It all began with a text. I received a mysterious, almost ominous text from my boyfriend, Myron, one day while at work, "When you get home I have something I want to talk about". I had slyly opened the message behind the counter, and didn't have much time to think about his words much less respond before I had to get back on the espresso machine and crank out a seemingly endless line of drinks.
The thoughts of what he could possibly "want to talk about" were endless. We had just discussed taking another camping trip, possibly Hawaii or Alaska, somewhere remote and far away. Perhaps he wanted to get serious and book a flight? I also couldn't help but worry about the negative connotation of such a text. Is this it? Was he breaking up with me? Had I done something to make him mad?
There was no telling what he wanted to say. I couldn't be on my phone at work and neither could he.
I finished my shift and immediately responded to his text. I would be home soon.
It was late. At the time, we both worked at nights. He was a bar tender and I was a barista at a 24-hour establishment. I usually got home about an hour or two before he did, but sometimes, like on this day, he got off work a little early.
Normally I would get home a little after one a.m., and could easily eat a little dinner and be sound asleep by two. This time, however, was different. I was wired, not sleepy at all. And it was not because of all the espresso I had sipped on during my shift.
When I did arrive at his apartment in the suburban yet brewery lined streets of North Park San Diego, I was soon met with relief: he was scheming for our future, not ending things with me.
"Let's go explore for a month" he said.
"Explore where?" I asked, hesitantly.
"The National Parks!"
Ah, so this was it. He had caught the camping fever. We first had gone camping for his birthday, a couple months prior to this night. We begged and borrowed our way to Joshua Tree National Park. We got all our shifts covered at work to spend three days and two nights in the mysterious desert park.
It was a magical experience. I have traveled a lot since then, and there is something uniquely special about Joshua Tree. I can't quite do the park justice just by explaining it- the odd trees that look as if they're something from Dr. Seuss's wild imagination, the magnificent rock formations scattered all over the park, the hidden caves and stunning expanses. Maybe it was just the heat- the heat was otherworldly yet comforting. Joshua Tree National Park was a great first National Park camping visit for both of us.
I'm ashamed to say that despite living in California my entire life, this was the first time I had ever been to a National Park. Even Yosemite. By many standards, I am a "bad Californian".
After our initial Joshua Tree camping trip, we went to Sequoia National Park for a couple days, and returned to Joshua Tree yet again, staying in the same campsite as the previous time. We were planning a trip to Yosemite with a couple of friends in the following month.
"How many of the national parks? For a month? How are we going to do that? What about our jobs? The apartment?" I thought his idea seemed too farfetched and dreamy. This was 2016, not the seventies. People don't just up and leave to vacation for a month unless they're retired. I was immediately so full of doubt I couldn't see his plan logically.
The Yosemite trip came and went. It was everything I thought it would be and then some. I understand now why everyone seems to flock to Yosemite. When most people hear the phrase "National Park", I think they imagine a beautifully lush image of half dome looming over the meadow. The rocks and mountains in Yosemite are magnificent. The hikes are some of the longest I've ever done in my life, but the views were 100% worth the struggle up the mountain. My only gripe with the park, is by no means a fault of nature, but there are simply too many humans in the valley floor. It's like the Disneyland of national parks, everybody takes their kid there at least once. The beauty of going out into parks, forests, and other public lands, is the little reprieve from humans.
We lived in San Diego, an absolutely beautiful city, so beautiful that everyone wants to live there. My boyfriend and I were transplants. We had grown up elsewhere, but had been drawn to San Diego's beachy allure. So, when we did go out to a national park or drive out to hike some remote national forest, part of the experience was being alone. No one else around. Finding that true remoteness that you could never achieve in the city.
I began to fully understand how important the trip my boyfriend was planning would be for us. We would be doing something that we truly both loved, and felt that we needed to do. After the Yosemite trip, I came to the party. I was ready to dive head first into whatever scheme Myron was cooking up.
We began to plan for a month-long trip, then a three-month long, and finally, after looking at all the places we wanted to go, decided on a four-month plus a flight to Alaska trip. We didn't look at the trip as a vacation, as we would both be working remotely from our phones and laptops, but a much-needed change of pace.
Once we decided on the general route and the rough estimate of how long it would take us, we then had to figure out what to do with our stuff. Would we put everything into self storage? Would we keep the lease on our apartment and just sublet for six months? We did our best to plan the path of least expense.
Want to keep following Michelle's journey? Here's an index of her entire experience (all five blog posts):
- Michelle's Self-Storage Journey Part 1
- Michelle's Self-Storage Journey Part 2
- Michelle's Self-Storage Journey Part 3
- Michelle's Self-Storage Journey Part 4
- Michelle's Self-Storage Journey Part 5
Michelle is a self-storage enthusiast and freelance writer who enjoys traveling the world. An expert at getting the most out of the self-storage experience, please check back regularly for more about Michelle’s adventure and how self-storage helped her dream of travel come true.