One year ago, I took my first solo road trip.

After inflating an air mattress in the back of my Honda Pilot, packing all the tall socks I owned, purchasing a Costco box of protein bars and downloading The Sun is a Compass, I started driving North. Exactly one year later I am feeling so grateful for how this trip changed me. I am still working my way through that box of (now expired) protein bars while recounting how I spent those 10 days road tripping through New England.

Throughout the trip I used the app iOverlander to find safe and available places to park overnight since campgrounds had predominantly closed for the season. In Bar Harbor I was able to camp out at a park with a bathroom located halfway between downtown and an entrance to Acadia National Park. Being five minutes from the park and able to walk into town was AMAZING.

This trip consisted of mornings curled up in the cafe Choco-latte pushing myself to sketch instead of scroll through my phone and wandered around Acadia’s many scenic trails during the day. Driving to the top of Cadillac Mountain on a clear night to stargaze and adjusting to being alone with my camera in the park. Heading out to Bass Harbour for an iconic sunset shot to find the best spots already staked out an hour earlier by a handful of pros. Standing on my tiptoes I leaned out for the best shot I could manage. I love this shot as a starting point. A place to return to and capture better each time.

This trip was an introduction to very new feelings for me - predominantly centered around being alone. Driving or hiking without someone to chat with. Deciding what I was going to do with my day and what was for dinner. Sitting in a restaurant solo and resisting fiddling with my phone to look occupied. Needing to fill every minute with something not for my enjoyment but to avoid being seen as - empty? I find it terribly uncomfortable to sit still in public without appearing busy. To be okay not doing something that at least *appears* to be demanding my attention. Learning to settle rather than busy myself has now been added to the list of abilities to obtain. 

Amongst all the new situations I found myself in, I was proud of myself for figuring things out. Where was I staying or showering and what I was doing to make this a worthwhile trip all on the fly. Car camping was a new experience for me and those October nights in Maine demanded I bundle up but it was an amazing experience. Could have done without the stink bug crawling into my sleeping bag in the middle of the night - ya win some and lose some.

The $600 I invested in that trip taught me: 

  1. Coin showers are still a thing and very convenient.

  2. Airbnb experiences are a great way to meet amazing people.

  3. Walmart parking lots are a solid backup when all campgrounds are closed for the season.

  4. Audio books make long drives fly by - I listened to  Sun is a Compass on this trip and loved it. 

  5. Being able to stand in your accomodations is a luxury I would prioritize for a longer stay.

  6. Not having cell-service can be nerve-racking, healthy and push you to grow all at once.