Messages from "The Dude"

I returned to America at the beginning of June, and since then I’ve been going through reverse culture shock. The moment I stepped off the plane in LA I detected a very unwelcome feeling. Everybody was moving fast, not smiling at all. Instead of people casually and comfortably acknowledging each other’s existence, they were actively avoiding eye contact. Rather than opening doors, they were frantically shutting others out of elevators. The city seemed colorless and cold, reflecting the personality of its people. Everything was grey and made of concrete. I immediately missed Mexico.

Seeing family was my escape. I visited my parents for two weeks in Wyoming, played music with my mom, spent Father’s Day with my dad gambling in Wendover, packed my car full of gear, and set out on my five-month West Coast road trip.

 #WINNING

#WINNING

First stop was in Colorado, visiting friends and family all over from Fort Collins to Denver. In Boulder, I talked my reluctant big brother into taking me to his credit union so that I could cash in a 5 gallon jug of coins without having to pay a machine fee. It took FOREVER to go through the coin machine, thus creating some time for us to catch up, was absolutely hilarious, and put an extra $641.12 in my pocket. 

Then in Denver, I visited more family for a picnic in the park, then spontaneously picked up a homie to mob with me into Vegas where he ended up going off to do his own thing while I went on an incredible solo journey of my own, staying 3 nights without spending a dime, and winning hundreds (a story all in its own). On the 4th of July I drove my hungover shell of a self into San Diego to spend some time with my Tío James on his sailboat (the uncle of a friend whom I’ve adopted as my own). He took me out sailing the next day for my first ever lesson. While out on the water, I found a GoPro Hero 3+ floating in the middle of the harbor!!! The same model I had dropped into the middle of the ocean while out deep-sea fishing in Mexico back in February. In less than 5 months, the mighty ocean had taken something from me and then returned it in all the glory of its sweet irony. We plan on sailing his boat from San Diego back down to Manzanillo, Mexico after the hurricane season this year. I took this serendipitous sign from the universe—better known by me as, The Dude—that I was exactly where I needed to be in this moment of my life. Hopefully that trip goes as planned, because now I have a GoPro to help document it.

 The view from Tío's sailboat.

The view from Tío's sailboat.

Now, after spending some good and some bad time jetting back and forth between friends in Huntington Beach, LA, and Long Beach, I find myself in the mountains of Santa Barbara solo camping. Today, anxious, emotionally sucked dry, frustrated and generally feeling let down by people, I drove off into the sunset and into the wilderness to get some peace, be alone with my thoughts, and nurture my profound relationship with nature. This is my birthday gift to myself. Tomorrow I’ll continue my way north along the coast, hiking, taking pictures, sunbathing, writing, and camping wherever I damn well please. 

 My first campsite stop in the hills of Santa Barbara.

My first campsite stop in the hills of Santa Barbara.

Chelsea HeilComment