Alaina ann’s story.
We all have a story. The tale of moments, experiences and people who shaped the life we live today. I spent nearly a full year thinking on the purpose of this space and, ultimately, how much of my story will be shared here. After a few road trips around the country in Dandy, my heart settled on stories from the road. A glimpse into my travel journal, while living this adventure we call life.
Before joining me on the road, perhaps you may wish to know how I came to be a solo road tripper, in a bright purple van named Dandy. Often carrying a camera in one hand and bear spray in the other.
Read on, my friend.
Around age ten, a pink Kodak 110 camera dangled from my wrist. Used to snap a child’s view of the outside world, in suburban Maryland. High school captured the fun and antics you might expect from teenagers living in an agricultural reserve, with swift access to Washington, D.C. And college days, spent at Clemson University (Go Tigers!), shifted to rowing regattas and countless mornings and evenings on Lake Hartwell with the crew team.
Over two decades in, and my travel list solely comprised of stops along the East Coast, except for one trip abroad to Italy and Greece. Until I joined the Potomac Boat Club in Washington, D.C. and started my first job post college. Suddenly, vacation days were spent all over the United States, Canada and Europe racing with the team. The travel bug bit me hard and I vowed to see everything, as soon as possible.
And then I fell in love, with a man who lived for adventure coupled with a skill set to explore the great outdoors in every terrain and weather condition. Outfitted in Patagonia gear, hand-in-hand, the epic adventures began. We said I do, moved from one home to the next, adding countless tokens to the memory bank over the years. It would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the role he played in my love for outdoor adventures. He introduced me to ice climbing, rock climbing, mountaineering, comfortably falling asleep beneath the stars and an intense awareness of survival skills.
The first big road trip I ever planned, a solid 20 days in the four corners region, turned out to be an epic farewell tour for us. Because a few weeks later, he completely broke my heart. Immediately, I knew the only way to live a full and happy life was on my own. And so, I left. Him, our marriage, the life we created together and all the dreams we shared for the future.
Heartbroken and a bit of a mess, I packed a tiny POD, moved to Maryland, and received daily hugs from family and friends. During my first solo road trip, moving across the country, I made two promises with my heart. The first, to keep my companies alive, allowing flexibility to live anywhere. And the second, to keep living an adventurous life, even if it meant traveling alone.
Over the next five years, my companies thrived, affording me the opportunity and time to road trip all over the country. Most importantly, these solo trips healed my heart. Twenty days on the road quickly turned into sixty, seventy and eighty-day road trips. Life was filled with exploring public lands, capturing photographs and daydreaming about an adventure van. I found and purchased Dandy in September 2017, took her bare bones around the country for two months, painted her purple, drove around the country one more time, then dropped her off in Denver, Colorado for a custom build.
With over twenty-five solo road trips across the country, I am living the happiest days of my life. Relishing all the good moments, learning from the not so good ones, and genuinely grateful for each new experience. As much as I love traveling solo and respect the healing it gave my heart, I am ready and looking forward to sharing my adventures beyond quick captions accompanying a photo. This space will become my heartfelt travel journal, sharing stories from exploring alone, with loved ones and new friends.
If you see a purple van on the road, with Oregon plates, be sure to wave hello! Dandy’s story will be coming very soon.