“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
My favorite thing about traveling are the friendships you make along the way. I met my soul sister on my first trip abroad. We met in 2011 at a surf hostel in Bali, Indonesia. We quickly bonded over our love for nutella and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I have always found it enchanting how traveling has the capability to bind people together or tear them apart. I have witnessed the remains of both and am fortunate to have gained many beautiful friends on this crazy travel train. The deep forces of travel are not to be tinkered with.
This photo was from our time in Bali back in 2010. We were watching the World Cup down the street from the surf hostel we were staying at. Follow the yellow arrow to find me, the blue arrow to find Samantha, and follow the red arrow to check out the guy wearing a bullet proof vest for no apparent reason (only in Bali).
When our time in Bali came to an end we flew to our homes on either side of the country. Making sure to keep in contact via quirky photo texts (not of the sexting variety) and phone dates. Not long after we made plans to continue our adventures together first in California and then in Michigan. Roughly 4 years after the birth of our friendship I traveled to California for a soul sister reunion. Where we embarked on a road trip to Salvation Mountain and Joshua Tree National Park.
Salvation Mountain is an artistic tribute to God by Leonard Knight. Located in the lower desert of Southern California Slab City and the Salton Sea. Murals cover Salvation Mountain that incorporates many biblical aspects such as the Sinner’s Prayer and John 3:16. Made out of adobe clay, straw, and thousands of gallons of non-toxic paint.
Salvation Mountain feels like it is in the middle of nowhere, which makes it that much more special. I was enchanted the moment I saw the pastel colors peaking above the endless sand and rock.
There are designated walking paths all over Salvation Mountain, just follow the yellow brick road!
Colorful details cover the walls and ceilings. There are hidden rooms and intricate ceilings made out of tree branches covered in adobe clay.
Salvation Mountain truly captures the hearts of all who take the trip here. We were sad to find out that Leonard Knight passed away in February 2014. Thus leaving the site in the hands of volunteers who work to protect and maintain the site.
Joshua Tree National Park
After our enchanting visit to Salvation Mountain, we made a pit stop at the Salton Sea before heading to Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree was a little over an hour drive away from the Salton Sea.
I had read that Joshua Tree National Park had one of the most beautiful night skies, dark and free of most light pollution. After reading this it was my impulse to first either camp here or to at least see the park at night. I have an obsession with the night sky, whether it be the moon, the stars, or the northern lights. Ask any of my close friends and they will likely have a story to share of when I dragged them outside in the middle of the night to stare at the moon or to watch for shooting stars. This was another one of those experiences. I talked Samantha into driving through the park at night. She was pretty easy to sway since she has an innate ability to make everyone around her happy. Sam took the wheel through Joshua Tree as I stuck my head out the window soaking up that magic starry night.
After our starry night visit, we headed to a Best Western hotel in Palm Springs. The following morning we came back to Joshua Tree to explore by daylight.
Joshua Tree National Park brags two distinctive desert ecosystems, both the Mojave and Colorado desert meet here.
We spent the whole day driving through the park, stopping at all the vista points, rock formations, and special little cactus gardens. I also spent a majority of the time searching for desert wildlife, with 0 luck. I had my heart set on seeing a ram, thanks to all of the signs.
In my short 25 years, I have become no stranger to the evolution of friendships and how they often take the back burner to families and life commitments. Some friendships can’t handle the distance or the changes and that is okay. Some friendships were only meant for a season of life, to get you through a certain heartbreak or to teach you something about yourself. However, I have found that the most beautiful friendships are the ones that grow and change with you through adulthood, the friendships that creep up on you in the most unlikely places and during the most unexpected times.
The friendship I found in Samantha came unexpected and has lasted through distance, heartbreak, differences, and big life changes. She has always been there to support me, encourage me, and teach me. We are two different people and may not always agree, but it gives me perspective and insight. I am ever-thankful to have found such a beautiful friend to share part of life with. If this friendship was the only good thing to come out of travel, it would have been worth it.
Have you made any life-long friendships with people you have met while traveling?