I had always dreamt of traveling the world. To take off in my car, to see what was at the end of the road.
But a few years ago, that adventurous dream I had growing up faded. And I found myself locked into a career as an Accountant. I spend my days in business casual, smoozing with the higher ranked businessmen, looking to climb the corporate ladder, dreaming of the future in dollar signs.
I had dedicated myself to financial security. And finally, as I was on the cusp of landing the job that would grant me that security, everything felt wrong.
With a spark of inspiration... and a bit of insomnia, one night I drew an outline of my dream road trip - spanning the North American continent. Roughly 20,000 miles of unfamiliar territory (to me).
I convinced my friend from work, Kate, to jump in for the adventure. So with a few thousand dollars, and a beat up Corolla... we took off to see what we could see, and how far we could make it.
We cruised up the coast starting at my place in Southern California. I’ll never forget the freedom I felt taking off. This was the first time in my life that I had made a decision completely for myself. It was not determined by what I “should” do. It was not to make my family happy, and it definitely was not going to put me ahead by society's standards. It was purely to chase a dream I had had since I was a kid.
All of a sudden, I had time to sit around. To jump off cliffs for the heck of it. To re-find the peace that I found as a little boy exploring the outdoors.
We hiked the Skyline Divide Trail, in the North Cascades. The first day we camped in the clouds. Woke up the second day in the clouds still, always wondering what the view looked like. The morning of the third day, we woke up to this. I couldn’t believe my eyes… One of the best sunrises I’ve experienced.
We eventually made it up to the Canadian Rockies, and saw the fabled Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Maligne Lake… We spent our days swimming, and celebrating the fact that all the pictures we had seen were coming to life. But in the pictures you just can’t dive in to feel how cold this water really is.
Montana was a nice surprise for us. Nobody around, a good place to catch our breath after the madness in the Canadian Rockies. Here’s Kate perfecting her cairn making skills. That one is 15 layers tall.
Kate is originally from Idaho .So when we got down there, she called on some of her local connections to guide us up the Grand Teton. Here’s a photo that Kate took of me making my way up the Grand, looking out to Middle Teton.
We originally planned to head east for the fall colors… but just as we switched directions, I clipped a big black cow in the back roads of Wyoming. So we ended up hanging around Idaho/ Utah for a few weeks while fixing the car. In the process picking up a local Utahan, my buddy Nate.
By far, one of the most mind blowing places we visited was Vermillion Cliffs (the Wave) on the border of Utah and Arizona. It seemed straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.
With the new addition of Nate to the group, we now were packing a paddle board. So as a last minute decision we rerouted to Havasupai. We had this vision of being the first to hike in a paddleboard to those neon blue pools. Not sure if we were the first, but the fact that we pulled it off seemed a big enough accomplishment as any.
We dipped into Mexico with the idea of jetting thru as fast as we could. But ended up finding some of the most epic spots of the trip! Like this waterfall in San Luis de Potosi. Forever grateful for the local construction worker, who tipped us off on where it was.
We hit Cenote Samula, in the Yucatan Peninsula early one morning. I’ll never forget the sounds that place makes. How loud the water dripping from the ceiling is. And the sun rays were out of this world.
We hit a few historical ruins along the way. Our favorite was Tikal, Guatemala. Although you’re not able to go inside, we were able to climb the steps, check out the view from the top, and imagine how it would be to live there hundreds of years ago.
Summiting Cerro Negro in Nicaragua was tough with big wooden planks on our backs… but sliding down made it all worth it in the end - Volcano Boarding - something any adrenaline junky should try.
Not sure why, but the farther south we went, the more vibrant the sunsets were. Like this one we caught in Playa Maderas, after a long day of surf.
Eventually we made it to Costa Rica. This was one of my favorite camp spots of the trip. I’ll never forget sleeping to that waterfall all night.
We made it as far south as San Blas Islands, Panama. I ended up selling my car in Costa Rica and we both flew back for Christmas with the family. The odometer read 25,000 miles. We spanned all 10 North American countries, and all the western states.
What I thought would be a very random trip turned into my new lifestyle. I started to make friends via social media, with similar values. I learned how to take photos and capture some of the joy that I have found in nature.