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The Next 5000 Miles

Our route.

Well we’ve pulled the trigger on our mini-quest and are on the road right now. Well not right now, that would just be reckless, but are departing from Wendy’s parents shortly.

Over the next 2-3 weeks we’ll be road tripping over 5000 miles through western US and parts of Canada in my mom’s Toyota Prius, which we swapped the jeep out for. I already feel less prepared for the end times but at least I’ll save around $700 in gas.

Our first stop on the trip is to see some family in Phoenix, AZ. We’ll only be there for the night but I’m looking forward to few hours of debate over current events and speaking to one another in Will Ferrell movie quotes nonetheless.

The next destination will be Austin, TX, with a stop in Roswell, NM along the way to see some aliens. I’ve only been to Austin once before and Wendy has never been, but we’re really looking forward to feasting on delicious BBQ with some dirty hippies. I have faith in our host to make it happen. And of course there are a handful of old friends I can’t wait to see again.

After Austin is where things get a little muddy. We’ll be making a diagonal cut back across the western half of the states, through Utah, and up into Vancouver, Canada. Neither of us have ever been across the northern border, but we hear they’ve got great cafes up there. So far, the only research we’ve done on getting there is agonizing over the length of the little blue line on MapQuest (above).

After we’ve had our fill of canucks we’ll come back down the west coast, stopping for our first visits to Seattle and San Francisco.

For those wondering, this is just the warm-up leg of our BIG trip still in the works. We imagine we’ll embark for that adventure a few weeks after our return from the road trip.

I’ll be updating as frequently as the road allows.

It’s been roughly two months since my last update and I’ve found a few things out in that time.

  1. Two months goes by really fast when you aren’t tied down to a 9-5 schedule.
  2. Black mold sucks. Two sinus infections and a whole lot of sneezing later, we’ve finally moved out of our old dingy house in Costa Mesa. The move was right after one of the wettest winters I can recall, which in combination with terrible insulation, produced some pretty hazardous mildew/mold climbing up our walls.
  3. Moving isn’t nearly as bad when you give yourself a couple of weeks to do it, instead of saving all the work for the final weekend. We dropped off our keys early, conducted a final walkthrough and actually received our entire deposit back after 3+ years as residents… that’s a first for me.
  4. Being sick really kills momentum. On top of the sinus infections I also contracted some volatile flu strain that I’m pretty sure was government engineered. It put me in bed for a full week, and I’m still not 100%.
  5. Time – Direction = Lack of Motivation. Without the set schedule of a job I’ve got a lot of time on my hands now – unfortunately I have no idea what to do with it. This was unexpected and I’m just barely starting to learn how to budget and use my time. I think Wendy is a bit more practiced with this as she’s been pulling 14 hour art sessions to get her Etsy store up and running – the product lines are looking amazing.

As far as travel plans are concerned, those also sort of got lost in the shuffle. We still haven’t booked our tickets, but I’m not too concerned.

I’m more than willing to do this one day at a time and the more immediate travel plans have us headed for Austin, Texas to visit some old friends. Arizona will be a stop along the way and we plan on driving up to Vancouver and down through San Francisco on one of the most scenic return routes ever plotted. (Thanks for lending us the Prius, Mom)

As my energy is coming back and there is actual movement on the horizon, I promise to update this blog more often… famous last words of a blogger, I know.

You’ll just have to trust me.

Travel F.A.Q.

Happy New Years, all!

I’ve been on vacation for a full week and unfortunately have no new forward momentum to report. This is mostly due to the majority of that time being spent with family and friends, and of course a couple of days wasted in one video game or another. It’s vacation after all.

While there isn’t much new content to add I figured I’d take the opportunity to provide more detail on what’s been decided so far. In many recent conversations the travel plans inevitably crop up and I’d like to catalogue the popular questions we’ve been asked here. In part to help paint a clearer picture for anyone following along, and mostly to obligate me to actually fulfill the answers.

  • Q: When are you leaving?
  • A: We’ve tentatively set a goal for the end of March, though we’re not 100% committed as we still haven’t purchased tickets and there is a list of things we need to get done before we go.

  • Q: Why Spain?
  • A: Spain is actually just one destination of many, though we eventually hope to make it a more long-term residence. Due to the Schengen visa system and the time it takes to procure more permanent visas we may need to float for some time from country to country. There are 25 countries in the Schengen Treaty which essentially means we can only stay for 90 days out of 180 in the participating countries. This is most of western Europe.

    Until we get our Spanish residence visa (could take beyond a year) we’ll alternate between regions for the latter 90 days, spending time in the UK, Switzerland, Poland, Turkey, Morocco and other nearby countries.

  • Q: Ok, but why Spain?
  • A: Well there are a number of reasons. But to clarify the main points, outside of Spain’s sheer beauty, I want to learn Spanish, Wendy would like to acquire a tattoo apprenticeship and we’d like to do both in Europe. She’ll need at least a year to dedicate to the apprenticeship and it will take me at least that long to learn Spanish from the source, through immersion and classes.

  • Q: Will you be working?
  • A: Sort of. There are no hard and fast plans on how we’ll generate income but we’re both working on a few projects to sustain our travels. We will check out the part-time job market when we get there and when push comes to shove I’ve been putting away for some time now.

    However, I have no intention of depleting my small cash cache. I do intend to use a portion to set up one or more automated revenue generating eCommerce ventures. This is still in the concept phases but I’ll be able to divulge more information as plans coalesce. I’ve successfully done it before and I can do it again. This is one of the important things we need to do before we go.

    Aside from this, we’re definitely open to picking up odd jobs along the way. Teaching English, tending bar, hospitality services – all ways to make a few extra bucks but more importantly avenues for meeting new people and understanding the culture.

  • Q: When are you coming back?
  • A: Again, we aren’t setting anything in stone as far as duration and location is concerned. We have absolutely no idea what to expect or how this trip will change us. We want this event to be organic and free-form, without a lot of strict itineraries or concrete plans. If we hate it we’ll be back in short order (doubtful). If we love it we could be there awhile.

    The one thing we know for sure – we have absolute plans to come back on as regular a basis as we can manage. The holidays are a huge deal in my family and I can’t imagine not being with them during those times.

  • Q: Haven’t you ever seen Locked Up Abroad?
  • A: While we sincerely appreciate the concern for our well being we’d like to confirm for everyone that we are not at this time entertaining the option to smuggle illicit substances across international borders. We may however be convinced to order an extra brownie for the walk home while in Amsterdam.

I’m sure there are a few questions I might be missing here so if there is anything else you’d like to know feel free to email, call or comment.

 

My Cliche Travel Blog

This blog is intended for the family and friends that care enough to follow the journey in which Wendy and I are about to embark. While I doubt there will be timeless insights or proverbs to absorb from our upcoming travels, I do trust that it will be an adventure. An adventure born of wanderlust and curiosity.

To catch those up who have not been in earshot lately, I’ve recently resigned my position as a producer for Blizzard Entertainment’s Online Technologies department to pursue a life of travel. We hope for a road of experience, culture, language, international cuisine, but most importantly a road of personal fulfillment and self-awareness.

Neither Wendy or I believe we’ve found our true callings, so we strike out into the great unknown to find ourselves and find our happiness. As my Uncle Bob calls it, a “trip of discovery”.

The course has yet to be plotted, but we aim to begin the trip some time in late-March in Amsterdam, to Spain and on to Italy. We’re not limiting ourselves to a set timeline for each. We’ll simply float, stay as long as we enjoy the surroundings and move on when we’re ready.

We aren’t the first to take this leap and we definitely will not be the last.

The decision was not an easy one to make. With a laundry list of logical counter-points to consider (departing a comfortable paying job with benefits, shitty economy, worried mother) and a host of even more irrational fears (a Spaniard stealing Wendy, dirty socks and dirtier underwear) there was really only one choice – close my eyes and jump.

This strategy came easier to Wendy than myself, as I’ve created a structured world of risk-free decision making, with little fear of long-term consequences, for myself. Unfortunately, this means a sheltered life of inexperience and boredom. How can one achieve great things if they aren’t willing to risk anything?

It’s with this question in mind that I close my eyes and jump from the realm of security to a wider and richer world of uncertainty.

My last day with Blizzard is January 7th. The following day I’ll celebrate my 28th birthday with great friends and mentally mark the occasion as a milestone to remember. A turning point in which I shed the plush prison I unwittingly erected for myself somewhere along the way.

Hopefully the first of many milestones.

Follow along if you’d like and take from it what you will.