Yesterday I took a leap.
I’ve begun an enormous road trip across country to at least two of the corners of the continental United States. I’m taking a meandering route over to Portland, OR, then down the Pacific coast to LA, or perhaps San Diego, and then winding my way back through the southern and middle portions of the country. The idea for this trip just came to mind a couple weeks ago, but it seems that several inspirations and influences had been conspiring in my subconscious for a while to make it happen….
The first influence is frankly the show Supernatural :D. It is actually a good show, both from a sci-fi / fantasy perspective and as a character driven buddy show. The two Winchester brothers as played by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki really do have amazing on-screen chemistry and clearly enjoyed making the show (for goodness’ sake, it lasted 15 seasons). But most of all they have amazing adventures. Even per the series’ creator Eric Kripke, the show ostensibly is about the great American adventure, and the characters exemplify this by literally driving to every nook and cranny of the country. They jump in their trusty Dodge charger, “Baby” (which is a great episode in itself!), and drive off on long trips with cheap motel stops to all manner of small towns and cities from coast to coast. The regular people they met, an interesting stories they uncovered, fantastical or not, always sat in the back of my brain as inspiration waiting for the opportunity to strike.
The second influence was my family’s old friend and homeopathic doctor (more on homeopathy in a separate blog post at some point – it’s probably not what you think) who I’ve learned to trust because she’s given me excellence advice over the years—at least in retrospect and from a long-term perspective (I don’t often like hearing it in the moment). She had recently encouraged me to do more traveling, even if it’s local and cheap and not the long distance jet setting I used to do in my previous career as a consultant. I realized after she suggested this that really she was just feeding back my own desires to me in a way that maybe I needed to hear. Without it really sticking in my own memory, I’d told her on several occasions that I feel so free and alive and have so much more energy when I’m traveling, even with less sleep, no home base, and constant uncertainty. And since I can (obviously) pursue my goal of writing no matter where I am, why not take the trusty laptop on the road? Well, she’s right, although in my defense, sometimes it takes a third party to tell us what we already know, or at least to remind us of what we often forget.
The third influence was some friends from England who visited me in Philly. It wasn’t their visit itself that was the inspiration (although I’m very happy they visited and we had a amazing time! :D ), but it was in cleaning and preparing for their visit actually that I ended up fixing and updating an old set of maps that I’ve had since college. In the act of cleaning, re-backing, and updating the maps by sticking some cheap “map pins” where I’d traveled to previously, I realized just how much more of the world and my nation that I have yet to see.
The fourth inspiration is my friend Yalda who I met during a group trip to Argentina last October. During the planned trip she occasionally went off an did her own thing, which in itself is pretty normal—lots of people work remotely these days. But as we all got to know each other, it came out that Yalda lives a fairly peripatetic lifestyle in general: she is a psychiatrist who consults with news media in addition to her private practice, but in between media appearances, she basically lives on the road. Her suitcase and trusty laptop travel around the world with her, exploring new places, meeting new people, and working wherever she goes. I’d worked remotely for 7 years, but I guess my imagination had been on vacation during that time, since the idea of exploring so much while working just never occurred to me. So, thank you Yalda for reminding and inspiring me that there are many different ways of living and so much to see in the world, so why not combine both?
Before I get to the final influence, I should also mention one key factor is that I’m unemployed at the moment. I quit my career of seven and a half years in order to both take a break, since it was wearing very thin (at least at my particular previous employer), but also to write, which has been a goal of mine since high school. In fact, I’m working on a book about some previous travel experiences that I hope to get published in the next 3 or 4 months (no choice but to get it done now, since too many people know about it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). So I’ve been writing, working some odd jobs, and burning through savings (since we’re all fucked in the future anyway, why not live life Now?). But the idea to do this on the road and to use the time I have now to road trip just never occurred to me. Maybe I’m a homebody at heart.
Which brings me to the final key influence and inspiration that tied everything else together and solidified this in my mind—my amazing sister Jolanta. She mentioned to me in passing that she plans on taking a road trip of her own this winter (taking the southern route). It didn’t dawn on me until a couple of days after she mentioned it just how much of a fantastic idea it was, and all of a sudden all these other influences that I’ve mentioned glommed together into a snowball of inevitability and it became a fully-fledged idea to take off in my car and drive across country myself.
So, yesterday marked the first day of my trip! I thought I’d have plenty of time to plan things out in detail (as is my perfectionistic, type-A wont) but alas, life always finds a way…to get in the way. I’d gotten as far as creating a spreadsheet [nerd emoji] and listing out some key places I’d like to visit, and creating a Google map for it to estimate distances, but then lots of other things to close out kept cropping up. I decided to stick to a departure date regardless. This definitely freaked me out as that date approached. But, apparently I’ve gotten better at winging it over the years. Perhaps because I’ve gotten used to discomfort. In fact perhaps that’s one of the secrets to a joyful life—not that you get to a place of it always being easy, but rather that you get to a place where not only the ups but also the downs and periods of discomfort can themselves be comfortable in a way.
Thursday night (September 14th), after finally finishing packing around midnight, I did manage to quickly finalize and book lodgings at least for the first week of the trip. It’s freeing to be unplanned! Back to Supernatural, you never know who and what you’re going to encounter on an adventure like this.
So dear reader, thank you for joining me on this adventure! I aim to post something every day, but in reality it will likely be every two or three days depending on internet access. After this kickoff post, I intend to have a different entry for every location that I end up in. This is a personal goal as much as a presentational one, because I plan specifically to drive no more than five or so hours a day so that I have time to actually wander and explore the various stops that I make along the way. Hopefully this will allow my subconscious to fully absorb and appreciate the experiences I have. So, definitely follow along here on my website, although I’ll also be posting reminders and links on Instagram and Facebook and Threads as I write each post.
Next up: Pittsburgh, PA!