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Although there was snow on the ground, the Grand Canyon was well worth a detour. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/DC Refined)

Life in photos: My cross-country road trip

This winter, I decided to drive 3,653 miles from my hometown of Claremont, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, to an apartment in D.C. that I found on Craigslist after realizing my life needed a drastic shakeup.

Maybe it was because I kept running into high school classmates while I sat in my favorite coffee shop, writing news articles for my crime and politics reporting job. Or perhaps the discomfort of routine -- my nights were either lackluster dates with local grad students, haunting local parks with childhood friends or aimlessly driving through the San Gabriel Mountains.

I settled on D.C. because I liked it when I visited during a post-breakup, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar trip to the East Coast last spring. So I packed up my compact car with almost everything I owned, looked up a YouTube tutorial on how to use snow chains and started driving east on the Interstate 10 highway on January 22 (I just barely escaped the wrath of Storm Jonas). Although my mom joined me halfway through the trip, it was exhilarating to trek unbeaten paths on my own schedule, exploring abandoned homes and places I'd never seen with a camera in hand. Of course, being a photojournalist, I had to share the journey.

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