from journal, 2016, May 9 /



my biggest challenge this year has been settling back into the normalcies of life. relocating to san diego and making an affirmative decision to call it home, committing to the day to day decision making and adult responsibilities has been challenging, exhausting and often conflicting to what i spent the summer and early fall last year engulfed in. “adulting” in all ways that i’ve experienced is polar opposites of the liberating feeling of being outdoors, traveling and adventuring.

living in a region where it’s nearly impossible to find an excuse that will keep you indoors and stationary, i put it out into the universe that i needed to do whatever it takes to create my own routine and to see, do and explore as much as i possibly can while i’m here. this lead me to encinitas and to meet my new friend and road trip buddy, tim.

next thing you know, tim, his friend kris and i were packed inside two cars headed five hours northeast towards vegas. i sat in the passenger seat of tim’s saab, staring out the window, watching the horizon change with the time of day and the location. although i was in a car with a complete stranger, headed to a place i’d never been, i felt at home, comfortable. nostalgic feelings of road tripping across america grew as we passed signs and points of nature i had speed past months back while en route to san diego.

the sun set and we kept driving, nearing our destination of red rock canyon, the only set plan we had was to pitch our tents upon arrival here and when we woke, the next thirty-something hours would be what we made it. we arrived a little after eleven at night, found a campsite and settled in. tents pitched and fire lit, the three of us talked over beers and took in the mysteries of what the darkness held, expressing excitement about what we’d discover once the sun rose.

i excused myself a little after four am to my tent to snuggle into my sleeping bag to escape from the desert chill and to get a few hours of sleep. the closer it got to sunrise, the colder it seemed to get and i was woken by small shivers and a soft kiss of sun rays peeking over the ridge. it wasn’t long before the sun was high in the sky and the campground was stirring with a whole community, unknown to us upon our arrival. we each took our own time getting ready for the day ahead; kris preparing breakfast, tim scoping out the area and me, just taking in being in the outdoors.

we cleaned our campsite and prepared for a morning hike, slabbing on sunblock, filling our bottles with water and packing our bags with what we wanted to hit the trail. chatting with our campground neighbors, two climbers who had met each other on the road, one from colorado the other from canada, we were pointed towards the trails.

we approached a trailhead, passing a few others along the way, inclusive of climbers setting up for the day and tourists trekking along the trail seeking to see something new to them.

kris took the lead and we squeezed through a tight crack, the boys in the lead and me following behind, breathing deep and pushing past the uneasiness that comes to me with heights. it’s a feeling of being completely engulfed in the moment, aware of every inch of my surroundings and focused on taking in the scenery, planting my feet and hands in the most stable places and taking all attempts necessary to keep myself safe. a slight fear of falling mixed with confidence of satisfaction that would come with completion of the hike stirred within me, as it always does when i tackle something new.

this uneasiness, i live for.

we zigzagged up the mountain top, each taking our own time. the higher we got, the footing became looser, the trail less defined, the deeper my breath became. i hiked, crawled and climbed my way over and in between rocks, using every limb and testing out each step before putting my full weight into it. toward the top, we were separated, tim spending a few on his own to take it all in, kris and i powered to the peak. after spending some time at the top looking over everything, we headed back down, taking another path and as kris said “the easier route.”

our paths never crossed tim’s but instead we met up back at the foot of the mountain where we shared the satisfaction of what we’d just accomplished. heading back to the campground, we decided to pack up, head out and explore something new. lake mead was only fifty-something miles away and seemed like the perfect counter for the one hundred degree day we had ahead of us. we stopped in town to grab lunch and some provisions for the night ahead.

hitting the road at high noon, the sun beamed down, hot wind blowing across my face and through my hair and the hot sun tanning my skin, i was happy. crossing the nevada / arizona border, we made our way to the lake mead recreation area, settling on camping out at willow beach campgrounds. we picked a campsite and headed down to the beach to cool off from the day’s commute and exposure to the desert heat.

the view was beautiful, the water was cold. the boys took a full plunge while i settled for soaking my feet. as the sun creeped closer to the horizon, we headed back up the hill to our campground and set up our tents before hiking to higher ground to watch the sunset. each of us spending some time in our own space and silence, i stared off as far as i could see. grateful of the day, tears of happiness and contentment streamed down my cheeks.

in this moment, the fears, doubts and sadness that i had been feeling about my life decisions the weeks leading up to this were alleviated, i felt peace.

we ended the night with grilling on the campfire, conversation and reflections of the time that we shared. for tim and kris, it went back years and many memories of good and funny times. for me, it was a short thirty something hours. for all of it, it was new memories and friendships. i had never liked vegas or known of much else to experience in nevada. this place, didn’t seem like one for me. but as my night came to an end and i stared up at the stars from my tent before shutting my eyes, i thought to myself how much i had revealed, how much i had seen and how much i had fell in love with the outskirts of the sin city.

the next morning, we exchanged goodbyes with kris as he continued to head east and tim and i back towards the west coast to return to the responsibilities of life. i was thankful for this time spent with new friends, in a new place and the opportunity to take a short weekday getaway. to reboot my soul, get out of the city limits and away from the daily grind.

what happens in vegas, can stay in vegas. for me, i’ll take what happens outside of the city limits.






About eunique deeann

Creative Director, Editor in Chief + Founder of Stranded on Land. Writer, photographer, creative producer, yogi + serial roadtripper. Comfort zone pusher on a mission to explore to create, storytell to inspire. Home base: Leucadia, CA.

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Category: journal