Contrary to what many people perceive life on the road might be like, it is by no means a vacation. Hell, I haven’t showered in 5 days. I am in a constant shuffle trying to find which clothes smell the least. Sleep? What’s that? A mirror? Put that away. Full 9 hour days at Starbucks working and avoiding employee eye contact? You bet. Do I miss eating anything other than subway? You have no idea. I’ve become a pro at handling heavy luggage since loading and unloading happens five times a day, and if I’m not searching for wifi I’m searching for an outlet to plug half my tech into since electronics and gear define my existence. I am the girl in the repair shop, asking for local riding secrets while Lorraine gets a mechanical makeover. I’ve got mosquito bites everywhere, and the assortment of tan lines on my skin isn’t exactly my most attractive feature these days.
The difference though? I get this: to roll out of my tent at 5am, hurting in weird places and the bags growing deeper under my eyes, to sit on the edge of this incredible canyon above the Shoshone Falls and watch the sun greet the day.
Welcome to my new existence.
But before I get ahead of myself, let’s have a brief mention of how I kicked off this journey.
Revzilla’s Get On ADV fest was where it began. I met my good friend Alex Chacon in Sturgis for a few days as we prepared to hit the road, and while Alex spent a lot of his time networking and presenting, I was fortunate enough to take a mini training day with the incredible guys from Rawhyde and additionally, visit Deadwood, a place which has long been on my list to see firsthand. The only downside to Sturgis was the heat – it was over 100 degrees every day, and staying hydrated felt impossible.
Once we were on the road, it was a few stops in South Dakota as a sort of test run for the rest of our indefinite trip, beginning in the Badlands, where we both suffered from heat exhaustion – again, no matter how much water we drank, we would sweat it all out in a matter of minutes. Beat up and mentally drained by the 111 degree heat, Alex and I made our way to Custer and thankfully, cooler temperatures. From there, it was onto Deadwood to recuperate for a night before we hit Wyoming, where we would essentially spend the next ten days exploring. That’s not to say there weren’t any more mishaps – our first night officially in Wyoming, and we hit a closed road a half hour from our campsite, every adv riders worst nightmare, which catalyzed an after dark arrival for us that evening. Not that we cared – it’s a part of the adventure, and both Alex and I tend to make the most out of even the shittiest circumstances.
And so, further into Wyoming we trekked, and thus was the start of some of the most beautiful riding I have ever done. Sure, there are certainly stretches of road that are pure highway and I have to blast Foo Fighters to stay awake, but it always leads to something better. We arrived in Cody, Wyoming, feeling increasingly integrated into the cowboy culture of the West with a stop at the famous Old Trail Town, and from there, onto one of our favorite campsites of the whole trip a half hour outside of Cody in an unbelievably gorgeous and vast meadow completely vacant of any other human beings. Off in the distance, we had the picturesque backdrop of mountains, sunset, and a massive outstretch of greenery and flowers. The colors were unreal, and we had it all to ourselves for the night. It was, for lack of a better word, magical.
The longer I am on the road, the more and more I start to feel like my actual self. Every day I hit a deeper level of clarity which makes everything around me make sense. So much of my past, so much of the struggles I have endured, and so much of the heartbreak I’ve felt from my personal life and my professional failures very suddenly seems serendipitous – as if everything that I thought was trying to drown me was teaching me how to swim. I have never been one for regrets, maybe due to my acceptance that the majority of what happens is beyond my control. That surrender, more than anything else, is what keeps me grounded and humble, especially in moments like this when I am constantly in awe of where I am.
It is also beautiful, to witness how this bond between Alex and I evolves. Each day on the road equates to about a week of real togetherness – because there really isn’t much of an escape from one another. From the minute we wake up until the minute we rest, we are together, and our days are so rooted in videography and photography, we have to stay diligent with our schedule and remain focused on the purpose of the trip. When our days do end, they don’t actually end. Alex has to continue vlogging until we run out of sunlight, whereas I am on the computer, writing in contrast, and assisting him whenever he needs an extra set of hands. We have begun to find a rhythm – our workflow is relatively effortless unless I fuck something up, and Alex is patient with me, teaching me what to look for and how to have a better eye behind the camera.
I feel so fortunate to be here. To be helping him with what he needs to create his own art and concurrently, be learning how to slowly make my own attempt at whatever the hell this media marketing and influencer existence can bring. I appreciate him, for always thanking me when I hand the camera back, for thanking me for stopping, for thanking me for being along for the ride. I am not sure he understands, and I am sure he will eventually, that I would do anything to help him. He has already, in so many ways, been a facilitator of change in me for the better, and his support keeps me going, even when I have my moments of doubt. And I guess that’s how it is with your true friends. You’d do anything for them.
The next day, after a very rough night of sleep due to a screaming cow around 2am, Alex and I made an attempt to ride Beartooth Pass, and sadly, we failed due to road closures; still, we did get through the Dead Indian Scenic Byway (the name makes my skin crawl) which was a fun little road of beautiful curves and kickass views well worth the trek out there all by itself.
By the time we made it back to Cody later that afternoon, it was 103 degrees and we were cooked – I was so brain fried I could barely make turns on the bike. But it got me thinking of how there is a false illusion portrayed of just what it is to be on the road. The audience believes this is a dream life. And certainly, it is (for some of us). But it’s also really damn hard.
You have to be okay with being uncomfortable, with every day a different problem to be solved, and unknown obstacles constantly occurring at every turn. Because what influencers, media marketers, and content creators don’t tell you when they’re selling this ‘dream life’ is that most of what they show you isn’t real. It’s a picture painted as easy, painted as ideal, painted as attainable and sustainable. What they don’t tell you is what you give up. Regular pay. A bed. Your friends. Partners. Security of any kind. Comfort. Down time. You hustle your ass off with no guarantee anything will pan out. It’s all risk, risk that to chase the horizon, to chase the thing which makes you happy down to your bones, in the hope something will work in your favor and make this existence feasible for the foreseeable future.
Again, risk. Nothing in this life is guaranteed, that much I have learned.
Still, I have also learned that a complacent and settled life is a death sentence to my sanity. I had a house. I had a husband. A traditional and normal life by today’s standards, and I was miserable.
Out here in the chaos? I am the happiest I have ever been.
Not everyone is built like me. Each of us has our place in this world, where we fit and where we thrive. For me? It’s out here. Experiencing the madness of the world, and telling anyone who will listen how incredible it is, to push our boundaries every once in a while. To take that trip, to buy that dress, to have that second dirty martini, to talk to the stranger across from you, and to LIVE a little bit bigger. Of course it can be scary, but sometimes to truly connect with ourselves, we have to leave the bubble behind, and see what is waiting for us on the other side.
Until next time…live wild, ride free.