Friday, June 24, 2011

While One Adventure Ends, A New Adventure Begins

Hi folks, I've taken a brief summer break from the blog, but I'm back and ready to post new summer adventures! Expect to see trips in Oregon, California, Hawaii, Alaska and around my  home state of Washington and my city, Seattle, in the next few months!

(this is a bit of an unfocused ramble, sorry about that)

The real news to write about is that two weeks after coming home from my 6-month Philippines/Cambodia/Thailand/India/Nepal trip I decided to sell all my things and go live around the world.

Coming home was difficult.  My last full day of the SE-Asia/India trip was spent in Kathmandu watching bodies being cremated along the rive, monkeys and deer playing in the park, then drinking beer and watching huge bats from the rooftop of my guest house in Thamel with traveler friends from all over the world.  Needless to say America is different.  I love Seattle, and I was happy to be home but right away it became clear to me that I wasn't ready to return to "normal life". 

I was sorting and cleaning this pile of random items from the trip, and I missed the road 100 times more than I expected to.  As I cleaned and put away each item, I thought about the stories behind them, where they had come from, where they had been, how they had helped me on my journey.  All I could think about was getting out again.  

It is just the right time to do it. First, it is that I really feel passionate about seeing and experiencing the world right now. It seems to me if something is working, keep doing it right? Next, I don't have a lot of responsibilities back home right now; I'm not tied down by a career, a family, or a house.   I had expected to return to my job doing tree care, but work is so slow that I returned without a job to come back to. Also, my rent went up significantly while I was away and without a job I was going to have to leave my place.  Finally, the best reason, you are only young once

People joked before I left on the last trip that I'd never come home, or that I'd totally fall in love with traveling and it would totally reshape my life.  I knew it would be a life-changing experience, but I always felt I'd come home, return to normal, and try to travel a few months here and there over the years.  I've decided that is simply not enough now and the only way to do it is to go all out.  People talk about 'living life to the fullest' but to be honest I know a very small number of people who really do.  I'm not sure if I really am, but I want to make an honest effort.

 Just because it is funny, this is me washing my backpack. I think I blackened the water like this 3-4 times!

Preparations have been in the works for a few weeks now, and one of the things I've been working on is selling off most of my things.  For those who don't know, I live in a pretty big place and I've filled it with a lot of toys.  I have two cars, four chainsaws, a big home theater, four computers, tons of other electronics, the list goes on.  I'm ready to say goodbye to nearly all of it.  I feel like what I own is holding me back from what I want to do, and selling it off not only helps me fund the next adventure but it releases me from those emotional ties I have with some of those items.  It's just stuff, and I'm ready to let go. 

The process of selling things is rather tedious and time consuming, but it is cleansing.  I've really been enjoying sorting through my lifetimes collection of things, remembering the stories behind them, deciding if it stays or goes, and then usually, letting go.  Basically all my large and valuable things are being sold.  I'll end keeping things like cloths that have little resale value and I know I'll use when I return. Probably the same with some kitchen gadgets, outdoor gear and so on, but for the most part it's all being sold and I am happy to see it walk out the door.

I'd have to say the most difficult thing to say goodbye to will be my two cats, Jack and Sven.  I have had them for 4 years, since Jack was just one year old and since Sven was a kitten.  They have been my constant companions in the two years I lived alone and have brought smiles to my face every day.  I would love to have them stay with family or friends until I return some day, but thus far no one has been able to do that.  I don't know where they will end up, but I need to find a good home, and I will miss them.

 Work was something else to say goodbye to.  I've worked with Seattle Tree Preservation for around four years, and it has been great.  I enjoy the work, my boss has been excellent and my coworkers are great.  I'd initially thought I'd have no work when I came back, but eventually I got a day here and a day there.  While it is nice to have the money, I'd already made a lot of summer plans, and I didn't feel like my head was in the game. Telling my boss and coworkers I was leaving was hard (but they were encouraging), the job and the people are another of those emotional ties I have to break in order to live on the road and experience that freedom I seek. 

It turns out I did a pretty poor job of quitting, because I worked today and yesterday, as well as a having a few days next week. I'm sure I'll end up working off and on for the summer.  Oh well, as long as it fits in my schedule I guess it's a good thing, haha.

So what is my plan?  As usual, I only have a vague one.  It begins with enjoying the summer in Seattle, a wonderful time in a fantastic city.  I am making a point in being outside, seeing friends, and traveling the region.  As I said earlier, I have a number of trips planned for the summer.  These include visiting a friend in southern Oregon for a few days, visiting another in northern California for a few days, spending a few days in the San Juan Islands and at my cabin.  The 'more serious' trips are flying to Hawaii for two weeks to visit more friends (Nick and Ellen, good friends who I traveled with in Cambodia and Thailand), and going to Alaska for a week or so and help start my sister and her husbands cabin.  Between that will be all the business I need to take care of in order to leave: namely school, selling my things, and the various administrative issues that come with the paperwork of modern life.  My goal is to leave Seattle in late September. 

As for the 'trip' itself, and I hesitate to call it a trip because it's not really a trip, it's certainly not a vacation. It will be LIFE, I think I will start in Mexico and move south as I see fit.  I hope to spend a few months at a time in places doing humanitarian volunteer work.  I'd love to help rebuild in a disaster zone, or aid refugees, or anything else.  I'm interested in the WWOOF program, in going to a kibbutz, in anything.  I really want to cross an ocean on a boat.  I want to see Africa.  I guess I want to see it all, but I know that isn't possible.  

I don't know how long this will last and I don't know when I'll come home again.  It could be a long time, it could not.  Maybe I'll come home next summer for a few months, maybe I wont.  I have options, I have opportunities, I have freedom to choose my own path.  It's a risk to do something like this, but I don't feel like it's a huge one.  Other than some horrible accident, as I see it the worst thing that could happen is that I get sick of it and fly home, no big deal right?  On the other hand I feel that I have everything to gain.  It's a big world out there with so much to do, to see, to feel, to experience.  

I can't turn back now, and I can't wait to take that step out the door.