It’s the second to last night before I hop on a ferry up to San Juan Island to start my next job, which means it’s the second to last night of my roadtrip. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Bellingham, Washington, sipping on bland coffee from a Keurig.
I didn’t expect to be here in Bellingham—it certainly wasn’t on my list of things to do or places to go. I thought I’d be in Seattle right now, the city that stole my heart a little over a year ago. I thought I’d be staying with my friend, catching up on everything that’s happened in our lives since I left the city in January. I thought I’d be revisiting my favorite places and exploring parts of the city I didn’t get to see before. But as I’ve said many times before, plans don’t always go as planned.
That’s not to say that I’m disappointed. I was incredibly excited to finally get back to Seattle and see my friends and have a whole reunion with the city, but my current location isn’t bad at all. I’m a firm believer in taking opportunities when they arise and making the most of it when things don’t happen as expected. When I found out that Seattle was out of the plans, I decided to say “to hell with it!” and I drove north to Bellingham instead. Because why not?
I’ll get back to Bellingham later, though. That’s not what this post is really about. This post is just an opportunity for me to put some thoughts together about the last two weeks on the road, with a friend at first and then solo. My friend and I started in Jackson, Wyoming, where we spent the summer living & working. From there we went through Yellowstone, Cody, Wyoming, back through Yellowstone, up to Gardiner, Montana, and finally parted ways in Bozeman. We camped and hiked and ate and laughed and relaxed and explored and met new people.
After Bozeman, I shot up to East Glacier, MT, just outside of Glacier National Park. It was the place I was looking forward to the most because it seemed like a serene, peaceful place. This is when I stopped going along with all the plans I had made and started to just kind of wing it. I LOVE planning trips, but I’m still not sure how much I like traveling based on plans. One thing I can say for sure: planning will help you save money. Once I threw my plans out the window, I suddenly felt like money was disappearing way too quickly. I could have done this trip for a lot less money, but sometimes my impulsiveness takes over. Certainly something I’d like to work on.
I had planned to stay at a hostel in East Glacier for three nights, followed by two nights in Missoula, one night in Spokane, and then a few nights with my friend in Seattle. That’s not what happened, though. I stayed at the hostel in Glacier for two nights, then went to Whitefish and Kalispell, Montana, completely skipped over Missoula, stayed a night in Spokane, then headed north to Winthrop, Washington and North Cascades National Park. As you know now, I’ve ended up in Bellingham. So basically, when I’m on my own, I go wherever the wind takes me. When I’m with someone else, I stick to plans because, well, it would be rude to change everything up on someone else unexpectedly.
I really like traveling by myself. It allows me to do things my way, on my own time. It gives me time to be alone and think and reflect. In general, I just like to be alone. But traveling with someone else can be really amazing if you have the right travel partner. That’s such an important part of the equation. If I’m with someone who never wants to go outside or hike or try new things or be spontaneous, then it just becomes a frustrating time. If I’m with someone who wants to go do things and see things and is up for whatever, then it works.
In case you’ve read this far and you’re wondering: no, there is not a point to this post. There is no wrap-up that leaves you with an overarching message. I’m just rambling here, as usual. Little thoughts that may or may not turn into other blog posts.
All I know is that my heart is happy when I’m traveling. I get anxious and exhausted and upset sometimes. I get mad that things don’t go as planned. I get worried that I’ve spent too much money. I get to a point that I just want to retreat and be alone, away from people and noise. Even so, I never feel more like myself than I do when I’m on the move. I feel confident on myself and who I am and what I want. This roadtrip has reconfirmed that.
I am happy with the way I’ve chosen to live my life, even if it’s not exactly stable. I never end a day with regret. I never say, “I wish I had done things differently”, because I trust myself and my instincts. Even when I end up in a place I didn’t expect to be, and I’ve spent a few hundred extra dollars to unwind in a hotel room for a few nights, I still end my day thinking, “I’m doing alright with this life”.