San Simeon to Oceano State Park: 55 miles
The next day when I woke up the morning light made the whole campground glow.  We made breakfast and got moving quickly, eager to stop for coffee in Cambria.  The ranger never did stop by to give me that five bucks. 
When we got to Cambria, we all took a little time to charge our phones and my mom called me.  It surprised me, since she hadn’t called the whole time I was away.  I told her I was in Cambria and she lit up.  She and my dad had gone there frequently, when they first fell in love.  They had taken me on my first camping trip to San Simeon.  I was only a baby.  They tried to put me to bed, but I kept opening up the tent to look at the stars.  I saw something up there, and tried to explain to them in baby gibberish.  They’d close the tent, only for me to open it up again and point, stare and babble in wonder.   
Not much has changed.  It made me smile. 
Dustin was having a rough day.  His body wasn’t in top form, and he was getting really tired, unlike I had seen him the rest of the trip. We stopped in Cayucos for lunch.  We were too early for pizza and settled for bagels.   Then, Chad and Colin passed us again.  It was really nice to see them.  Colin was having more difficulty with the ride, so I gave him some of the energy goo’s that Toren had left for us.  They were planning taking it easy and camping in Morro Bay to take a rest day the next day. 
Six miles further, we made it to Morro Bay.  Toren had ridden so far the day before! 
Morale was a bit low, and everyone seemed to be having one of those days, when Dustin just came out and said, “You know what guys?  I’m feeling a little down today… I’m missing my male companionship…”  The way he said it was so earnest and made us all smile. 
Shortly after we got to Pismo Beach.  I decided to stop at a California Welcome Center to work on the blog, while Sarah and Dustin got a drink, and I planned on meeting them at the campsite afterwards.  It made it easier to have something to keep me alone and busy.
Oceano State Campground was a little difficult to find, and it kind of a weird area.  Sarah had gotten there first and informed me that they didn’t allow hiker-bikers, but had let them slide, since there were only two of them, and that I should try the same thing.  
I walked up to the ranger kiosk, and picked up a ticket-envelope and started reading the no hiker-biker signs and looked at the map to find the campsite Sarah and Dustin were at.  The ranger drove up in his truck, “Can I help you?”  
“Hi, I’ve had a pretty long day, and I noticed you didn’t allow any hiker-bikers.”  
He was really nice, his name was Junior.  “Oh, it’s okay, I’ll let you slide, there is another couple, they seem really nice.  Maybe they’ll let you camp with them?  If not here’s all the available sites, and I’ll let you camp in any of these for the hiker-biker price.” He looked over and pointed.  “Oh! wait!  I think that might be them over there!”
Sarah and Dustin had ridden out to meet me in case I had gotten lost.
“I guess I’ll go over and introduce myself.”  I rode over to them, “Why, hello new friends!  Are you the cyclists over at site 62?  This nice gentleman just told me that I might be able to camp with you.”  
They caught on.  “Oh sure!”  We smiled big as we introduced ourselves, and I went back to the ranger, after they announced that they were just heading into town for a drink and would be happy to meet me back at the site.  I said, “They do seem really nice!  I’m glad that worked out.”  
I started setting up my stuff, and Sarah and Dustin came back pretty quickly with a bottle of whiskey for themselves and surprised me with an ice cream cookie sandwich.  It was such a nice gesture it made me want to cry.  So easy to cry all over this trip.  I must be leaking.  
We laughed about the fake introductions and had burritos for dinner.  We finally opened up and started talking about what had happened the day before with Toren.  Everything had happened so fast.  All the same what if’s came up, mostly centered around us not being able to help, or Toren not being able to reach out to us to help.  
Teamwork. Problem solving.  That’s what this whole thing has really been about.  When my tires totally deteriorated, we all worked together and combined all our resources, the spare tubes, the duct tape, anything we needed to to get me to the bike shop in Newport.  The same thing with Tyler’s bottom bracket, and his tire.  And Sarah’s knees.  We had all been vulnerable in front of each other, and had no choice but to work together.  
And then I thought about it, and the first thing that was even communicated to Toren, when I would call him early in the trip was how bummed out I was because I was slowing everyone down, and not letting them go at the pace that they wanted to.  And when he joined us, the first thing I told him was that Sarah wanted to try out riding in pairs so we wouldn’t drag each other down.  Then when his bike did have problems, we were lucky enough to be able to get him a ride to a bike shop each time. Which, on the one hand was good because it kept him off his bike in a dangerous situation, but on the other hand, he didn’t get the team problem solving experience that we all went through earlier in the trip, since it wasn’t necessary.  So, of course, it made sense for him to not want to burden anyone, and keep his difficulties to himself.  
That and the mechanic at the bike shop pretty much told him that the bike was death on wheels…  That may have had something to do with it, too.  I felt bad, regardless. 
But of course, what really mattered was that he was safe.  And we were safe.  Nobody got hurt.  And actually, nobody had gotten hurt the whole journey.  I looked back and started to count our blessings.  We had gotten to every destination well before sundown, we had eaten well, we had problem solved well together, we had had perfect weather the entire journey, and we were all still friends.  Not too bad.  
Dustin said, “It’s okay,  we started this journey as three and we’ll end as three.  It’s all come full circle.”
Sarah had another thing she wanted to bring up.  We were ahead of schedule, and she had a pretty expensive car repair that had come up.  Back home, a friend was borrowing her car, and the battery caught on fire, catching other components on fire.  When she got home, it was going to be over nine hundred dollars.  The only thing that was keeping us was my show in Santa Barbara.  Even the show wasn’t for sure, because the venue had changed owners.  Sarah and Dustin and everyone had made a lot of compromises for me, so the least I could do was to make a compromise for Sarah.  I decided to go ahead and cancel the show.  We could just go home.  
I made it a point that we should try to fully enjoy the rest of the trip.  We still had over two hundred miles left.  Let’s have a rest day, and really indulge our senses.  If we see a river or the ocean and want to jump in, let’s jump in.  
We took a walk to the dunes and watched the sunset, and felt really good about the rest of the journey.  Dustin decided to sleep outside under the stars.  
Oceano State Park to Solvang: 66 miles

Sarah woke up Dustin the next morning and asked him how he slept.  
“It was great!  I could flop around like a mermaid!”

We started the day off lighthearted and went back and forth over what our game plan would be for the day.  Would we take the coast or the Santa Ynez Valley?  Would we camp in Lompoc or get a motel in Solvang?  
We opted for Solvang.  After sleeping on her poncho for 5 weeks, she was ready for a bed.  And Solvang is where my parents met and fell in love, and where I was born.  And it’s cute.  And the UC Davis crew were stopping there and had already found an affordable motel. 
We stopped at a cute/weird/amazing 50’s roadside cafe made from old train cars.  It made me think of my dad, and I had to succumb to the urge to dive in.  Had to!  We had already eaten breakfast, but the pancakes smelled so good, we all decided to split a breakfast combo while we listened to music from the 50’s.  
We hopped back on the road.  It was a very windy day, but it was in our favor.  We breezed inland and took an alternate route to Lompoc. Cyclists had been through before.  Someone had spray painted notes for us on the asphalt.  
“This way! Watch out for cars!”
The tailwind pushed us so fast, that we missed our turn, not thinking it had come yet, and had to turn around and face the 19 mph wind head on.  Lucky for us, the strawberries smelled just as good the second time.  The Harris Grade road took us over a 700 ft climb.  All along it was littered with cold stone bowls, and fast-food cups, and I couldn’t help but wonder where they had come from.  Everything seems so far by bicycle, and we hadn’t gone through a town in forever!  Lompoc must be on the other side of this hill, I thought.  It was steep, and at the top, the same cyclist had left another note for us:
“It’s all downhill from here!”  And it was. 
The wind was no joke in Lompoc.  19 mph with 35mph gusts.  Any harder, and I don’t think it would have been safe to ride.  Or maybe it wasn’t safe to ride.  We stopped at a grocery store to pick up stuff for a snack, and a woman walked out of the store, was hit by the wind and reacted, shocked, “Oh my goodness!” paused for a second and laughed to herself…”Well… that’s Lompoc!”
20 more miles to Solvang.  I started out kind of tired, and was just over it.  There was a jacuzzi at the hotel.  And danishes.  And a bed.  I took the Sarah method of dealing with the stress of riding and decided to just power through it.  I bombed the next hill, and with the tailwind, Dustin clocked me at over 40mph!  Faster then the gusts of wind! 
That we rode the twenty miles in only an hour!  Thank you, wind.  Or maybe it was our tiger calves.   We made it to the hotel with the glorious jacuzzi, had a nice dinner and fell asleep pretty fast.   
Solvang to Cachuma Lake: 12 miles
The next day was our rest day.  We didn’t want to spend money on the motel two nights in a row, so we decided to ride 12 miles to Cachuma Lake to camp.  We slept in, got out of bed for the all you can eat free, continental breakfast, which was local danishes, and went back to bed.  Then we got up, hit the jacuzzi and ate more danishes.  What a dream!
After we checked out, we passed the theater where my parents met and fell in love.  And we stopped in a vintage store that has a ton of old music boxes and player pianos and music machines.

The ride to Cachuma was okay.  We rode through the golden hills spotted with dark green oak trees of the Santa Ynez.  We saw herds of deer resting in the shadows on those big oak trees, as we huffed and puffed up a few hills.  Traffic picked up and we were thankful to get to the lake.

We had been really excited to spend our rest day swimming in the lake, exploring the campground, and getting some laundry done.

The ranger was very short with us.  He was the first ranger to ask for our driver’s license, and pointed his finger, calling us “you,” instead of sir, ma’am, miss, or the name that was on the ID cards we had handed him.  It was really off putting.

The campsite was really barren looking grassland, with lots of parking lots, clearly meant more for boaters.  The laundry room was closed for maintenance, and we weren’t allowed to swim in the lake.

We asked several people about the lake.  First we assumed it was because there were so many boats, but usually there would be a section of lake marked off to swim in, if that was the case.  Then, one of the people running the kayaks, told us that it was Santa Barbara’s drinking water.  In which case, why would they let boats drip motor oil all throughout it?  Then, later on, we talked to the UC Davis doctors, and Dan told us that they had had that amoeba scare in that lake: the same one that had been eating people’s brains, and scaring people off from the neti pot.  Who knows?

The wind was fierce that afternoon and the whole campground was mostly just dirt and grass, and stubborn birds bent on stealing cheetohs.  About a week back, my dad had sent me a three page text warning about rattlesnakes.  It worked, and a little nervous, I watched the ground carefully, noting all the holes burrowed as I walked around.  I ended up spending most of the afternoon staying in the tent working on music.  I missed everybody at home and was looking forward to things like waking up with my dog whining to jump on my bed, and practicing piano in my pajamas, and wandering around 4th street, running into familiar faces.

I rewrote Ghost Riders in the sky:

An old cowpoke went riding out one dark and windy day, 
a PCH, he rested as he went along his way, 
when all at once a mighty herd of cyclists he saw, 
tearing up a mountainside, and up a cloudy draw, 

Their calves were still on fire, and their thighs were made of steel, 
Their helmets, black and shiny, and their hot breath he could feel, 
A bolt of fear cut through him, as they thundered through the sky, 
They all start to ring their be-ellls…. As they ride on through  they cry, 

Yippee-yi-yo….. yippee yi yay…. 
ghost cyclists in the sky… 

There were three really nice things about the campground, though.  First, the man who ran the kayaks, let us ride around for free for a little while, since the weather was so windy, and business was slow, and we had ridden so far.  It was really nice to get a little wet and use some different muscles.  Second, the general store was awesome.  It was well stocked, and more affordable than any other general store we had been to.

And third, always the sunset.

Cachuma Lake to Carpinteria: 30 miles

Heading out of the Santa Ynez Valley, Sarah had wished that she had taken pictures the day before.  The golden hills had made her think of her mom.  Her mother had been so taken by them, that when she took a beginning photography class, had walked out into hills like those, and ended up getting a tick.  Now the oak trees were getting more clustered together, and Sarah thought that it would have been neat to get a photo of something that her mother had been so inspired by.

We rode over San Marcos Pass, which was a 2,275 ft. climb back to the coast.  That was about 300 ft higher than Leggit Hill, which the tour book had said was the tallest (it probably hadn’t taken into account the alternate route).  It was a little grueling, but at the right pace, it wasn’t so bad.  We got to the top and looked out at Santa Barbara below.  It was a stunning view.  Once we got through Santa Barbara, we’d ride a little further South, and Toren planned to meet us and camp with us for a night at Carpinteria State Park.  It may be kind of cheesy, but it was a comforting thought all the way up the hill to know that he would be at the end of it. 

I did really well on that decent.  Dustin went ahead, and Sarah stayed behind to take it at a slower pace.  She had been getting more wary of going down hills as the trip wore on, and preferred to take them nice and slow.  We rolled down the turns of the hill, picking up momentum, and I just enjoyed the moment.  I kept the bike steady, and didn’t go too fast, and felt the sunshine on my skin, and I didn’t feel the urge to cry, or my breath fall off rhythm, or my stomach turn with dread as it had before.  I was really proud when I got to the bottom.

We stopped at the Natural Cafe in Santa Barbara for lunch.  It was the first healthy restaurant that had inspired Sarah when she started getting into nutrition and fitness.  They had affordable prices, and a great menu, with smoothies, and lots of vegetarian options.

We got to Carpinteria next, and it felt like Summer.  The whole campground was beyond full.  They started dividing up the group campsites.  The UC Davis crew had gotten there earlier, and had to wait in line to try to get a site by lottery.  We had a third of the group campsite called “Plover.”  The campground wasn’t very big, but every inch of it was swarming with tents, RVs, kids on bikes, laundry lines, umbrellas and barbecues.

We got to the site that Dan had reserved and it was empty.  As soon as we rolled in, Toren arrived, too. He had brought talapia, pasta salad, lemonade, trail mix, cliff bars, and all kinds of stuff to feed us and restock us for the last two days of our journey.  So thoughtful!

We decided to wait to set up our tents until Dan and the rest joined us, and went to the beach.  The simple pleasure of sitting in the sun is so rewarding.  I think I can understand why women in earlier generations would sit out and bake their skin into leather.  Sarah and I inched into the water, and Toren ran up and dove right in.

While we were sunbathing, we noticed Dan playing fisbee with Rebecca and Juan.  We walked back to the campsite, and Juan’s parents had driven all the way from Lancaster to celebrate and barbecue for everyone.  His mother had made a whole tray of flan, and she glowed when she talked about her son.  Both of his parents were so proud, and excited to let us join in on the fun.

There was so much food.  Everything Toren had brought, along with the chicken, salmon burgers and everything that Juan’s parents brought made for such feast!

Chad texted us and told us that Colin had quit and was going to be picked up the next day.  He was going to try to find a way to meet us the next night at Leo Carrillo so we could all ride into Long Beach together.

The sky went from blue to rose to purple, and we started a fire.  I got out the guitar, and Dan and I took turns playing Iron and Wine songs.  Toren was pretty quiet.  It wasn’t the same coming to meet us in a car than it would have been to ride in with us.  He shared his night vision goggles and made everyone laugh.  I gave him a good back scratch and he said he was happy he had come.  

Carpinteria to Leo Carrillo State Park: 40 miles

The next morning Toren offered to lighten our loads and to take anything in his car that we didn’t need for the last night and meet us back in Long Beach.  We loaded him up with our rain gear, dirty laundry, cooking gear and my guitar.  I figured not having it for one night would be okay.  That way Dustin wouldn’t have to carry it the last two days of our trip.  Riding with less weight was great.   We were all super thankful.

As we rode South we started noticing signs for the AIDS Lifecycle ride.  Lots of yellow and orange arrows and tips, guided us on a safe route through Ventura.  The sky was overcast again.  PCH had a really wide shoulder and a bike lane, so the ride along this section felt very safe.

We passed resting spots for the AIDS ride, as well as their campground in Ventura.  My boss, Kim, was doing the AIDS ride, and it felt really special to know that we were both on our epic journeys, and about to ride down the same road in the same day.  The next day the AIDS ride would end in Santa Monica, and we would end in Long Beach.  What a neat coincidence!

In Ventura, we stopped at an In-N-Out (we ate out a lot more our last few days), and ran into some members of Team Long Beach from the AIDS ride who had gotten injured and rode ahead.  One of them even knew Kim!

The three of us sat at our table and talked about the trip.  Dustin said, “You know…  I’m really glad we met those kids from UC Davis.  It’s been really fun to have them around.  Things might have gotten a little boring if it had just been the three of us for the last week.”

The sun came out, and we rode through an industrial area, and then some farmland, and saw some Orleib panniers in the distance.  We rode a little closer and noticed it was Adam and Jane, the couple from Brooklyn on the tandem!  We caught up and rang our bells.  It was a really happy reunion.  “Where’ve you been?!” “We missed you!” “How was the ride?”  “What happened”  There was so much to talk about!  They had planned to ride to Malibu, but instead opted to ride with us and camp with us at Leo Carrillo on our last night.

When we got to Leo Carrillo, the campsite was full, again!  We couldn’t book a campsite for everybody, and went with hiker-biker, even though the tour book warned about theft and transients from Carpinteria South.  Welcome back to Southern California.  We told the ranger that we were expecting some more cyclists, and she told us that there were only four hiker biker sites, and that technically, she wouldn’t be able to allow it, but since we were going to get along would let it slide.  We had been under the impression that state parks weren’t allowed to turn hiker-bikers away, and were very surprised.

Jane and Adam had fallen behind us to stop at a bar, and I texted them to come quick, so they could secure a spot.  We also gave word to the UC Davis crew.

We started setting up camp, and Chad rolled in through the path in the trees with his bright orange vest!   The rangers had tried to turn him away, but he had to mention us all by our names and insist that we would let him camp with us.  Just before he rolled up to the kiosk, they had turned away a 72 year-old cyclist.  How could they turn away an old man!  Adam and Jane knew the cyclist, because they had met him over the past few days, and Adam and Chad took off on their bikes to try to catch him.  It was unsuccessful and we all felt bad for him.  Adam said that he had been having a rough day and missed his wife.

Juan’s parents did it again.  They had driven all the way back to Lancaster, got more food, and drove out to Leo Carrillo to barbecue again down by the beach in one of the day use areas.  We took a trail to go meet them.  There was a couple getting married down at the beach next to us.  Everyone was barefoot.  Everyone from the east coast got to see dolphins for the first time.  We feasted again, and had a cheap radio playing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  We all got a group photo before Juan’s Parents left.

When we walked back to the campground, we stopped for a moment to look at the ocean.  Sarah pointed out a piece of land in the distance that may have been Palos Verdes.  I knew we were close to home, and had been pretty relaxed and just going through the rides the past few days, but at that moment it really hit me.  We had ridden almost 1500 miles, and we were almost home.  There was familiar land within our eyesight, and the city we lived in the and the people we loved were just over the hill.  My whole insides felt like the soft pink evening light that was washing over the landscape.  I wished Toren could have been there to see that moment.  But everything was as it was, and as it should be.  Some moments are only yours and yours alone.  If you stop and get the urge to re-direct the scenes in your life, you could miss them altogether.  

When we got back to the campsite, Dustin and Chad decided they wanted to start the fire by rubbing two sticks together.  I smiled and left them to it, and walked to the bathroom to charge up my phone.

As I walked through the campground, I really watched everyone in the campground.  Families settling into their camp chairs to eat their dinner by twilight.  A motorcycle biker with a fleet of pink tents.  A girl learning how to ride a bike.  So many kids on bikes.  Teenagers walking around and gossiping.  Radios.  People driving slowly in their cars trying to find their sites.  Watching these people made me feel nostalgic, it made me think of being a kid in a campsite with my own family.  We had spent the past 5 weeks on the road, in our close knit group, dealing with fears and our stressors, and laughing at our inside jokes.  I had sung songs to myself up and down mountains, and now we were back at home, in Southern California, away from the idealism of the road and just another group of summer campers, and it was absolutely lovely.

When I got back, they had abandoned the sticks and started a fire the normal way. We gathered around the last campfire, and remembered moments of the journey.  It was such a happy night.  We talked about the little old man that had picked up his broken frame at the airport in Seattle, Tyler and tin can, different people we had met, our dreams of the future and how proud we were of each other.  I looked around at all these glowing faces around me, and felt such love within me.  I had learned so much from each of them, and we had been so silly together, and had been so vulnerable together.

Sarah and Dustin decided to sleep outside under the stars.  I told Chad, I was such a scaredy cat I couldn’t sleep outside after seeing a guy walk by with a snake earlier.

Chad put his sleeping bag in his hammock and said, “You know what, Aly?  You’re not a scaredy cat.  You’ve made it and there were moments when I wasn’t sure if you were going to finish and you’ve done really well, and I’m really proud of you.”

Leo Carrillo State Park to Long Beach: 65 miles
I woke up at 6:30am to one of the RV campers pumping top 40 jams.  It was just silly.  I got up, and one of the homeless men that had camped next to us was collecting bottles and cans.

We decided to get breakfast in Malibu and took off on empty stomachs.  There were several rolling hills, and we began to ride with the riders from the AIDS Lifecycle ride.  They came in all shapes and sizes.  I have a big respect for those riders.  Going on a big adventure AND making a difference.  “On your left!”  They all passed us with ease without any weight on their bikes.  Sometimes we would ride next to each other and chat, and the AIDS cyclists would get annoyed and yell at us for not riding in a straight line.  At first it was off-putting, but they were right.  This was PCH in SoCal… not some empty mountain road.  I looked for Kim, but didn’t see her.  I knew the chances were slim.  There were thousands of cyclists in that ride.

Malibu was a few miles further than we had expected, and we were famished by the time we found a place to eat.  I had the best breakfast burrito I had ever eaten at a place called Lily’s cafe.

When we got to Santa Monica, we took the beach bike path, and the Lifecyclists turned inland to get to their finish line.  This was a whole new kind of defensive cycling.  On the beach path there were people stumbling around on beach cruisers, skaters, kids falling off their bikes, pedestrians… so many people!  The beach was crowded with swimmers and volleyball players.  It was kind of stressful, but after Venice we turned back onto the road.  The areas we road through were getting more and more familiar and it felt weird to be so close to home.

We rode through Redondo Beach, and over the hill to Palos Verdes.  Everything had come full circle.  We passed the spots where I had gotten flat tires when Tyler and I had gone on our training ride.  We passed the spot where I had stopped with Sarah when we had gone on our other training ride.  No more training.  Now it was the end.  Even though we had been over so many hills, being so close to home made me really tired.  My legs struggled over the hills, and I fell far behind.  I started playing my same old mind games, and stopped for a little while to collect my senses.  Shortly after, everyone was waiting for me.  The final stretch.

We made our way out of Palos Verdes, and I got caught at a red light behind the others.  then a police man rode his motorcycle into the middle of the street, and started directing traffic.  It was a funeral procession.  Whoever it was had a lot of people who cared about him or her.  The procession kept coming, and then the policeman smiled at me and waved at the cars as he rode away.  Beginnings and endings and life keeps going.

We got onto Anaheim, for our last ghetto stretch into Long Beach.  We rode through Terminal Island, and past the strip club on Alameda, and over the LA River, and it’s homeless camps.  We rode by my old street in downtown Long Beach.  That was it.  We were home, it was Saturday and everything in Long Beach was business as usual.

I had sent out a text message to some friends that we would roll into Viento y Agua, but I didn’t think anybody was actually going to meet us and it made more sense to stop at Sarah’s house first.  Toren and Bob were waiting on the front porch for us.  Bob had been trying to find out where we were going to be all day!  Sarah and Dustin had picked up a 12-pack, and started cracking some open on the front porch.  Just another day at Sarah’s house. It was a beautiful day to be sitting in the sunshine with friends, but something about being home made me sad.  Maybe I was in my post-cycling haze, but it seemed so anti-climactic to end the such a feat with a beer on the porch.

My parents texted me that they were waiting at Viento y Agua, and Toren offered to drive as many as would fit in his car over there.  Viento always feels like home.  My parents came out and greeted me with hugs and well wishes.  We took a group photo, and told them our stories.  Everyone was so happy to see us.

The next few days it took some time to adjust to being at home.  I came home and was really overwhelmed with my stuff, after living so minimally for over a month.  I want to get rid of half of it.
Then I had trouble sleeping, I had nightmares every night for a few days, and woke up hungry in the middle of the night and with sore legs.  I wanted to see and reconnect with everyone, but I also just wanted to be alone and clean my house.  The second or third day, I bought a new planner, and made a big list of things I want to accomplish.  There was still lots to do.

It’s easy to feel kind of empty after making a big accomplishment.  It’s easy to dismiss it and get ready to move onto what’s next.  I’m a process person I love working up to something, but once it’s over, I don’t quite know what to do with myself.  We’ve done something here.  We rode 1447 miles, and felt every inch of Pacific Coast and I played a tour.

Writing this blog has helped.  While we’re riding, we’re going, we’re blowing through every landscape, challenge and experience.  Taking the time to stop and write about it has made me remember and take note, and feel out the lessons I’ve learned, instead of just letting them flow like water under the bridge.

This was an experience that has carved out a new path for the blood in my veins.  I can’t say that I’m a new person, but I have grown into a stronger person.  I feel so thankful to have shared the journey with Sarah, Dustin, Toren, Chad and Tyler and friends that we stayed with or met along the way, and to have had the support from the people back home to make it possible.

Thank you,

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About the Author

Alyssandra Nighswonger

Alyssandra is known by her community and everyone she comes in contact with as inspirational, a dream-pusher, limitless. She has the divine craftyness to make anything she imagines a reality. This is expressed through all of her art forms; singing and songwriting, poetry, painting and performance. A local legend in Long Beach, she is a hub in her community, constantly realizing new ideas and events to gather and bond her fellow citizens.

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