I needed a getaway.
School had just started, yes, but I already needed to get away from campus. Before school started I was excited to come back to school and see my friends and get acquainted back to campus life, but when I actually came, things didn’t roll as smoothly as I thought they would. Without going into too much detail… I basically had a lot of situations, relationships, and problems left unresolved and I started feeling an overwhelming amount of different emotions: depression, anxiety, paranoia, social isolation, low self-esteem, and doubt. I knew if I stayed where I was, sulking in this mountain of feelings, that it would snowball so fast and I would be out of control. It’s a scary place to be, and so Thursday night, August 31, I booked a plane ticket to Colorado Springs, Colorado. It didn’t take much research or thought. In fact, I had never even heard of Colorado Springs, but for some reason, my heart yearned and so my fingers typed and my hands followed.
$191.40 round trip from Chicago O’hare to Colorado Springs Airport. I immediately booked a bus to leave from Champaign Friday morning at 5:20am so I packed my things that night and tried to call a campsite to reserve a bunkhouse for Friday night, but I couldn’t reach them, so I left a message and departed the next morning having no idea where I would sleep that night. Oh it’s also worth mentioning that after the bus left I remembered I didn’t have my passport and I thought my trip would not be happening. Luckily my Ontario Driver’s License was another accepted piece of ID for travelling domestic.
$23.26 I arrived at the airport around 12:30 and ubered to Red Rock Canyon Open Space. It’s extremely hard to get around in Colorado Springs without a car (as I was warned online), so Uber is the way to go. I had so many things I wanted to do because when I searched up Colorado Springs I saw so many breathtaking pictures. One moment I knew nothing about the place, and the next I was melting inside and wanderlusting.
Although I guess for me, Red Rock Canyon probably wasn’t the best place to start off with because it’s mainly a bike/hiking trail. It really is an open space and I walked a ways in, acquired some fresh scrapes (courtesy of CO Springs rocks), took some pictures, then left. With the sense of urgency and curiosity I came with, I didn’t feel like spending a couple hours hiking a trail in this particular space, but that’s only because I came with a different agenda. This place would be great for bikers or runners who didn’t have as tight of a schedule as I did.
$11.54 From Red Rock Canyon, I could see in the distance a place where the sun was illuminating; it looked like a crown of rocks was growing out of the ground. I ubered over to Garden of the Gods, the place I had read and heard so much about online. The uber dropped me off at the Central Park and I walked the loop. I walked for around 1 ½ hrs and 8,415 steps; usually people would drive their car from place to place though. Not me! I didn’t come planning for an exercise-intense weekend, but hey, if that’s what I get then I’ll still take it gladly. As I was walking back to the main entrance there was a side trail that led to a gloriously colored mountain, so I wandered over there to take a look and some pictures. It seemed I wasn’t the only one led astray by the views because I heard a voice behind me say, “Excuse me, but can I just say that you look really one with nature?”
Hearing that made me really happy actually because it was true. I shared with this older gentleman about how I in fact did come all the way here to be one with nature and to meditate with God’s creation and presence. Making sure that I was comfortable and safe, he asked if I wanted to eat at the cafe behind us. I agreed, since the last thing I had eaten was the avocado and egg toast I had made for myself at the airport. I brought six slices of toast, six hard-boiled eggs, one small avocado, and one large avocado. That was to be my diet for these two days I was here. He ordered from the cafe while I assembled my own toast. He mentioned how nice it was to talk to someone other than the family he was visiting here and we shared some nice conversation. Afterwards he offered to drive me to anywhere I was headed and I gave him the directions to the Seven Falls Waterfall. Was it because I was a young girl that he offered? Or was it because he was genuinely just trying to pay it forward? Who knows… but I know which one I lean towards and because of that I AM CAREFUL. Every time I got into a different uber car they would ask me where I was from and if I was travelling alone. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, yes I was travelling alone. When they learned my answer they would always bid me goodbye at the end of our drive with the classic line, “Be careful!” So yes, meeting a random stranger and getting into his car sounds sketch, but it wasn’t my first time, so I’ve learned to have discernment in who to trust and how much of myself to reveal. Of course, I can’t take full credit. Praise to God that I am alive and well, safe and sound because no matter how well I think I can discern, I am still faulty and my life is in God’s hands.
$14.00 I believe the best landmark/tourist spot I went to was Seven Falls, especially for the great value of the experience that the entrance ticket allowed me to have. I left Chicago with a backpack filled with clothes, toiletries, and food. I came back with the same backpack less all the food and plus one shot glass for the travel collection ($8.65 yes I got conned. I could’ve gotten a better price elsewhere, but whatever). All the money I spent on this trip were on experiences or services and I believe that is one of the best ways to spend money when travelling. They say people spend half their life accumulating stuff, then the other half of their life getting rid of stuff. So why not just spend that money on experiences that make lasting memories instead? I got there around 4:30pm and took the shuttle up to the mountain. I hiked up the 0.8miles walk to where the falls were passing walls of rocks and beautiful scenery. The Falls were amazingly beautiful and maybe I was biased because I had to walk 224 steps of stairs to see this view, but it sure made me appreciate it! There were two trails at the top of the Falls and I did both of them. I met a few deer and a few strangers whom I dragged into becoming my personal photographer for a few absolutely stunning shots. The thing about travelling alone is that I don’t have a designated photographer handy and that’s okay with me for the most part because I usually just like to take pictures of nature. But sometimes when I see a scene I have a vision in my head for a picture that would look perfect with a person in it doing a certain pose. The downside about turning a stranger into a photographer is that they don’t see the vision I imagine and so they are willing to take the pictures for me (God bless them), but it isn’t exactly the way I would’ve done it if I could be omnipresent.
Nevertheless, I finished the two trails after quite some time and when I walked down the stairs back past the falls there were glow-up rainbow lights shining on the waters of the falls. I had heard it was going to be like this, so I planned to get there around 4-5 so that there would still be enough sunlight during my hike, but also so that by the time I finished, I would be able to witness the beautiful lights. I surprisingly had some sort of plan apparently, despite being so last minute; so this is my recommended timeframe.
$9.57 The shuttle dropped us off near The Broadmoor hotel that was famous for being fancy so I went in to check it out, but mainly to charge my phone. Oh and maybe use that time to search for a place to live for that night since it was already 8:30pm. One thing I’ve learned that has encouraged me is that you will never NOT have a plan. Double negatives aside, you will always have an option. If you remember that campground place I had called back on Thursday, they returned my call and told me they were full and so were all the other places in the area because of it being Labor Day Weekend. Problem solve, Michelle! Life isn’t going to stop; your story keeps writing itself, even if you aren’t making conscious decisions, therefore it’s up to you to step it up and make those conscious decisions if you want to take control of your life.
$9.57 + $57.97 I booked an Airbnb for that night and took an uber over there.There were only 4% of places open out of their normal amount because I was booking literally minutes before I arrived. Those of you who love to plan things out and have everything organized are probably thinking that they could never travel with me and live like this. And you are right; that is why I travel alone, so that the decisions I make will impact me and me only, whether it be positive or negative.
~That wraps up day 1. I wrote this blog as an entire post but when I saw it hit the 5 page mark I thought it better to split it up. Let me know what length works best. I’ve been keeping posts around 2000 words or 2 pgs because I don’t want to bore anyone but I also don’t want to cut anything I feel inspired to say. Keep reading for day 2~
Day 2 Link- https://wp.me/p93ia0-1V Day
This is my story,
Michelle Yin | September 4, 2017 | 5:24pm |