BYE-OWA | Driving from Iowa to LA

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At the beginning of May I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree.. FINALLY. I’ve complained about how long it took me to get my shit together and do well in school before, so I will spare you suffering through that again.

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Prior to what felt like a never ending college journey, I always saw myself leaving Iowa. I’m not sure when leaving Iowa became moving to California, but I think it’s just always been a place I wanted to go. So, after a bunch of finals, packing my whole house into a trailer and moving it into my aunt’s basement, a party with almost all of my favorite people, and tons of hangs with Mom and Dad, I got into my new-to-me car (THANKS MOM AND DAD) and set off into the sunset (technically I left at like one in the afternoon, but eventually the set would sent in that direction).

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My journey was not at all what I was expecting. I set out without a plan beyond my general route because I thought that would give me all the opportunity to see and do whatever I wanted. I thought that I’d vlog, I’d stop at all the roadside attractions, I’d take pictures of every beautiful view, and I’d camp all along the way. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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First, I stopped in Nebraska at Indian Cave State Park with plenty of time to set up my tent and go for a hike to catch the sunset. Well, it started raining, and I immediately got like 20 mosquito bites, which for me turn into huge welts that basically stop me from being able to do anything but itch uncontrollably. So right off the bat I was texting my Mom, a crying mess, thinking maybe I should just turn around and fly out next weekend. But I survived and pressed on. The campground was actually really cool, and I’d highly recommend visiting. It’s just on the boarder of Iowa and Nebraska. There are a million camp sites, tons of hiking trails, beautiful views, and some great history.

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From Nebraska I headed to Colorado. The drive through Nebraska was just as flat and boring as everyone says it is, but I will give it some credit, it’s quite beautiful. After arriving in Colorado, I was so fortunate to stay my Mom’s dear friend Marilynn’s house. Together, with the help of another of my Mom’s long-time friend Dee, we decided I should go up to Rocky Mountain National Park at Estes Park. I did not realize how much driving would be required to see or do things in RMNP. After the hour and half drive to the park (plus my 12+ hour drive from the days before), I was ready to be out of the car. Unfortunately, the lake I had intended to walk around was another hour away, not to mention when I arrived, IT WAS SNOWING. I loathe snow. But I sucked it up and walked the mile around the lake. It didn’t really seem worth it to me. Does that make me a nature snob? I just didn’t think the view at the lake was that epic, I mean the pictures I took don’t even merit sharing besides the one of the bird. So I found my way back down the mountains and instead hiked at a lower elevation where there wasn’t snow.

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After a relaxing and comfortable two nights in Denver, I headed south to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Along the way I stopped Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. It was absolutely beautiful, but I was a little disappointed to find it’s almost all paved walking paths, and beyond that you aren’t really allowed off the path. The park was chuck full of tourists, which fair enough because it’s clearly beautiful, but nature scenes with tourist is new to me and I can’t say it’s my favorite thing.

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My night in Santa Fe was eventful. Probably the worst Airbnb experience I’ll ever have, at least I hope. I was really not feeling well from the elevation at that point and seriously needed to lay down. Unfortunately, my room wasn’t ready until after 9 o’clock at night. Ugh. The following day, the other guest at the Airbnb and I went to downtown Santa Fe. We briefly visited the Palace of the Governors and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assis. From there I headed onto Flagstaff to visit my Aunt Josie. I hadn’t see her in almost 15 years! I so enjoyed spending the afternoon with her. She is one of the sweetest and most funny people. I will absolutely not let even another year go by before I see her again. After a wonderful Airbnb experience there, I headed to San Diego to visit a few fellow Iowa transplants. Dara and Ethan were so welcoming and gave me some great tips about life in California. A round trip train from LA to San Diego is less than $40 so I will absolutely be visiting them again soon.

I only took a few pictures on my phone from the last two legs of the trip. I was pretty exhausted and very much ready to arrive at my destination.

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Well, that’s it. I arrived in LA the following morning and it has been peaches and cream ever since. Sorry this was so long, but I just wanted to cram it all into one post, and I can’t say I was particularly looking forward to sharing it. My trip taught me a lot about myself. The main takeaway being; I am totally capable of doing big scary things by myself, but I have no interest in doing so. I love people and I love sharing experiences with others (hence the blogging), so doing things alone is just not as fun for me. I also learned that when you are driving for roughly 30 hours, you don’t want to stop to do anything. You want to hurry your ass up and get the hell out of the car for good.

I have to say a giant thank-you to everyone who supported me in my journey, and especially to those who hosted me along the way. I might have not made it without the places to sleep, the entertaining phone calls, and all of the love and positive vibes sent my way.

Now who wants to join me on my next adventure and have some real fun?!

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