The Beast and me

I could write a book about the adventures the Beast and I have been through. This car has been perfuming me with the scent of freedom. And sweat, as there is no air conditioning to be found. When no one else had faith in her, I did. I looked further than the obvious issues like rust and old tires, a broken light. And the hidden issues: holes in the gas tank, oil leaks, a loosely hanging exhaust. "So what", I said,"no one is perfect!" We made it work all fine and dandy, maybe a bit louder and more rough than the average car, but rusty old trucks are nothing new in Canada and the USA.

Being a woman without night vision, travelling alone in a bric-a-brac car, I've been taking it really easy. The Beast started making new sounds, some things definitely felt like falling off and when even the cassette player spit out what I had fed her, I got worried. I parked, gave the car a motivational speech: we can do this! Let's show the USA what we've got in store! Imagine all the adventures we're going to be living! Road trips 4 life! I stepped back in, started The Beast and drove through the giant Sequoia trees. Until after ten minutes, the exhaust fell off.

I ran across the street to pick up the hot piece of rust and panicked. It was dark. I had no idea how bad this was. "Is my car going to blow up?" I asked a passing driver seriously. The lady smiled and told me to spend the night at the Chevron gas station, where the mechanic would be able to have a look at it in the morning. Relief rushed through me. Thank goodness for people who know, or pretend to know what they are talking about!

At the gas station, they told me it was okay to sleep in my car on their parking lot, "but on your own risk. Things get dangerous out here at night." Stereotypes of crazy Americans with guns ran through my mind. "Okay, bye!" I yelled and drove a couple of meters further, where I saw a bed and breakfast. I stepped through the doors of Rio Sierra Riverhouse and told my story to the lovely lady who owns the beautiful place. Happy to help out a damsel in distress, Mars showed me my very own hotel room.

I was about to cry tears of joy. After months on the road, it felt so incredibly nice to treat myself to the peace of mind and comfort of a room of my own. I filled up the bathtub and washed all car worries away. The Beast will be fine and the road trips unforgettable! As I dozed off in a soft puddle of pillows and blankets, I thought: travelling can be exhausting.

Don't get me wrong, I love it all. The long drives, sticky situations, crazy adventures, waking up and not knowing what will happen and where I am going to sleep that night. I love that my cocoon of comfort is so far out of sight, it's just a dot in the distance. While I also have my cosy little home on wheels with me wherever I go.

That night, I dreamt the past year and a half away. Like it was the first time I reflected on everything that had happened while living in Canada and the USA. I slept a thousand sleeps and woke up feeling fresh. The mechanic couldn't help me, but told me I could drive without the exhaust. "It doesn't harm the car, it will just be loud." And loud she was, that crazy Beast. A five minute drive left me with a ringing in my ears. I smiled, because I saw myself in her.

Seeing the Rio Sierra Riverhouse in the daylight was a wonderful surprise. The beauty of the river and breathtaking scenery! Arriving somewhere in the dark always carries the comforting weight of surprise. It felt like Christmas morning! While enjoying french toast breakfast covered in syrup, I talked with the ladies who work at the b&b and felt at home. First of all: desert for breakfast! And the conversations left me so inspired I wondered if all these travels, winding roads and long drives were needed to lead me here. To Rio Sierra Riverhouse in Three Rivers. Where brunch is sweet and the talks even sweeter. It felt like I found the destination of the journey. It was hard to leave, but I had to get The Beast home before she would completely fall apart. It was a long, sweaty, noisy drive home, but we made it to Santa Cruz just in time for sunset. Pure romance, that Beast.

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