This post comes to us courtesy of Gociety member Helena Guglielmino who is currently planning a solo 6-month road trip to snowboard around the American and Canadian west. Stay tuned to the Gociety blog for updates on Helena’s trip this winter.
This December, my lease will end at my current house and my new home will not have four walls. It won’t have a kitchen, or a bathroom. My bedroom will be a cramped, cold, miserable place assembled from plywood, a foam mat, and a sleeping bag. My new home, shared with my 2 year old lab mix, for 6 months will be my 2000 Honda CRV named Betty. Even though the thought of this makes my head spin with anxiety, I have never been more excited for a trip in my life. My sacrifices will allow me freedom to see the world around me. Cramped spaces will be overshadowed by wondrous mountains. The lack of walls will only benefit my view. No kitchen or bathroom will suffice because instead of cooking, I will be experiencing life.
This might be quite assumptive on my behalf; I know there will be a lot of struggles ahead. I know that I will want to quit and I know there are days that I will hate myself for what I got into. But when I think about the fact that I am giving up everything to pursue two of the things that make me the happiest, it justifies everything. My trip will take me from Tahoe through Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Canada, Washington, and finally Oregon before returning to any semblance of a normal life in Tahoe. During this trip, I will be focused on snowboarding and experiencing these places. I want to see everything. I want to ride every mountain. I want to meet every incredible person.
I want to be introduced to a way of life that forces me to let go. I won’t be planning my trip. The aforementioned itinerary is what I have and what I will use. I want this to be as simple as possible. No reservations, no promises. I will go where it feels right and when it feels right. There’s really no saying how long I will stay in any one given spot. Hell, I might even have to stay to work in a few towns to make it by. After all, Betty is old and a few years past her prime. I am open to anything, so as long as it remains within the pursuit of my happiness. Or survival. So my trip will consist of very little planning, my car, my dog Lady, and my board. It keeps me up some nights with fascination. And sometimes I feel like it’s not enough. I know it’s not a prolific idea to go travel; fuck—people do it every day. But for me, from my background, for my skill set, and for my anxiety, this is the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I can’t remember the first time I thought I wanted to do a trip like this. I know that it always centered around the idea of snowboarding, I don’t know that it was ever supposed to be this long, or with this much solitude. I don’t remember ever feeling like something like this would ever be in my future. My childhood was very sheltered and very stagnant. I lived in one house, until I moved out in college, and although we traveled a good amount, I never had this longing for the road. There was never a pulse in my blood supported by these flighty ideals.
But now it’s all I can think about.
I decided during my last spring break in college, while I was at home diligently watching over the Netflix account, that this trip needed to come to fruition. It was a sudden decision; it came from this idea of perpetuating my happiness and delaying any sort of real commitment, because, let’s face it, I have no fucking clue what I want to do. But in that sudden moment, I knew that two things made me the happiest: snowboarding and seeing the world.
I put off thinking any more of it until after I graduated college in May and gained my freedom. Now I’m really thinking about it. Now it doesn’t seem so simple. Reality hits and my mind allows the doubts to set in and excuses to follow. I find myself thinking things like “these places will still be here in a few years,” or “if I was fiscally secure and had a newer car..”
Cloudy and encompassing, my evil anxiety constantly reminds me of the infancy of my traveling experience. The list goes something like this:
Never have I ever:
- Hiked great distances
- Snowboarded in backcountry
- Snowboarded anything steeper than Flat-Star, CA
- Snowboarded confidently in parks
- Camped longer than two nights
- Traveled for 6 months
- Worked on my car
- Slept outside in freezing weather
- Traveled with a dog
- Not had the security of a home
- Not had security
That last is the biggest concern. The previous all combine to make the last even more formidable. People who do things like this have Experience. They have knowledge, great knowledge. They, most importantly, have confidence. Confidence that can comfort them and get them out of slippery situations. A confidence that can save their lives.
I could stay at home and be just as fine.
But that urge that overcame me during spring break is the same urge that barges past these anxieties. It has sprouted itself into a lust, and like any great lust it has intoxicated my mind and drives me crazy. I don’t want to let this lust go, because I think it could turn into a great love. This trip will happen if for no other reason, to stop myself from thinking what could have been for the rest of my life.