When I was 6, my Dad first told me about his experience traveling after graduating college. It was 1975 so things were a little different then. But since then, I’ve always had a crazy desire to do something just as fun for a period of time in my young 20’s. Here’s my first post in hopefully finally fulfilling that desire.
My Dad was 22 when he finished at MSU and had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. His degree was in marine fisheries and microbiology and he decided that spending time with fish eggs in a lab in East Lansing wasn’t going to be very fun for him. He packed up a van with some friends and left for There. I don’t think they really knew where There was, but it seemed like a good enough place to go.
After a couple weeks in the car and several thousand miles later, they ended up in Telluride, CO and I’ll never forget the quote my Dad told me when I was little. He told me he said to his buddies, “Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m staying here. This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.” He described the beauty of Telluride as something out of a dream, and he has continued to head west every year to rediscover the beauty of the mountains that he found that winter of 1976. He stayed in Colorado for 1 year working construction and being a ski patrol at Telluride Resort, and has gone back several times since then just to experience again.
I’ll always remember that story because it was the first time (and yes, I realize I was 6), that I realized I wanted to go travel and see new things when I was older. As I got older, I always remembered his story as well, and it made me want to pack up and go There without a real path in mind for getting to it.
Throughout high school and as I approached graduation from Northwestern a couple of years ago, I, unlike most of my friends, resisted applying to jobs. November, December, January rolled by and I “had a plan” when asked by my Mom. April came and I was finished a couple of months early with school, followed closely by May and Senior week in June. Still, “a plan” was all I had. Things with school wrapped up, Olympic Trials finished in July, and I found myself napping on my parents couch a couple times a day and going to bed at 3am just because I wanted to for a week by the middle of the summer. It was miserable.
I finally decided I needed a job, so I applied to a company in Wisconsin, got hired, and started work there in October after a long couple of months drinking beer and wine with my parents on Fridays and Saturdays instead of the usual weekend night of a college kid. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great and I love spending time with them, but 3 straight months was…a lot.
My new plan was to move to Wisconsin, work for a couple years, and “reevaluate” when my 2 years was up to see how I felt. I learned more in 2 years at work than I had in 4 years of undergrad at NU, and it went by so fast. Well, 2 years has now come and gone, and I can very firmly say that after 2 years of work, my desire to go There hasn’t gone away, and is probably stronger than ever right now. My goal to travel involved backpacking for 6 months to a year and just seeing different places around the world. I’d say now that goal is quickly approaching as I’ve been getting a taste of what it could be like through work.
I went to Denmark in May to support a customer of my company, and it was INCREDIBLE. The people, the city of Copenhagen, the food, everything. After a week and a half of work, I went to the Netherlands for another week, rented a car with my friend in Den Boesch, and just drove. Similar to my Dad in 1975, we didn’t really have a plan either. Just two dudes and a manual, 2-door Fiat driving through the Netherlands. Take a moment and just picture that for a second.
Think about it again knowing that neither of us could really drive a stick shift for the first day and a half we had the car, and neither of us can speak Dutch…
The summer came and went and I got asked to go on another work trip overseas. This time to Australia, which I was more than ecstatic about because I’ve never been to Australia before, and this would be my first international experience other than North America and Europe. You can probably guess that with the offer, I immediately said I’d go, which immediately put a new possibility for some adventure on my calendar. I was hoping this would finally give me a better taste of what traveling solo was like as it was something I’d been thinking about fairly seriously for several years.
Well, I’m starting this series now in the hope that it will grow and prosper for the next 1 and a half years or more of adventures. This Friday, I’m heading off to Australia for a mix of work and travel. It’ll be my first experience traveling truly alone, and I’m nervous as hell. A week of work followed by 11 days of just me and whatever bunkmates I meet at the hostels I stay at. I’m hoping by the end of it, I’ll figure out if I’m really cut out to travel solo. I’m hoping so as I feel like work travel is just wetting my appetite.
At the end of my hopefully lengthy travel-blog series, I’ll make it There, and can finally check off this mad hope I’ve had since the first time my Dad told me about getting in a van with his 2 friends and driving west looking for it. Follow me along the way as i keep updates via pictures and writing.