A SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY (AN ODE TO TRAVEL)

One more of me at Rano Kau

It’s hard to believe it’s already May, considering the extended winter weather that has plagued most of the U.S. this year. It’s also hard to believe that this website is almost two full years old. Two years! Somehow I keep this sucker going with new content despite the financial up and downs of trying to support my own travel as I create more content for the ‘Roady…

eiffel

My favorite travel partner and I at, well, this needs no introduction… (July 2012)

Blogs come and go every day. It’s estimated there are well over 600 million websites in the world. Many of them form the ghost towns of the blogosphere, free Blogger or WordPress accounts that someone crafted one rainy day, hoping to write their way towards their dreams or just keep an online record of their passions. Now, they sit there as a reminder of the realities of today’s society. What was once a full-time hobby for someone can be squashed as the writer’s life moves on. Family and other life commitments can force us to make massive lifestyle adjustments, so too can the economy – hitting us hard with layoffs, poor wages, loss of vacation or holidays. The responsibility of “growing up” in a turbulent society is enough to drive anyone mad, let alone compel them to stop writing for an audience that may never show up. Blogging wasn’t around when Abraham Maslow defined the hierarchy of needs, but I doubt it would be slotted with breathing, eating and sleeping.

A relatively tourist-free shot, except for the goofy guy there in front

At Stonehenge, July 2012. My second day (ever) of driving on the “wrong side” of the road got me to this incredible destination.

Not wanting to sound too much like a negative creep (all apologies to Kurt Cobain), I can also wax poetic about why I do this. It was May two years ago when my girlfriend, Breeah, and I took a weekend road trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first road trip I took on my own in years (and, up until then, I had only taken two – and not for sightseeing purposes). Sure, I’d been on many family excursions and have flown to parts as far away as Iceland and Norway, but I never had the opportunity to really hit the road on my own. As a liberal studies major living in Billings, Montana, I had a rough time finding good full-time work and stacked up on three part-time jobs, sometimes working 60+ hour weeks (I remember one rough stretch of not having but a single day off from any job for the entirety of July-August one year). Despite the low pay and long (combined) hours, I loved my jobs. They consisted of a varied assortment that allowed me to have a byline in the largest newspaper in Montana (I worked at the sports desk at The Billings Gazette for five years), a two-year stint at the Parmly Billings Library which jump started my current library career (my “real” job) and spending five years of a nine-year run as Official Scorer of the Billings Mustangs (the rookie level farm club of Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds).

You might even make new friends not made of stone!

New friends I met on Easter Island. Not including the moai – that’s L-R, Josef, Ranferi, Ran and Me (August 2012)

That trip to Gettysburg was a huge eye opener for me. I hit the road and could explore, for the first time in my life, on my own. I finally had the time and (some) more money. A month later, Breeah and I would take our first major vacation together, driving up all the way out to Prince Edward Island (one of those off-the-regular track locales that I always wanted to see as a kid, but never truly harbored expectations of seeing). Before the summer was up I ticked off a flurry of states I’d never been to and we also fit in a weekend trip (yes, “just” a weekend) to the Dominican Republic. The travel bug had bit me and was here to stay.

Right outside the front doors of Parliament. Yes, you can just walk right up...

My cousin and I in front of the Canadian Parliament building in Ottawa – dang I had some long hair then…(June 2012)

One question I hate to get is, “what do you do?”. What do I do? “Yeah, what do you do for a living?” Well, to me, I feel like I’m actually living the most when I’m traveling and then reliving those travels when I write about them. What I do to make money and what I do to live are two different things in my world. Living and working are separate entities. It’s not that I can’t enjoy my job and the people I work with (I actually do!) – but unless you are one of the supremely fortunate few who get paid to do what you most absolutely love, then we all have something we’d rather be doing than working. I feel more defined by my experiences – especially in travel – than I do by anything else in life, so, to me, that’s most representative about what I actually do.

We're still on American soil...er, ice...

Breeah and I on the ice in the Northwest Angle of Minnesota – one of the strangest points of land (er, in this case…ice) in the Lower 48. (December 2011)

At the very least, this blog will always be an outlet where I can continue to harness my creative juices, document extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences and escape the monotonies of the “real” world, the one we’re trained and (for the most part) obliged to conform too. Whether I make nothing or make millions in this venture, I’ll never stop sharing my experiences with others, so, yes, I plan for this site (at the very least) to still be here 10, 20, 30 or more years from now, at least until I simply can’t move anymore.

Breeah and I on a bridge on the Dickson Falls trail

Breeah and I take a break in Fundy National Park, New Brunswick (July 2011)

However life is shaped for me, I can count myself lucky to have discovered what I really enjoy in life. Travel – actually, the experiences gained through travel – has made me more understanding, accepting and unafraid of this vast country, continent and world. I have learned that knowledge comes through experience more than anything else that could be taught in books, music or film. It’s powerful to know you can leave your mark on a place, but even more powerful is the mark it leaves on you.

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The two of us are just a stone’s throw from Mexico as we sit on the banks of the Rio Grande River in Texas (February 2012)

One final thought. Last August I was able to travel to Easter Island – a childhood dream come true. I’d be going to South America (Peru specifically) and had never even been south of the equator. Heck, I’d never even been to Mexico. Now I was going to this mysterious island (alone, no less) many miles removed from civilization with absolutely no expectations of the people, customs, food or anything at all. After the six day journey in which I made new friends from the faraway isle (not to mention fellow travelers from Mexico and Austria) all I can say is that it was absolutely life changing. I felt rejuvenated and rediscovered, realizing that life could be (and is) truly boundless and that we aren’t defined by our status in life but that we define ourselves by the experiences we let in. In fact, as the airplane taxied from Mataveri International Airport, I almost wanted to cry. As we took off, a song began to play in my head – just out of the blue. I wondered why in the world this song, from the Gladiator movie soundtrack, became – at that point – my own personal soundtrack.

Later I looked up the title of the song. “Now We Are Free.” Couldn’t be more fitting…

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