**Please welcome #TeamSierra blogger, Gina Begin with this post about her next chapter of adventure.**
You've finally molded life to accommodate your adventuring ways. It took months, but you managed to find the exact position that allows you to sleep in your car without waking up countless times to shift a numb leg, you've gathered a network of outdoor friends (and indoor couches) to crash with when nights dip too far below zero, and you've come to terms with not eating hot food daily — or sometimes for weeks. You've nickel and dimed your way out of most creature comforts for the sake of affording your travels.
And then in a moment, it's out the door.
For me, that moment came when my Mazda's mechanics began to tucker out. I'd put this trusty companion through 160k miles without a hiccup, picking my way through various situations for which my car was not built. After miles of roads suited for four-wheel drive and constant downshifting on mountain passes, the struts and clutch had had it. Although I knew I could wait on the former, the latter posed a very real chance of failing while I was out on a remote road — an unfavorable situation for a single girl.
Not being independently wealthy, or a roadside mechanic (or a mechanic of any kind), I knew I had to put the car in park and save up until it could be fixed. Grudgingly, I turned my wheels towards the place where I last owned four walls.
Salt Lake City isn't the largest of North American metros, but when most of the traffic jams you've encountered in the last two years consist of waiting for wildlife to exit the roadway, it might as well have been L.A. I found cars stacking up for rush hour, buildings crowding out trees, mountains rising out of a yellow haze. And pavement — and pavement and pavement.
Before this return, I was deep into the lifestyle of a transient, albeit one with a lot of expensive outdoor gear. My habitation resided wherever my car landed. Interaction with humans was limited to the kind that skied, hiked, or climbed. But when the wrench was thrown, I found myself thrust into a human landscape I'd forgotten: freeways overlapping like a pile of spaghetti and thousands of people who didn't sport Chacos or goggle tans.
If it's possible to experience culture shock in your own home, I was going through it.
I used to love Salt Lake for its scenic setting, but that perspective dimmed after experiencing some of the most unspoiled country in North America: Yukon Territory, the Bugaboos, Gaspé Bay, Cabot Trail, the Chugach, etc. I found myself resenting the return, feeling that the necessity to do so defeated all I had been preaching: "Live the life you love;" for example, and all those other simplified clichés you find on Pinterest.
But denying the inevitable served me nothing; I needed to look at it in another way. So I started working on a new chapter of the adventure: I registered for courses to increase journalism skills, began saving to replace worn-out gear and signed up for workshops to brush up on outdoor safety skills. Not only would these things keep life fresh and entertaining while I was stationed in the city, but they also would heighten my adventures once I got back out on the open road.
To make that reentry as quick as possible, I kept my priorities in line by not succumbing to luxuries. I rented my old couch for $100 a month and began living in my friend's front room. In exchange for open access to my favorite ski areas and the local climbing gym, I promised monthly articles and volunteer coaching, respectively. Then, because I finally had steady internet access, I dove head-first into what had supported me throughout my two years on the road and what was going to get me back out there: my writing.
Regrouping: That's how I began looking at this stage of my life. By not putting permanence on it but rather processing it as a step to a bigger adventure, I actually grew excited about what this phase would teach me and what kind of an adventure traveler I would evolve into in the second round.
The motto, "Every twist and turn is part of the adventure," is now my new (cliché) perspective on life. It not only fits nicely on Pinterest boards, but also reminds me that perceived pitfalls are not failures — they are simply another chance to do things better in the next installment of adventure.
-Although Gina calls Utah her second home, you're unlikely to actually find her there. Since storing her things over two years ago and hitting the road, she's been on a quest to reach the distant places of North America. She's skied the backcountry of the Chugach in Alaska, slept under the northern lights in the Yukon Territory, photographed Nova Scotia's coves, backpacked in southern U.S. wildernesses and munched on sugared tamarindo in the jungles of Mexico. Follow Gina's adventures on her personal blog or on the Outdoor Women's Alliance site. Seek her out on Twitter, too.
When Adventure Ends - Does It?
By Gina Begin
January 08, 2014
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