Ah, New Years Eve. Such a source of stress every year. What used to be the night where you were dragged to Sydney Darling Harbour by your parents in primary school and watched the pretty fireworks, is now this epitome of adult merriment. You can’t just wind down and have a nice night surrounded by people you actually like, what are you, 50? You have to have some crazy story, preferably while being incredibly inebriated. Actually, scratch that. Alcohol isn’t optional on New Years. Who cares about peer pressure? It’s New Years. People should force alcohol down their friends’ throats. Out of LOVE.
Yeah, not about that life.
I’m happy to leave those drunken, haphazard stories in my college days, and move onto doing what makes me actually happy. I used to travel for the sake of travelling. Just to get out of Sydney. Just to see things. And yes, I realise how privileged and lucky that makes me. Now, I want to take my privileged ass and see things and do things with people that mean something to me. And that’s how I found myself, on the 31st of December 2016, in a freezing campsite in Death Valley National Park with my boyfriend.
National Parks are a different beast in the states. They come with hotels/motels, general stores and infrastructure to make even the most discernible tourist happy. They really cater to people while as, for me, national parks in Australia are mainly for those that love nature. They’re usually filled with hiking trails, beautiful views and if we’re lucky, a small information centre.
So, for my New Years, I was going to have a nature trip. I was going to visit all of my bucket-list parks with a JUCY van: Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Valley, Zion, Joshua Tree and more. I was going to be impressed by how the Americans do things bigger and better. Even nature.
So, that’s how I found myself driving into the complete darkness on the 31st, trying desperately to find our campsite. We had driven all day through the desert to reach Death Valley, reassuring ourselves that it was okay to not reach the park until night fall because all we really wanted was to see the stars. We reassured ourselves we’d be alright. Because it never really rains in Death Valley. Maybe six nights out of the whole year?
Yes, it rained that night.
We struggled to find our campsite that night. By 8:30pm we reached peak levels of hangry and still found ourselves driving.
My boyfriend kept saying, “Only six more miles. Only five…”
And I had no idea what measurement he was referring to but I kept going. I missed the metric system. Even though I was hungry and was considering eating my own arm as I kept my hands on the wheels, it was all a lot of fun. Even the cloudy, miserable sky made me laugh. The lack of stars was hilarious. The freezing temperatures outside made me want to slap my thigh and have a merry laugh. I may have been slightly hysterical.
That night, when we finally settled into our campsite, and ate an amazing dinner of grilled salmon and wild rice, I felt so cozy. Satisfied. Our JUCY van was so warm. It felt like I was being cocooned by a giant woollen sock.
We didn’t even discuss the new years. There was no mention of New Years resolutions. If there was a countdown at midnight, by other people in the campsite, I didn’t hear it. Because I was blissfully asleep. Full from a day of adventures and being exactly where I wanted to be.
In the middle of nowhere, with someone I wanted to be with, without someone shoving alcohol down my throat.
I had the best New Years Eve on the Road.
Thanks to JUCY for helping me make this road trip possible. Find out more at www.jucyworld.com and follow them on social media @JucyUSA #JUCYUSA