How Tinder allowed me to travel the country

Swiping right, checking out photos, swiping left, another left, a chain of right swipes and then the girl with the most striking photos of the Pacific Northwest, Horse Shoe Bend, as well as the obligated selfie appeared. I swiped right to this beauty and decided to request to follow her on Instagram as well. A couple days later, I received a notification from Tinder, “You have a match!”.  


“YES!!”, I exclaimed


“So what else should I know about you besides being an amazing photographer?”, I inquired. 


“Well I don’t hide anything, so I don’t think there’s anything you ‘should’ know, but you're welcome to ask.”, she replied with what I knew had to be a sly grin on her face.


We Continued on with our long and involved conversations as well as the frequent Snapchat messages until the day of reckoning. I dropped my phone and destroyed the LCD as well as any chance of getting to know her better. Five months and $350 later, I was finally able to replenish my connection with her. Now keep in mind I had been AWOL for about 5 months. She thought I hated her due to the last post on my Instagram speaking about fake friends and how some people are never there for me. I posted a Snapchat Story the day I repaired my phone and a few minutes later decided to send her a snap after the long prison sentence of being disconnected. She was surprised that I had even sent her anything! I explained the situation and she seemed very understanding, from there on out we began chatting more than we previously were! 

A few months later, she posted a Snapchat story that she was going to a state park near me. I shot her a snap saying that she should come pick me up and we could hang out for the day. She gladly obliged to my offer. You never know if you’re actually going to connect with someone in person like you do through texts and snaps, but I can happily say, we hit it off.


We spent that morning exploring the park as she captured everything through her Canon 6D. Afterwards, I asked her if she would like to come camping with me at my parents’ place. We had been raving about how we can’t wait to go camping at Hawksbill Crag with each other sometime,  that sometime became tonight. It was a major step out of both of our comfort zones. Well, I wouldn’t say that, it was more-so something really spontaneous for the both of us. That night we lay under the stars talking about what it would be like to fly through space, spirituality, life, and our goals. It was a situation that neither of us thought we would be in, but were glad that we chose to take the chance.


Fast forward to July of the same year to a very scatterbrained and impulse purchase basket full of groceries for our two week road trip.  A few boxes of Clif Bars, a 4 lb. jar of peanut butter, a family size container of cocoa, a loaf of bread, and many cans of Campbell’s Chunky soup were just a few of the staple meals and snacks. We were leaving the next morning. 


I had never really been anywhere outside of Arkansas besides the occasional border state trips until then. We traveled up north through all of the boring states until we finally hit Wyoming. We later found out we couldn’t stay the night in Yellowstone a few hours afterwards. She then had to drive all the way through Yellowstone which took a good number of hours to do considering both entering, exploring, and leaving. Supposedly you can’t sleep in your car because bears may break into you car and kill you. I understand this, but if we had decided to take on that risk, we would’ve ended up with a citation. We were also very unprepared because we needed a hard shell camper or camper van, not our three person tent. Let’s just say, it was a very rough night getting out of there, and as we crossed the border of Montana, we slept in a parking lot. From there we explored Montana and spent July 3rd & 4th at Flathead Lake, it was a wonderful time to be alive.  The water although cold, was crystal clear and calming. During the morning of July 4th, we drove over to Glacier National Park for the day to explore the lakes, mountains, and hopefully catch a glimpse of wildlife.  If I were to give anyone a single park to explore, it would be Glacier, she’s a mystical beauty to explore.


We then hit Washington State to explore the wonders of the coast line. My amazing girlfriend also took me to the beach for the first time in my life for my 19th birthday! She drove us up to Paradise the next day, which is just below the peak of Mt. Rainier. It wasn’t as epic as she’d hoped, it had been foggy and raining the entire week, so we couldn’t see the mountain. There was also barley any snow left at the time. We ended up camping out at Ohanapecosh and then her sister’s house for a couple days afterwards, and then headed on our way down to Oregon to explore Canon Beach. The day after that, we headed over to Crater Lake, which is such a beautiful place to visit. Garfield Trail has an absolutely stunning view from the top of the crater,  it’s well worth the hike! The water is so blue from purely being filled up with rain water over the centuries!


She even surprised me by taking me to Peter Lik’s photo galleries in Las Vegas and just across the border of California. Unfortunately, I found out I’m not that big of a fan of Vegas due to being under age at the time, the bombarding of noise, and people wanting my attention after having arrived at 5 A.M. that morning.


However, what really brought it home is when she surprised me with the Grand Canyon. This is something I’ve been wanting to see my entire live! I couldn’t express to you my excitement to see this beast! We spent the rest of that evening watching the sun set below the rim and stayed to see the stars awake from their slumber. 


Heading home we realized that it was a sad ending to an amazing journey. This trip was a very humbling and awe-inspiring adventure. I never thought I would be traveling the country, nor spending my summer in the most treasured lands of America. I never even thought I would be on Tinder, but I met a wonderful person in doing so. Life is about taking risks and experiencing the rush of the water outside of the floaties. I wouldn’t have ever been diverted to this course without Tinder which my friend convinced me to download one evening.

Take a chance, it’ll make for an amazing story. 

Andrew Plauger