Viewing entries tagged
CYOP Road Trip

Comment

27 Lessons Learned Since Announcing the Big CYOP Road Trip

27 Lessons Learned Since Announcing the Big CYOP Road Trip // creatingyourownpath.com

A year ago this week, I was officially committing to driving across the country for my longest CYOP road trip to date. What an amazing, terrifying, exhilarating, difficult, wondrous, magical, fulfilling 52 weeks it's been, my friends.

Since deciding to make that road trip dream a reality, I've said yes to things that scare the daylights out of me. I've found peace in my own company. I've done my best to show up for those who needed me to show up. I've cried and cried and cried. I've smiled and smiled and smiled. I've met dozens of incredible artists, makers, writers, builders, creators, designers and collaborators who have altered the way I look at the world.

I know. It sounds dramatic, but taking big steps toward the unknown taught me things. Big things. Little things. Things I cannot (will not, should not) unlearn.

In no particular order:

  1. I've learned that it's okay to put work first and that it's equally okay to put work second (or third or fourth).
  2. I've learned that things will not always be as they are right now and that's something to be celebrated.
  3. I've learned that if you genuinely approach people with curiosity and mutual interest, they will almost always be willing to lend a hand. 
  4. I've (re)learned that we all come from different backgrounds and that, even though we might see things differently, we're all working with the same handful of emotions and we often strive for many of the same things in life.
  5. I've (re)learned how to be gracious and forgiving and kind.
  6. I've learned that not everyone is going to give me the same level of graciousness, forgiveness and kindness, but that's their path to walk — not mine.
  7. I've learned that science cannot cure all things (I'm looking at you, cancer), but that love can be given without restraint. It may not heal all things, but it's worth giving nonetheless.
  8. I've learned that mindset is EVERYTHING and that doing hard, scary, big things in life requires a level of fortitude I didn't even realize I possessed.
  9. I've learned that it's okay to push through resistance.
  10. I've also learned that it's okay to press pause, take a break and reassess.
  11. I've learned that it's okay to ask for help.
  12. I've (re)learned that life can change in an instant and that anything worth doing is worth doing now, if possible.
  13. I've learned that we tend to put people on pedestals in this world and that those people are just like you and me. They're no better, no worse — just human.
  14. I've learned to share some things publicly and deal with other things privately.
  15. I've learned that some people will pass judgement when they don't understand or have access to the full story — and that sometimes the full story is none of their business, anyway.
  16. I've (re)learned that everyone is fighting a battle I may not fully understand and I need to be better at reserving my own judgement.
  17. I've learned that if I tell jokes while speaking in front of a crowd it calms my nerves a bit.
  18. I've also learned that I will never NOT be nervous when speaking in front of a crowd.
  19. I've learned that I'm pretty okay with my social awkwardness. Turns out, some people will find it charming (who knew?) while others will be embarrassed on my behalf. As long as I'm cool with it, all is well. 
  20. I've learned that it feels awesome to be the connector in a situation, rather than always being the person doing the thing. We don't always have to be the person doing the thing.
  21. I've learned that, while I live in a great big country, nothing is all that far away if I've got the time and means to get to where I'm going.
  22. I've learned that prioritizing my time and my means is the best way to pursue my dreams.
  23. I've learned that others will question those priorities because they don't understand why my priorities are different from their priorities. I've also learned that those discussions are less about offering justification for my choices and more about offering a different point of view.
  24. I've learned that those who I've met along the way are some of the most resilient and wise people I know.
  25. I've learned that I have preferences in how I work, but that, if I must, I can accomplish big things from anywhere in the world. 
  26. I've learned how much doing the big scary thing can change a person and that it's what I do with all of that new self-knowledge that really matters.
  27. I've learned that I am (and, by extension, you are) not alone.

I've learned a lot over the last year and I have that beast of a road trip to thank for most of it. Obviously, I think it's important to reflect on what we've learned, but I also think it's important to stop thinking and start doing. It's in the doing of the thing where all of the difficult, wondrous, terrifying, amazing magic happens. We just get to hang on, enjoy the wild ride and keep learning the lessons over and over again.

Onward, my friends. I hope you're pondering, doing, thinking and then jumping in and doing some more. When's the last time you did something that felt HUGE and learned something from it? Tell me what you're up to in the comment section! 


Comment

4 Comments

Photo Essay: A Day Hike Along Grand Canyon's South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

Between tax prep and rainy day snuggles with my pups this weekend, I turned on the computer and began scrolling through photos from last year's cross-country CYOP road trip. Sometimes it's nice remind myself of adventures that have come and gone, you know? 

Thing is, I realized I never edited and shared snaps from my favorite hike from my quick stop in Grand Canyon National Park! I thought I'd better hop to it just in case any of you have plans to head that way in the coming months (and if you have a chance to go—do it!).

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

So let's talk about the South Kaibab Trail, shall we?

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

My stay was focused on the South Rim and as I was researching hikes, I knew I needed to try and tackle a day hike along this specific trail. Why? It's stunning.

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

From the South Rim, this trail leads down to the Colorado River and meets up with the North Kaibab Trail, which gets you up to the North Rim on the other side. Someday, a longer, multi-day hike might be in order, but I only had time for a day hike during my stay. I knew I needed to stick to a hike I could handle during the cooler morning hours.

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

Since this trip was my first time to the canyon and I wasn't acclimated to the elevation yet, I decided to hike about a mile and a half down into the canyon to the Cedar Ridge stopping point mentioned in this pdf

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

The views from the rim of the canyon are spectacular—no doubt about it—but I cannot recommend hiking into the canyon enough. You get such a different perspective seeing the plant life and canyon walls up close. You also gain a healthy respect for just how deep the Grand Canyon really is!

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

Travel tip: all of the information about the trail notes that you have to get to the west side of the park and take a shuttle to the trail head for this hike. If you want a ride right to the start of your hike, that's true—there's no private vehicle access to this trail head.

However, you can walk. There's a small parking lot (with a restroom!) across Desert View Drive and about .12 miles down the road from Yaki Point Road, which is the road you need to take to get to this trail head. I chose to park there and walk to the trail head because, you know, I was just going to be walking all morning anyway. All told, it's about .65 miles from the parking lot to the trail head, which means this option adds just over 1 1/4 miles to your hike. For me, it seemed silly to go to the other side of the park, hang out with tourists and cram together on a bus just to get to a place to which my two feet could carry me just fine.  

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

No matter how you get there, if you have a chance to hike the South Kaibab Trail—even if you only hike a half mile into the canyon—please give it a try. It's worth the effort to see a side of the canyon so many people never take the time to explore.

Tell me, friends: do you have any hiking recommendations in Grand Canyon National Park? 



4 Comments

How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

Comment

How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

Pipe Creek Vista // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

When I first thought about being away from everyone I know on my 33rd birthday, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. Then when the CYOP road trip really started to come together and I saw an opportunity to celebrate by finally seeing the Grand Canyon, I was completely sold.

I could celebrate my birthday alone—right? No big deal.

Well it was a big deal, but in the best ways possible. I found solitude. I gained perspective on stopping to appreciate my surroundings. I listened to my body when I reached a few limits. I did exactly what I wanted to do at the precise time I wanted to do it. In short: it was pretty glorious. 

If you've ever wanted to celebrate your birthday alone at the Grand Canyon, here's how (in 31 simple steps): 

Pipe Creek Vista // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

1. Wake up hours before the sun rises because you've got some strange road trip version of jet lag and your body hasn't realized that you're almost back in California after 5-ish weeks on the road. Also: because you want to find a good spot to watch the sunrise over that beautiful hole in the ground.

2. Hydrate. You are now at 7000+ feet above sea level, you're prone to elevation sickness and you'd like to go on a hike. Drink. That. Water! 

3. Leave your hotel with multiple bottles of water and snacks long before the sun rises.

4. Enter the park via the south entrance and turn right onto Desert View Drive. This takes you to the eastern portion of the South Rim, which is less inundated with tourists.

5. Keep an eye out for elk crossing the road. Do not speed. I was thiiiis close to hitting a giant cow (female elk) when she decided to leap directly in front of my car to get across the road. Not only would that have bummed me out big time, but a run-in with that beast could have also totaled my car. On my birthday. In a place where it is very difficult to get a tow truck before 6 a.m.

Pipe Creek Vista // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps
Pipe Creek Vista // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

6. Find a place to park (my first stop was Pipe Creek Vista), get out of the car and marvel at one of the seven natural wonders of the world. 

7. Take pictures as the sun begins to rise, but please don't forget to put down your camera and just be in it

8. Cry and smile at the same time when you think about how far you've come, both figuratively (over the last year) and literally (over the last five weeks).

9. Wipe away the the tears and look around. Realize that you're alone on a cliff overlooking the Grand Canyon. Smile some more. 

10. Get in your car and head east on Desert View Drive toward Grandview Point to both take in the beauty now that the sun is up and to start the Grandview Trail.

Grandview Point // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps
Grandview Point // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps
Grandview Point // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

11. Get out of your car at Grandview Point and stand up only to immediately sit back down with a serious case of dizziness. You are most definitely not acclimated to this altitude! Drink more water and eat a few of the snacks you packed.

12. Make your way to the trailhead and read the signs. Let bold phrases like "unmaintained trail," "do not hike this trail alone," "beware of snakes," and "loose gravel" soak in for a minute. 

13. Decide this is not the trail for you. Take in the scenery and head toward one of the more well-maintained trails on the western side of the South Rim.

14. Park at or near the Bright Angel Lodge (I found a spot fairly easily, but I was also there sometime before 9 a.m. mid-week in late September) and follow signs for the Bright Angel Trail

15. Get started only to keep stopping every few feet to take in the view. It's amazing what a difference going down into the canyon can make—you'll get a different perspective of the canyon by going below the rim.  

Bright Angel Trail // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

16. Watch as backpackers return up to the rim from the canyon floor, which is nearly 4400 feet down. Step aside on the narrow parts of the trail and give them the right of way. They've earned it. Pulling over for uphill hikers and all mules/horses is also a good trail etiquette!

17. Oh. And watch for mule manure. The Bright Angel Trail is mule-friendly.  

Bright Angel Trail // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps
Bright Angel Trail // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps
Bright Angel Trail // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps
Bright Angel Trail // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

18. Get about one mile into the canyon and turn around to look up at where you've just been. Let the realization that you now have to climb back up the trail wash over you. 

19. Keep walking for a little bit longer until you realize you've consumed all of the snacks you packed and most of the water. Considering it's not yet 10 a.m., you decide to turn around and head back up the trail.

20. Pass hikers who are wearing jeans and silently wonder how that's working out for them.

Bright Angel Trail // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

21. Make it back up to the trailhead and decide 10:45 a.m. is, in fact, not too late for a hearty breakfast.

22. Find said breakfast in the form of a breakfast burrito and a pitcher of water at the restaurant inside the lodge.

23. Stuff your face like nobody's watching only to have the friendly waitress inform you that the gentleman across the restaurant (who is also dining alone) would like to pay for your meal.

24. Smile and decline the offer while being slightly annoyed that people (men, mostly) seem to think you must be lonely/in need of assistance/available if you dine/hike/travel alone. Remind yourself that he could have just been trying to be nice to a fellow hiker/traveler, smile again, pay your own bill and leave the restaurant.

Flowers outside of Bright Angel Lodge // How to Spend Your Birthday Alone at the Grand Canyon in 31 Simple Steps

25. Walk outside to find this burst of colorful flowers and decide that Mother Nature must know it's your birthday because she sure is showing off.

26. Decide it's time for a hot shower, a long nap and, probably, more water. Head back to your hotel.

27. Wake up from your birthday nap just in time to order dinner from the hotel restaurant.

28. Return phone calls and texts from loved ones. Listen as some sing out-of-tune renditions "Happy Birthday" on your voicemail. 

29. Eat dinner and drink more water while researching another hike for the following day.

30. Read a book under the covers even though it's still light outside. 

31. Drift off to sleep: a.) completely content with how your solo birthday adventure at The Grand Canyon turned out; b.) proud of your accomplishments in the last year; and c.) excited about the adventures that await.



Comment

2 Comments

The CYOP Road Trip: What I'll Do Differently Next Time

The CYOP Road Trip: What I'll Do Differently Next Time

Although I was able to travel across the country and back without anything bad happening, there are still a few things I might do differently next time around.

The CYOP Road Trip was my first extended solo road trip, it was the first time I had attempted to produce full podcast episodes from the road, it was the first time I'd taken such a long break from other freelance work, it was the first time traveling without my husband for longer than ten days and it was my first time having a podcast sponsor along for the ride.

The CYOP Road Trip: What I'll Do Differently Next Time

That's a lot of firsts! So, I thought I'd share a bit about what I've learned in case any of you out there are looking to tackle similar firsts all at once. Here it goes:

  1. Maybe pick one or two firsts and learn your way around them before adding more into the mix. It was overwhelming to wrap my head around everything I was attempting to accomplish and trying so much of it for the first time made it feel even more insurmountable. Of course, I survived. I came through to the other side of it all with a giant, exhausted smile. However, if I were to do it again, I'd think about paring down my big leaps.
  2. Stay everywhere a little longer than you think you might need to. I didn't stay anywhere longer than four nights/three days. I drove through 27 states in six weeks. Friends, that's not enough time to get a good feel for a place. While I have zero regrets—I needed to get things done in six weeks, so I made it happen—I would definitely plan to visit fewer cities and stay each place long enough to work, rest and play. I didn't have a good balance of that on this trip.
  3. Plan for more nature breaks. I spent most nights of this trip in chain hotels. While, for the most part, that provided access to wifi at all hours and I needed that reliability to produce the show, I really wish I had been able to throw in a few camping/cabin stops along the way. I really do prefer staying off the beaten path when traveling and I just couldn't pull that off on this trip.

Honestly, those three things are what I'd do differently. I think taking these tips into account before I head out on another CYOP Road Trip will make all of the other overwhelming bits feel a little more manageable.  

p.s. Want to read more about what I learned about working on the road? I shared my insights from the first three weeks here.



2 Comments

Oh Hiking, How I Love Thee: Working Out on the Road

2 Comments

Oh Hiking, How I Love Thee: Working Out on the Road

Caesars Head State Park, South Carolina

One of the many things that didn't quite go as planned while on the road was keeping up a regular workout routine. I had expected to make use of the hotel gyms along the way, but it just didn't happen.

Caesars Head State Park, South Carolina 

However, I did do yoga and my physical therapy workout from my room and I found reasons to walk as much as humanly possible. My word for this year was well, after all.

I just knew that sitting in the car for 6 to 12 hours at a time and then sitting down to work in front of a computer would take a toll so I found places to hike, walked to grab food or see the sights and used photo opportunities as a reason to get out of the car on long hauls.

Caesars Head State Park, South Carolina 

And it worked! Between eating well (I kept my distance from processed food by hitting grocery store salad bars and sitting down for meals instead of eating on-the-go) and getting in exercise wherever I could, I actually lost a little of the extra weight I had been carrying around.

Of course, finding beautiful hiking trails near my stops made everything more enjoyable. This short hike in Caesars Head State Park near Greenville, South Carolina was just what I needed after a long drive down the East Coast. I met a few other women at the trailhead who were going in the same direction so I tagged along with them, talking and admiring the scenery the whole time instead of taking a million pictures. 

Caesars Head State Park, South Carolina 

I'll be sharing a few more hiking trails in the coming weeks, but in the mean time I'd love to hear more about how you all keep yourself active while traveling. I felt so much better knowing I had fit in at least a little exercise between work and travel. Now I just have to translate those good habits to my home routine, right?

Feel free to share your tips in the comment section below—I'm always looking for suggestions!



2 Comments