RETIRED AT 26 YEARS OLD?!
This past year I rearranged the normal by deciding to take my retirement from my career as a Mechanical Engineer at the tender age of 26 years young. There were a few different factors involved in this decision but the main reason was that I couldn’t sit still working for the man and taking orders from other people. I had to experience what else was out there before I was too old to enjoy every aspect of travel and adventure that was available to me.
Even being only 26, I had already passed up 2 different opportunities to travel that were available to me when I graduated college and I had always regretted those decisions greatly. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me when the 3rd chance came knocking at my door. Partnered with a college friend/former roommate, we set out on a road trip that headed West across the United States and eventually zig-zag looped its way back to Upstate New York where the trip had began 66 days prior. Our journey took us to everything from the depths of National Parks during the NPS centennial year celebration to Las Vegas on Independence Day to viewing an action sports competition in Salt Lake City.
I have a journal full of fun, thrilling and adventurous stories from this trip that I kept as the days went on and will be sharing my thoughts and experiences for others as inspiration that everyone should get out and follow what they want to do, not what is “normal” and expected of you. This trip allowed me to learn unbelievable amounts through both self-realization and through my interactions with the vast array of people we met along the way. I hope that my words and stories can inspire you and feel free to write to me personally to discuss what I’ve been through.
The following is where the story begins, Day 0, The Decision…
Day 0: The best decisions come when you’re drinking
It all begins like many other stories in Buffalo, over a night of drinks and debauchery. During the early months of winter 2015 my friend (John) began to explain to our group of friends this plan he had for the upcoming spring/summer of 2016. The broad plan of this trip was to buy a touring motorcycle, quit his job, drive around the United States all summer and just go explore. He explained that he was telling his friends about this plan as he had thought about it for years but never committed to actually doing it. His brilliant idea was that if his friends knew he was wanting to do this then they wouldn’t let him live it down if he bitched out and backed out again. Peer Pressure! Peer Pressure! Peer Pressure! The problem now is that I too have had the motive to do something similar but never had as well (because I was a little bitch and couldn’t commit either). Now knowing that one of my friends wanted to do a similar journey I was hooked on the idea. I drunkenly and emphatically made the decision I would be on board, quit my job and join the journey. The best decisions come when you’re drinking. My parents sure were going to be proud of me for this one!
One problem with this decision is even though I had a motorcycle license I didn’t have a motorcycle, nor had I even rode one on an actual road. A whole summer of this would be quite the journey and I probably wouldn’t make it back alive. It would definitely add to this story for me to just pretend like I went for it, but I decided it’d be much more feasible to just convince John to do the trip in a car. Of course this decision came with the next difficulty of what vehicle do we take!? Johnny had a manual transmission Nissan that was on its final legs of its life and I had a Ford (Exploder) Explorer that sounded like it had rocks in the muffler and had the great gas mileage of 17mpg on the highway. That would be a fantastic economical decision on a 13,000 mile journey. Our other idea was that we buy a cheap craigslist car together, then sell it when the trip is complete. We had no clue what we were doing!
As I explained earlier, the best decisions come when you’re drinking. We now had a decision to make regarding the vehicle for our trip so obviously we started drinking. After throwing some beers back I realized I wasn’t the best at driving a stick shift and a summer on the road would not boast too well in a sedan either. We needed more space and even though my car was about to fall apart, we needed to take my vehicle on this trip. End drinking scene, progress to the next day, insert hangover and realization that I now not only have committed to quitting my job to go on a road trip, I have volunteered to put a year’s worth of miles on my vehicle (which will probably fall apart mid trip) in just 2 months’ time. Maybe these aren’t the best decisions, oh well I guess we’ll see where this takes us…
Be sure to follow me and check back on my upcoming posts to read more about the exciting journey that unfolds. There are plenty more stories and photos of the ups and downs that occur during 9 weeks on the road.