4 Months and 20 Days on the Road

40 Things I have learned/experienced in four months and twenty days on the road…

 

 

In this time I have met people who live traveling by sea, I have smoked pot with a 70 year old on a boat, I’ve had my photograph published on a blog dedicated to documenting the adventures of a traveling stuffed squirrel, I’ve snuck into campgrounds and state parks, I’ve encountered wild turkeys, bears, elk, owls, bulls, deer, alligators, armadillos, prairie dogs, manatees, dolphins, turtles, and horses, I’ve visited marine towns, art towns, and small towns across the country, I’ve hiked wetlands, swamps, forests, and mountains, I’ve swam in two springs, a lake, and hiked into a natural hot spring, I went hot tub hopping through a chain of 5 star hotels in St. Petersburg, I visited Ole Miss, I learned to play shuffle board, I rode a bike for the first time in ten years, I rode a tandem bike for the first time ever, I’ve attended a burlesque show and I have legally purchased marijuana. I’ve met artists, travelers, and all sorts of unique individuals with tons of stories, wisdom, and laughter to share, I rode a boat with wild dolphins playing in the wake behind us as our entertainment, I have been to countless museums and art exhibits, I’ve walked beautiful botanical gardens taking anywhere from 30 minutes to 6 hours to explore, I’ve partied with pirates, I’ve slept on strangers’ couches, heck I even lived in a stranger’s car. I have worked with a descendant of Jim Jones, I have danced in a traditional Native American Pow Wow, I have seen countless Indian mounds and a handful of Buddhist/Hindu temples. I went to the Florida State Fair and I traveled the historic Natchez Trace Parkway through Mississippi. I’ve been to a death museum where I got to read hand written letters from famous serial killers, I have visited Wildlife Sanctuaries and attended Rainbow Gatherings, I took up residence at an abandoned house, I’ve met legit mountain people living their lives in tents in the rural abyss, I rode a slingshot up into the air above Daytona beach, I took part in the festivities at Mardi Gras and I spent a week living in the parking lot at a mechanic shop in Baton Rouge. I learned to do an acrobatic-two step dance in Texas and helped a traveling glass-blower sell hatpins and pipes in Red Rocks parking lot. I visited a commune in Tennessee, I got to take part in a small-town bachelor party in Nashville, I camped in Shawnee National Forest and got to have a private cave tour in the Ozarks where I experienced total darkness for the first time in my life. I’ve rounded up strangers for a silly cause and lived with a hippie for a night in Kansas City, I’ve picked up hitchhikers and I’ve visited Dorothy’s house from the Wizard of Oz, I’ve snuck into a spring via an abandoned boat dock and got to swim ten feet from a wild manatee, I have gone on an impromptu bar crawl in downtown Boulder with a mix of old and new friends, I’ve walked out on the country’s highest suspension bridge and smoked down with strangers all over the country. I’ve held a gig mansion-sitting on top of a mountain in Boulder, Colorado, attended an open mic night with locals in the hippiest of towns I’ve ever encountered, I’ve learned to jug and fly, I’ve had my fortune told, I’ve seen countless music acts and got to experience an interpretive theater performance, I’ve stayed at communal houses and I’ve utilized homeless shelters and food pantries. I’ve camped way out in the middle of nowhere in forests in Florida and Louisiana, grasslands in Kansas, and mountain tops in Colorado, I have walked on the very top of the Rocky Mountains, and I’ve even fallen through the snow and almost into a lake on the top of the Rockies. I’ve come face to face with cows on walking trails (the cows won the game of chicken if you’re wondering), and I’ve sat on top of parking garages watching other travelers broadcast their music down to the city below. I have experienced more in the past four months and twenty days than most people do in a lifetime. So what did I take away from all of this?

 

A lot more than I could ever consolidate in a blog post. The stories I’ve heard from the people I’ve met alone were enough to change my life, nonetheless the stories I’ve created for myself to share. But I’ll give it a go.

 

Here is what I have learned/experienced in 4 months and 20 days on the road:

 

  • “You aren’t going anywhere in a hurry in a 1980 Volkswagen” Mechanic in Baton Rouge, LA
    • This is the piece of wisdom the mechanic offered me as we watched the van being lowered off the tow during break down number two. And he was right on so many levels. The van breaks down, the parts are hard to find, and I get stuck in towns that would have otherwise been just a pit stop. Not to mention the van doesn’t go above 55 mph, or 15 mph heading up a mountain side. Big Blue has shared her own lesson with me in my travels and that is that she sets the pace. She has taught me (by force) to slow down and smell the roses, or the burning oil, whatever is available to you at the time.

 

  • You will never know for sure if people are genuine or serial-killer-abductor-rapists.
    • “Trust your instincts” has got to be the most-heard phrase for me on my journey. And while this works to some degree, I’ve had to accept the fact that most of the time the only people around for hundreds of miles are people that I don’t really know. And at the end of the day no matter how fine-tuned my intuition is, I have no idea if the family inviting me in for dinner is going to feed me really awesome food or if my night is about to become the inspiration for the next big horror movie release. In order to make traveling work, it’s required to recognize that hazard, and then just drop it and let destiny take its course. If I had let fear of what could happen make my decisions I would not have experienced all the amazing things I have thus far. Awareness and precaution are always present, but I’ve always believed that it takes risk to gain reward. And so far, I have had nothing but positive outcomes.

 

  • Strangers are awesome.
    • People are infinitely generous. All I have to do is tell people my story and they start searching for a way to help whether that be by offering wisdom, a good travel location, a meal, a home, or a dime. Even those who have nothing to offer find a way to offer a helping hand, which has got to be the best feeling in the world. For instance, a homeless man asking for food on the streets offered me a McDonalds gift card when he heard I needed food. A man selling art for food money offered up the better street location for a friend and I to fly our sign. People will always surprise you with how good they can be.
    • The media makes it seem like bad people are the majority in today’s society. But if you’re looking for them, good people are everywhere. It is almost overwhelming how much good you find when you look for it. My favorite story on this comes from a women who bought me lunch in Louisiana. One day, she decided to pay for the women’s groceries in line behind her at the store. It turns out that the groceries she bought were being used to make a last dinner request for a terminally sick friend. The feeling she gained from this experience was so inspiring that she began to purchase something for the person behind her in line once a week, and she is still going strong! This is my favorite story because it is touching, but also because it is not the only time I have heard this storyline… I meet people who do small deeds all the time because the first time they did it they felt awesome about it. And they learn that the people they impact by doing this typically pick up the trend and start doing it too! Something to ponder next time you think “should or shouldn’t I go out of my way to do this kind deed”.
    • Along with the crazy generous people, I also meet a lot of people who are just outright crazy. This is inevitable when you mix with the homeless and the outsiders. But even these people have a story to tell and a lesson to teach. Often times, though it may take more effort to uncover, what I gain from these people has even more meaning than what the average-joe has to offer. I have learned that society has turned cold in their ability to scan out those who aren’t ‘just like them’. It’s inhumane, unjust, and sad. It’s also a terrible loss to our society. My advice: talk to those people that the average person turns away from. They have a whole lot to say.
    • Something about dreadlocks and a Vdub gives people the inclination that it’s safe to tell me their life story and deepest darkest secrets. And it’s fantastic! I don’t know if these people just assume I must not be judgmental due to my lifestyle, which I’m really not, or if they just see an opportunity to unwind to someone who they probably won’t encounter again. No matter what is encouraging this aspect, I love it. I have learned deeper things about people in the first 3 minutes of meeting them in a grocery store parking lot or in line at the Apple store than I have about people I knew for years back home. I love the feeling of being a safe space for people and allowing them to feel like they don’t have to hold any aspect of themselves back. By seeing this side of humanity I see that everyone is going through something… everyone has a giant monster in their closet that they deal with. And so many people have found ways to grow stronger in spite of that fact. And those who are still struggling with it present an opportunity for me to share my gained wisdom with them. This has to be one of my favorite parts of being on the road. I have given countless people tiny hints of advice or encouragement and seen it go as far as to change their entire lives, pull them from a depression, or help them move past a trauma. It is also really inspiring to try to be this open about myself and my own experiences with people I meet on the road as my encounters are short yet definitely impactful on all parties involved.
    • Strangers often make my day. Sometimes it is unknown- people just being genuinely themselves regardless of being in the public eye, like the guy in a dashiki rocking an afro dancing down the street I witnessed on my way home today. I could almost hear the voice of a fellow traveler I used to people watch with.. “Yeeaah, people doing their thing. It’s so energizing to witness dude”. Sometimes it is people actively trying to make my day better by reaching out to me when I look bored or uncomfortable in a situation. And this happens all the time. It’s truly incredible how awesome strangers can be.
    • Strangers are always down to share their bit of wisdom if you are willing to listen. Being on the road has taught me how much knowledge you can obtain if you spend more time listening than talking. Silence encourages conversation, and where there is a lull people will jump to fill it in. My favorite piece I’ve picked up so far comes from a friend I met on a commune in southern Tennessee. “I believe the purpose of life is to just simply search for the purpose of life”. He went on to explain that we are so deeply inspired to learn and so deeply moved by the mysticism of the unknown. The fact that we will never figure it all out is awesome and daunting at the same time. It inspires art and furthers human evolution. It is crazy. And he is so right.
    • My favorite part as I mentioned above is when strangers seek wisdom from me. This has truly been a life changing part of my experience. I still see myself as a young kid stumbling through life with no direction. But when people learn about what I am doing they assume that I have gained insight and wisdom to share. And it turns out they’re right. I actually have helped people through life situations and have shared wisdom that I have not only learned from other people on the road but have conjured up myself from connecting dots between my own experiences and beliefs. It’s definitely not a position I ever thought I would be in. It turns out it is a really cool feeling to be an inspiration to someone. (See more on this on my last bullet point of this post.)
    • Strangers are always approaching me about my van, my journey, and my life. Driving around in the van is almost like being on tour. People roll down their windows at red lights, run across the street to approach me at gas stations, and I even had one individual ask around an entire coffee shop to find the owner of that van in the parking lot. People are genuinely interested in what I’m doing and are usually stoked when they find out! And people love Big Blue. I even had one individual ask if he could smell the oil while I revved up the engine. “OHHH YEAHHH! Smells like home.” He exclaimed with the most ecstatic look I have ever seen on an adult male’s face before.
  • I often get asked if it ever gets lonely. The answer is obviously yes.
    • Humans are instinctively social creatures. We feign connection. We love to share our experiences with one another. There are times where I think this would be a lot more fun if I had someone with me, like at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, dubbed Green Mardi, in Jackson, Mississippi. There are times where I see something so stunning that I think it’s terribly sad I don’t have someone to share the experience with, like the night sky out in the rural mountains in Tennessee or watching the sunset over the ocean in Florida. But the wealth of experiences I gain totally outweighs any fleeting feeling of loneliness I may encounter. Deep down, I know that no person can really add or subtract from the experiences I have. I still saw those awesome sights and am around to tell my story for those willing to listen. And really, I am meeting so many people that at times it’s hard to imagine how I ever even could feel lonely. And if I was offered the opportunity to take someone with me on my journey long-term, I would probably run from it. It is liberating to be able to do whatever the fuck you want whenever and wherever you want. Every fellow solo traveler I’ve talked to feels the same. And when you are alone, you are open to opportunity. Think of every vacation you have taken with a family member or friend. You are so focused on each other. Being alone forces you to go out and make social interactions, meet locals, and really put yourself out there. There is also something to be said for knowing you have figured it all out without anyone beside you. Every situation you have encountered you have been the one pulling the strings, making things come together… even if that means being the one asking for help.

 

 

  • Contrary to the popular belief that solo travel is lonely, I often feel overwhelmed by the

amount of public exposure and closeness to people.

  • Living in a van means not having optimal privacy. My days are spent directly in the public eye. When I am in cities and have no escape to nature, my days are spent wandering from coffee shop to park to coffee shop. Living on the road really kills your ability to spend a lazy afternoon in the privacy of your home watching TV in your stained t-shirt munching on unhealthy food where no one can see you. You don’t really ever realize how important this down time by yourself is until you have to work to find a way to get it.
  • Living in other peoples’ homes inevitably means having zero time alone. No matter how much you enjoy your host, no matter how generous they are, and no matter how comfortable you may be in their home, the fact of the matter is that you truly sometimes have zero privacy. You may live in their living room, or share a room with another traveler. It sometimes gets to be a bit much when every second of every day for a period of time is spent in the confines of another human being.
  • As I mentioned earlier, the van also brings a lot of attention. There is no such thing as running out to do an errand in peace. I love the amount of interactions it spurs, but there are days where I don’t want to interact with anyone and I no longer really have the luxury of blending in.
  • People think the world is undoubtedly dangerous… especially if you are female and boyfriendless. “Isn’t there some nice strong guy that wants to accompany you on your trip? Why don’t you get a boyfriend and take him with you?!” If I had a penny for every time I heard this I could probably fund the gas for the entirety of my trip. Every female traveler I have talked to bitches about this comment being made to them day in and day out as well. The world is not as scary as you think it is. And just because I am a female doesn’t mean I need a caretaker. I can kick ass better than most guys I know anyways. My answer is always the same… “Because I don’t need one”.
  • People genuinely care about me.
    • Right before starting my journey I was on a class trip in Mexico and a peer of mine shared a bit of wisdom that has fundamentally changed the way I think about others ever since. “People don’t realize how much they are cared for, even by people who don’t really know them. People in class generally care about their peer’s well-being. When our fellow student passed away, everyone shared in grief. People generally want you to be happy just because you exist” This is paraphrased but the point she was getting at is still very surreal. And I think of this conversation every time I get a text from someone I just briefly met during my travels checking to make sure I am still getting along okay. The amount of people that hug me and almost break into tears when I leave and tell me how worried they are going to be and that they are always going to be rooting for me is overwhelmingly beautiful.
    • When people learn what I am doing they often break into a check list to make sure I am prepared, healthy, and safe. Am I checking the oil? Is the van running okay? Have I been eating? Am I carrying protection? People skip boundaries with me and get strait down to the important dirty details. I have actually been asked on more than one occasion how often I’m pooping… something you actually do have to monitor when you don’t have a regular bathroom available to you at all times.
  • The government sucks. Big time.
    • They are super rude to the homeless. In fact, it almost seems as if they are purposely creating a cycle to keep those on the bottom of the pyramid from being able to lift themselves up. These people have nowhere to go and no resources, and yet are ticketed for sleeping on the street and asking passerbys for leftover food and money. Get a job? That usually requires a form of identification, nice clothes, and the ability to shower daily. And conveniently enough you can’t get a state ID without an address. A really great video I was shown that promotes this idea, and other important causes, is Underwear Goes Inside The Pants by Lazyboy. I highly recommend everyone watches it at least once. This kind of treatment applies to the mentally ill as well. These individuals are placed in a box labeled broken, instead of the more appropriate “different”. Its just another way they keep those on the bottom at the bottom no matter how ingenious, resourceful, kind, or giving they are… just because they are different and they threaten the status quo.
    • They are overexposing, commercializing, and depleting the land. They don’t care what the consequence is, they just want to make a dime off of land that isn’t theirs to begin with, it’s everybody’s. The amount of tours offered in vacation spots around the country is stressing out the wildlife and putting strain on the land that isn’t adapted to having so much foot traffic, boat traffic, or any other uses of that matter. And they ruin the ability to truly go out and enjoy the wild for those who actually genuinely appreciate it and want to have a natural, private experience. Encountering wild flora and fauna is so much more exhilarating when it happens naturally, and so much less intimidating and straining for the animals and wildlife being interacted with. And what gives them the right to make money off of these locations and animals anyway? Did the manatees give permission for 6 tours to run through their habitat seven days a week? I’m guessing not.
    • They heavily skew the media. One of the similarities I have seen from state to state is people’s genuine fear of the world. They think that majority of people are bad and that depending on, and trusting, strangers to get by is not a possibility in today’s society. But there are WAYYY more people out there trying to do good and spread light and kindness than there are the opposite. My favorite story emphasizing this comes from a fellow traveler I met on the road who traveled through some of the less vacationed countries in Europe. “I would go to a country and find tons of friendly and generous people. And I would tell them I was going to the neighboring country next and they would say “Oh no! It is way too dangerous to travel alone through that country, the people are awful!” And then I would go there and the people would be great! And I would tell them where I was going next and they would tell me the same thing about the next country. They were all so terrified of each other yet every place I went just seemed to become friendlier and friendlier. So I never listen to people’s judgement about a place anymore. I just go and see for myself. And so far I haven’t found a place where I wasn’t welcomed.”

 

  • Nothing works according to plan
    • Nothing

 

  • “I’ve never been so ecstatic to find a Walmart before being on the road” Couch-surfer in Boulder, CO
    • Heading off on my adventure I envisioned spending every night way out in the vast wilderness with a handful of nights few and far in between spent in Walmart parking lots when on long drives from location to location. The reality has turned out to be quite the opposite. I get so excited about seeing towns, places, and the people I am meeting that I spend far more time in civilization than out in the wild. Another reason for this, as mentioned earlier, is that there is truly a lack of free land in America. Even the websites and apps I have found that allow travelers to share information on free campgrounds half the time winds you up in a location that is no longer good to boondock. There have been many nights I have driven to three or four locations, dead tired, looking for a place to set up for the night. It is a constant struggle to find areas where it is still legal to partake in dispersed camping.
    • I always tell people that living in the van isn’t harder or easier than living in a home, it just a completely different way of life with different benefits and complications. Having no home base is extremely liberating. I love the fact that I have no idea where I will be sleeping most nights. It is also one of the primary complications I warn of. However it is definitely worth the benefits that can be reaped from this lifestyle and to be fair, the majority of my travels so far have been in the eastern states. I am told this part of the journey will become much easier as I branch into the western states with a much vaster selection of uninhabited land.
    • The van shuts in very nicely, curtains cover every window so that no one can see in at all. It almost feels like hanging out in a boat sometimes when I get everything all closed up, especially when the top is up and there is wind ricocheting the tent back and forth. Sometimes I shut in so well I forget I’m at Walmart or on a street in a van and get snapped back to reality by the sound of people or sirens and the idea that I can be kicked out at any second – I’m open to the public’s will in a way. The van may be home… but this isn’t a campground or national forest.
  • “You better bring a lot of books, your gonna have so much more free time than you know what to do with” This was said to me by one of my cousins before leaving home. I had also read this on many travel blogs. I do spend a lot of time reading, however I couldn’t find this statement to be further from the truth. There is so much to do, see, and experience in the world that I almost find it overwhelming at times. I find myself wishing I had many more hours in the day so I could have time to explore, write, read, study, and dance. Even without an agenda, and without a house to maintain and clean, I still find I don’t have nearly as much downtime as I would like.
  • It is really hard to maintain a schedule on the road.
    • The first thing that made me realize this was my dance training. Or lack thereof now. Not only is it hard to schedule a time to be somewhere, but classes, and especially auditions, are expensive.
    • The second was in my attempt to land an online job. Both of which fell through on the employer’s end, however my short experience with them was enough to show how hard it would be to hold a stable schedule.
    • Life is unpredictable on the road. Wifi is fleeting. Plans are uncertain, or nonexistent in the first place.
  • I’m still always late- even with no schedule.
    • Back home I was an extremely busy, over scheduled person. And so naturally it would seem that was the reason for be always being late for everything: events, deadlines, alarms. You set a day and a time, and I will miss it.
    • Apparently, I have an external locus of control. Because I have no schedule, no deadlines, nothing to hold me back. But if I tell myself to be here at this time, or I want to go to that event later today that I have hours and hours ahead of with zero things to accomplish in, I will be late. Without a doubt.
    • I like to do things in the spur of the moment. I feel drastically. I want to do something and I want to do it right now. I don’t feel like doing something? It is almost impossible to motivate me to get up and do it now anyways. This is always leading me to not be on time, even when I’m the one setting the deadlines. This is partly why this lifestyle works for me. A real job? No way. I can’t live life as it comes at me that way. Life on the road allows me to stay precisely in the moment doing exactly what my soul needs right then. Life simply does not get any better than that.
    • This post is going up two days late a week late.
  • “The road will teach you to love and let go” Nahko and Medicine for the People
    • I heard this in a Nahko song about living on the road before setting off on my journey and fell in love with the phrase. I felt I understood its meaning at the time, until the third day of my journey when I went to go say goodbye to Captain Jerry. I had only met him two days ago but he was such a fun and loving soul that it was sad to say goodbye knowing we would likely never cross paths again. And then I strongly felt I understood the depths of the meaning of this phrase. Time and time again, I find myself in the bittersweet scenario of saying goodbye to a person, place, experience, scenario, or phase of my travel… sad to let go but excited to move on. It has become easier as I have truly learned the meaning of being happy it happened instead of sad that it is over. But in a way it is still always hard to see a phase come to an end. I am looking forward to seeing how little I understand the depth of the meaning of learning to love and let go when looking back in the future.
  • The van is my home yet I can feel kind of lost at times
    • There are days, pretty few and far between, that I am not sure what to do with myself. Usually, I have already explored most of the town and the nature available in the area but am staying in town for an event happening in X amount of days and don’t have much to do in the meantime. I usually end up at parks or coffee shops on these days. And even though they start with an uneasy feeling of uncertainty, they usually end up to be the best days spent relaxing or reflecting, and they definitely have the most likelihood of unexpected opportunity.
    • My life is so different than everyone else’s life- I don’t have an agenda. I’m more so watching the maze of people partaking in their everyday lives and examining the difference from location to location. The fact that I have this rare ability to look from the outside in is one of my favorite aspects of being on the road. However from time to time it can make you feel a little lost in the swarm of people with strict direction in their life when you are simply wandering around taking in the blissful experience of just existing.
    • “You’ll realize traveling that everyone out there has their own agenda. It’s not that they don’t care about you, they just don’t have the time to spare to find out about the awesome journey you’re on. So you learn to do your own thing instead of finding ways to blend into society” Friend from Rainbow Gathering in Ocala, Florida
  • People everywhere aspire to do this, but don’t have the courage to walk away from their lives.
    • “You’re my hero” “You are fucking crazy! That’s awesome” “That’s exactly what I want to be doing, but I never could.” “I wish I could travel!” “One day I’m gonna do it! When the time is right” They might as well be saying “I’ll follow my dreams and pursue happiness one day”. The time will never be right people! You just have to make a decision and go for it! People really admire me for doing this. But the truth is, ANYONE can do it. And I am telling people that constantly! There are no requirements to be a traveler. I hadn’t really ever been camping before I set off to live feral. I have zero sense of direction. I can’t read a map. And I learned to drive a stick shift about two months prior to my first 1,000 mile stretch. But I made it just fine. A tiny, and I seriously mean tiny, bit of money, a decent amount of research, and some courage is all anyone needs.
    • And some people listen, they sell their things and hit the road! And that is so cool that they are putting themselves out there and following their dreams. Others say I inspire them to follow their dreams in general, or to live their life in a way that more truly reflects the life they WANT to be living. It is mind-blowing, humbling, and so rad that I can inspire people to go out and make themselves happy; or dare I say: write their own stories.
  • An honestly unbelievable amount of people have lived/ are living out of their cars. The majority of them by choice.
    • From small cars, to SUVs, trucks rigged with campers over the bed, RVs, vans, and I even met one guy living out of a two seater pick-truck with no shelter besides the cab area. And though the majority are late twenties to early thirties, the ages range from teenagers to people in their seventies! Some do it to travel, some do it to save money on rent, some to minimalize, some do it just for the hell of it- they just want to know what it’s like. Most people don’t even flinch when I say I live in my van. They just respond with their story of how they lived in their car and how fun it was!
  • Life is rehearsed I’m tired of small talk, it gets us nowhere. So I have decided to make a goal to elevate at least one conversation a day to something of a deeper importance” Host in St. Petersburg, Florida
    • I have realized from traveling and seeing the same situations play over and over and over that life is mostly rehearsed. People have seen and participated in the same scene many times in life and know exactly how the script goes. Enter joke here, cliché statement to follow up that observation. Oh he isn’t going to jump in and say it? Guess it’s my turn. We have become so accustomed in our society to only creating small talk with the people we encounter in our daily lives that it has almost become taboo to have a deep, real conversation about things that matter and how we feel.
    • I also have realized this flaw in myself. I get asked the same questions being on the road all the time… “What led you to do this?” “Where have you been? What is next?” “What is the van like?” And I unconsciously started playing on repeat, spitting out the already formulated answers verbatim in something closer to practiced muscle memory than engaging conversation. I have since become aware of it and take care to make sure I am always having a genuine conversation in the present as to create a new and unique experience with every individual I meet.

 

  • Sprint has cell towers – NO WHERE
  • Writing on the van pushes me to stay true to myself and to stay present in the moment.
    • This is almost a non-intentional way of putting myself on blast. Anyone that sees me driving down the road can type in the web address and read my story. They can see how I see the world, what my values are, and what I have experienced… what knowledge and abilities I have. It is an extra source of encouragement to stay true to exactly who I am and what I believe. The world is watching. No blending in! As if that was possible anyways.
    • People writing in is really cool. People write in to say they seen me driving in their town or they passed me on the highway. Locals offer up their generosity and offer contact information in case I find myself in need of anything while in town. It is just another example of how supporting and caring strangers can be.

 

  • In some situations, survival mode automatically turns on and takes over.
    • Backing down mountains, facing wildlife, even situations as simple as getting the fridge running or finding water. These are all scenarios where I have become aware that something in me has switched from normal existence to a point of determination to find a way to get through. I had read on many travel blogs that this would happen but I didn’t quite get the extent of it. There truly is something instinctive that happens inside of us when we come to the realization that hey, I am out here on my own and have no choice but to make this work. The brain switches at lightning speed from a sense of panic to a sense of determination… this is what needs to happen and here are my options on how to do it and go!
    • I think the best example of this is when I was alone in the woods with both hands trapped inside the ladder. In excruciating pain and slightly in shock, my brain went from panic to survival at the flip of a switch and ran my options on how I was going to get myself unstuck. Irrational thoughts of I’m gonna die here and I may need to cut my hands off flashed through my mind as well, but my brain was able to quickly jump to the option of shuffling my way back down the rings to gain enough leverage to pull the ladder open with my toes.
  • We take modern luxuries for granted as a society.
    • When you are living in a situation where you are constantly having to rig your situation to work the way things did ‘back home’ and have to be crafty in your search for resources that normally don’t even cross your mind as a necessity because they have been made available to you without any trouble your entire life, you begin to realize how much we take modern luxuries and technology for granted.
    • The best example I can give of this is having a bathroom. I won’t go into detail on this point, but next time you jump up and run to your bathroom, or next time you come in from a hot day and take a shower, be grateful at the fact that you have these luxuries so readily available for your use.
  • Live life like you are on vacation, every day.
    • When I first set off on my trip I was telling everyone how it felt like I was on a permanent vacation. Every day was a vacation. And when you are on vacation, all of a sudden your perception of life alters itself.
    • You don’t say no to opportunities. After all, what else do you have to be doing? And can you be sure this opportunity will ever present itself to you again? After all how often are you in [insert location here]. You become a yes-man. And the things you experience and learn and the people you meet when this is your outlook EVERY DAY is truly fascinating.
    • You don’t let things get you down. You’re here for enjoyment, no time to get frustrated or upset! The restaurant lost your reservation, oh well, there are a ton of other restaurants to try! Your plans fell through? There is an entire city worth of experiences just waiting to be had! And then another one after that! You suddenly become this person that just rolls with the punches.
    • I told people over and over that I hoped I never fell back to the mundane. And though I no longer feel this vacation every day sense as strongly, I use it as a guideline whenever I think I may be having a shitty day or I consider passing up an opportunity.
    • Now imagine if everyone lived every day like they were on vacation.
  • This isn’t a trip anymore, it’s just everyday life.
    • This one is kind of a big one. There isn’t much to say on the topic, but it’s occurred to me lately that I no longer consider this a “trip”. Trips end. This is just life. I just so happen to be choosing to live it differently than most.
  • I think I could travel my entire life and still have more I want to see.
    • Even every place I have been, I have a reason to return to in the future. There is simply so much out there. How could you ever run out of curiosity?
    • “Do you really think you’ll ever actually be satisfied? I think no matter how far you travel there will always be another place, another event, another time of year to be in that location. I don’t think you’ll ever actually satisfy your need to see it all” Friend in Gulfport, Florida
  • I’ve learned about so many places and things through so many different channels- not just my experiences or where I’ve physically been
    • I always research a general region before I arrive. This is where I get the least of my information.
    • To help find interesting things on my travels I am always asking locals for their input. This is where I find my best information.
    • But I am learning about so much more than just the places I am going. When I tell people I’m a traveler it’s like I’m giving them the green light to tell me their best travel story, tricks, and secrets. I’m learning about locations and cultures all over the world. I’m also being cued into the best websites, Facebook groups, and documentaries to learn more.
    • And it’s not just travel! I get to hear about everyone’s specialty trades, hobbies, and interests. I am exposed to so many more topics and events than I ever would at home just by simply being open to the opportunity.
  • People say at the end of traveling they realize everyone everywhere is alike. On some levels this is true, but the cool part about traveling is the vast differences in people based on their geography.
    • No matter where you go, people are genuine, caring, and looking to help you.
    • Most people aspire for happiness, love, and connection. Most people share the same insecurities, have a slight fear of the judgements of others, and wonder about the wellbeing of their future.
    • This is where the similarities end. People’s view on the purpose of life, the level of material richness they desire, the way people talk, the way people relate to you all differ so vastly. And this is just in America! State to state, sometimes even regions within one state, differ so much. You can almost feel the shift in vibe from location to location. And you can almost always tell when you’ve crossed a state line just by looking around.
    • Now imagine traveling to other countries. We are all on some level influenced by the same over-arching principles. But there are countless people in the world living so unbelievably differently than we are. If you’re gypsy hearted like me, this causes a tremendous desire to see every inch of this planet.
    • But at the same time, it is important to realize that it isn’t ALL about seeing it all. Where there is good company and enriching opportunities to be had, it is worth going. Whether that be Kansas or Africa.
  • Stoners are stoners are stoners
    • The one thing I can count on to stay consistent no matter where I go. My fellow stoners are always there to offer an invitation to their circle. Stoners are stoners are stoners; they dress the same, they talk the same, they laugh the same. They are always genuinely inviting, lacking of judgement, and ready to discuss the cosmos and meditation and the purpose of life. Always a good feeling to find my fellow beings upon arriving to a new town.
  • I find myself unable to write as often as I would like.
    • Often times I have no access to wifi, even with two hotspots.
    • I find myself living so much in the now that I don’t have a lot of free time. I see experiencing the experiences as more important than writing them and so will always put an opportunity above my down time to write and reflect. However I know that this part is important too and am avidly working on finding a way to make it part of my daily routine.
    • I also am going through rapid phases during my travels as my life is unpredictable, highly unstable, and often emotion and epiphany filled as I learn from and engage with all sorts of sentient beings.
    • As I am not living the typical societal life, I am always experiencing and searching out unique learning and growth opportunities. Therefore I am taking in experiences and lessons much more rapidly than the average person. I may find 5 experiences in a day that I could write an entire book on! The idea of having so much to reflect and write about can be overbearing in itself at times.
  • The best experiences I have on the road are the ones I can’t talk about.
    • Not that I’m having taboo experiences or anything. Simply, the most profound experiences I have are just that- experiences. They can’t be translated into words that would allow you to feel them. They are just these personal things that I have to treasure and keep for myself. I do my best, but to explain to you how absolutely riveting it is to be sitting writing this on the roof under cover from the downpour while thunder is literally rumbling the mountain all around me and blinding flashes of lightening are pounding at the valley below simply cannot place the feeling of actually experiencing this into your consciousness. Though I sincerely wish I could.

 

  • A lot of people are okay with not benefitting the world.
    • This one surprised me, and took a while for me to understand and accept. A fairly large number of people have expressed to me that their belief is that it is enough to simply exist. If they are happy living off the grid without causing any positive impact in the world, then that’s okay. Many even believe that when presented with an opportunity to help, they should turn it down as to not disrupt the flow of the universe and alter any already set destinies. Some believe that if, for example, Johnny is twelve and cares for his whole family then Johnny is truly a hero and will be rewarded for that in the after-life and by stepping in and offering Johnny assistance, one would be diminishing his reward in the after-life while also diminishing his sense of pride and achievement in this life. And some simply believe that they can’t actually make an impact if they tried.
  • One person can change the world.
    • Simply going out and living the life that makes you happy, following what pulls at your heart, and embracing your soul purpose inspires other people to do the same for themselves.
    • Talking about important issues and personal values helps spread knowledge and information, it causes people to think about things in a way that they normally wouldn’t. It perhaps even causes individual’s to think about topics that they wouldn’t normally ponder at all. In my experiences thus far, simply living according to your values and openly sharing these ideas with others causes a ripple effect- similar to the story of the lady who would buy the groceries of the person behind her in line causing them to go out and do the same for another person later.
    • Even if you do not see the action or change in a person it may come later. I had a professor who called this planting seeds. You leave an idea in their mind that they may do nothing with for hours, days, or even years. But it will grow and grow and one day, they just may react on it.

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