The horizon glowed a deep red orange as we drove on a single road that never seemed to end. During the summer of 2018, my family and I went on a road trip to California.Sounds a bit iconic right?Two days and two nights driving, it sounds so impossible now that I think back on it. Road trips can teach many people many life lessons, as it did for me. Road trips are a time to both explore and reflect. It is definitely much more than a great time on four wheels.
During my time in California, I learned much more about myself, since this was a time to get away from home and focus on family and myself. California was and is my home away from home. However, before I talk about my time in California, there was plenty of memories just getting there in general, the road trip. The scenery on interstate 40 was constantly changing as time flew by. It was such a memorable experience, simply because I was able to see the good in nature. Watching day go to night and sunrise to sunset helped me forget about all my troubles, stress, and just anything that I had issues with. The road trip itself was much more therapeutic than my vacation, and that says so much.
From East to West, that drive was definitely a long one, but worth it. We passed by many states such as Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and many more! I remember feeling so relaxed and relieved as we would pass by the borders to new states, I would always to think to myself, I’m almost there! Just a few more hours and I’ll see my family. The closer we became and how the hours to our destination got shorter just made me that much more impatient to arrive.
We left our house July 6th, expecting to arrive July 8th by car. The night we left we managed to ( credits to my dad for driving those countless hours ) get all the way to a rest stop in good old Tennessee. There we slept for a short 3-4 hours in our cramped red car. Already for those nine hours we’ve been on the road I had so much to think about . What exactly did I want to do in life? I had answers for questions I didn’t even think about . So many things in life I actually want to do, is it possible to do them all? At this point , or even before my trip I was beyond stressed with struggles with myself and my family . However thankfully my time on the road was the perfect opportunity to rethink and recap.
Fast forward a few more hours and I’m Oklahoma, where the weather felt drastically more humid than in Maryland. At this point we were still on interstate 40, a single road that reached for many many hours . I knew that once we reached Texas we were halfway there !
After awhile we finally passed Texas, New Mexico, and reached Arizona. Now let me tell you, Arizona was beyond HOT. Since it was summer time the highest I saw the temperature there was 110°F. At one time we started to run very low on gas , but there was no gas station in sight. The single road we drove on the setting was like the desert, hot , vacant , and sandy. Luckily we found a gas station a few more miles up ahead . My little brothers and I were terrified with the thought of being stranded in such a place like the desert. However this mini situation itself taught me to definitely plan ahead and to always be prepared .
Now, the next thing you know we finally cross the border to California . It was such a relieving but upsetting feeling knowing my road trip was going to end. From two days to two hours left until I saw my family , I was beyond excited . Compton , Los Angeles was where we were headed to. I expected the town to be a bit old , musty and dusty looking . However like they always say , don’t judge a book by its cover, Compton wasn’t as bad as I thought .
Seeing my mother and her parents together made me feel so happy for her and myself . My mother doesn’t quite get to see her siblings or parents often, maybe like once a year. If your grandparents live with you or you see them often, please consider yourself lucky . However at this moment I knew being with my family, spending time with them, laughing with them, and simply being in their presence was going to be the best 2 weeks of my life .
My first few days in California were a bit shy since it took my awhile to warm up to everyone . I remember how fun it was to crack jokes with my uncles and grandpa, they’re such amazing people . Besides family , there were foods I had yearned to try, like In-N-Out Burgers ! Their burgers were so delicious , and they deserve all the hype they get. Who knew a burger would make me feel at peace?
I visited the famous Hollywood but trust me , it isn’t as beautiful and fabulous as you think it is. It’s quite dirty, smells like pee, oh and get this , did you know you had to pay to use the bathroom? Now that I think about it Hollywood is only an illusion to us people outside of it . The best part about it that I really enjoyed was the walk of fame, super iconic!
You probably didn’t ask but , what do I miss most about California? The answer: everything ! I miss the sleepy nights where I’d stay up playing Loteria (Hispanic bingo) with my cousins, seeing the beautiful mountains and crystal waters of Lake Perris, and the amazing horizon that divided the sky and ocean at Redondo Beach. I miss the amusement parks and aquariums, but most of all, I miss my family . Why do I desperately miss it so much?
Well, because it helped me forget.
It helped me forget about my problems. Probably for the first time in a long time I felt nothing but pure happiness for two weeks straight . No stress, sadness, or anger. It was pure joy , happiness , and love.
Once the dateline of heading back home was getting closer, I came to a realization that vacations are meant to be good for the soul, they’re meant to be good for the mind. I would come to realize this same thought again on my road trip back home.
Heading home was hard , I had gotten so used to the sunny, windy , and warm weather of California. I did not want to go home. If I could , if only it was easy, I would’ve left everything behind in Maryland and stayed there, happy with no worries at all. It’s kind of like running away, but in a more peaceful matter.
Road trips always involve great tunes, singing, laughing, and talking. They make me feel a good type of alone sometimes in this big big world. The grand excitement of having a final destination, but always knowing I’d make sweet memories on the way is quite nostalgic. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things and to find joy in the ordinary. I spent much more time thinking in the journey phase of the trip than the destination itself. I was able to make decisions, keep life simple , and have freedom on this road trip of opportunities.
The road trip sped by as we drove back home, I remember thinking to myself I wish it could be like this forever. While listening to music, and overhearing the background conversation going on in the front seat, I couldn’t help but smile and realize how lucky I was. I felt lucky to get away from all the unimportant stuff I always do and create a cherished memory instead. I felt lucky to feel free. However, most of all I felt lucky to had done something good for my mind and soul.