When I was in high school, I read an article in Garden Design about a couple in Big Sur who grew fields of lavender, and I was so captivated I by the idea of the place I knew in an instant I had to go there.
In 2006, I found myself in Silicon Valley with a day to spare. I hopped on the freeway, driving down through Santa Cruz, through the foggy produce fields to the south, through Monterey and Carmel, and finally, there I was.
It was a transformative travel experience for me, not just because it was a dreamer’s dream realized—setting foot in a place I’d revisited in my mind in good years and bad, never knowing how exactly how it would happen—it was the first time I’d ever traveled anywhere alone, just for the sake of the destination.
Now, I like traveling with other people. Shared experiences are as valuable to me as solitary. But it wasn’t until then that I realized just how valuable a solitary travel experience could be.
I am my best self when I travel, and when I travel someplace by myself, my awareness of the world and my movement through it is sharper than at any other time. Mental chatter is suspended. Senses are amplified. It’s incredibly freeing.
I finally got back to Big Sur this weekend. This time, I had company, and a better camera. But it was just as great as I remembered.