Maps of my upcoming tripTwo weeks from now I will board a Greyhound bus here in Huntsville, Alabama and thereby set in motion a 2 1/2 month long journey around the United States that I first dreamed of years ago but never allowed to come into reality until now due to fear. It will consist of reconnecting with old friends and (hopefully) meeting new ones, finishing the novel I started way back in 2009, and learning things that at this point I can’t conceive of. My peers who were interested in such life-altering trips all took them years ago. Now that they’re nearly all settled down, at 32 I’m finally ready to join in the adventure.

The majority of my last three years has been spent alone, with few friends or family nearby. Most of that time involved watching my father be overtaken with cancer and die. This trip is the culmination of those three years, along with the rest of my years on this planet – all of which were spent in abject fear of pretty much everything. (In 2004, I tried to put it into words). I have a penchant for naming things and as such have named my trip the 2014 Endings and Beginnings Tour. (Other contenders included the Descent into Poverty Tour, USA A-OK Tour, and the crapamireallyfinallydoingthis? Tour). – {NOTE: Since writing this I realized that my trip is exactly 80 days, something I in no way planned, so it has since been renamed Around the US in 80 days, of course.) Its roots lay in that time of highest awkwardness – puberty.

When I was 13 my sister introduced me to punk rock music. Soon the idea of being in a band and going on tour across the country (and having little money to do it with) captured my imagination. I bought a secondhand drum kit and started to teach myself how to play. It quickly however became evident that I would be going on tour anytime soon. This gave me a valid excuse why such a tour wouldn’t happen and allowed me to disregard the fact that, while excited by the idea, I was truly terrified of such a trip. (Years later when I finally admitted to myself I wasn’t gonna make it as a musician, the dream was then to travel the country/world with a beautiful young woman as my partner in crime, but if you’ve ever read any of this blog before, you’ll know that every relationship I’ve ever had has pretty much been a disaster.)

The only places that I’ve ever felt truly safe were my parents and grandparents homes, along with Walt Disney World. (Yup, that’s right). I never strayed far from home, spending most of my free time writing in my bedroom, creating adventures that I would have been terrified of in real life (including going on a trip – any trip – by myself). Leaving the suburbs of Chicago to go to school in DC was a huge deal for me and a rocky transition to say the least. I barely slept, drank often (including in class), and was sent to psychological services by my friends.

After 3 1/2 years I returned to Illinois to finish school. With a bachelors degree in political science in hand I did the natural thing and went to work at Walt Disney World, terrified of the real world. That was nearly 10 years ago now. Since then I moved back and forth between Chicago and Orlando several times, dreaming often of travel but always having an excuse why I couldn’t.

With few friends left and little to do I learned to live as cheaply as possible, paying off all my student debt and saving the rest. Finally without an excuse I confronted the fear and got myself into a situation where I have 2 1/2 months of constant travel on the horizon. There’s still fear but also the realization of how silly and useless that fear is. And so finally, nearly 20 years after dreaming of touring the country be doing just that. There is no band and no van, just me, a backpack, and public transportation. I leave on April 1 (what better day for a fool’s errand?) and don’t return until June 19. I couldn’t be more excited and I hope you’ll follow along with my journey on this site.

List of confirmed stops (with others potentially in the mix):

* Orlando, Florida
* Greensboro, North Carolina
* Baltimore, Maryland
* Chicago, Illinois
* Rapid City, South Dakota
* Denver, Colorado
* San Diego, California
* Los Angeles, California
* San Francisco, California
* Honolulu, Hawaii

Anyone have any tips for long term travel? Please leave them in the comments below!

Advertisements