This past week I had the opportunity to hit the road for a week long job hunt/vacation through Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. It was an intimidating prospect, especially after my fellow roadtrippers, for one reason or another, couldn't come with me and I was left to do the trip solo. It was one of the best things I've ever done for myself, though. After recently graduating I was feeling a little, okay a lot, lost and wondering what my next step was. You've all probably thought this at one time or another, but when I was growing up college was the end of the learning and the beginning of my professional career in my head. Once I actually reached that "final goal" on graduation day, though, I realized it's only the beginning. I thought I was going to be okay. I thought I had something good lined out. As we all know, however, God throws us curve balls sometimes and plans change, so I had to re-evaluate.
That's where my roadtrip came in. I needed time to think, needed time away from Missoula and needed a way to set myself apart a little bit for potential employers. This trip solved all three of those things and, as much as I would have loved to have friends along, the fact that I had to do it solo made it even more personal. It was just me with my thoughts and the road.
My trip took me through Jackson, Wyoming first. It's a gorgeous little ski town with jagged mountains that come straight out of the otherwise flat Wyoming and Eastern Idaho landscape. It was a slow start to my trip. I planned originally to meet with three companies there, but due to schedule conflicts and people getting busy I wasn't able to do that. I did what I could, though and dropped off resumes and reels and attempted to be as visible as I could be. Then I crossed my fingers and took off for my next stop: Boulder, Colorado.
It was already late at night, but I was on a bit of a tight schedule, so I just kept driving. One really nice thing about being solo is you can pull over and sleep wherever you want. The first night I pulled over and conked out in my back seat in a trucker pullout. Don't worry I'm still alive. The next morning I was up bright and early and on my way to Boulder, where I made breakfast in the Staples parking lot. This was definitely a true car camping experience! Boulder is a gorgeous town. I loved the little bit of exploring I got to do there and would love the chance to get back again. Anyways, I was right back on track and met with a few more companies; again nothing incredibly promising, but I was being visible and getting my name out there. All of this also gave me a chance to see first hand a lot of the places I had been applying at, which is a huge confidence booster!
This was kind of a whirlwind roadtrip so I kept right on driving, this time a short drive south to Denver. Denver is an overwhelming place. I'm by no means a big city kid, so it was all a lot to take in. But like I said, it was a good chance for me to see where I had been applying.
After Denver I got a nice little break and got to see my aunt, uncle and cousin Jenna. It's always great to see family and those 3 are some of the most contagiously happy people I know.
Batteries recharged, I set off on the final job searching leg of my journey and swung through Crested Butte, where I spent a couple of days. Crested Butte is gorgeous, a little mountain ski town tucked high in the Rockies at ~9,000 ft. This has been one of my dream towns ever since I was little and we took road trips there, so it was incredible to be back there by myself. I even got to hike the mountain namesake. It was a pretty positive stop overall. I got to meet with several people and really get a feel for what the job possibilities are. That was definitely a boost for my confidence after a lot of the other way in previous stops.
Finally, I left Colorado for my last stop: Salt Lake City. When I had heard Aer, Pepper, The Dirty Heads and 311 were all playing there I had to make it a stop on my trip. They didn't disappoint either. If you ever have a chance to see 311 or The Dirty Heads live do it! One of the most high energy performances I have ever seen. The USANA Amphitheater is a great venue too. This was a perfect way to end the trip.
Overall, this roadtrip left me with all sorts of emotions: excitement, nervousness about what's next, longing for my next adventure. It was exactly what I needed, though. I would encourage anyone who feels a little stuck or is uncertain about what's coming next or just plain needs an adventure to hit the road. Go somewhere you've always wanted to see or plan it around a job hunt or take a trip to see a concert. You'll find so much more than you set out for and it will be an experience you remember for the rest of your life.