Exploring and traveling has always been a significant part of my life. I was fortunate that my parents introduced my sister and me early. We often took road trips and spent a fair amount of time in the woods camping and canoeing. During grade school and the first few years in high school, I also spent the summers canoeing across Northern Minnesota with Camp Widjiwagan and took a few extended trips with Outward Bound. Even as young as I was, being away from home for long periods of time didn’t faze me and I really enjoyed being in the woods.
As I got older, we emerged from the woods and starting traveling overseas for vacations. We spent a few Christmases in Mexico and the Caribbean and then during high school and college, I volunteered in remote villages in Central and South America before working a summer in Japan.
After college, I started working on political campaigns and even packed up my Jeep once and headed to Iowa to help Senator Bradley get elected President. After that campaign, things took off and I started working more and after a few complicated and busy years, overseas travel wasn’t a part of my life. Looking back it was the first thing to go. 5 years ago, I got a job working with a national nonprofit advocating for sustainable transportation solutions. That meant that I was spending a significant amount of time away from home and I just recently calculated that over that time I traveled somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 days for work. I criss-crossed the country spending time in hundreds of big cities and small towns across 24 states. I’ve been really lucky to have a job that allowed me to see and explore so many different, diverse places across America.
Another excellent benefit of my job was ample vacation time. My boss understands the impacts that our hectic schedules have on us and gives us the time to decompress and reenergize. Three years ago, I saved up my vacation and spent a month backpacking through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Two years ago, I planned it perfectly around the holidays and was able to spend two months kicking around Indochina visiting Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma. When I got back from that trip, I was promoted and one of the conditions was that I couldn’t take my vacation in a lump sum anymore. At the time, I thought it was great, take a long vacation, get a better job. What I’ve learned since is that the long trips are what recharge my batteries.
Well, that almost brings us to today. A few months ago, it started occurring to me that I was working too much; and spending way too much of the last 5 years either in confined little spaces like my home office or a hotel room. Most alarming for me was that I wasn’t enjoying the business travel anymore and was finding it more and more difficult to recharge. Airports changed from inspiring, hopeful places to prisons. After a lot of thought and more than a few cups of coffee worth of advice, I made the decision to take a leave of absence.
I’m still not sure what I’d like to do next in the next chapter of my life, but travel seems like a logical start to it. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had a dream of traveling around the world. In fact, it’s been the only recurring dream I’ve ever had. I still don’t know exactly where I’ll go. All I know is I’ll be starting in Thailand, want to dive as much as I can, and want to try writing regularly.
Apparently I’m a long winded writer, so the last thing I’ll say is that I’ll try my best to write it like it is, but please forgive me if some of my memories have been romanticized or altered to protect the innocent…including this self description.