Mar 17, 2008 | Life in Progress

(“together” on canvas. email me if you’re interested in the original!)

karen’s visit has turned into one big celebration of our road trip out west 10 years ago. i had just turned 23 years old, was living in florida, and was enjoying my last summer before the end of graduate school. i had never been west of dallas, texas when karen convinced me to hop into her little red nissan and drive with her all the way from tallahassee, florida to seattle, washington – a cross country road trip, just the two of us. with less than $900 and a brand new journal in my bag, i was ready for whatever would happen that summer and really had no idea what i was doing or what to expect. karen had planned the entire trip and i thought “what the hell, i’ll go with you.” we were two very young girls on the adventure of our lives. windows down. music blaring. it was before the age of email and cell phones and ipods and digital cameras. we were truly out there on our own. our only communication with our friends and family were the postcards we sent home from places like sedona (AZ), the very large array (VLA), las vegas, austin (TX), new mexico, route 66, san fran, portland, seattle. we stayed in youth hostels (our favorite was in a new mexico city named truth or consequences), paid no more than $14 for a full tank of gas (remember those days?), met a ton of friendly strangers along the way, ate chocolate donuts every morning, took a million photos, saw the craziest lightening storms in wide open spaces, discovered mountain views (they don’t have those in florida), and saw the grand canyon and pacific ocean for the first time…together. we were giddy and in love the west coast, the open road, the sunsets, and most of all, our freedom. it was on that trip that i discovered and fell deeply in love with the great northwest. less than a year after our return home, i moved to portland and never looked back. that little grand “what the hell, i’ll go with you” road trip ended up being the best decision i could have made. to explore. to be poor and still travel. to figure it out. to fall in love with girlhood even more. to find the place i wanted to live. to learn and live and be free.

inside the pages of the journal i kept that summer are a million lists (because everyone knows i love lists). lists of funny highway signs. lists of gas tank purchases. lists of how many cokes i drank (i was trying to kick the habit, even then). lists of all the new food i tried (sushi, strawberries, caesar salad). lists of baby names. even lists of words that caught my attention (words like dazzle. sparkly.).

it was a time to remember. one glorious summer on the road with my friend karen. i will never forget it. here we are, the two of us, in a photobooth, somewhere in middle america. i love my little colorful doodles around us. weren’t we cute? i can still roll my tongue like the best of em.

and here we are now…on a mac photobooth earlier tonite with bella in the middle:

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (17 comments)
  1. karen

    thanks for writing all of that down, kel! i love it. thanks for the lovely “10th anniversary weekend” visit in oakland too.
    i’ll have to dig out my journal from that time and send you some notes from it too! that trip was completely life-changing, and i think back to our experiences constantly.

  2. Marica

    You are so lucky that you journaled that trip.
    Sounds like it was such fun.

    Kelly Rae, you are pure joy…thanks for sharing!


  3. melissa

    this brings back memories of the time my BFF called and said hey you want to backpack around europe…and i said what the heck. oh the lovely memories i have from that trip. i love that you have such great memories! xoxo

  4. PixieDust


    I see that Bella would like to interview her, you will fall in love with her words – amazing…


  5. PixieDust

    How fun!!! What a wonderful way to spend girly time!



  6. Kat Candler

    i wish i was there with you guys!

  7. Evidence of an Artistic Life

    Beautiful canvas-and love your story of your friendship and travels. Brings back memories of my own!
    chris p

  8. Heather

    What a wonderful story, and your new painting is absolutely beautiful!~

  9. justagirl

    You lucky little cucumber, sounds like a wonderful trip. Had a look on the net at portland and it looks like a wonderful place… might have to visit one day.

  10. Shauna

    This post reminds me of a poem by Rumi (can’t remember which). He describes a husband and wife arguing. The wife is complaining about never having enough (money, etc.) and the husband says, “Remember our youth? We were the money!” I remember how free and wealthy I felt in my early 20’s when I had nothing but $900 to my name. Here’s to the carefree youth in all of us, and to BEING the money.

  11. pERiWinKle

    Doing a dance for old and treasured friends…for new friends…for pure and honest, happy and silly friendships! they fill you up xx

  12. Lucy

    What a fabulous adventure that must have been, and it obviously was life changing for you!!

    I’m also an admirer of your work–and love your articles in CPS! I’ve tried out your technique for your ladies/affirmations to an extent on my latest piece I’m working on. I had the background pretty much done for a month now–no, actually two months but it was missing something. I read your article and tried some of your techniques for drawing your whimsical characters and am so happy with the results. I’ll be sure to link back to you when I post the finished version tonight on my blog. Thank you for sharing all that you do! You are very inspiring!

  13. stef

    what an awesome experience!!

    rock on for girlie friendships!


  14. liz elayne

    i just love this glimpse into who you were then…so glad this trip brought you out here my friend.

    hope your weekend was so much fun!!!


  15. Stephanie Lee

    Somewhere in my core I ache for such a grand adventure! Rather than a “coming of age/visionquest” like yours was in a way, mine will be a “middle age/visionquest”. It’s never too late, right? I’d have to get a new car, though. $900 wouldn’t get me too far in a suburban at today’s gas prices. 🙂
    Thank you SO much for sharing this! Vinnie will enjoy reading it too as he is a road-tripper at heart.

  16. bella

    Long time fan of your work.
    Wondering if you would be willing to email me so I can get your email address. I am doing a series of interviews with women and would love to interview you!
    Hope to hear from you.

  17. Christianne

    awww . . . that photo of you guys with bella is adorable!


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I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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