Wednesday, January 19, 2011

American Road Trip: 5,000 miles cross-country in search of new home

"Go West, young man!"
Every child has a dream.  When I was a child, I dreamt of moving out West and spending my days amongst the greatest playground of them all; the mountains of the American west.  After I graduated from college, I tried my best to find a job out West that would that would pacify this desire. Unfortunately, not too many people were jumping to give an entry-level job to a twenty-two-year-old journalism graduate from Indiana.  The 3,000 miles between myself and any foreseeable job opportunity did not seem to help.  As anxiety and fear crept in, I began looking for a job closer to home base. Not only did I let that dream die, but I also gave up on finding a job in photography and fine arts and instead decided to pursue some job leads that seemed more promising.  Not too long after, I found myself sitting in a cubicle in Chicago working as an advertising sales rep for the Chicago Tribune Co.  As it turned out, I had landed a great job in a great city.  But, for whom?  It did not take long before the new job and new city lost it's luster and I began looking for a way out of both. 

Less than three years after my arrival in Chicago, I was on a plane bound for San Diego with three of my best friends in search of someplace better. We spent four days seeking out the best San Diego had to offer, but we were sold after day one.  I absolutely fell in love with San Diego. Unfortunately, around the same time, I was also falling in love with a girl I had been dating long distance.  Her name was Christina and we have now been dating for three years. I gave up on the idea of moving out West once again, but this time I knew the reason was worthwhile.  A short time later, Christina left Nashville and moved to Chicago (her hometown) to attend graduate school. Eventually, even after multiple trips out West to scout out potential new homes, I gave up on the idea of moving westward and settled on moving to Nashville with Christina after we made our great escape from Chicago. My house had not sold after nearly a year on the market and I suddenly was feeling too old to uproot and move to a place where I (we) would be completely isolated.  I let the dream die again.  Period.

If you've read even a snippet of this blog, you know that after much turmoil, I made it out of Chicago and down to S. America where I traveled with Christina for 2.5 months. We've now been back from S. America for just less than a month.  But, during our trip up, down and sideways across the continent, I changed.  Travel is a powerful thing.  Walk down a single street in a single country and it can forever change the way you perceive the world. Travel will open your eyes, it will stump and befuddle you and it will deconstruct countless preconceived notions and replace them with an even stranger reality.  All of this leads to an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder at the unknown and an urgency to explore it.  While traveling I saw and experienced things I had only dreamt of.  And, I met people from all walks of life and every age imaginable doing all sorts of unimaginable things. These people broke the mold; the age mold.  And after meeting one too many of these people to count, I realized an important lesson. Something I had tried hard to practice, but always unsuccessfully so; ones life does not have to be lived according to society's prefabricated time line.  I now realize that age REALLY is just a number and not a state of mind or even necessarily a state in ones life.  And, outside of a few biological limitations, you can do whatever the hell you want with it.  If you think you need to own your own home and have children by the time you are twenty seven simply because Ward and June Cleaver did, well-you don't.  So, when we got back from our trip, feeling more empowered than ever and ready to take on the world, we decided that perhaps one more look at the West was in order.  And, one subsequent four day visit to Nashville wiped out any shred of doubt as to whether or not we were ready to move there; we were not. When I left Chicago, I promised myself that I would not compromise and settle for a future that I did not want. Constant compromise is how I found myself staying too long in a job I saw no future in. Certainly, compromise is a part of human interaction and an unavoidable part of life.  But if you have a goal, why not shoot for the goal?  What's the point striving for something slightly less than you actually want?

  So here we are. As I write this post, we are six hours away from beginning our journey across the country and up the Western coast of the United States. My car is brimming with camping gear, luggage and road snacks for the 5,000+ mile journey.   To save money, we plan to stay with friends, camp where possible and eat lots tuna and crackers in lieu of countless Big Macs. Besides exploring our own country and getting the piece of mind I need, our goal for this trip is simple: find a place to call home. Outside of a book on National Parks and a trip outline drafted in chicken scratch, we've planned sparingly for this trip. But, as I've learned lately, this trip is just as much about the journey as the destination. I've included a brief outline of our trip below.  But, if you are reading this and you think you know of a city we may love, please comment and let us know.  

American Road Trip
Chicago, IL --> Denver, CO
Denver, CO --> Moab, UT (camping in both Arches National Park and Canyonlands)
Moab, UT--> Battle Mountain, NV
Battle Mountain, NV--> San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA--> Redwoods National Park (camping for a few nights)
Redwoods National Park--> Portland, OR
Portland, OR--> Seattle, WA

I will continue posting as we arrive in different destinations.  Thanks for following along on this journey.




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