An Interview with artist Rachel Farabaugh on finishing a year of road tripping in her 87' Chevy Lindy.
Follow Rachel on all her future adventures @bohemian.dreamer
Where are you now?
I’m in Sedona, Arizona. I’ve been here for about two months and am really loving the integration back into a community. I’ve decided to spend the winter here and take a break from the road life. It’s the perfect spot to rest and recharge. Traveling non-stop for a full year really took a toll on me physically and energetically. It was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life. I’m definitely ready to take it easy now and slow things down for awhile.
How far did you travel?
I traveled over 10,000 miles and explored 12 states. I even stepped foot into Mexico for a day. I covered the entire American west and focused on the National Parks and campgrounds. My intent was to reconnect with nature and explore the beauty that is right there in our own backyard. I had been traveling internationally for many years and seemed to have lost sight of what our own country had to offer.
As I traveled westward, I had no idea what I had been missing out on all of these years. I always knew the National Parks were there and saw them as places I would visit “someday”. I realized that someday was now, and it just happened to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the parks. It made the journey feel even more special because of it. I spent a minimum of one week per national park, and sometimes two weeks per stop. Having that much time to live in each place really helped me to feel connected to the land. So many tourists travel in and out on a daily basis, so there was a unique feeling to set up camp and spend weeks exploring the beautiful landmarks. It’s easier to appreciate them without feeling rushed, and it’s easier to feel connected to them when you see them out your window for weeks at a time. They become the backdrop of your life and they become your home. You get to notice the patterns of how the sun sets over different peaks and valleys and feel the balance of life from a place of slower observation.
Having National Parks as destinations really helped motivate me to keep moving. It provided purpose and excitement to continue moving onwards. It also provided me with direction on which path to take. Because of the weather, I was forced to slow down and spend months in the south waiting out the cold and snow. I paced my journey around the changing seasons. There was no safety of a home to shelter me from the elements, so I had to pay attention to temperatures, elevations and weather conditions. And because the prime camping spots at the National Parks fill up fast, I had to plan somewhat in advance in order to secure camping spots ahead of time. I planned my in between stops more spontaneously since there was less pressure in the lesser known areas. I used roadtrippers.com to plan out my driving route based on all of the best spots I could find!
What lessons did you learn?
I learned so much in the past year! It felt as if I truly lived for the first time in my life. When I say that, I mean that I was simply happy to be alive and focused only on the present moment. I dropped all plans, goals and expectations. I stopped using a calendar to plan out the hours in my day and I had no need to check the time either. I had nowhere to be and no-one to meet at any given moment. When you remove all of that, you are left with the moment that is right in front of you without any distractions of what’s to come. It was impossible to plan ahead because there was no way of knowing what to expect. And you know what? It’s so much better that way! I learned to live by my intuition. I learned to be happy alone. I learned how strong I was because of how easily I moved through the obstacles I faced. I realized quickly that there is absolutely nothing to fear unless you are in a moment of true danger. I was the happiest I’ve ever been with the least amount of stuff. I learned how little is really needed to be happy.
If I could give any advice to others from what I’ve learned, it would be this:
1. You are stronger than you think you are.
2. There is nothing to fear, so never let that be an excuse to hold you back.
3. You are always supported and protected when you follow your instincts.
4. Trust your intuition ALWAYS and never ever go against a gut feeling.
5. The most challenging experiences lead to the best rewards. Put yourself out there.
6. Get out of your comfort zone by taking risks that challenge you to grow and expand.
7. No matter how hard you think it may be, follow your dreams!! Have faith in them and believe in yourself.
8. Drop all expectations, worries, and projections of what the future looks like. It’s not real.
9. Pay attention to how you feel now, and remember that the only thing that is real is the present moment. Cherish it.
Would you do it again?
Knowing how much effort it took to get into this life, I would have to be ready for another full commitment to start again. It was by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I am so happy that I did this and have so much to reflect upon. I’m inspired beyond words. And now I’m ready to rest and stay stationary for awhile. It’s time to create and put that inspiration to paper. One day I may do this again, and when I do, I’ll do things differently. I’ve learned so much from this first run that will help me to better plan my next journey. For example, I’ll downsize even more. I brought WAY more than I needed. And I’d like to upgrade to solar power to allow for more off grid camping.
What do you miss most about the road?
Driving away from a beautiful place with the memories of what just happened in combination with the excitement of the unknown that awaits… That feeling is priceless. I miss that giddy feeling of excitement bursting inside of me. I miss the wide open horizon in my windshield and the breathtaking scenery in my rear view mirror. I miss the sense of adventure and the satisfaction that comes with each new experience. There is no monotony or routine to fall into. Every experience is temporary and therefore you cherish them even more as you know they will not last forever. There is no procrastination because there is no tomorrow to do it. You only have the moment in front of you, so your learn to really take advantage of the opportunity and use it well. There is no wasted time, boredom, or distractions. Each moment that presents itself is a gift and an experience that makes you feel grateful to be alive.
What don’t you miss?
Moving around constantly for a full year requires a great deal of energy and planning. At the end, it was the planning that really became the hardest part. It required many hours of research to identify where I wanted to go, how to get there, where to stay, and other conditions such as weather, elevation and average temperatures. There were so many elements to factor in, and it was necessary to plan ahead for many reasons. I had to pay attention to weather reports to make sure the spots I wanted to visit were going to be accessible. My RV was not equipped to go off roading to most of the free campsites in BLM land and state forests so I usually required campgrounds. Many of the state campgrounds were constantly booked ahead of time, so trying to score a campsite last minute on a weekend was difficult. I tried to stay put on weekends and travel on weekdays just in case I broke down and needed towing and services (learned that one the hard way). Calling around to different campgrounds to see if they had showers, electricity or water required careful note taking and decision making on how long I could last between hookups. During the busy season, campgrounds and RV parks would be completely booked and I had to book far in advance. I started to get really tired of the planning by the end of the trip and that’s how I knew I was ready to stop.
What’s it like transitioning back into "real" life?
It was really weird coming back to a city after living in nature for that long. I felt very overwhelmed by the energy, traffic and crowdedness of LA after living in such wide open spaces. Not being able to see the horizon was extremely disappointing and felt claustrophobic. Being in a city again meant spending the majority of my time indoors, and that felt confining. I missed being outside and having unlimited access to natural beauty. I didn’t want to be inside all the time but there wasn’t anywhere to go unless I left the city. I tried hiking around LA but the trails felt dusty and lifeless in comparison to where I just came from. I loved LA with all my heart for the eight years I lived there. But I knew upon returning that our time had come to an end.
I spent the first three weeks back in LA reuniting with friends and adjusting the best I could. Then I spent three weeks in the Amazon jungles of Peru to recharge and reflect on the past year of traveling. Immediately upon my return, I drove to Sedona, Arizona where I’ve decided to spend the winter. It has been the perfect resting place after my long road trip. It feels like I’m living in a National Park! The beauty that surrounds me everyday is incredible. There are unlimited hiking trials to explore and the weather allows me to be outside as often as I’d like. It’s a much smaller town than LA, but I’m ok with the slower pace of life right now.
I’m living in a house again and having so much living space feels amazing! Having my own shower and kitchen is unbelievable. It was a bit overwhelming at first to get back into the routine of paying rent and realizing how many utility companies are required for basic living. I pay SIX bills each month just to have the necessities of a normal life. I’ve had to schedule reminders in my calendar just to remember the due dates, and I’m slowly starting to adjust to that routine again.
I find myself overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that is needed to live in a house. It’s a big adjustment to get back into this way of life after living minimally for the past year. When my boxes first arrived from my storage unit, I was both excited to reunite with my most prized possessions and also a bit repulsed by how much stuff I had been saving that I don’t even need. I have too many pairs of shoes, necklaces and handbags. It really is unnecessary to have as many clothes as I do. It’s been a huge awaking for me after wearing the same red flannel shirt and brown hiking boots for eight months and being happy in that. I’m working on the balance of what is truly needed moving forward. I’m still sleeping on an air mattress and am having a hard time committing to the idea of acquiring more stuff. But when I am ready, a bed will be the first thing I buy.
Right now, I am beyond happy with the stillness that comes from being in one place. I’m excited with the idea of establishing a daily routine. Winter is the perfect time to rest and recharge, and that is my focus at the moment. I am grateful beyond words to be exactly where I am. I’m integrating the lessons I’ve learned from traveling into my new life and resting in this place of silence. I’m surrounded by nature and have found the perfect balance of indoor and outdoor time. I’ve been writing and drawing and am working on a number of creative projects. I am close to finishing my Tarot deck and will be releasing that very soon! Once that is finished, I plan to write a book about the past year of traveling and share the beautiful photographs and videos I took in the National Parks. I’m bursting with energy and inspiration, and I plan to do everything I can to share that with the world through art and writing :)
Follow Rachel on all her future adventures @bohemian.dreamer