'Thank God it’s not raining,' I think as I make my way back down the steep and winding road, while keeping my head on a swivel for cows. I begin the climb up the scenic teton pass and realize there’s now more visibility than there was on my way down. It’s another blood orange moon, which is lighting up the dark blue sky as well as the famous mountain range below it. The clouds are still apparent, but I still have an itch for night photography, so I decide to do a quick pull-off and attempt to shoot the stars. I can tell the pictures aren’t really turning out how I would like, so I take a quick shot of my Jeep and begin to pack up.
        Just as I’m about to fold my tripod, I turn back down the steep road which I’ve come up from and see the sky is changing colors. The clouds have a very obvious hint of purple, which looks pretty spectacular on the unusually blue night sky. With no cars coming, I put my tripod and camera in the middle of the road and snap one of my last pictures of the trip.
          It’s now 2:15am and after driving for almost two hours after the festival ended, I finally give in to my increasingly heavy eyelids. Thankfully, just about ten minutes after I decided that I need to get my ass off the road, I come to a large truck stop gas station, which is in God only knows where Wyoming. Content with knocking out a respectable two hours of driving on my eight hour trek home, I pull in and drive over to the back corner of the parking lot, lay out my pad and sleeping bag, then immediately fall asleep.
           I slept in! I (non-sarcastically) thought when I woke up at 7:00am on the morning of Saturday, August 12th. I open my car door and random camping gear falls from the cracks onto the sidewalk, while I not-so-gracefully stumble out myself. As I get back on my feet after picking up my water bottle that rolled under the car, I turn to the gas station area and realize a truck driver is looking at me with an expression of confusion about watching that whole thing go down. I give him an awkward nod, before reluctantly walking past him to get my much needed cup of coffee. I get back into my car and sit in there for a few minutes getting my hazed mind back to normal. Once I compose myself for the six hour drive that I’m really not looking forward to, I start the engine, pull out of the parking lot and begin the final stretch until I’m home.
         Shortly after I depart my gas station sleeping quarters, I look at the odometer and see that it reads 2,185 miles traveled for the trip. With another 400 miles or so left, I realize I will average over 300 miles per day of driving throughout the eight day trip and I have only slept in an actual bed twice since being gone. “Get me to my bed!” I yell to myself in between giant swigs of the crappy cup coffee.
         As I gaze over the steering wheel at the farm lands of southern Wyoming, I notice the sun starting to rise. While this isn’t the most spectacular sunrise I’ve witnessed on this trip, there’s a certain charm and simplicity about it that I really like. The sight triggers something that has me reflecting on the last eight days away from home: I begin to feel the fresh alpine air going through my lungs; I hear the sounds of birds singing and fast water moving through my ears; I see the faces of the strangers that I’ll most likely never see again, the wildlife that I came in close contact with, and the beautiful landscapes that I know I won’t soon forget. I focus on my feelings before, during, and after the journey and while I don’t believe that I was ever in ‘search’ of anything, aside from recharging in the great outdoors and taking some pictures, I realize I am ending this trip stronger than where I started. The sights, sounds, and feels, will all be something that will have a lasting impression on me, but learning to focus, acknowledge, and harness my mental well-being could potentially deem invaluable when I embark on future adventures both personally and professionally. If nothing else, it will always make for a good story that I can look back on and I’m more than OK with that too. What a week.
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