The first semester of my second year in college was full of car problems, excessive and extreme drama, uncalled-for evictions, and, consequently, rushed moves. Overall, I categorize that semester as my most hectic semester so far. Needless to say, I had been waiting and planning for spring break since early September 2017. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do: drive from Troy, Alabama, to A-Basin, Colorado, camp in the canyons through Utah and Arizona, then head back to Troy through Colorado, again. I couldn't imagine anything better than two weeks in my Subaru with my puppy, yoga mat, guitar, snowboard, and tent. I wanted to escape the last semester and rejuvenate my mind, body, and spirit - I needed this break.
After leaving Troy, my first stop was Nashville to visit my family before heading to Colorado. I had been looking forward to seeing my loved ones until I arrived and they expressed their severe concern on the topic of my planned travels. My parents insisted that it was not safe for a twenty-year-old woman to drive a 2011 SUV across the country alone. The argument is understandable. However, the issues that my family had with my travel plans were based on discriminatory stereotypes and ignorant assumptions, which sanctioned me to dismiss their concerns. I eventually realized, after much argument, that I would never hear the end of it if I continued west by myself. Desperate to keep the peace with my family, but also needing my two-week hiatus, I went to Tinder.
My initial thought was that Tinder is the most efficient way to meet a lot of people. Then I started to remember a few people that seemed to message me every time I was in town. From this, I gathered that these people must have flexible schedules if they were available at random times when I happened to be in Nashville. I clicked on one of the profiles and was taken to a realm of dog, camping, and snowboard pictures. Assuming to be shot down, but seeing that this could be a good match, I messaged this guy explaining that I was traveling to Colorado, Utah, and Arizona to camp, hike, and snowboard with my dog and that I needed someone to occupancy me in order to appease my parents.
A few minutes later, I had a Tinder notification expressing much interest in the trip - which is something that I truly did not expect. As the conversation continued, and further plans were made, I began to ask myself, "What type of person agrees to travel across the country with a complete stranger?" But the only answer I could find wasn't an answer at all, but rather another question: "What type of person asks a random stranger to travel across the country with them?"
My new friend and I met for the first time around 10 p.m. on a Friday night to make plans to leave for Colorado the following afternoon. Coincidently, my friend had had a trip planned a few weeks prior to snowboard in Colorado but it had been canceled - not only was he free to go but he was eager for another chance to board before the season ended.
We started on the road overflowing with equipment and conversation. It seemed that we had plenty to talk about since we hardly knew each other. I drove all night, thrilled to arrive in the mountains. As the sun began to rise behind us, my new friend woke up and we both admired the beautiful sunrise and scenery. It really was a picture perfect moment until our eyes met and my new friend began to seize. At a rapid pace of eighty miles per hour, I slammed the brakes and pulled to the side of the interstate. Twenty minutes and a few mumbled words later, we were no longer sprawled on the side of the highway, but back in the car driving again. My new friend was quite confused after this seizure, falling in and out of consciousness. I was mildly traumatized. Although I had followed seizure-protocol, I immediately called my mother once the situation was under control. I can only assume that I was searching for some type of medical reassurance from my mom, who is a doctor, but what I received was far from reassuring. After I explained the situation to my mother, she responded with "Shh, McCall! He can hear you!" To which I exclaimed, "Mother! I don't care if he can hear me or not, I don't know what else to do, I don't know if he needs to go to a hospital, I don't know if I should contact his family or how to do so." When my mother continued by asking, "Well why don't you know any of this, McCall?" I realized that I could no longer converse with my mom about the situation because I couldn't admit that I had only met this new friend less than 48 hours prior.
As for my new friend, he regained full consciousness after we stopped on the next exit at a gas station. While he had no recollection of the seizure, he was very much okay. He insisted that we need not stop at a hospital, so we continued on into Colorado. We spent the next two days seizure-free, enjoying the A-Basin slopes. Nevertheless, I don't mean to oversimplify those two days because they included my first dispensary experience, locking the car keys in the car, getting free lift tickets, and lots of snowboard fails and falls on the GoPro.
The week was spent camping and hiking through Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon. This was my first experience at Antelope Canyon and Bryce Canyon; neither of which disappointed. We arrived at the Grand Canyon around 2 a.m. after hiking Bryce Canyon that day. Understandably, we were beyond drained and ready to sleep. We carelessly picked a spot to set up the tent, as it was too dark to see our surroundings anyways. While setting up the tent and sleeping bags, I recalled seeing a moose the last time that I had camped at the Grand Canyon. Minutes after the tent was pitched, we were wrapped in layers and dead asleep.
We woke up about fifteen minutes before the sunrise to explore our area and find a nice spot to watch the sunrise. Once out of the tent, we realized that we were nearly on the edge of the canyon with a clear view of the east. I don't think we could've found a better spot to camp even if we could have chosen it in the daylight.
A few hikes later, we were driving to get some food (probably Taco Bell – great vegan options!) and the Grand Canyon proved its consistency to never disappoint: we spotted a moose about five yards from the road. As we were photographing the moose, two more walked into frame. My mind was blown beyond belief, and that is all I can say about that.
We traveled back to A-Basin to board one last time before returning to the east coast; this time, no keys were lost and/or locked in the car in the process. And when we drove back to Nashville, no seizures were had and lots of Taco Bell was eaten.
My new friend and I were reminded of our unique situation when I dropped him off before heading home to Troy. It felt weird to feel nostalgic after a two-week trip. An interesting relationship was established in the two weeks it took to go from strangers who met on Tinder to travel buddies that correspond weekly.
Some of my friends laughed at this story – pointing out my rash, but amusing, decisions, while others criticize me for my "dangerous" choices. Either way, I have come to the conclusion that I am happy with my choices and thankful for the friendship that I have gained via Tinder.