Some people might call me crazy. And yeah, there is probably some truth to it.
I decided to solo-travel to Colorado, USA.
Being in your 20’s trying to figure out your identity and what your purpose in life is yadda-yadda…
No, this isn’t a ‘woe-is-me’ tale, but more about taking risks in life to do what you want to do.
Which in this case was to go to Colorado.
Over the last few months in 2017, I became more drawn to Colorado. The idea about it, the lifestyle, the scenery, the roads. I wanted to see what it was like.
USA is like a fairy-tale land. As an Australian, you see it on TV and you wonder what life could be like over there. Or at least, I do. It’s almost like a form of escapism – an alternate reality.
I kept hearing about Colorado – not intentionally – but it would come up in the novels I would read or a random TV show I would put on. Sure enough, the seed was planted – I NEED to go to Colorado. (Now that I am thinking about it, the town Boulder was mentioned in the song Closer by The Chainsmokers (feat. Halsey) that I also had on repeat, so I’m sure that had something to do with it too…)
I had always said to my best friend how I really wanted to
go back to USA, but this time for much longer than 2 weeks.
We had always discussed that we would eventually go, but it would be expensive so we would need to really work hard and save for it.
We have always tried to do some sort of international trip
every year, and it just so happened that the opportunity was just right to go
Although I was very excited to travel with my friends, I knew that I needed to do some bits alone. Not everything, but I wanted to try.
I ‘umm’ed’ and ‘ahhh’d’ for ages until I finally bit the bullet to go to Colorado. The reality of being alone – truly alone in a place I’ve never been before – sunk in. That thought was terrifying, but it was something I wanted to overcome. Plus, it was the perfect excuse to do whatever the heck I pleased because I had no one to be responsible of, and no plans to meet. Just me, my rental car and the State of Colorado.
I had rented a Ford Edge SUV, all-wheel-drive. (Coincidentally, you’re now able to buy it here in Australia, except it is called the ‘Endura’ instead.)
One of my favourite features about the spec I had was that I was able to turn on the car engine remotely, and have the interior heated and ready for me while it sat outside in the elements, continuing to be covered in layers and layers of snow. At the time it was -15 degrees Celsius, so I was very grateful for this feature.
A key detail I should probably mention is that it was also mid-December. I planned to be there over Christmas. I wanted to experience the white-Christmas you see in every American Christmas movie – you know, in comparison to what is usually a scorching hot Australian Christmas in your bathers, gorging on seafood (not that I don’t love that either).
Driving in the snow was different. I have NEVER driven in the snow before, and you can’t really compare it to the snow here.
I was staying in Boulder, and the snow was unavoidable. I quickly learnt how I needed to drive in order to survive. (I’m sure many people will scoff at that, I mean how hard could it really be? But being someone with limited experience with the snow, and also driving without chains…it was a steep learning curve.)
I think that it’s easy to make the assumption that it’s not that different to driving in the rain (yes and no).
There is so much to consider, and ABS can only do so much for you, before you’re locked and sliding into the abyss. Luckily, I had made sure to do as much research as I could on how to drive in the snow. Additionally it helps to do driver defense courses as it can help with things like understeer and oversteer.
I guess it goes without saying, but in any condition, always take care. There is no point in rushing – it’s better to make it alive, than not at all.
I am quite an independent person, and I really enjoy being alone. Of course, not all the time, but as an introvert, I do take solace in enjoying time to myself. That’s not to say that I’m completely alone – especially with friends and family I could contact within seconds using my mobile phone (I made sure I had a local SIM), and meeting a ‘local’ Colorado resident helped too.
I remember vividly driving from my friend’s house (of whom I had met through Instagram – so technically strangers before meeting in CO) back to my AirBnB, tearing up, thinking ‘I’m really here’.
I love my road trips and scenery, and Colorado, boy-oh-boy does it give it to you.
It was scary, but once I was in Colorado, I never wanted to leave. I drove to wherever I wanted. Stopped whenever I wanted, and ate just about everything.
I experienced that white Christmas (thank you to my dear friend Clint for letting the random-Australian-join-in-on-your-American-festivities-and-featuring-in-your-family-photos, in which everyone will look back at and probably have no idea who the heck I am.)
I also experienced cold temperatures in which I was clearly not equipped for (worst I’ve experienced back home was -6 degrees Celsius – and this was only because I’ve been to our version of ‘the snow’), and quickly learning that if I don’t put some more layers ASAP I might just get frost-bite…
Colorado is such a diverse State, which you can see below in my photos. A 2-hour drive is all it takes to feel you’re in a completely different place. The landscape was so diverse, but the people were so wonderful.
I went to Colorado Springs, The Rocky Mountains, Denver (because you can’t not visit the Capital city), and I even got to drive up Pikes Peak!
Although I will note that with Pikes Peak, you are limited in the colder months (due to black ice/ other conditions as they tend to have roads blocked) – it was still an amazing experience. Maybe next time I’ll go back and rent something a bit more exotic…It would be worth it.
It might seem scary and daunting, but travelling alone might be the best thing you’ve ever done. I’m really glad that I did, and I’m also very lucky that even though I was alone, I had made a friend, and I didn’t feel so alone after all.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Words & photography by Andrea Michelle Indy