Notes From the Road (Pt. II)

(6:50am)

It’s 24 degrees when I start the car. I tiptoed around the ski cabin, careful not to wake anyone since we started drinking yesterday around 2pm when the ski area handed out free PBR’s after the races. Most of us didn’t stop until about 10pm.

Hour 1- I’m tired. Possibly too tired for an 11 hour drive. At least the visions of mountains are enough to entertain my mind.

Hour 2- The sun rises over the mountains. I breathe deeply. Everything’s going to be fine.

Hour 3- I stop at Chick fil A for breakfast. Starbucks and Panera are right next door, but Chick fil A is my road trip food and I think this is the only one I will see.

Hour 4- Why have I done this to myself?

Hour 5- I call my dad to tell him how we went skiing one day and hiking the next. He says maybe I should be moving to New Mexico instead. I tell him New Mexico might be too weird for me. He says Austin is weird, California is weird. I say Yeah, but New Mexico is weird in a trailer park with meth head neighbors way. He has been here. He agrees.

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Hour 6- Two of my best friends now live in NM. They’re from Texas and Tennessee, and I think they are reconnecting with their southern roots. Everyone I met was from Texas or Oklahoma and I said I was from New York, but not in the proud way like I sometimes say it. I said it in the way where I quickly follow up with, “Upstate, not the city” like when I want the listener to know that I’ve gone fishing and ridden four wheelers through the woods.

Hour 7- 468 miles of I-40. Dear God.

Hour 8- I call my grandma. She is excited that I’m going to stay with her brother tonight. I haven’t seen him in about 20 years. She asks what if I have so much fun that I want to stay another night and postpone my drive to LA. We’ll see.

Hour 9- There is another Chick fil A in Flagstaff. Soon I will be moving in with two vegetarian girls and will probably become a vegetarian, so what’s one last chicken sandwich? I ask my great aunt for their address and discover that they live another hour past Vegas.

Hours 10 & 11- @#*/>!

Hour 12- My car climbs the mountains over Las Vegas. My grandma calls again and tells me about her visit here and says I have to visit Death Valley. Later, her brother tells me that they ran out of time to take her to Death Valley. I’m not sure who to believe.

I’m in Pahrump, NV. It’s 74 degrees.

New Mexico True

After the 12-14 hour first day road trip, I woke up in Red River, NM. It was a ski day where the sun was shining and the tickets were half priced for me, since I was there to visit my friend who is working as a ski instructor. I was thrilled to have ski friends because I hadn't had any of those since at least early college. I was on my own on that first morning while everyone else clocked in for work. The chairlift was slow and quiet. The trails were uncrowded and groomed. My headphones were back at the apartment, so it was just me and my thoughts.

Skiing in Red River, NM

I got a satisfied feeling like when you gaze around and life looks the way you used to dream of it looking. Here I was skiing at an almost-empty mountain on a warm day, my friend is working at the resort and she knows all of the ski crew and bartenders in town. 16 year old Cori would be proud.

Notes From the Road (Pt. I)

(6:20am)

Today is the day where I leave Austin and I don’t come back. I don’t have plans to come back. I drew the Cloak of Christ card from my roommate’s Rumi deck. I held my hands up to the barely lit sky asking for universal protection on this journey. It’s the longest I’ve ever driven on my own.

Hour 1- I listen to 102.3 The Beat radio station to see how far it goes. I cry, not in a heaving, debilitating way, but in a gentle, nostalgic way that comes with an accepted goodbye. Austin deserves a good cry.

Hour 2- 102.3 The Beat makes it farther than I was expecting-- all the way north of Austin where there’s nothing left but churches and cattle fields, and probably much less interest in urban hip-hop radio stations.

Hour 3- I have to pee already, but can’t let myself since it’s only been two hours. My friend Brianne calls me from Argentina. We’ve lived far apart for 8 years but she continues to get me.

Hour 4- I stop to pee and get coffee. I try to leave it black like a healthy person who is bothered by all the nasty stuff in Coffee-Mate, but I see they have pumpkin spice and I pump away.

Hour 5- I listen to Radiohead and the new Khruangbin. I’m dance-driving.

Hour 6- I stop at Torchy’s Tacos in Lubbock, TX and the line from the counter out the door takes my breath away. It’s my last Torchy’s though, so I have to stay. I sit at the bar, but it takes a while for anyone to come for my order. I go back to the line. It moves quickly and soon my tacos and I are back at the wheel.

Hours 7 & 8- Lots of windmills. Very flat. I decide to definitely go to see the Cadillac Ranch art installation outside of Amarillo.

Hour 9- The terrain gets more exciting. The dirt turns red and starts forming into mounds and swirls. I see the car art.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX
Cadillac Ranch Amarillo TX

Hour 10- The terrain turns back to flat nothingness.

Hour 11- I call my grandma. She tells me she went to her first chair yoga class so she would feel connected to me. She asks if I will get together with my aunt and cousin when they’re in LA next month. I say yes. She asks me again ten minutes later.

Hour 12- I make it out of Texas. The time changes. I call my dad, my mom, my sister. The Torchy’s and the Cadillacs and the peeing have set me back 2 hours. I don’t mind.

Hour 13- I listen to mp3s from my life coaching course. I see that the sunset is putting on a show for me right as mountains appear on the horizon. Perfect timing. I am thankful.

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Hour 14- It’s dark and the road is winding through the mountains. I discover that I can make a cool buzzing sound if I bend my tongue in a certain way and hum behind my teeth.

I arrive in Red River at 7:20pm. That wasn’t so bad.

Lands of Enchantment

If you're a person who thinks ticket prices make it too costly to travel, try buying this $60 tent, packing up your car, and driving over to the next state. You just might find yourself in another world.

Sometimes you can camp for $10. Sometimes you can camp for free. Sometimes it will be too windy to camp and you'll get to sleep in your car, which could have been free, if you hadn't already reserved a campsite.

However you choose to sleep in the great outdoors, get out there! There's a lot to see. 

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