In Chicago I rented a car and went back to camping mode and made my way back across another new route. I drove through Wisconson, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Camped out by the badlands, and stopped at Rushmore and Devil's Tower. I was hammock camping and there were fewer and fewer trees to hang the hammock on the further west I got. One night I just ended up sleeping on the dirt 'till it started to rain at 3:30 am, and I moved the party to the front seat of my rental KIA. I made coffee every morning on my camp stove in the rising sun..
I hiked and talked to people on summer vacation and drove a lot, but per usual, broke it up with interesting stops. The only double backing I did was back through one highway in Wyoming, seeing the Tetons in the distance and turning south away from them made me terribly sad. A year earlier I had the time of my life there. I drove through Utah, Arizona, and Nevada before hitting California again. I did the Angels Landing hike in Zion before going back to Los Angles, the trip back in the rental took a week total. It was a different feel than traveling in the bus. Less people reach out to you when you're traveling in a Kia rahter than a cool bus.
The road home was interesting and insightful. Alex and Ariel drove me back to Salem where I was picked up by a friend who had agreed to a road trip with me to Chicago, and from there I would rent a car and drive back home to LA to regather my life, make a little money, and get ready to move to South East Asia. I said my grateful goodbyes to Alex, Lulu and Ariel, and headed out with my friend and his dog. A friend picked me up in Salem and we drove to Chicago, and hit up some cool places along the way including Niagara Falls.
Coming back, everything reminded me of the old bus! Books in doctors offices, articles online. I don't ever regret selling the bus, but I do miss it. I got a tattoo in her honor too. It was nice to take a break and have a hot shower whenever I like, but I'm always looking forward to each next adventure.