We are back in Santa Barbara (actually, we’re back in Berkeley now, but I began this post in sunny Santa Barbara).
We woke up early enough to catch sunrise in Zion National Park before charging through Arizona and Nevada. California, especially Santa Barbara, was a sight for sore eyes. The cool breeze tinged with sea salt wafted through our rolled down windows. We were definitely ready to be back, which is always refreshing on a road trip. Often you leave a place before you feel ready and that’s always a bit unsettling. It felt really good and really right to be back.
After 1 year, 2 months, and 17 days, our road trip had come full circle- our first stop when hitting the road last year was Santa Barbara.
I was incredibly happy that Spenser agreed to go back to Arches and Canyonlands. It was definitely a bit out of our way from Joe’s Valley to Santa Barbara, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity! I can assume that I will be by these places again later in life, but what if I’m not. Better to not assume, I think. 🙂
Over a year ago when we started this road trip, we had different goals. I think a year ago, we would have argued to pass up these sights just to get to the next climbing destination. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when our road trip mentality changed, but it was likely when both Spenser and I began to ride a getting-hurt see-saw. When you get hurt on the road, either you start to look long term, or you head home.
We started getting hurt, so we finally stopped to smell the roses- mostly to make ourselves feel better. But, it really turned out to be the best medicine. The road trip could not longer be solely about climbing if our spirits were going to stay high.
So what’s the road trip about now?
Amanda Palmer really helped me come up with the answer to this…
Spenser and I spend a lot of time together- you end up running out of conversation. Also, the long open road is more conducive to sleep rather than chatter. To cure the doldrums, we love listening to Podcasts when driving. As we were passing through Nevada, we starting listening to Giving it Away, part of the NPR Ted Talk Radio Hour. The whole hour is a great listen, but Miss Palmer really stood out.
We saw Amanda Palmer perform live at The Crucible Fire Arts Festival in 2009. She was a bad-ass chick with a great voice and interesting sound, but that’s about where the impression ended. Her Ted Talk was something else. Watch:
Amanda’s talk reinforced what was our road was about for me: making connections. What Spenser and I remember is the connections we make with the blokes we meet along the way. We have (surprisingly) recently only realized that this is what our road trip is about.
As Spenser explained in his last post, the greatest challenge of being on the road for us is that we now find ourselves without a home, in the conventional sense. Our home becomes the old friends we visit and the new friends we make along the way. Each person we make a connection with becomes encompassed in our definition of home. We create a home and a family from these people in each place that we visit.
Without these people there would be no family, no home. So, on to Amanda’s other huge point – helping each other. Why are we (people, in general) so ashamed of “hand outs”? We are terrified to ask for something for fear of being rejected, or worse, owing someone something. We have been trained to be independent. Amanda pointed out that people like helping- remember the fuzzy feeling you get when you receive a smile as a thanks for something as simple as holding the door open for a stranger?
I hate asking someone for help. It’s a feeling that I need to overcome, realizing that every family we make along the way wants to help (and be helped). It’s time to follow in Amanda’s footsteps and “ask without shame” and also give without regret. When Amanda’s band’s record sold “only” 25,000 copies, she was dropped from the label. Instead of being distraught, she asked her fans to help pay for the records and it was an immense crowdfunding success. Now that is bad-ass.
How Tao of her…
Now to leave you with a few quote to live by from The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
“Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least when you let them, when you work with circumstances instead of saying, ‘This isn’t supposed to be happening this way,’ and trying harder to make it happen some other way.”
“You’d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.”
In the next post, Spenser is going to talk about what is what like being back in SB for him and some of the new climbing development going on… Including new routes put up by THIS guy:
Your realization that what your trip is really about is the connections you make with people along the way is kind of funny, because to me, I knew that from the beginning. I’m sure you guys were so excited to get out and climb every rock in site that you looked past that, but being a non-climber reader of your blog, the most interesting and thoughtful pieces I read from you guys were always about the people along the way. The people who helped you in some way, or those you helped, or got to know that maybe shifted your schema of the world just a bit. Everyone should go on a trip like yours someday to experience the world and all the crazy different people in it. Someday…
I’m putting down Angel’s Landing on my list of places to go. That canyon shot is incredible.
Cheers to you guys being back, hope to see you both soon.
Ahhh, such great insight, Erik! Funny how you knew before we did 🙂 I think the posts about the people we meet are also the most fun & organic ones to write…makes sense! A [road] trip is a must, we’ve learned so much that is impossible to convey in words, photos, or tweets. We’ll go back with you to Angel’s Landing!! There’s so much more at Zion to explore. Also…see you on Friday! Looking forward to catching up.