Going Home: The Road Ahead

For now, I have nowhere to be. No destination, just the road ahead.

This post comes from our FP contributor, Anna.

It was getting dark so I pulled the truck over. I parked in a quiet place where I could stay overnight without being disturbed; an old trail head, perhaps, but there were no signs or indication that anyone had stopped there for quite some time. I was too tired and didn’t care enough to boil hot water or cook something on my little stove, so I ate pistachios and an apple that tasted too sweet, and called it a night.

In the back of the pickup truck I got into my sleeping bag and covered myself with wool blankets, and fell asleep thinking about what I would make for breakfast.

When I woke up the next morning it was freezing cold, though I had stayed warm enough in the back of the truck. As I climbed out I saw that the pine forest surrounding me had been perfectly dusted with snow in the night, giving me the feeling that I had been transported to some magic winter place. And surely, I had. I let the truck run for a few minutes to warm up, turning on the heat when it was ready. I would make coffee soon, I decided as I warmed my fingers by the blasting heater, then oatmeal. But first, I would drive.

I had left San Francisco a few days before. I packed my truck with camping gear and food to last a week, if I didn’t eat much. I didn’t have a plan but I had maps and GPS and a longing to see big mountains and foreign coniferous forests. So I left, driving north and then east, until the Bay Bridge, Angel Island and Tiburon were just place names stuck in my head. Through the Eldorado forest, I drove on winding mountain roads and then started south through the Eastern Sierra. Soon there would be snow covering the entire landscape, the mountain passes would be closed, and the only brave or crazy people on these roads would have to carry chains for their tires. It occurred to me, somewhere along the first day of driving that, though I have done a fair amount of traveling, I have barely ever done so alone. This would be my first time driving through California, let alone across country by myself and, as the hours on the road turned into days, I became increasingly excited for the weeks to come.

I drove to an old mining town in the Bodie Hills, 8,000 feet above sea level. I drank strong black coffee that I had ordered from a bar, the only place open in the closest town, and spent hours walking through the deserted streets of an old gold mining town. A real ghost town, like something from an old movie or long forgotten childhood dream. I left when I was ready, I drove until I felt like stopping, I pulled over whenever I felt the urge to get out of the truck and explore. I moved through the next few days like this, driving down 395, windows open, music turned up loud, on my own agenda and on my own time.

I drove through sun streaked mountains and snow covered peaks towards the desert, past icy blue lakes and red rocks, stopping when the light was right, or to boil water for coffee, or to stretch my legs. At Mono Lake I sat quietly watching deer who didn’t seem to mind that I was there, and in Lone Pine I pulled over onto the side of the road to feed an apple core to a dappled horse. I touched his velvet soft nose with my fingertips. What next, I asked, but he just nudged my hand back towards me and impatiently stomped a hoof on the hard dirt.

For now, I have nowhere to be. No destination, just the road ahead.


ghost town 2

ghost town 3

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Processed with VSCOcam with a7 preset

mono lake

mono lake2

mono lake3


PS – A few things to keep in mind when you’re traveling alone.

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4 years ago

I loved this. I have always wanted to road trip solo, but I sort of hate driving so I choose to bring my husband/chauffeur along haha.




4 years ago

These photos are soooo amazing!

4 years ago

Hey Anna!

Keep up the good vibes and stay safe! I’m so glad to hear other people are having successful solo trips (and taking gorgeous photos along the way).
In October and November I took a month long trek across the country by myself. Started in Chicago, up north to Seattle then down the coast to Southern California and back home via Route 66. It was unbelievable.
Here’s my travel blog from the trip: kaitlynherzog.wix.com/wildwest
Good luck!