It Happened in a Weekend
Over the course of 48 hours, we decided to quit our jobs, leave Indianapolis, road trip across the United States, and buy a one-way ticket to India.
Why? We felt that restless feeling to be somewhat careless and do something crazy. We wanted to experience newness. To break out of our routine. We had a desire to change our surroundings and rid ourselves of the strains of everyday life.
And so we went. In fall 2016, we spent two months camping and hiking the western United States, two months navigating the chaos of India, and three months exploring Southeast Asia. It’s hard for me to put into words how grateful I feel for being able to go on this grand adventure.
In reality, long-term travel is overwhelming and exhausting. You are constantly pushed outside of your comfort zone. Your relationship with yourself and your partner is challenged daily. Here are just a couple of excerpts from my blog sharing our unique and transformational travel experiences:
Grand Tetons, Wyoming
“What’s been your favorite place so far?” We get asked this question quite a bit on the road, and so far we have the same answer: The Grand Tetons. While leaving beautiful Oregon was bittersweet, we were eager to get to Jackson, Wyoming. We bypassed our planned one-night stay in Boise (We’ll be back for you Idaho!) and drove the 12+ hours from Portland, Oregon, to Jackson, Wyoming, in one day. We made it in one piece and found a free campsite as the sun was setting just outside of the Tetons.
The next morning, we arrived at the Grand Tetons Visitor Center an hour before it opened to get a backcountry permit. Needless to say, John (JJ) was excited to be the first one in line. Before getting our permit, we had to watch a short video about backcountry camping safety… and this is where my irrational fear of bears began. By the end of the video, I was convinced we were going to be stalked and killed by a bear. Wyoming isn’t too bad of a place to die, right?
Bear spray in hand, we set off on a 22-mile loop hike up Paintbrush Canyon and down Cascade Canyon. The first day consisted of 7.5 miles and 3,500 feet up. It was tough hiking, but the blossoming colors of fall made us forget about the level of difficulty. There are two weeks out of the year when leaves are at their brightest in the Tetons, and we had unknowingly chosen one of these sacred weeks. The Aspens were changing to a shade of yellow I’ve never seen before—hard to describe, and even harder to photograph.
We were up early the next morning to tackle our one mile, 1,500-foot ascent of Paintbrush Divide to the Saddle Between Two Peaks. JJ kept me going by reminding me that, “every step you take is the highest elevation you’ve ever been.” At 10,700 ft., the 360-degree views were breathtaking. The pass opened up a new world of mountain ranges, peaks, and canyons; it is safe to say that I’m addicted. Addicted to the feeling of wanting to see what’s over the next pass, to the exhilaration of the wind blowing in your face, to feeling entirely humbled, small, and insignificant compared to the mountains that surround you.
On December 17, 2016—my 25th birthday—we arrived in Rishikesh, India. Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas on the banks of the Ganges River, Rishikesh is a charming town that attracts yogis and adventurers from around the world. It is free of meat, dairy, and alcohol—making it the ideal location for people to focus on their spiritual and physical wellness.
However, two days into our blissful retreat, JJ and I were taking turns emptying our stomachs over a dirty toilet in a freezing cold yurt. The physical pain was compounded by the homesickness I felt being away from my loved ones so close to the holidays. I was tired of being cold and dirty and living out of a backpack. I couldn’t help but think of all of the places I’d rather be.
Slowly, we started to regain physical strength and with it came mental clarity. We spent the next two weeks practicing yoga, getting lost in the foothills, reading by the river, and expanding our minds with new forms of spiritual guidance. And then I’m crying at the airport because I’m not ready to leave this powerful place that had become “home.”
Despite the immense discomfort, we quickly discovered the real reason why we travel: It reminds us to be present, to be kind, to practice empathy—and to never take ourselves too seriously. Most importantly, it’s a reminder to be grateful for exactly where you are and who you are with in life.
Camryn Walton ’14 (Strategic Communication) and John Joseph ’11 (International Studies and Marketing) moved to Denver in July 2017. They spend their time exploring the mountains, chasing music festivals, and working at a small marketing agency and large software company respectively. To read more on their grand adventure, check out flossinginthesunshine.com or follow them on Instagram @camryn_walton and @plaidjj1.