I awoke in Albuquerque to a grand realization. It was arguably one of the most meaningful moments of the trip (though there were plenty of these superlatives along the road). We were now far enough west on our journey that I was back to trusting the tastiness of the available Mexican food. I had huevos rancheros for breakfast and hit the road a happy gal.
But it wasn’t just this leap from deep-fried Mecca to Mexican food soul train that transitioned us out of life in the Bible Belt. Although we realized that Jesus would always be a welcome passenger in our vehicle, we were in a different land now, and being guided by different forces. While my dad drove us toward the Arizona border, I noticed a tiny spider in the car beginning to weave its web between the passenger-side sun visor and the rearview mirror.
“You’re just going to let it do that?” asked my dad.
“Yes, yes I am,” I replied.
The spider was clearly presenting itself to us as a guide for the next leg of the journey. We both nodded in affirmation of this
moment we inherently understood, and kept on driving ever further into the land of adventure, our spider guide actively weaving the web of our stories to come. Somewhere between Albuquerque and Gallup, we stopped at a trading post where my dad bought a small piece of turquoise to use as a worry stone, but more importantly, to attain as a totem, a tangible slice of this story. And thus began our conversation on totems, another theme to bring with us for the journey that would continue on upon this trip’s end. As we traveled, we carried and collected many totems—our growing travel journal, my Elvis mug, the many spiritual and religious figurines we had taken with us.
A bit farther down Interstate 40, we reached the Petrified Forest National Park, and met our next spirit guide—the Raven. The Raven followed us through the park, stopping with us at each lookout or trail. It gazed at the Painted Desert with us, and perched nearby watching as we later contemplated the process that transforms wood to stone. More importantly, however, we reflected on the transformations of everything. Everything in this life changes, takes new form, erodes, regrows. The Raven eventually passed us off to the Great Earth Spirit as we left the park to continue our journey. A beautiful sunset took over the sky, and I took over driving.
We rested our heads that night a stone’s throw from the California border in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We were a mere dozen or so miles from crossing into the final stage. We began to flesh out the details of how we saw the Chevy’s return to the Golden State happening. There would be great excitement and cheer throughout the land. Women would weep. Children would pour out into the streets throwing flower petals. Men would bring forth the finest cuts of freshly slaughtered meats. Harvests everywhere would be bountiful, with the farmers rolling their carts of fruits and vegetables into town. Local grocers would present specialty rounds of cheese and fresh breads. Trumpets would sound. Crowds would cheer.
In the morning, it was December 21, 2012, and we were still alive. Life was still there despite the conspiracy theories revolving around the Mayan calendar. As we ushered in the end of the last calendar era and the dawning of a new age, we gazed at the bizarre existence of the original London Bridge now residing over a manmade lake in Arizona. Today, in this new chapter, the Chevy would make its final return to the homeland. In the parking lot of the hotel, we used our last chance for free Wi-Fi to download a couple of fanfares to play in celebration as we crossed the border. It was a sunny day, and a beautiful moment awaited us.
But once back in the car and driving, we both became progressively stressed. We were trying to formulate our plan for the border crossing, including music logistics and whether or not to stop at the welcome sign. We were literally a mere handful of miles from the border, so we didn’t have a lot of time to strategize. I became my classic grumpy self, while my dad reverted to tripping on controversial political topics. The environment was tense. We were on edge. But we were also cosmically connected, as we had been the entire trip, and so when I turned to my dad to tell him that I needed to pull over and do some Sun Salutations to get my head right for this crossing, he had already been thinking the same thing. We stopped at a closed weigh station on the side of Interstate 40.
The ground was disgusting—filthy, stained, likely coated in trucker urine. But this wasn’t going to stop us. Right off I-40, as transfer trucks and cars raced by at 70 to 80mph, we partook in some deep breathing and yoga. We placed my Tibetan
As I exited the weigh station back onto the interstate, my dad pressed the iPod’s play button. Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare of the Common Man” set the soundtrack for our border approach. We discussed the journey we had been on and the dream that had started it, as we embraced the reality that we were now looking at Californian land as we drove. When we crossed the Colorado River into California, I couldn’t stop the excitement flowing through my veins. My heart was light and my spirit bright. We still had many miles to go to get the Chevy home to California’s better half, but in my mind the trip had already been a success. She would spend her final days back where her license plates were welcomed with open arms. I laughed. I cried. I viewed the world with eyes that adored this life beyond words. The Chevy was home. She was home.
After all of the excitement, my dad and I ditched I-40 and meandered down historic Route 66 to go sit in mediation in the Mojave Desert’s Kelso Dunes. In the Mojave, I finally had the chance to temporarily live out a dream of mine. I walked off into the desert with nothing but the clothes on my back, never to be seen again. In actuality, I just walked off a ways and disappeared by sitting behind a small sand dune to take in the stillness of the desert terrain. The Kelso Dunes are of the few dunes in the world that create a “singing” sound when the sand falls from them. It was as if it was Gaia’s own internal Tibetan singing bowl, resonating from deep within the core of the earth. My dad and I laid hands in the sand, shared thoughts on our own individual meditative experiences in the Mojave, and then hit the road again.
It was off to visit my brother in Orange County. As we drove out of the Mojave, our spirituality took yet another shift, and we embraced SoCal Hedonism with open arms.
~to be continued~