Morro Rock

Lessons Learned from My West Coast Road Trip

Prologue

Earlier this year I decided to put aside a life tethered to a physical address and head out to parts “kind of” known. I didn’t, and still don’t, have any concrete plans on what this means. But, given that I can work from anywhere, I figured why not try to see as much of the world as I can? The West Coast Road trip I talk about below was my first official adventure where I didn’t have an address to return to.

The Story

One month ago, I sat in a cottage in White Salmon, WA preparing myself for what was next. OK… that statement is only partly true. I was in part preparing; but, as usually occurs before any of my major life changes, one of my best friends was visiting and we were spending an awful lot of time enjoying Memorial Day weekend in the Columbia River Gorge instead. Not only was I enjoying friend time, but I was soaking up as much of the Gorge as I could before hitting the road. Come June 2, my best friend and I would start our road trip to Los Angeles. It was there where I’d be storing my car for the Summer as I headed back East for a few months.

I’m writing to you from the other side of our journey to share some points of reflection and lessons learned in hopes they can be helpful to someone else… or at least be somewhat entertaining. Here goes:

The Trip

Let me start by laying out our route for you geography fans out there:

  • Bend, Oregon – June 2
  • Klamath Falls, Oregon – June 3
  • Redding, California – June 4
  • Kelseyville, California – June 5 & 6
  • Alameda, California – June 7 thru 14
  • Monterey, California – June 15
  • Templeton, California – June 16
  • Santa Barbara, California – June 17
  • Los Angeles, California – June 18 & 19
  • Flight to Newark, NJ – June 20
A map of our route down the west coast.
Here’s more or less our route from White Salmon, WA to Playa Vista, CA.

Back To the Story

Traveling just for the sake of exploration was wonderful. I got to see much of the West Coast states which I hadn’t seen before, and I got to try some delicious food and drink along the way. In fact, one of the main reasons we drove through Kelseyville was so we could be in position to stop at Russian River Brewing to pick up a couple of bottles of a “hard to find on the East Coast” beer for my friend’s brother. We even bought a cooler to store said beer in for the remainder of our trip! So yeah, food and drink were a priority.

Two bottles of Pliny the Elder on a park bench.
The “hard to find on the East Coast” beer.

On the down side, much of my adventure time was spent hunched over a computer working. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the work. But, I do wish I had more time to explore. Despite the work focus, however, I was still able to gather some lessons learned.

1. Stop Working and Adventure a Bit

Perhaps one lesson learned that stays top of mind is my desire to better integrate my work and my life. Living alone in a new town with few friends for the past couple of years (or on a tropical island with few friends), I forgot and ignored my tendency to focus solely on work and not one bit on myself and my life. Thus, having a friend along to remind me to stop and enjoy was essential to breaking me out of my work flow. Along the road trip I had several opportunities to practice relaxing instead of working. The Universe even shut off the Wifi a time or two to force me to chill out.

Lesson Learned: Work will get done. Making work my sole focus holds me back and means me missing out on life happening around me.

Lis playing pinball.
I would have missed out on the Pinball Museum in Alameda, had I not taken my head out of my work.

2. It Will All Be Fine

Usually when traveling I’ll prepare at least where I’ll be staying somewhat in advance of the trip, but for this trip we often didn’t know where we were going or staying until a week or even a few days beforehand. In fact, our original route took us through Big Sur, but a few days before we were to venture there we decided to take another route. This was somewhat anxiety provoking, but also VERY liberating! In the end, even with last minute planning, it was all just fine. Take that, anxiety!

Another example of things being fine even when you worry they won’t be happened as we pulled up to our motel near Kelseyville. Let’s just say the location and clientele out front didn’t make us feel as secure as we were used to (after traveling through “Be Nice, Oregon”). In the end, the place clean, the people nice, and the price was right. We were fine. Everything was just fine.

Sticker that says Be nice... you're in Oregon.
A sticker we saw reminding us of where we were.

Not surprisingly, and quite purposefully, we also met a lot of strangers along our way. On the surface meeting new people while in new surroundings can be scary. In reality, there was not one person we met who was dangerous or even unkind.

Lesson Learned: Give new people, places, and circumstances the chance you’d want to be given. Learning about them and learning to be with them is a huge part of the journey.

3. A Need to Travel More Intentionally

Between having so much work and needing to reach Los Angeles by a certain date, I really didn’t get to see and do as much as I wanted. In the future, I aim to get more intentional about my adventures and to travel more slowly. I believe doing so will help me to be more present and find more enjoyment in my travels.

Lesson Learned: Remain observant and aware. Listen to what you’re trying to tell yourself then apply the lesson.

Morro Rock
Reflections at Morro Rock.

Now, I have a couple of weeks of “stay in one place” time before kicking off a month of road tripping the East Coast with the same friend… yay! I plan on taking the lessons I’ve shared here with me as I go. I do all of this in an effort to architect and live my best life. With that, let’s see how this next step of the adventure pans out. Wish me luck!

Toasting two margaritas
To what lays behind us AND ahead of us!

Published by Lis

I’m a location independent woman, consultant, and writer on a quest to see and learn about as much of life as I can. I believe it’s possible to live one’s fullest life on our own terms, and I plan on proving myself right.

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