WHAT A TRIP

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - To tell us about your own trip, go to www.wash­ing­ton­post.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fond­est mem­o­ries, finest mo­ments and fa­vorite pho­tos.

So­cial net­work­ing sus­tains a mil­len­nial trav­eler dur­ing a month-long road trip through nine Western states.

Our read­ers share tales of their ram­bles around the world.

Who: Ho­ra­cio Sierra of the Dis­trict.

Where, when, why: I flew to Den­ver this June and em­barked on a month-long, solo road trip camp­ing in nine states: Colorado, New Mex­ico, Ari­zona, Utah, Ne­vada, Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon, Wash­ing­ton and Idaho. My goal was to not spend a sin­gle night in a ho­tel. I wanted to see how much I could rely on so­cial me­dia, strangers, friends and my camp­ing skills to make my trip con­ge­nial and af­ford­able.

High­lights and high points: Hav­ing al­ways lived in big ci­ties on the East­ern se­aboard, in­clud­ing Mi­ami and Wash­ing­ton, I’ve never had the op­por­tu­nity to see the night sky as glo­ri­ously star­lit as I did in Taos, N.M. I slept in a teepee on a three-acre prop­erty that be­longed to an off-the-grid fam­ily I found through Airbnb. The howls of coy­otes kept me up at night, so I took a walk and was as­tounded by what I saw with the naked eye, more stars than I ever thought pos­si­ble. It seemed as if there were thou­sands of stars shin­ing from one end of the sky to the other. Their glimmer lit­er­ally took my breath away.

Cul­tural con­nec­tion or dis­con­nect: So­cial me­dia was my cul­tural con­nec­tion to ev­ery town and city I vis­ited. I used my old re­li­able, Couch­surf­ing, to meet great peo­ple in Santa Fe, San Fran­cisco and Boise, Idaho. Each of my hosts took me to their fa­vorite lo­cally owned res­tau­rants and to par­ties, which al­lowed me to feel like a na­tive.

How­ever, the most sur­pris­ingly won­der­ful con­nec­tions I made were through the dat­ing app Grindr. Each best friend for 24 hours re­al­ized my time in town was lim­ited and wanted to show off the best it had to of­fer. Diego took me to the hid­den hot springs of Taos, Jace of­fered me a spare bed­room when the camp­ground in south­ern Utah flooded and Robert showed me the glitzier side of Port­land.

Big­gest laugh or cry: The Grand Canyon now joins Ni­a­gara Falls and Hawaii on my list of places that live up to their hype. Af­ter stay­ing in the home of the Couch­surfer Mikhael — a kind, New Agein­spired woman, in Flagstaff, Ariz. — I woke up at 2 a.m. and drove to the Grand Canyon to watch the sun rise over the South Rim.

I hiked to a soli­tary promon­tory where I sat by my­self for five hours, watch­ing the shad­ows re­cede and the rich col­ors of the canyon come to life as the as­cend­ing sun warmed the chilly air. I lis­tened to my “All-Time Fa­vorites” mu­sic playlist and cried a hand­ful of times as the amal­ga­ma­tion of songs, mem­o­ries and the vast­ness of time and space flooded my senses.

How un­ex­pected: I was as­tounded by the will­ing­ness of strangers to open their homes and share their meals with me all for the price of com­pan­ion­ship and the ex­change of life sto­ries. Whether I met th­ese strangers through Couch­surf­ing, Grindr or on the beach or at a bar, ev­ery­one amazed me with their un­con­di­tional hos­pi­tal­ity.

Fond­est me­mento or mem­ory: Some may chalk it up to a mil­len­nial-gen­er­a­tion be­lief in New Age-, pseudo-, pop psy­chol­ogy, but be­cause of this trip, I be­gan to un­der­stand what it means to open one­self to the uni­verse. I put my trust in God, strangers and in­tu­ition to guide me, and I was not dis­ap­pointed. I learned that open­ing our­selves up to ask for help and of­fer­ing it to oth­ers is the only way to travel and live.

FROM HO­RA­CIO SIERRA

Ho­ra­cio Sierra at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Ari­zona, one of the nine states he vis­ited with a vow to not stay in a ho­tel.

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