Chapter 2: Adventure is out there – and wherever new friends are found.
I often share my adventures discovering pristine mountains, magnificent oceans, boundless skies, vast deserts, stunning sunrises and sunsets, moon and star-lit nights, and other natural wonders – although most of these wonders I enjoy alone. My passion always drives me and gives me endless courage to take each experience as it unfolds. However, my recent birthday trip gave me a whole new point of view to understand adventure more deeply; that in fact, people themselves can be a huge and important part of adventures, too. This is something I did not fully realize in my past adventures.
Alstrom Point, Utah is a very magical place. Not only is its beauty unreal, but on my recent trip I also met new adventurous friends there. We spent precious time together, making this place even more amazing. On March 19th, I completed a remarkable adventure—backpacking alone to remote Alstrom Point. I thought I would enjoy the view and celebrate my birthday quietly, alone. However, suddenly, a group of strangers driving a 4WD appeared. They were kind, saw me alone, and asked “Are you okay?” This simple and friendly question started another new adventure: they invited me to join their group, to enjoy the surreal view with music, and a little food and beer.
Their enthusiasm and friendliness impacted me deeply. They knew it was my birthday, and they took a lot of excellent and creative birthday photos for me. We sat in chairs on a cliff, talked and shared our adventure stories, and we laughed. It was simple but real, and we made a wonderful connection. These strangers became my new adventurous friends and brought this moment to life. I am not sure if it is fate, but I appreciated this precious chance to meet other adventurers in this big world in such a remote place.
The most unexpected thing happened after we saw the sunset together: these strangers celebrated my birthday with me. We cut and cooked food together, all sitting around the warm campfire under the stars, they sang “happy birthday” to me, and we each shared plans of our next adventure. We were getting get to know each other and felt a common connection in our adventurous spirit.
I had this feeling: we met only two hours ago, so we were still strangers really, not yet good friends, but they still celebrated my birthday with me. Their friendliness and kindness warm my heart again when I think of if it. Although the food was just simple, no cake, and I was not at a nice restaurant to have a nice birthday dinner, it was one of my best birthday celebrations. It was a true people connection, a treasure, a moment simple, sincere and close to my heart. The universe gave me a wonderful birthday gift: allowing me to complete a remarkable adventure and meet new adventurous friends. I could not ask for more.
On my official birthday, we sat together to witness the stunning sunrise at Alstrom Point, and I received the warmest birthday wishes from them again. Before we left Alstrom Point, they invited me to join their 4WD adventures in the future, exploring remote areas together. Now, my future adventures might not all be solo, as I know enjoying an adventure with someone is a totally different experience.
We said goodbye, went in different directions and continued our own journeys. But I will never forget those precious moments that we experienced together at Alstrom Point.
While driving to my next stop, I realized that life had given me a surprise birthday gift: the lesson that people are a huge part of an adventure, too.
I continued the rest of my trip alone, though I met a few more people along the way. I met someone who shared the same interest with me near Goblin Valley State Park, Utah. We talked about mountaineering, and he shared his first-hand experience with me, giving me some advice to prepare for my coming trip in June. I then met a few girls who also were from Chicago, when I was on the hiking tail at Sedona. One of the girl’s birthday is the same as mine. What a small world. We laughed and gave birthday wishes to each other on the trail.
At the start of this backpacking adventure, I thought the biggest outcome of this journey would be to witness those amazing views and complete remarkable adventures along the way. I never thought about people being part of the adventure, until I met those nice and friendly people along the way. I found the beauty of human kindness, which made this adventure more amazing and unforgettable. This beauty of kindness and friendship is no less magical as the remarkable natural experiences I discovered. This kindness is not related to culture, religion, race or a particular region; it’s just humans being human. It is a simple, natural truth, and warms my heart and will always stay in my memory.
I now understand “life is an adventure” more deeply. We never knew who we might meet and what will happen in life, but life will give us surprises. We will meet different people, experience and share travel stories with them on the road. They wave at us, show their kindness to strangers, who now are friends. When we open our heart, we see and feel these beautiful parts of being human. These people taught me that every new friend is a new adventure. The most beautiful parts of an adventure are not things; they are people and places, memories and pictures, they are feelings and moments, and smiles and laughter.
Hey, my new adventurous friends, I am ready to embark on a fantastic new adventure with you. See you again soon!