Until you have camped beside your friend inside a car parked at a casino parking lot, until you have spent hours comparing Native American jewelry together only to both settle on the same piece of pottery, until you have etched your combined nickname into hidden places… until you have done these things and more, you haven’t really road tripped.
Picture this: an average of six hours side by side in the car every day and sometimes twice a day, sharing gas station snacks and promising to pay each other back for hundreds of dollars worth of gasoline, setting up a tent in the middle of a dark national forest or coaxing each other into feeling safe while sleeping in your own car on an Indian Reservation, showing up at “must see” places only to find they closed, and backtracking across America to make sure you both get to see everything on your bucket list… that is true friendship. The clincher? We also live together back in Denver. As if we hadn’t spent enough time together already, the only people we both have to come home to are each other. And yes, we did the whole “Hey! How have you been? Let me tell you about this awesome trip I just went on!” joke, as soon as we both walked back into our shared apartment after the week was over.
One week. That’s all it was. But it will change our friendship for a lifetime. It is true friendship if you can spend hours beside another person, and suddenly realize that you never even turned on the radio because you were too busy discussing the evolution of mankind from the dinosaur age or the economics of foreign exchange rates or the best way to stretch your lower back through yoga exercises or the recent election of Benjamin Netanyahu. Now, that’s not to say that we didn’t also spend a few hours blasting 90s hits on repeat or seat-dancing our way through the desert or listening to Princess Kate’s newest HBO documentary.
So where did this road trip take us? In one giant circle, from Denver to Denver. With some stops along the way to see family and friends, to seek solitude and adventure, to taste tacos and homemade bread. Below is our story, through pictures, but your story will definitely differ as all road trips do.
My best advice for your own road trip? Much like my other travels, but with even less traveling… just go. Go and go and go, and plan as little as possible. Pick the places you’d love to see, and be open to seeing the places you never expected to love. Set aside time for error and embrace the irregularity of the road. Appreciate your country for what it is, and know that the only way to see what you are seeing is from the window of that very car that will become your home for the next indeterminable amount of time, with your co-pilot as the only witness to the life-changing trip you are about to take. And, enjoy. Enjoy every single moment, pick up mementos and moments along the way, and maybe try a yoga pose or two on top of a mountain where you can feel alive and alone and strong and weak all at once.