Life on Wheels Part 2: Rachel Farabaugh
An Interview with artist Rachel Farabaugh and her travels so far in an 87' Chevy Lindy.
Follow Rachel on all her future adventures @bohemian.dreamer
What has been your itinerary since you left LA?
I’ve been on the road for over five months now. I left Los Angeles at the beginning of October and hit the following stops along the way (live google map below).
What has been your top 3 experiences in the southwest so far?
White Sands, New Mexico
I felt as if I had the place all to myself because there were so few visitors there. It was incredible! I had seen pictures of it online and expected it to be beautiful, but I was blown away when I got there. I spent six straight days in the dunes and each one was very different than the next. It was calm the first few nights which allowed me to watch the sky change colors in ways I’ve never seen before. The dunes turned from white, to gold, to blue and then to lavender. As the sky changed so did the sand. One direction would be entirely pink and orange while the opposite direction would be the most beautiful pastel purple and blues I had ever seen. I was sitting on the dunes one day, waiting for sunset, when a wind storm rolled in very unexpectedly. It happened so fast that I was literally blown away. I quickly put all of my camera gear away and sat exactly where I was as the wind whipped around me. I got covered in sand and I didn’t mind. It was an unforgettable experience to sit quietly in the middle of such chaos and witness it from that perspective. I watched the sunset as the storm was in full effect. The sky became a complete white from the sand and I couldn’t see the horizon line. It was spectacular! I think most people would have ran to their cars long before this point, and I was really happy that I stayed in it.
I spent 17 days in Marfa. It was the only repeat stop on my trip so far, and it was also the longest. I had a friend come to visit me for 10 of those days, and she definitely helped to make the experience unforgettable. Marfa is the biggest small town I’ve ever been to. There are less than 2000 people and everything is kind of weird and hard to find. I loved the quirkiness and personality of this town more than any I’ve ever visited. I felt safe and entirely at home. I made friends that I genuinely miss now. I went to movie nights at El Cosmico, saw the Marfa Mystery Lights, played pool at Lost Horse nearly every night, tried every restaurant in town, fell in love with the tortilla chicken at Hotel Paisano, met a Shaman who read my eyes, drove to Chinati Hot Springs, went to the Star Party, saw the moon through a telescope, partied in Valentine on Valentine’s day, saw Prada Marfa, made bonfires and dinners with my neighbors, hiked the Ft. Davis Mountains, swam in Balmorhea, attended art gallery parties, and made friends that I’ll never forget. It was unlike any of my other stops and I doubt there will ever be a stop like this one.
Terlingua is a ghost town of about 50 people. I spent over a week there and met a lot them during that time. It’s a place that is hard to explain because it’s unlike any place I’ve ever seen before. There aren’t many rules from what I observed. There is one street that takes you to the Starlight Theater, which has the best burgers and chicken fried steak around (besides the El Dorado). I watched live music performances every night because the town seems to attract musicians. I hula hooped with the largest hoop I’ve ever seen. I watched a thunderstorm light up the entire ghost town while mystery lights appeared and disappeared below without explanation. I watched the full moon rise over the graveyard and saw the sky turn every shade of pink and orange imaginable. There is a wild west feeling to the town and it feels like a step back in time. Everything exists now as it used to. The old ruins are used to build the new structures, so there isn’t any separation between the two. The bathroom is in the old jail. The graves are not marked. Camping directly in the ruins of a ghost town is definitely and experience I will never forget!
What do you miss about being stationary?
I miss having my own shower. The showers are hit or miss depending on where I stay. Sometimes I have to pay for them by the minute. Other times the bathroom is not heated and makes taking a shower freezing because the air is so cold around me. I also have to haul all of my toiletries to the shower and wear flip flops. It will be nice to have a clean shower that is all mine once again, and one that is guaranteed to have hot water.
Next, and more importantly, I miss good internet. I swear it exists, but I have yet to find it on the road. I wonder constantly why it’s such a difficult thing. We live in 2016 right? When are they going to fix the internet? It’s there but never seems to work or is too slow to actually be usable. I’m used to having fast internet and I need that for work. Not having good internet has been challenging to say the least. When I do find it, I binge on Dropbox uploading. I’m not even trying to watch Netflix. I’m just trying to work! Watching Netflix can get added to this list of things I miss now that I mention it.
I miss shopping on Amazon. I’m a Prime member which means I get things instantly. Now I get mail once a month and it takes a highly coordinated effort to get it. I eliminated my online shopping habit which might be a good thing. But it’s so much easier to go online to Amazon to find the obscure things I need. Now I shop at the Dollar Store. It’s the craziest thing but every small town has at least one. I’ll drive through towns without gas stations or restaurants, but there is always a General Dollar, Family Dollar, or Dollar Store. And that’s it. Somehow I’ve been able to find a lot of what I need there (i.e. space heater, frying pan, duct tape) but it’s still not the same and it still doesn’t cover everything. I could have had a brand new pressure regulator by now to replace my broken one. But instead I have to hunt one down the old fashioned way, by chance. Still working on that...
What don’t you miss?
I don’t miss the monotony of a daily routine and the boredom that comes from living in a place for too long. Everyday is stimulating to the senses and exciting because I’m never in a place long enough to get bored or run out of new things to do. I appreciate every little thing because nothing is guaranteed to me as I move around. I never know what lies ahead so it’s always a bit of a mystery. Sometimes I end up in places with nothing around and I have to be completely self reliant. So when I get to a stop and I find luxuries such as a good restaurant, a healthy grocery store, or a gourmet coffee shop, I appreciate them so much more.
I don’t miss the accumulation of things that come from living in a house. I need very little to be happy, and I’ve realized how easy it is to accumulate clutter. Because I’m in a small space, I think very carefully before buying something and I make sure it has a functional purpose when I do buy it. There is no room for extra stuff. While I miss some of the things I’ve left behind in storage, I realize that I don’t actually need most of it. I narrowed down my closet and personal items significantly when I left, and I still feel like I have way too much. I look around my RV and feel completely satisfied and incredibly grateful with what I’ve got! I think about how much stuff I gave away before this experience and it’s crazy how much there used to be. I feel so light and free without that heavy accumulation.
What do we as readers need to add to our bucket list?
Go to the National Parks and the State Parks. There is an abundance of nature and wildlife all around us, usually within a few hours drive. There are so many parks to choose from that I won’t even hit half of them. I’ll be on the road for a year and will only see a fraction of what this country has to offer. Pull out your state map out and start planning weekends away. All you need is a car and a tent. Getting outside in nature is the most relaxing and healing thing you can do for yourself. No one goes to a beautiful place and regrets it. They usually regret not going enough. See my list of favorites above if you need a place to start.
Have no fear. Don’t be afraid to do things by yourself. Don’t make decisions based out of fear. Don’t let fear hold you back from taking chances. Take a leap of faith and surrender yourself to whatever it is you desire. Now is the best time to take action on your dreams. And if you need some encouragement to get there, take a small weekend roadtrip away from it all so you can give yourself a chance to rest and recharge. Even if that’s as far as you go, you’ll be thankful you went there.