Well, it's over. I'm back. In case you've missed it, I've been on a two-week road trip that took us from Pennsylvania to California and back again. You can catch up on the other #TilTheWheelsComeOff posts here. It's been pretty hectic for me since getting back, but I thought I'd wrap up this trip with a final recap, a few pictures (including the photo grab of the trip), and some thoughts for anyone who thinks they can't do anything like this.
Total Miles: 7,647 Total States: 11 (PA, OH, IN, IL, MO, KA, CO, UT, AZ, NV, CA) Total National Parks: 10 (Black Canyon, Mesa Verde, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Zion, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, Great Basin, Rocky Mountain) Highlight Cities/Towns: Colorado Springs (CO), Telluride (CO), Flagstaff (AZ), Las Vegas (NV), Santa Cruz (CA), San Francisco (CA), Lake Tahoe (CA/NV), Fort Collins (CO), Springfield (MO)
Most (Over)Used Word/Phrase
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How was your trip? A: ...Pretty great. (I really don't know how else to answer the question when people ask me.)
Q: Did you like it? A: ...Yes? (Seriously, I love you, friends--but these are real questions I get.)
Q: How much time did you get to spend in __________? A: Not a lot. This trip, from the outset, was planned to be like a flight of beers at a brewery--just a sample, a taste of several places. We tore through the Rockies/west, saw so much, and now have a great idea of what we'd like to explore more.
Q: What was your favorite place? A: This is a really hard question to answer. My favorite national park to be in was Zion (I need more time in Yosemite). My favorite city/town was San Francisco. My favorite drive is a tie: the drive through Rocky Mountain National Park and the drive up Route 1 in California along the coast were both amazing. My favorite state: by a wide stretch, Kansas. A really wide, really flat, really boring, really sarcastic stretch.
Q: Did you guys get sick of each other? A: Other than a four-day stretch in which Ryan and I were perpetually in character "Ew!"ing and Jason probably wanting to kill us and/or himself, no, I don't think so. You can only do this kind of trip with a certain kind of person (or I only want to with a certain kind of person). I was so glad to be on a trip like this with guys who are flexible and don't freak out about little things or changed plans. And who can talk about anything and everything under the sun and allow each other to disagree.
Q: Would you do it again? A: If you're asking if I regretted doing it, then no--I don't regret it at all and would do it again. I wouldn't literally do this trip again, though. Now I have plans to take a whole trip to Yosemitie, and another trip to Vegas/Zion, and another to San Fran, etc.
Q: What next? A: Very immediately, I need to sleep. A lot. Beyond that, I'll be in LA next week to visit some awesome friends for a week. I've also already begun to lay the groundwork and set aside money for a two- or three-week trip to Europe next summer. If you've been there and have advice, I'd love to hear it.
And if someone makes a compelling enough case, I could be roped into one last crazy adventure before the summer's up. I'm all ears.
Why You Can Do This, Too
A number of people have expressed to me how lucky I am to be able to do a trip like this.
I'm fortunate, yes. And it helps that my job as a teacher provides a natural "break" to go on a long trip.
But even if you're not a single teacher in his twenties with no kids and some disposable income, you can do something like this, too. Maybe not for two weeks. Maybe not in the exact way I did mine. But you can do what you want.
I might have an easier time setting up a trip like this than some of you, but make no mistake--this trip didn't come about by magic. It didn't just fall into my lap and make itself happen. Do you want to know the most important thing I did to make this trip a reality?
I decided to make it happen.
I didn't just say, "Man, I'd love to do a road trip someday." Or "I'd love to see the west coast--that would be so cool."
In December 2013, I said to myself, "This road trip is happening." And then I asked people how much it would cost. And then I looked at my budget. Within a week of making the decision, I put a plan in place to sacrifice certain elements of my life to set aside money every month until I had enough to go this summer.
That's a snapshot of the myriad of small decisions I had to make and set in motion to make this real.
Maybe the amount of money you're able to sacrifice would mean you couldn't do a trip for another four years. So be it--four years from now is better than never. And working toward a goal, I've found, gives you a bit more zest, a bit more drive, a bit more satisfaction every day.
I've heard so many of my friends talk about what they want to do, and it's usually followed by "Maybe someday" or "I can't really do that."
Can I politely call BS on you?
I don't think you really want to do it. I think you want to talk about it and daydream about it. If you really want it, then start aligning your decisions to reflect that.
There is so much more in this life that is possible and attainable than your attitudes and habits have told you is possible. It starts with deciding to do something.
Then take another step.
Maybe what you want is a trip. Maybe what you want is to have a different job or work in another field. Maybe what you want is something else entirely.
It's time to stop dealing in the abstract and imaginary, then. It's time to make things concrete. No more excuses.
It's your turn to annoy me with your Facebook and Instagram photos, and your presumptuous blog posts with a self-assigned hashtag.
I can't wait.