On The Road With Amanda

| Dec 24, 2018
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I did it. I left The San Francisco Bay Area. It was about 2 years too late, but I left . . . finally, after 4 years. I feel like I was on vacation for 4 years. I feel like I am finally on my way home from a long-ass vacation. It’s funny, because I thought I’d miss the natural beauty of The Bay Area the most. But, what I found is — I miss the people. 

The last six months of my time there, I met some great people and reconnected with some. I miss friends, co-workers and fellow trans people I knew. I was just starting to feel some warmth and developing relationships with new people. But, ultimately, I just couldn’t afford it. Me, along with thousands of others are making a mass exodus from California for that very reason. It cost way too damn much. “The rent is too damn high!”

So, late on December 15, 2018, I left San Francisco. I made my way down the coast to Pismo Beach. I took one last drive through San Francisco and over both the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate to say goodbye. Weirdly, I didn’t feel too sad. That came as I drove down the peninsula and started to cry really hard. I was missing not the land, but the people I cared about. I regretted not visiting Becky and Jennell when they moved to SF. They had previously taken me in 4 years ago in Seattle when I got thrown out by a “girlfriend.” This time, they rescued me in the Bay Area. They are great people. 

I made my way to Santa Barbara and on to Los Angeles the next day for some sightseeing. I was sort of following the same route which my family took in 1982 on our way back to Pittsburgh coming back from living in Hawaii. I was 12 then. I don’t remember too much. I know we did not do too much in L.A. then. So, I drove The Sunset Strip, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Blvd., saw the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, central L.A., Santa Monica pier, The Rose Bowl, The L.A. Coliseum, Dodger Stadium etc. I also met two long time Facebook friends, one being my first trans friend I met online in 2010. It was a fun time.

Santa Barbara was really nice though. I could see myself living there. L.A. is a little too crazy for me. Santa Barbara was just a nice coastal city that reminds me a lot of Oahu, Hawaii. If I ever return to Cali to live, I may try there. And, it’s not too far from L.A. for fun events.

From L.A., I traveled to Las Vegas, Sin City itself. I arrived very late since I lingered in L.A. too long. The sun was coming up as I was checking into the Motel 6. I was so exhausted. I slept until nearly 4 p.m. the next day. The sun was starting to set. Since it was Vegas, everything was open late, so it didn’t matter. 

I was hungry. I meandered my way to The Hard Rock Cafe. I have been to many of them. This one was kinda’ light on memorabilia, but it had some good stuff. I like the Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh Hard Rock Cafes the best. I got the tantalizing Guinness Irish Bacon and cheese Burger. It was delicious. I then walked the Strip and took in the overpowering sights. I wanted to stay at The Luxor, but they only take dogs, not cats. I have my kitty traveling with me. I’m so glad she is. Not sure why they only take dogs. Cat bias, I say.

I ended up taking a self driving Lyft to The Luxor. That was a first. There were two people in the front and the driver had his hands just barely off the steering wheel and went into manual on private property. Still though, it was a glimpse of the future. It was cool to see the computer sensing everything around it, and even knowing when the red lights turned green. 

The Luxor was different than I imagined. It is a pyramid with an Egyptian theme. It has a giant Sphinx out front and lots of cool statues. But the inside was hollow. The rooms are basically in the walls of the pyramid. The casino, eateries and show stages are in the cavernous interior. The elevators go up in a stepping manner in the corners. I couldn’t get past the 5th floor though. I played one slot machine with a giant handle. I played a total of $20. I won $9, used that to keep playing and won back $5. I cashed out down $15. The house always wins. The table games looked too intimidating, so I watched, and passed. I need my money. 

The next day I drove around in the daylight and took more pics. Vegas loses some magic in the daytime. It seems more alive at night. It feels like everyone is recovering from hangovers in the day. I couldn’t really do too much without money to spend. Rich Little was at the Tropicana right next door, but was sold out. I loved Rich Little when I was a kid. He does impressions. I guess he still is doing his thing at age 80. Vegas takes money to enjoy fully. Maybe I will return someday. 

Somewhere in Utah.

I left Vegas and traveled to Utah on my way to Denver. I decided to go up around the Rockies to avoid snow in the mountain passes. I got to go through a new state (to me), Wyoming. It had its beauty. But it got dark on me. I always wanted to go to Wyoming and Cheyenne. Cheyenne was kind of a disappointment. Oh well, I checked off another state. 16 more to go. After Denver, I will be checking off Nebraska and Iowa on my way to Baltimore. 

Baltimore is my final destination. I will be living with my mentor and friend Jen. My car doesn’t hold much, so I had to send boxes UPS. Luckily, Becky has a deep discount with UPS. Between UPS and USPS media mail, 20 boxes are moving across the country and starting to arrive at my new home. 

So, I sit right now in a friend’s guest room in Denver. I will see Jess, my ex-partner and friend, tomorrow, spend the day, stay overnight, then depart sometime Sunday. I’ll probably make it to Lincoln, Nebraska by Sunday late. Chicago by Christmas Eve late, then I hope to be in Pittsburgh, my hometown by later on Christmas. I hope to see some family. I will make it to Baltimore either the 26th or 27th depending on visiting in Pennsylvania.

So, I’m almost halfway home. I had some fun already and hope to have more and see more sights. So, by next column, I will report on my new life in Baltimore with my mentor and how the rest of the trip went. Eastward Ho!

A Gallery of photos from the first half of Amanda’s trip

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

I am a transwoman originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I have been living full time for 5 years. I work in retail but am an artist/Graphic Designer and aspiring writer. I tend to address the controversial in my writing. I would love to change the world one article at a time. I moved to The San Francisco Bay Area to start over, again. But recently moved back to the East Coast. The adventure continues...

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