Fear

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As my trip comes to a close, I’ve had the time to do a lot of reflecting on the trip. What it meant to me, what I learned from it, what I would do better next time I go on a trip like this, etc. Honestly, all the biggest obstacles I faced came down to one very simple thing: fear.

I was afraid of having our van stolen. I was scared of being robbed (again). I was afraid of climbing the big rocks at the Grand Canyon. I was afraid of longboarding the canyon rim. I was afraid of having to pee in a bottle and I was afraid of my boyfriend having to be there when it happened. I was afraid of people knowing we were sleeping in the van. I was afraid of having someone knock on our window in the middle of the night (which happened twice and I had a mini-panic attack both times.) I was afraid of getting lost. I was afraid of the van breaking down in the middle of nowhere. I was afraid of cliff edges, afraid of heights. Afraid of falling, afraid of hurting myself, afraid to ask for help. Yes, that list goes on.

I climbed some rocks I was unsure of if I would be able to climb. I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by parking enforcement and being told to leave. I went to the mechanic to get an oil change only to find out that from Illinois to California, we were driving with some bunk wheel hubs that could have broken at any moment. I’ve woken up freezing cold in the middle of the night, forgetting that the weather would be colder up in the mountains. I’ve driven up steep mountains and had the car die on me while trying to turn around. I’ve gotten lost while driving in the forest with no phone signal for miles.

But every time I faced a fear, and I mean every. single. time, the reward was always greater than the fear that came before it. I’m more comfortable in uncertain situations. I’ve met some of the most interesting and amazing people. I’ve experienced the thrill of accelerating down a huge hill at the grand canyon on my longboard and having an uphill gently slow me back down. I’ve eaten homemade chili made from a man who was a former meth addict, who finally pieced his life together and found solace through surfing in California. I’ve seen some of the most incredible, rarely seen views after climbing rocks and boulders that had me shaking in my boots to even approach. I’ve visited friends and been welcomed into the homes of people I love. I’ve had tons of people approach me and ask more about my van and current living situation. I’ve felt peace, waking up to a beautiful view of the ocean next to the cliff edges that I was terrified would crumble beneath my sleeping body. I’ve found calm in the adventure, I’ve found peace in chaos. I’ve found friends in unexpected places, and I’ve found a sense of trust in myself that I never had before.

Living is scary. Living requires you to face the things that terrify you. Living requires you to ignore the odds, have faith in yourself, and trudge onwards.

Living is scary.

But I think what’s scarier is never living in the first place.

 

Grand Canyon

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One of our first big spots that we passed through on our trip was the Grand Canyon. While we were on our way, I decided to look through some blog posts to get a better idea of how to have the best experience. I stumbled across a blog post that talked about how to get the most out of a short trip at the grand canyon, and it proved to be incredibly helpful. We headed to the Grand Canyon with a goal to hike the South Kaibab Trail. Besides that, everything was totally unplanned.

We tried to find a campground, knowing that Mather Campground (the closest campground to the South Rim of the canyon) is usually booked months in advance. However, a little bit of magic resulted in us having the opportunity to stay at Mather for two nights through a walk-in.

The Grand Canyon is beautiful. It’s one of those things that you have to experience. Though I have plenty of pictures, none of them capture what it felt like to be there, among miles and miles of vastness so much larger than yourself.

 

The first day, we decided to wander around, and longboard around the rim which was a crazy experience. We went all the way to Hermit’s Rest, and longboarded it back. I caught a couple nice downhills back, though I’m pretty sure I burned a hole in my shoe from braking so much.

The Kaibab Trail was incredible. Every stopping point had an amazing view. We made it down to Skeleton point, though we had forgotten to bring a ton of water. If you go, BRING A TON OF WATER. Like, at least a gallon, maybe more for good measure. Alexis and I had one water bottle each, and though we made it out okay, the last couple few hours of the hike were miserable.

 

 

Van Life: Bathroom Tales from a Former Germaphobe

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*warning* loads of poop talk *warning*

My poop story

So guys, as many of you already know, I made the decision to start living full-time out of my 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon. When breaking the news to my friends, I got a very common question – “How are you going to go to the bathroom?”

I can act tough on the outside and give a flawless response to the question while quietly screaming internally. My response is simple – I have a Black Card membership to Planet Fitness so I have access to showers and bathrooms 24/7 (at most locations), and if I have an emergency, well, there’s always public bathrooms… *insert mini-breakdown here*

I have been a germaphobe for a long, long time. Yes, I know that no one has ever died from sitting on a toilet in a public restroom, but for some reason, I never got over my fear of going to public restrooms. It was so bad, that there was even a time in college where I passed out from trying to hold in my poop. Yeah, that bad.

So I can count on one hand how many times I’ve pooped in a public bathroom before van life. And it looks like I have finally gotten the hang of it!

How I got over the fear

So, I’m the type of person that has to build scaffolding around my life in order for me to fix or improve something. Fear of public restrooms? Okay, well now your only options are public bathrooms.

There are two things that completely changed my experience, however, and made the transition a ton easier.

GoGirl

As a female, this product has been an absolute. game. changer. I squatted to pee once on a hike in Colorado and I hated every second of it. This literally upgraded my camping experiences (and some drunk experiences too, to be honest) It’s basically a purple reusable silicone penis that lets you pee standing up. It’s awesome, and I use it all the time. I would even go so far as to say I prefer using my GoGirl over going to a bathroom!

Wet Wipes

Wet wipes (currently I have the Costco brand moist towelettes) are also super handy – I always have a pack of them in my backpack, and they’ve saved the day on so many occasions when there wasn’t toilet paper in the stalls *also a huge fear for me*

So am I over being a germaphobe? No – there are definitely improvements to be made, but I tackle it one bathroom at a time.

Happy Travels,

Lubna

The Van.

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Guys. It finally happened. I am officially the owner of a 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon. And I cannot be any happier.

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Meet Daffodil. To me, Daffodil is a symbol of freedom. I’m excited to be part of this journey. The van rebuild has been taxing, but so rewarding.

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I’ll update this page with more progress pictures. The date I’ll be parting on my journey with Daffodil will be May 6th. Let’s see how this goes.