Before KC and I quit our jobs, we thought long and hard about what it will cost to do this trip. To walk away from secure jobs, especially after a bad recession, is not an easy thing to do. For that matter, selling our house and getting rid of everything in it (except a few keepsakes) was no easy task either. To top it off, we had to leave most of our friends and family, behind for this time. So, we had to ask ourselves, how important is it that we go on this trip?
Although many people consider what we are doing a vacation, this trip is not a vacation. Vacations are breaks you take to refresh your self from normal life. When you are done, you go back to your normal life. Our “normal life” no longer exists (after all, we quit our jobs and have no physical place to call home). This is a year of travel, a year to fulfill a calling to work on water projects, and a year to be free of schedules to have time to reflect, to write, and to be in the moment. With these goals, this trip more resembles a Sabbatical Year. (Note: This is not be confused with be confused with a Sabbatical Leave; KC and I both quit our jobs for this trip and don’t have jobs waiting for us).
I’m not sure what life will look like at the end of the year, which both thrills and scares me.
Thoughts on Being Outdoors:
“The mountains are calling and I must go” – John Muir
John Muir’s quote rings true to this suburban girl. Even though I’m sure more than Mountains called to John Muir, this quote seems a little limiting. The oceans, rivers, and lakes are calling and I must go. The deserts are calling and I must go. The rock faces are calling and I must go. The unexplored (by me) wilderness is calling and I most go.
Now that we are on this trip, there is a peace to answering the call, even on the rainy and freezing cold days. Even in the discomfort of the unpredictable weather, there is a joy to being outside, able to explore and interact with nature through hiking, climbing, running, and camping. I find myself thanking God for that everyday.
Thoughts on Travel:
There is the curiosity within KC and me to see what’s around the corner. We want to see other places and experience other cultures. Not just as a passerby with a strict schedule to follow on a prepackaged tour, but as a traveler who can take the unscheduled and less traveled roads. Hopefully, leading to fuller experiences of the places we travel and allowing more spontaneity in our travels. We like the ability to spontaneously say yes and run off on a spur of the moment trip that under a schedule would not be possible. While in Utah, we had plans to travel first to the southwestern part of the state, then travel east, but a couple of friends invited us to climb with them in Moab, on the eastern side of Utah, when we planned on being on the other side of the state. That turned out to be a great time climbing and camping with some awesome people and even led to another camping and hiking adventure with a new friend.
Thoughts on Water Projects and Civil Engineering in General:
When I considered what career I wanted to get into as a teenager, I was convinced (and still am) that becoming a civil engineer would be the best opportunity to do the most good. At the time, it was because I heard about clean water issues around the world. Having clean water can mean the difference between life and death in areas with little to no clean water and can mean the difference in being able to regularly going to school or work in areas where clean water is a long walking distance away or where the water makes you sick, but is not lethal. Providing access to clean water, affects an area’s health, living, and education standards.
Since then, I’ve realized that not only does my education and experience give me the tools to work with water, it gives me the ability to work with other types of infrastructure. I know how to survey, manage construction projects, design roads, channels, and to analyze the hydrology of an area, among other civil engineering related skills. All these tools are useful for more than just water. I considered this when I heard about the recent earthquake in Nepal and started thinking about areas that need other types of infrastructure beside access to clean water. This has KC and I thinking about what other projects we can do in addition to clean water projects.
Thoughts on Being Free from a schedule:
Ok, so KC and I aren’t completely free of a schedule yet. We have two friends that we are planning to visit in the next two weeks and we have to be in Florida by May 20 for family. However, those two friends, as well as our friends in Utah have been kind enough to be flexible with us (we are very grateful because we know they are all very busy) and we have been able to minimize the planning and allow some spontaneity in our travels.
The first two weeks of the trip were scheduled with all our campsites and hotels reserved a few months in advance and it wasn’t until we left Portland, Oregon, that we didn’t have anything scheduled between seeing some friends in a week’s time. As KC and I were sitting in a brewery in Bend, Oregon, both of us had a moment of panic. We realized that for the first time, we didn’t have a reservation or plan for where we were going to stay that night and it was sunset. There was definitely the “oh shit” moment. After a few stunned minutes, we pulled ourselves together and started talking about where we wanted to go the next day, the options we have between here, and there and made a decision. I look back at that moment now and laugh a little. Since then, we have enjoyed the planning as we go.
It has been great to have the ability to take a slow day when we need it, to decide to completely change our plans to meet up with friends, or to add a new destination to our road trip that we didn’t originally plan to see.