. Anytime I think about it, I have the biggest smile on my face.
Lastly, after my car had been broken into I was so out of my comfort zone. I decided to go to church— I had a feeling some old guy with a tool box would help me. There always is.
He was wearing an American flag shirt and seemed like a good guy. I told him my situation and he immediately offered to help. His only stipulation was for us to wait until the service was over. He found me right afterwards and found duct tape, cardboard, and a second person to help. While fixing it he talked to me about his kids, his wife, what brought him to California.
(Side note: He offered for me to join him for Sunday dinner with his family. I declined because I couldn’t accept anymore from this sweet person, but I did ask for a recommendation on a good burrito in town. Ironically, there was a fast food chain that once occupied the building where he told me to go… that chain was the exact restaurant my ex-fiance’s family was part of.)
Good people are everywhere, you just have to ask for help sometimes. There were so many memories and takeaways from the trip, but if I had to offer my main tips— those are it.