I found myself blessed with unemployment during the summer of 2016. With no job openings and an inadequate amount of schooling for internships I decided I would travel the continental US.
The idea first arose when my aunt, who used to live in Mexico, arrived to visit my grandfather. With her she brought a book about my great-great uncle who built his own car out of spare parts and in 1939 drove from New Jersey to San Francisco and back. He was only sixteen.
Inspired by this story I casually said that I wished I could do such a journey. Right then my aunt offered for me to visit her in Mexico with one of my friends. I texted my old linebacker buddy, Bobby, from high school and ten minutes later my plans were finalized; I was driving to Mexico!
I spent a month and a half doing odd jobs and saving money until, finally, I was ready to depart from Washington DC. Bobby and I drove northwest towards Chicago. From Chicago we drove to Mount Rushmore, but not before taking a four hour detour . . . for the best cheeseburger in the United States! From there we continued driving until we were in Great Falls, Montana.
In Montana we met old friends of my grandparents named Stella and Rus. When we arrived, Rus looked at us and called Bobby and me “Road Warriors.” Stella and Rus knew my grandparents in Taiwan while they were in the military, and they let us stay with them for a couple of days. Rus and Stella are perhaps the best people I’ve ever met. They told such stories of war and life that I could not comprehend. In return for their hospitality Bobby and I prepared a July 4th meal for everyone. I could’ve spent the whole summer with them but the “Road Warriors” had to continue.
From Montana we drove to Seattle and down the coast into downtown LA (where I was hit by a party bus!) My sister actually lives in LA, so Bobby and I had a personal tour around the city. We spent five days in Los Angeles going to museums, restaurants, going everywhere! I have to say LA was certainly interesting but I was happy to move further south into San Diego.
From San Diego we continued south into Mexico! Bobby and I spent another five days in Mexico with my aunt. There are a lot of stereotypes about what Mexico is like in the US but I was not disappointed. The food in Mexico is fantastic and cheap. We were able to an entire table of food including tacos, goat birrea, rice, beans, condiments, and drinks for about six dollars a person. I tried both cow brain and cow tongue while I was there, and I must say they are much underrated foods. The people are nice and many of the restaurants are right on the Pacific Ocean! I will eventually return to Mexico to do more exploring.
After Mexico I saw the Grand Canyon in all its beauty at sunset; the gradations of blue and purple and orange and yellow caused by the sunset were literally too splendid for my phone’s camera to capture. Even the horizon was on fire as a wildfire swept through the area!
It was not long after, however, until I was back home preparing for university. I looked back on what I had accomplished with my friend and it still brings me joy and satisfaction.
This journey infected me with wanderlust and now I feel the urge to travel and see everything I can. However, I will never forget this initial undertaking; once I have the ability, I will retrace my steps to strengthen my relationships my family and those friends I made along the way.