That One Time Last Summer I Almost Bought a Camper + What It Taught Me

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Last May, my longtime friend Katie and I almost bought a camper. It was $1500 bucks and had a retro blue strip down the side. It was pretty much a done deal. 

We were having a few cocktails at a local bar and a bit tipsy, both literally and figuratively. We were coming down from the high of spending the night in a tiny little cabin in the middle of nowhere Joshua Tree. We spent about eight hours in the car trying to get to this little cabin where we spent a total of fifteen hours there due to a miscalculation of timing and Friday Memorial Day weekend traffic.

But it's about the journey, not the destination right? We made the most of it fixing the world one conversation at a time and turning up the tunes as our voices echoed for the surrounding cars to hear. 

We were being adventurers and heading into unknown territory where showers didn't exist and neither did WIFI. A place we had to head outside to an outhouse to do our business.

And boy were we happy. 

On the return, we were buzzing from that feeling you get when you step outside of your normal and live from a place that feels the truest to who you are and we started talking about how fun it would be to co-own a camper or a van or something like that. 

Neither one of us necessarily want to van life it indefinitely but both of us want the freedom that comes with the open road. So, we came up with the idea of sharing custody of a small camper if we could find the right one. 

We had it all figured out. Since she lives in Seattle, I'd drive it up at the start of their three-month-long summer and then because summer's for me are basically endless in San Diego, I'd basically get it the rest of the time. It was perfect. The perfect shared custody of the cutest little camper.

As luck would have it we found one on Craigslist that was intriguing after said few cocktails and it just so happened to be the right price and down the street at a nearby campground. So we took the last sips of our bourbon and took the boldness it gave us and decided to walk to meet the current owners. We were giddy with excitement and laughing "Are we really going to do this?!

I felt like a rebel. I felt like I was throwing caution to the wind and living life to the fullest. I felt like a girl who was recently diagnosed with cancer trying to really live her best life. 

And I feel like these are the memories you never regret, even if they aren't the most thought out ones and involve one too many cocktails and emptying a small chunk of your savings. You just never forget "that one time you bought a camper with a retro blue stripe down the side with one of your best friends.' These are the stories you tell your children. 

Until maybe you wake up from your foggy night of Kentucky goodness and find yourself slowly putting the pieces together from the night before. And then you start to remember and jump out of bed running to the window to peek and see if you really did buy the cute camper with the turquoise blue stripe down the side.

But I really feel like it's just one of those memories, on your deathbed, you just never regret. So I was okay with it.

As we approached the camper my gut began to fire as I noticed a window missing. I shook it off and thought, well, I can fix that. Not too mention, I REALLY want to repurpose a van or camper. I mean, very badly on the bucket list kind of want.

 The current owner wasn't quite there yet so we, being the incredibly nosy and tipsy ladies we were, we peeked through the windows. 

I turned to Katie and said in a low whisper, "Well, I see why it's only $1500." We laughed as we assessed the horrific scene inside. We slowly backed away picking up our pace before the current owners found their way back to what looked like a crime scene. Or a small rager led by rats left to their own devices. 

My bourbon buzz started to wear off a bit and I looked at Katie, "Maybe we tuck this dream in our back pocket. Just for a little bit longer." She nodded and we ran back to the bar to drown our disappointment in more bourbon. 

What this whole experience made me realize more than ever though is how much adventure and travel and having the freedom to go where I want, when I want is vital for my sense of self and my happiness.

And I just keep quieting that part of myself with all the should's. But why? For what? 

When I was little I remember dreaming of traveling all over the world meeting people and listening to their stories and writing about them. I don't think I've told any one of this before. 

Recently though, on a day trip to Salvation Mountain, I saw a mile marker for Yuma, Arizona and it was only sixty miles away. And all I wanted to do was just keep driving. And with that it hit me. Why not? I have nothing keeping me here.

Why not start a life more on the road and less living in the should's?

Why am I still so stuck on thinking I have to live my life a certain way? When will I truly accept that I'm called to something different?

While driving up to Seattle in February, I slowly made my way up the 101 stopping whenever I felt pulled. I found myself fantasizing about the life I dreamt of as a child, about going down the road less traveled so to speak. I mean, there has to be something to it right? With the growing popularity of 'vanlife' and simple, minimalistic living? 

All I know is lately, I've been wrestling with some big questions about my life and what my heart really wants.

I've got stories to tell and people to meet and so many miles of open road. Maybe this was the way it was always suppose to be?

I'm not so sure if the 'vanlife' is 100% what I'm looking for. Or maybe it is? All I know is that I do think about it often. I think about selling all my things, packing up Rocky, my small miter saw and just leaving.

A traveling woodworker and her Pitbull named Rocky. 

I'm a conundrum though. A mix of massive wanderlust, free spirit and complete homebody. I like having a place to come back to. A home base. The false sense of safety of my things. 

But I think it's safe to say that a camper van may be in my future and a long, open road full of possibility, memories and lifelong dreams. 

For now, I've got my car and my puppy and an open road heading east. And something in side of me that says it's finally time. 

I'm not sure where it's taking me but I'll know it when I see it.

I have to go. I've got stories to tell. 

12 Realizations from a Solo Road Trip

I asked life, "Why are you so difficult?" Life smiled and said. "You people never appreciate easy things."

Driving 1200 miles by yourself in two days, twice in one week gives you a lot of time to think. A lot of time to think.

Not that I really need any more reasons to think. I think, a lot. All day long. That’s why my RBF is near perfect. That’s Resting Bitch Face for those of you that don’t know the acronym. It’s not that I’m actually mad about anything that would cause my face to look that way. I’m usually deep in some analytical query, trying to solve the major problems of the world. Or more realistically, the major problems in my life.

However, a good long think in a car for seventeen hours all while being hot boxed by the horrific farts of a seventy pound Pitbull is sometimes necessary.  Especially when youre trying to find meaning in a few big things that have happened in your life in a small period of time. The past four months had flown by and the intensity of them hadn't really sunk in until 4:30am that morning when I got on I-5 heading north, towards Seattle. 

As I drove further and further away from Encinitas, I felt myself breath deeper and the tension melt away from the muscles in my back. And then it happened. Without any prompting, the tears flowed like wine. I say wine because well, I love wine and when I drink it, like Rosé, it flows pretty darn quickly down my throat. Crap, now I want some wine. 

Anyway, I digress.

I started, and proceeded to bawl my eyes out intermittently for the rest of the trip.  

As I watched myself feel the feels of the past four months, singing my heart out to my 'Seattle Road Trip' playlist, a list full of sappy love songs and melancholy top forty tunes, I felt tears run down my rosy (not rosé) warm cheeks and I gave myself room to be comfortable with everything coming up. Some of it surprised me, most of it didn't. 

I spent four days in Seattle which is always a mix of too long and too short of time and on the day I left to come back to Encinitas I was ready. I love that feeling, knowing you are exactly where you are meant to be. I'm always excited to get back to my life in Southern California.

This road trip didn't come without some big a-ha moments. Not surprisingly, the creative floodgates opened and all of the sudden I found my words again. That's been a consistent theme here, hasn’t it? I'll go weeks, if not months, without writing anything. Sometimes I get so busy and distracted in my life, I forget to make the time. Other times there really just isn't anything there, nothing is ready to be born and no matter what I do or how many times I sit and stare at my computer screen, nothing comes out the way I want, the way it should. 

However, as I drove down I-5 headed heading home, the words were flowing, once again, like sweet Rosé running down my throat, that I had to pull over and write out two separate posts. 

I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this list. I know, for a fact, that a lot of us struggle with the same things, and I hope, that you'll feel a little more understood and connected by reading it. 

12 Realizations from a Solo Road Trip

 

1. I'm enough, right here, right now, just as I am.

I've always struggled with feeling like I'm never enough. I'm never enough for the world, enough for my job, enough for my family, enough for friends, enough for a potential partner (This one is a dozy and probably a post in and of itself) However, slowly, over the last year, I've been really focused on letting that idea go and coming to a place of feeling enough as I am. Complete in all my chaotic, messy and imperfectness, right now.

I've been leaning into the idea of loving all sides of me. It hasn't been easy and I've definitely been met with one or more tests along the way, but every day I go to bed and practice this little thing called self-forgiveness and remind myself that tomorrow is a brand new day. I get the opportunity to try once again. 

2. Living from a place of love is far better then living out of fear. 

This is another extremely hard one for me. I've been hurt so many times over the years (who hasn’t?) that it has been easy to build a strong wall around my heart. I'm constantly battling between what my heart (my true self) and my head (my ego) thinks I should do. My heart wants nothing but to love and be loved in return. I really am one giant lover once you get past the rough exterior. I want to love no matter how someone else shows up, my heart wants to meet them wherever they are and beam them with love.

My head is like FUCK THAT. This person is a total and utter shit. Come on Amanda, let's push them away and run for the hills! Back up, back up, back up! This person is bound to break your heart or hurt you or break your trust. Back away and run. Save yourself woman!

I know that love is the way to go. In the end, love is all that matters, the world needs more love. and love always wins. The Beatles said it best, “All you need is love!” But it's hard for me. I'm ridiculously guarded at times, most of the time really, and it scares me to really let myself go and love. I'm a work in progress but aren't we all?

3. Worthiness is a birthright -- not something anyone should ever have the power to take away.

Ironically, my name, Amanda, literally means "worthy to be loved.” This makes me laugh because I'm pretty sure I popped out of the womb feeling a lack of worthiness and it's been a constant battle for me. Even with how much I've grown over the years, I find myself constantly being tested in this area. Worthiness goes so deep. 

However, on the drive it hit me, I've spent so much time letting my worthiness be dependent on external things. What other's think of me, how much money I make, how perfect I look on the outside, how skinny or fit I am, how people receive my art and the list goes on.  But listen to me closely as I whisper in your ear: WORTHINESS IS A FRIGGIN' BIRTHRIGHT! 

We give it away so easily though. We allow people and situations to determine what it means when really,  no one truly has the power to take your sense of worthiness away.

I was born worthy. I am worthy. And by God, so are you. 

4. Balance is everything. It's ok to love organic green juice AND whiskey neat. Even when you have cancer.  

When I was first diagnosed with cancer in March I got super strict and removed pretty much everything from my diet and a funny thing happened. At first I felt totally empowered but then I felt miserable. It reminded me of the days I struggled with a horrible eating disorder and was super controlling over what I ate and when I ate it. I hated that time in my life and I've come so far to be okay with feeling that way again.

I removed some of my most treasured rituals and found myself irritated that I felt I had to let them go. I tried everything to replace them with other, "more healthier" ones but I wanted my coffee and whisky neat. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm still very healthy. I love living that way. But after my surgery I realized that life is friggin' short. So I start my day off chugging a full glass of green mineral lemon water and then I have a cup of joe. I eat as alkaline as I can but I still give myself permission to have a cocktail too. And I know not everyone is going to agree with this but I'm ok with it and that brings me to my next one. 

5. Not everyone is going to like me, what I have to say or what I'm doing with my life -- I'm learning to give no fucks. 

I've lived way too long in the land of caring too much what other's think of me and my life and now I'm learning to not care so much (in a kind and loving way of course) and it is pretty freeing. 

I'm setting better boundaries and then fully owning what it is I want for myself without letting others influence my decision. I hope in the end, the happiness I'm discovering as I "give no fucks" is an example to others to own what what they, go after it and give no fucks too. 

And you know what, sometimes I like to cuss. I'm #givingnofucks.

6. Dogs may be slightly superior to cats-- but I will never let Oliver know. 

Considering my dog is currently drinking out of the toilet bowl, I'm reconsidering this one. 

7. No matter how lonely your path may feel, there is always someone waiting to help -- just ask. 

Asking for help is the best thing you can learn to do. Enough of this stoic bullshit.  People want to help but most of the time they have no idea what to say or do. So tell them already. Please, for the love of God, tell them. For you, for them, for me, for everyone involved. You’ll all be better off if you just speak up and say exactly what will help. Especially in times of need. 

8. I'm a vacationer, not a traveler. The truth shall set you free. 

My days of trekking from country to country, running from plane to train to automobile with only a backpack are coming to an end. I'm not even 100% sure I really enjoyed it to begin with. Give me a pool or beachfront, a good book and cool Mai Tai and I'm just about as happy as can be. 

Ah, it feels so good to be honest. 

9. Living in the place of maybe is a dangerous space -- more coming on that soon.  That's the other blog post. 

 Living from a place of maybe is dangerous. It lacks commitment. It's flakey. It's complacent. Too many of us live from this place now instead of one of yes or no. To live from this place you really have to own who you are and what you think you deserve and what you know you want. 

To be continued. 

10. Pain and hurt are great teachers. One of the best actually. 

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Yeah, I know, pain doesn't feel so good but honestly, it is one of the greatest teachers you will ever haveThis I know to be true from a lot of experience. You may grow a bit when you are all happy and in la la land but the real growth comes when you are down on your knees begging for it all to stop and then; what feels like out of nowhere, you find the strength to pull yourself back up slowly and you feel different, stronger from that experience. 

I'll write more on this later...

11. It’s okay to feel sad or mad, angry or disappointed and it’s definitely okay to cry about it.

It's okay to feel like shit sometimes. To sit there and just feel it. You really need to feel ALL of your emotions or they will fester inside and create a lot of turbulence in your life. You can't always affirm it way. Honestly, I've tried. Sometimes you have to really feel it first. 

 This allows for you to truly heal. Crying is actually one of the biggest stress relievers. Seriously. It’s science.

Personally, I went many years without really letting myself cry. I’d start, only to stuff it back down, feeling weak for allowing myself to surrender to a perfectly natural and healthy emotion. Now I cry a lot. I mean, a lot. It’s become the complete opposite. Allowing myself to cry makes me feel a sense of freedom when the tears dry up and I find it brings ease to whatever it was that was building up inside.

So go ahead, be a cry baby. It is good for you. 

12. There is an inner guidance that knows the way, listen to and follow it.

I know, the woo woo shit. I love this stuff. So here it is.  Everyone has had those moments of ‘gut intuition,’ where something inside of you told you to do this or not do that. That’s a good place to get used to living from. That’s the truth. When we allow our mind to take over and dictate what we do and do not do, that is when things get messy.

All my big decisions have started from me listening to and trusting that voice inside.The path isn’t always clear. In fact, it’s usually NEVER clear, but if I know anything to be true, whenever I’ve listened to that gut feeling, it’s always led to the very thing I’ve needed. 


And hey, if you enjoyed this post, share it, love it, comment below. I love hearing your thoughts. It gives me an opportunity to know YOU more.