A Road Trip by Amy Sanchez
The following is a reflection from my recent 3-month solo adventure in travel, self-discovery, and of course, horn playing! Originally shared on Facebook, this post focused more on the first two rather than the latter, but I did indeed practice and record horn while on the road! I brought my recording gear with me (AEA ribbon mic, Apogee interface, laptop with ProTools) so I didn’t have to turn down any remote recording work, and rented a few hotels and AirBnbs along the way to do some teaching and master classes as well. While the pandemic has undoubtedly been difficult, it has also provided some unique opportunities. In addition to my “normal” work of teaching and recording, I spent much of my time on the trip photographing and filming for a yet-to-be disclosed project involving music and my passion for conservation. Hint: the project is related to a brass ensemble I’ve started, Horns for Rhinos, supporting the South African wildlife conservation non-profit Nkombe Rhino. You may remember an article in the May 2019 IHS Horn Call about my initial work with this endeavor!
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
-Jack Canfield (also attributed to George Addair)
When do you feel most alive? Have you felt it recently? I think it’s fair to say that I’ve always loved travel - I remember as a kid all the weekends my family would simply “go for a drive,” or head into the Adirondack Mountains to go backpacking. For as long as I can remember, every time I pass an airport, I yearn to fly somewhere, anywhere. Exploration, curiosity, learning, adventure - it’s all part of it, but I realize now that possibility is the main motivation for me. When I travel, I feel like my whole world opens up and opportunities materialize. Not only tangible opportunities, but perhaps even more importantly, the opportunity to shift my perspective, to follow a gut feeling toward the unknown, to be vulnerable in the unfamiliar, and to simply be in awe.
I’ve always loved road trips and have been fascinated by the admittedly simple concept that quite literally, the road I live on leads to the road you live on- and anywhere in the continental United States! ☺️ We are so lucky to have such space and freedom to explore. Even without leaving the country, it would take more than a lifetime to see it all (and of course, foreign travel opens up even more possibility for perspective and discovery).
I fully understand not everyone has the opportunity to travel far and wide- and I’m extremely grateful (and work very hard) for the circumstances that have allowed me to do so. Keep in mind, there are trade-offs to everything, which I won’t get into here. Suffice to say, after spending four months in quarantine completely on my own this past spring, I decided to take advantage of forced “time off” (as a freelance musician, all time off is unpaid), and go on an ambitious solo road trip this summer. In what one might consider an extreme social distancing measure, from July into October, I traveled for 99 days, drove 15,692 miles weaving my way through 30 national parks/monuments and countless other national forests, state parks, and natural lands in 28 states (including a flight up to Alaska to photograph coastal brown bears!). I basically avoided cities at all costs. The map of my route is below, and while I know you can’t see all the stops clearly here, I’ll be sharing more details in the future.
For anyone curious, I used Roadtrippers to plan my route- a very helpful app/website! Side note, before anyone is too hurt that I didn’t call while I was passing through their town, please keep in mind most of my stops were very short, annnnnd we’re in a pandemic… I was avoiding all humans! 😉 I wish I could’ve visited so many friends along the way. I skipped some areas that I know I’ll be hitting in the future (like the Pacific Northwest), and a few areas I’ve been in the past, but I was able to cover an awful lot of the most beautiful parts of the United States.
Our National Parks and protected lands are certainly our greatest treasure. It was humbling to experience even just a bit of the vast wilderness areas that surround us, and see the monumental efforts that have gone into preserving them and providing public access. That road that I live on, and the one that you live on? It travels through some really incredible places.
Was I nervous? Lonely at times? Uncomfortable in the unknown? Even heart-racing scared? Yes, definitely. But the growth that comes from facing those challenging moments when you only have yourself to rely on and pull yourself out of far outweighs the temporary discomfort. In all my travels, for all the lonely moments, there have been ten times as many that I was exhilarated, in awe of my surroundings, and motivated to see what was around the next corner. Through all the nerves, I’ve gained a confidence that has left me far less concerned about what others think, far more comfortable in my own company, and ready to handle whatever comes my way. Will there be more nerves and fear in the future? I hope so- for me, it’s grounding, and the best way to move forward and create opportunity. “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
Needless to say, I have many photos, videos, and stories to share (and I’ve got plans for some of that in the future), but on the trip, once I removed myself from the constant news and social media bubble, the discovery came that I didn’t need to share it with the world as it was happening. I wanted to savor it, be fully present in the moment, reflect on it. And now, just under 3 weeks after returning home to LA, I’m barely getting to the point where I can put a few of those reflections into words. Of course, while this was a solo road trip, I wasn’t really alone, and am infinitely grateful to the close friends and family who support me in so many ways, even in my solitude - which I’ve learned is far different than loneliness. ♥️
More than anything, my goal is to bring the the awe-inspired eyes from my trip and the perspective of possibility with me in everything I do. LA feels different now, music feels different, community feels different - and everything feels possible; opportunity is around the next corner. A fundamental shift, and I hope the idea might help inspire others in this unprecedented time that has been difficult for so many.
Possibility and opportunity are on the other side of fear.
If you’d like to follow my journey, please find me on social media or at my website below, where I’ve very recently started blogging about music, conservation, travel, photography, and perhaps most importantly, inspiration. Much more to come!