First City Down- Colorado Springs
Morning after graduation.
I lay in bed, staring at my cap and gown on the wall.
I was done with high school.
With a sigh of relief, I grabbed my boarding pass and my carryon and headed to the airport.
Flying from one place to another gives me anxiety. Just thinking of getting to the airport an hour early, avoiding traffic to get to the airport and finding a reliable transportation at 6 am stresses me out. Same stress that contributes to zits that I have to deal with throughout my trip. On top of that, airports are ginormous. Finding a terminal is suddenly rocket science. I get paranoid staring at my boarding pass and second guess my gate number. I take a mental picture of my ticket, and few steps later, stare at it again to make sure my gate number didn’t magically change.
As all the stress is building up, zits are swelling, lists of forgotten items are growing, I expect to sit in my seat and finally catch my breath. So I wait for the guy in front of me to shove his oversized luggage in the over head bin. Finally I get to my seat and find 2 thugs talking about coke parties and strippers. Only 1 hour 55 minutes to go.
THANKFULLY, that was a preview of my trip to Chicago from couple months back. My trip to Colorado was completely normal. As normal as airports and plane flights get. Coffee wasn’t a necessity when sitting next to an adventurous couple, keeping me awake. They were full of advice and tips to travel around the states. Their experiences and adventures were right up my alley, so we got along pretty well.
I landed in Colorado, sun out, car window down, and the smell of whats legalized in Colorado. With one between my fingers, my friends and I drove to Colorado Springs. Narrow roads, unexpected weather and beautiful mountains on both sides of the road. The rubbery almost fake looking grass slowly spread further away from the road substituting it with steep hills and plateaus.
My profound thoughts about nature was interrupted by the blaring orange gas signal. We pulled to a nearby gas station, left the gas pumping and went inside to grab a big feast. Taking longer than we should have, we noticed the gasoline leaking from the car. Three girls, paranoid that the car would explode insisted the car be cleaned by the store manager.
Eyes red, dehydrated, paranoid, we got in the car, hoping the car wouldn’t explode.
One of my friends ready to call 911, my other friend almost in tears and me trying to make sure I was even speaking English drove off through the hilly roads to Colorado Springs.
Surprised the car didn’t blow up, I was on my feet ready to climb the Manitou Incline. The steep climb through every step was enough to make you sweat and cough for air in just a few steps. As I started my journey feeling like I was climbing Everest, I stopped. I realized I had just ate hot cheetos. Well, let me tell you, the hot cheetos made this hike 10x harder. Just the thought of hot cheetos and my stupidity to eat it before the hike made me laugh. A normal person laughs at themselves privately after making a stupid decision. Me, I was laughing uncontrollably, loosing my energy over the cheetos. Climbing one step every few minutes and tumbling down a few steps. After laying on the log fence for about 15 minutes, I was pumped and ready to climb the incline.
We hiked and hiked and hiked. Rested at a few broken branches from the storms and went off the trails to explore the view of Colorado Springs. Dehydrated and no water, we kept going as the temperature slowly dropped the higher up we went. Our faces were red, blood was heated but our bodies were cold. We were sweating cold sweat as we went as high as 1.5 miles. Yes, we were disappointed too. The trail was so steep that even at 1.5 miles, we could see the whole city. I was alarmed by how green everything was. Surrounding mountains poking out from around us. We were in the middle of the city, high, literally and metaphorically. Hiking some more, we reached 4 miles.
Traveling is my passion. Exploring the unknown. Meeting new people. Eating good food.
During May of 2015, I was making a “to do” list to complete last minute assignments to boost my grade. Suddenly, I glanced over at my bucket list that only had couple things crossed off. I was intrigued by all the things I could be doing to avoid studying for finals. That is when I came up with my travel idea: Travel Project: 10 cities off my bucket list.
These are the 10 cities on my list that I decided to cross off my bucket list this summer:
- Denver, Colorado
- Boulder, Colorado
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Lafayette, Arkansas
- San Diego, California
- San Francisco, California
- Los Angeles, California
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Saint Louis, Missouri
- For the last one, I decided that I will toss a dart on the US map and book the next flight to where the dart lands
“Submit” was the last button I pressed to escape the static routine of my senior year. Even after 43 absences, 13 missing assignments and road trips every few weekends, my senior year felt incomplete. Seeing the same people, tolerating the mood swings of Texas weather and coping with seniorities, a sense of spontaneity triggered inside of me. I was going to Chicago! For 4 days! During AP Exams! Did my parents care? Well… They were indifferent. Not because they didn’t care but because they were in the impression that I was off on a school trip. Creating a permission slip worth my 4 day trip took longer than any English essays I’ve ever written. As of my absences, I simply wrote an excuse note for myself, perfecting my moms signature as I had practiced on previous notes and bad grades. As I handed the note to the attendance lady, I walked out feeling like a bad ass x10.
Paid $78 with tax for a round trip from DFW to ORD through an airlines I had previously never heard of. Spirit airlines, the cheapest of the cheapest was perfect for someone like me, wanting to get from point A to point B. Forget reaching the destination on time. This airlines surpassed the number of delays over their “on time” flights.
Chicago. The Windy City.The weather was a perfect 70 degrees. Sound of trumpets and violins flooded my ears. The aroma of hotdogs and pizza filled the streets of Michigan Avenue. I was back home, after 4 years.
This was an awakening. My heart, that didn’t even skip beats when my 3rd grade crush told me he loved me, was giving me a short term heart murmur. The whole time I kept thinking, “am I really here? How did I pull this off?” But I decided to pretend it was a dream and live it up. And I really was dreaming with my eyes open. Mostly because I tried to skip sleep so I could absorb more experiences on my short vacation.
Reuniting with my old friends after 4 years over a Bon fire and enjoying half burnt hot dogs was my first night in Madison, Wisconsin. Lake Mendota shined bright blue reflecting the perfectly lit capital building. I was surrounded by memories, laughter and gossip.
4 days passed by in a blink of an eye. Sleep deprived and hungover on the memories of my adventures, I headed back to Dallas. Slightly disappointed but full of giggles and satisfaction in my stomach. This experience unraveled a “oh if I can do this, I can do anything” mindset. Clearly, I could not find the perfect word in my vocab to describe the feeling.
This was my escape trip. An escape from myself. An escape to shed the unnecessary cover and feel more in touch with the foundation that structured me into who I am today. This experience helped me tolerate the gross weather of Texas, complete the end of the year busy work I’m obligated to complete because of my borderline grades and just simply say “I was a badass in high school.”