Highway 101 Road trip. Checking in on life a year ago.

June 13, 2018  •  1 Comment

A year ago, I set out on my first solo trip that was just for me. I didn't have any shoots booked or reason to go, but I knew I needed to do it. I wasn't in the best of places personally and needed to do something that was 100% for myself.
Over the last few years I have been traveling more to meet clients in different states/countries. I began adding extra time while in those places by getting there early and leaving as late as possible. Then adding an extra day just for me. Then I realized I had never gone on a trip just to go on a trip. There had always been a reason at the destination. It was the middle of wedding season, how could I leave and go anywhere just for myself? 
A few weeks before my trip, I was visiting my parents and my mom was having a hard time with the idea of me going on a road trip alone. Her fears and hesitations only made it seem like something I needed to do more. I couldn't be held back from this because of other people's fears. My Dad and I sat on the porch and talked for a few hours about life and travel. Places we want to see and go. He told me I should go on my trip. Little did he know that in that moment he gave me permission to be free. 
For months I had been struggling with a lot. From feeling stuck in my personal growth, to my business meeting it's goals but not knowing where it would go next, and in between all of it I had no idea what I was going to do with the relationship that I was failing to fix and make better. I just needed to get away. I needed to clear my head. I've heard people say those sorts of things before but it was something I needed more than I could have imagined. To shut off from the world and just be. Let myself be in the emotions as they came and take a few days without responsibility to fix everything around me. 
So I went. I spent WAY too much money on a rental car. I ate crap road trip food. I stopped when I wanted to and no one could tell me otherwise. I drove from San Francisco to Seattle. It took a week. The coast is so pretty and I cannot wait to go back. I went on walks and took a lot of self timer photos that didn't turn out. I hugged the Redwood trees and cried in the forest. I sat on the edge of Crater Lake in the snow and reveled in its beauty. It was June and the snow was still higher than my head in parts. 
I could caption each photo but I wont because I want you to experience them however you want. So enjoy. 


 THE BAG. My friends at Peak Design sent over their EveryDay Backpack to carry with me on my road trip. It fit everything I needed it to and more. I was able to carry all of my gear, my essentials and had pockets for every memory card, pen and notebook. My computer and hard drives fit in there too and I had the 20L, not even the biggest one they make. I have received so many compliments on this bag about it's design and functional aspects. It's perfect for so many things. I've even had people tell me it would make for a great diaper bag. Go check out all of their awesome gear HERE.


This photo below was the photo that summed up my trip. The idea of me doing exactly what I wanted to do because I wanted to do it. That was reason enough. I felt so happy in this moment. This was also the day that I gave myself a deadline. To pull myself out of the depths of what was bringing me down. I had to choose to continue putting more work in and figure it out or start fresh. But whatever my choice would be, I couldn't continue to be in the darkness.  Life is not always cookie cutter. It can surprise you sometimes. When we were younger, my sister Jessie and I learned that we had another sister (half sister from biological father side) out there somewhere west of us. Then about 9 years ago we found her on Facebook. Im not sure how it happened or who made the connections but it did. Our lives were completely different. She hadn't learned about us until later in her life. We lived across the country from each other. None of us were quite sure on how we would fit, if we would fit in each others' lives. Last year, while on this trip I made the decision to reach out and finally meet my youngest sister. I meet people all of the time and after years of Facebook friendship I figured it wouldn't be much different than meeting other people from the internet. I didn't take in account that she might be nervous or not want to meet me or any of the things. But we made it happen. She took a chance on me too. I was on this road trip and I had places to go and stops to make. Along the way, I picked her up and she headed to the coast with me. We chatted and found similarities and some differences. She told me about her life and growing up as an only child. She took me to meet her Grandmother and showed me her favorite places. She wouldn't let me sit on the edge of the sandstone cliffs and warned me about how people died doing what I wanted to do. We sat in silence a few times and took in the views. I got to visit with her again this year when I was in Portland for a friends' birthday and Im sure we will see each other again many times in our lives. This may seem not as warm and fuzzy as a movie would make it play out. Long lost sisters and family we didn't know of. Here is my reality of the entire thing. I'm the oldest, well sort of. (different story maybe one day) I've always had a little sister. One that I love with all of my heart. Before meeting JC I felt so much guilt and nervousness that my sister Jessie would feel less than or something along those lines. I made sure to ask about her feelings of me meeting our sister and with her approval I moved forward to do it. I went in with no expectations and left feeling relief and content. We don't know where our relationship will go or what it will become but what we do know is that we had different upbringings, different lives and experiences. We have our own lives and it's ok that we don't fit into them in an intense way. My family is made up of what a lot of families are: step siblings, step parents, half siblings, crappy family members, divorces, marriages, crazy aunts and uncles, some cousins that are weird and extended family that you aren't sure you would admit to being related to. You know the drill folks. Families are weird. But I am a firm believer that you get to choose your family. I have the best family I could ever ask for. That family is always accepting of adding new people into our chosen family. I feel so privileged to have met Jennifer and that we continue to be in contact. I cannot wait to see all of the incredible things that she does with her life. (she's already doing great things)  It's crazy how the world works and how with the internet you can find people you are related to like never before.  After I returned from my trip I was met with a lot of negativity and confusion. As soon as I was back in STL I was ready to go again. My wanderlust had only began to take flight and I knew this (traveling) was something I needed more of in my life. To feel connected to the world and to myself. Someone told me "I thought you would be better when you got back" as if my anxiety and constant daily struggles would magically disappear. Another person told me "Jenna, I know you see other people doing this, but the grass is always greener...." I tuned them out. Listen folks, the grass is greener where you fucking water it ok? Take care of your grass whatever form that comes in. For me, I needed to take care of myself to learn from the struggles. To allow change to happen even though it was met with the most resistance. There were others that asked me about my trip and genuinely wanted to know how it made me feel. To those people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
This last year has been the most awakening year of my life. I hope to be able to write about it in more detail and share my journey with as many people as want to listen. 
To anyone who is considering traveling or doing something that feels scary, I say do it. I mean yeh maybe don't do scary things that might cause you or someone else harm. But if you feel like going on a trip by yourself but don't think you are brave enough to do it, just go. You have to take risks on yourself to grow. Don't live vicariously through anyone else's life online. Go and live your own. Experience as much as you can. Enjoy the tiniest of things. If you feel as if you need permission, here it is.  


Hannah Marr(non-registered)
I really enjoyed this post! I admire your courage to travel and share your story. I hope your recent trips have brought you some peace. You are a wonderful artist!
No comments posted.