I’m a big “date” person. I usually am really good at remembering dates for certain events. It’s more than just birthdays. The last girlfriend I had, we started dating on 12/13 (Option C, right?). I started the job I just quit on 10/01 (which also happens to be my mom’s birthday, so that’s an easy one). My brother graduated 08/07. I met a friend who turned my world upside down a day later on 08/08. 10/09 will forever leave a bad taste in my memory… and not just because South Carolina beat #1 Alabama on national television 😉
I can’t really explain it. Certain things just stick. I like numbers, so I guess I associate events with the dates and the rest is history (no pun intended).
Add December 7th to that list.
I made it! 13 weeks – three months to the day – on the road.
A quarter of a year. On my own. With nothing but my truck, a backseat full of clothes, and whatever crazy ideas and plans I concocted in my head.
Three months was my original goal. I didn’t have a plan, but I always ballparked being gone anywhere from three to six months. I estimated my budget based on three months – try to stay under $10,000 total, which I roughly equated to $3,000 a month or $100 a day. I don’t have final numbers (since I’m still on the road, obviously), but I think I’m going to make that.
In three months, I’ve seen every contiguous state this country has to offer. I’ve seen the Florida Keys, more college campuses and football stadiums than you can imagine, Death Valley, a zoo in almost every region of the country, Yellowstone, family members, the Space Needle, the sunrise before anyone else in the country, enough of Washington DC to last me a lifetime, but not enough to keep me away forever… The list goes on. And on. And on.
Since I’ve been gone, a lot has happened. I knew nothing about Chilean miners until I showed up in Iowa (the first time) and they were rescued. I normally follow politics pretty closely, but election day came and went without much hoopla on my trip (I did vote absentee though). My brother got engaged (How crazy is that?). Congratulations to Stephen and Tara! I had two amazing friends I used to talk to on a daily basis when I left. Now that I’m near the end of my trip, I haven’t talked to either in weeks. My mindset and attitude has changed. Maybe theirs has too. Things are just different now. It’s good to grow and challenge yourself, but it sucks too. I miss talking to them. But I’ve also become closer with several friends who I had lost touch with prior to my trip. They can’t replace the two I lost, but not all is bad!
Hopefully, in those three months, I’ve pushed some people to try some new things. I know my parents are definitely in that category. That’s beyond amazing to me. I make my mom want to see things I’ve seen. My dad actually came out to travel with me for about a week. And if he keeps his word, once he retires, he’ll be out doing what I’ve done! I expect the favor to be returned and a ride when I need a vacation from whatever job I’m holding, wherever I wind up! 😉 A coworker who I rarely talked to from my old job is one of the more active commenters. A reader sent to me from my mom’s continuous efforts to get people to my blog let me know just a few days ago that her son had all but done the same thing. An ex-girlfriend’s mom probably keeps closer tabs on my journal than the ex-girlfriend, not to mention I’ve given her some DC options to try out on her next visit. It’s just amazing and cool to see the people who have followed me. And more importantly, the connections they’ve made with what I’ve done and the reasons they have for following me.
It’s also been three months by myself. Between the week I spent with my dad, the week I spent in Iowa, and random days here and there with family (Baltimore, Tifton, Auburn, Oklahoma City, etc, etc), I would make a guess that I have spent 10 of the 13 weeks on my own. It’s been amazing to experience the things I have, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard to do alone sometimes. My first night on the road was rough. I was such a different person then and I spent most of the night texting one of the friends I don’t talk to anymore. Just to have some sort of contact and feedback. Florida was hard. The weather didn’t help. And I’m never going back if I can help it. I blew a tire in downtown Houston in rush hour traffic. I handled it just fine, but after I got back in my truck, the pressure and stress of the situation just crashed down on me. In Pennsylvania, I was one night away from pointing my truck South and heading home because I was just at a point where I needed some kind of comfort zone to be in. Luckily, a good night’s sleep and waking up on the right side of the bed was all I needed to point my truck to Cleveland, Ohio and head west instead. But I’ve learned some amazing things because I’m on my own too. I know I no longer want to stay in SC, at least for the time being. I know I can handle a big city on my own (Thanks Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington DC). I know I can make it, on my own, with no one’s help for anything. For three months anyways, which ultimately means the rest of my life, if need be. It’s like a trial run… a test drive… for what’s to come.
And I couldn’t be more excited.
I know I’ve said it a million times before, but thanks to everyone, known and unknown, who has read this blog and followed along throughout my last three months. It means a lot to know I have people interested in something I’m doing that started out as a daydream to get out of a small town and job I didn’t enjoy anymore. And it’s fulfilling to know that I’ve been able to inspire, push, or just simply entertain you enough to keep coming back.
And a special thanks to both my mom and dad for being interested in my trip and there for me when I needed someone to talk to. But also for not being overbearing because your son had a crazy idea to go see the country by himself (I haven’t been raped yet, Momma!). And for the fact that I’d have 75% less comments on my blog without the two of you. Let me know if you ever need a tour guide! I’ll give you a family discount 😉