I continued on towards Denver then arrived at my cousins place in Lakewood around 8:30pm. My car hit the 1000 mile marker for my journey as I entered his neighborhood. We had a delicious home cooked diner and a couple mile jaunt for some after dinner Dairy Queen (Dipped cones are where its at) as brilliantly proposed by Ethan.
The next morning Jason had made plans for us to see some of the area and spend time at the Red Rocks Auditorium where I could play my guitar and enjoy nature. The Park itself was breathtaking, seeing all the ancient sand deposits turned angular red rock formations stunned me and a pack of dear that came within 15 feet of me as I stood still.
We got to the Red Rocks auditorium. The massive formations on either side create a natural acoustics marvel that allowed me to be heard throughout the amphitheater even though I was unmiced on stage while 3 guys power washed the seats from the night before's event. My cousin grabbed some really cool photos of me playing in different areas and a couple of the people there for exercise or enjoyment (Them stairs are brutal) complimented the mini performance. One of the photos I may turn into my next business card graphic! Jason an I grabbed a hearty breakfast in Capitol City that offered some fantastic home made Banana Nut bread.
I then headed back to Boulder to meet up with Adam who moved from the Rochester area last year. I met a couple new cool people and learned about some of the major changes in town with the construction of a Google Campus and other growth factors as the economy is expands. This also furthered my interest in the area as a potential place to live and work. After a few hours I went back and met up with my cousin at Ethan's little league baseball game and ended the evening with an episode of Black Mirror with my cousin.
As soon as I entered Colorado, the energy of the landscape shifted. I felt insignificant in comparison to the monolithic formations of the rockies yet a sense of empowerment and motivation because I knew they could be conquered and climbed and enjoyed. On the way back from Red Rock, I had a great conversation with my cousin (it's the first deeper conversation I recall ever having with him). We discussed the lessons life has to offer, and how the most important things in life are not comfortable and require effort and practice. Contrary to societal concepts, always trying to be comfortable and not pushing yourself is a surefire way to stagnate. A big thing I took away from his words was a new view on how everyone faces struggles. Even if we succeed at overcoming a challenge in life, it can (and often does) repeat because theres more than one thing to learn and the universe letting us know there is more. I've had some repetitive struggles in my life the last 8 years and these words resonated. I'm trying to move forward by thinking about what I haven't learned yet as much as thinking about what I HAVE learned. This mindset is another helpful growth promotor and may help keep humility apart of my learning process.
Reminder to self; I do not and will not know everything, and to think otherwise is arrogant.
It began as many days do, with the sun shining in my eyes, waking me up. Except this time it was through The windows of my 2003 Mazda and not my bedroom. Today's itinerary was to check out Wind Cave National Park and camp in the area, allowing myself to relax a bit. I ended up getting to Wrinkled Rock Trailhead campsite about 12:30 the night prior. The drive from Rapid City to the campsite last night was interesting. First, after about 11 PM in Rapid City, apparently most of the stoplights just flash yellow, turning hem caution signs so as to not require one to stop and wait for the light to change (very convenient). Second, the drive snaked through the mountainous terrain that surrounds Mt. Rushmore, which in the dark took some serious concentration. I've been to the 4 big heads a couple times already so I didn't add it to this trip, but I drove right by the entrance. I also had to periodically stop for deer that were just chilling in or around the road as I tried not to overuse my brakes going up and down the winding roads of the Badlands national forest.
The Badlands National Forest is a beautiful area, I liked it more than I expected, and would love to go back and climb all the big rocks. When I got to the Wind Cave National Park it turned into a Prairie and the amount of wildlife surprised me. Bison, Pronghorn, and prairie dogs were scattered throughout, alongside the worlds nearly 5th largest cave system, the wind cave.
As I left the wind cave national Forest and noticed all the wildlife, I had a flashback to Ilex Forest in Pokémon Silver which is the only way your character could get to the next town. Since I was driving to Hot Springs, SD it felt like that was the main way to get to the town and therefore why I had that flashback. It was an odd feeling and brought me some nice nostalgia.
For some reason Google maps took me through a couple ranches to get here, which were bumpy dirt roads where I drove 15 to 20 miles an hour, and occasionally I had to navigate herds of cattle... A true pioneer. When I got to the reservoir I parked right next to the water, made some dinner and a little fire, then as it started to snow, went to sleep in my air mattress cubby of a car.
Then it happened, around 3:30am...I noticed a rustling of a bag somewhere in the car. At first I thought it was underneath my mattress and just readjusted...But then it happened again, and again, until finally I realized it was happening even when I didn't move a muscle...I wasn't alone in my car. DUN DUN DUN!
I quickly grabbed my flashlight and looked around. out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. I Iooked but saw nothing...so I waited, and sure enough, a field mouse scampered into view on my passenger seat, 2 feet away from my face. The whites of its beady little eyes caused a fury of rage as I realized I would have to get up and out of my warm cacoon...the worst...
I spent 20 minutes reorganizing the front seats with no mouse to be seen. I hoped he had jumped out (Also how I hoped he had got in). Then after crawling back into my sleeping bag within a few minutes it happened again. I looked up towards the shifter, and eventually the mouse ran back down through the passenger footwell up towards where the foot air vents were...that sneaky bastard...(Honestly taking my shoes ona nd off annoyed me the most)
I spent another 15-20 minutes stuffing paper towels in the various places I thought the mouse could come into the vehicle from. Then finally settled back down into bed close to 5am, over an hour of sleep lost as the sky was beginning to lighten,
Lesson: When you invade someones home, they may try to invade yours.
I love exploring. I did this growing up, usually through my experiences with Boy Scouts. But climbing the rock formation this morning made me feel alive. After, as I was driving, I stopped at a lookout and took a picture. An Asian gentleman in a Volkswagen going the opposite direction stopped as well and we exchanged brief introductions. Then he was also on the guided tour of the wind caves a couple hours later. This made me ponder about coincidences and what brings people together at different points in life, making me also consider the people I am interacting with now and what significance they will hold in my future.
I began asking a lot of questions about how they discover new things and the process of getting involved with those groups. It requires some certification, and then your resume of cave exploring gets reviewed to see if you're capable of navigating it yourself. I decided I'm going to do some research when I return about finding local chapters of the National speleological Society for cave discovery and exploration. During the summer there's a spelunking tour you can do of the wind Cave, and I may just have to return in the future to do so. Jack of all trades, master of none…
Lastly, because climbing above and below ground made me feel so free, I realized what's been happening with the mindset of my career and creativity the last few years as I was driving to my next destination. I've been following a standard career path which has led me to think in the lines of the picture that society wants us to color in. I used to thrive on coloring outside the lines (being homeschooled I think helped in that regards), thinking outside the box, not being restrained creatively...not that I can't come up with a good idea every now and then, but I definitely feel like I've developed too much association with these boxes. I need to start approaching my career and life mentality again from an "outside of the box" method, because I think that's why I've been having difficulty with my creative side the last few years. "
Out of the box, out of the box!"...
... for those who love the cardboard world created by the Nick Jr. show "Out of The Box"...
I've been planning this trip for about 4 months. It started when my position as a 3rd party marketing trainer and rep ended abruptly (though not unexpectedly). I had to make a decision at a point in my life where I wasn't interested in being decisive; continue following a career path, my "American Dream" where income and stability was my focus, or use some of the resources I'd gathered and live a little. After interviewing and declining some mid level management jobs, I jumped into the later. I asked myself, "If I didn't have to worry about a dollar, what would I do right now?"
The Answer was traveling.
Now since Dollars do matter and budgets are a thing, I decided to make a road trip apart of my near future, one that I could meet friends along the way, and end up visiting some really cool places in nature where I could relax, draw inspiration for my music and creativity, and preferably end up somewhere warm! The route took the form of driving to California, to a hot springs and permaculture farm I had visited a couple years back, while camping at as many national parks and forests as I can fit.
Thanks to multiple people suggesting I journal this roadtrip in someway, I am making this blog (which is a first for me) and already enjoying it! I almost considered not doing this (since my grammar isn't quite spot on and knowing when I'll have internet connection varies). But one of my musical soulmates, Michael Loukes, told me I NEEDED to at least journal the things I noticed both outside and inside of me as I could look back years down the road and likely cherish it. So now i'm taking the time to do so along with the potential assistance in personal growth as "writing your thoughts" can typically accomplish. So Im calling this the Introspection Perception blog and making a goal to record my inner and outer observations.
So here it goes...
Day 1 - South Dakota / Black Hills National Forest
Today is one of the longer distances on my itinerary, Rapid City and Beyond. I got in the car around 1pm and will remain driving till until 12:30 pm or so. I took my Chiropractors advice of drinking lots of water to not only stay hydrated but also to force myself to stop every couple hours to stretch the body (I hung my camelback off the headrest of my drivers seat for easy access, it totally worked!). I had a 3 hour late start because I realized it would be the last time I slept in my own bed for a month and I hand't seen one of my best friends (My roommate Andrea) in a couple weeks due to our busy schedules. We spent a little time catching up over our breakie of cham chams. It is a great boost to any day when coffee and funny conversation fill your morning.
South Dakota as we all know is very flat, but there is a beauty to this. Seeing long distances into the horizon produced an effect I found calming, and made for some great sunset photos as I chased the sunset (Which I got to watch for about 2 1/2 hours). I also realized how easy it is to convert old semi trailers into simple billboards as many people along I-90 have done.
I know I will get lonely on this trip. Part of that is intentional, but also so I can prevent distractions while I consider a lot of things in my life in terms of how I want to approach the next 5-10 years. I've already felt the pull of social pressure to succeed and make money, as well as increasingly noted how money doesn't bring personal satisfaction or happiness past affording basic living. Being a perfectionist who loves music, business, and being a jack of all trades, this leaves me with a huge list of wants and desires out of life. Most of these are not possible to pursue to their full extent if I commit to a traditional career that exchanges time and stress for a salary. I love working when I'm challenged, but I don't want to be defined by work more than I am defined by my personal interests (all about that give and take). So I am sorting out how to balance these in terms of time and effort so that I can succeed in creating financial security without sacrificing so much that my music and other passions are not followed to their potential.
As I write this, I am parked in a Qdoba parking lot after hours using their free wifi, I have a feeling I will become a free wifi finding master as this month progresses. its 11:05 and I have about 45 minutes to drive to my campsite where I plan on unleashing my twin air mattress and blankets for warmth and comfort! I don't know If i'll get a chance to put entries in every day (And this is likely the largest) but every couple days you should hear from me as it will also help me edit my photos. If I suddenly stop posting, I may have died, but It will probably have been a really cool way to die!
Im curious as too peoples thoughts on my format and approach so far. So a comment would be cool, especially if you've blogged (or read a lot of blogs) and have any suggestions. I'd say for my first this ain't half bad for sitting for an hour cramped in a car typing on my computer while I carefully watch slow moving cars hoping no body robs me in Rapid City's Qdoba parking lot...