We all know 2020 was rough. Well, 2021 came and with it came vaccinations, the reopening of society, and lots of us that have been cooped up in our homes living in a world full of restrictions yearning to break free. The travel industry is booming! And for good reason. After the dark ages comes the enlightenment after all. People have had major shifts to their lives, their work, and have had a moment to stop and reflect on what really matters to them and what they would like to do.
My wife and I have long talked about this idea, the great American road trip. We wanted to drive from coast to coast and see this country first hand. We wanted to not just fly or speed through the land and arrive at some destination but to soak it all in. To see landscapes we never saw before, to meet people living different lives, to see all the oddball roadside America stuff like The Worlds Largest Popcorn Ball (it’s in Sac City, Iowa), The House on The Rock in Wisconsin, and all the other sights large and small across the vastness of America.
“You don’t want to be the best at what you do. You want to be the only one.” – Jerry Garcia
But you know, life always got in the way. No way both of us could take that much time off work, we needed to replace the roof first, the kitchen needs redone, we have events scheduled and things to attend and man how much will this cost are we really going to take a month off and travel? Hotels and food and gas and tolls and on and on and on. So we kept talking about it, and not doing it, and hoping one day we would get prepared enough or ready enough or planned enough.
So several items fell into place and made the time ripe to go. The big one was the incentive. Working remotely made travel possible but I made a commitment in the heat of my 2020 breakdown that when I got out of that I was going to live a bigger life. Let me say again, LIVE A BIGGER LIFE. My life, as great as it was, had gotten smaller and smaller over the years. I wasn’t experiencing new things or going new places. I spent all my time in the mat room, I obsessed, I over trained, I trained injured, I woke up early I stayed up late and I made time to try to lift weights and shoot on occasion but that’s about it. In a world where “embrace the grind” is a motto to live and die by I felt pretty good about that. To be fair, if that’s your thing then cool, it was mine and was extremely rewarding to me for a long time.
But as I laid on my couch in the depths of depression and pain I had thought about all those things I had not done. I understood then that while training and martial arts where part of my life, I did not want them to be my entire life. I wanted a bigger life, I wanted more experiences, I wanted to spend my time differently than I had been.
I’ve said before I long had a phobia of dogs. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure, and work I was able to go from crossing the street if someone was walking a dog to going to an animal shelter and walking a rescue dog and enjoying it. On this road trip I visited a friend of mine in Seattle. I asked him to take us on a hike when we got there. He said hey man lots of people take their dogs on these trails your probably not going to be able to avoid it they can get narrow. (Check that out, real friends practice consideration) I was like nah dude I’m good on that now. We hiked straight up this fucking mountain over a lake to a beautiful overlook. Another hiker came up while we where resting with a dog and I asked if I could pet it. So here I am getting my face licked by some strange lab on a mountain outside Seattle overlooking a lake. That’s a bigger life.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.
– Johnny Cash
So we did it, I truly can’t even tell you all of it. We had dinner at Pikes Place Market, we stayed at Hot Springs in Oregon, we wandered the high desert and found an oasis, we walked into a ghost town and wondered at the lives of those people who lived there, we saw geysers and thought about what it must be like to come to this place where the earth boils for the first time, we saw buffalo and elk and antelopes and we went to Bear Country USA (my wife went twice). I had the best biscuits and gravy of my life in Cody Wyoming, the road suddenly disappeared on us in Montana and we had the best donuts ever in Missoula. The list goes on but not least of it we saw the grandeur of Yellowstone. Pictures cant do it justice, the vastness, nature glorious and unrestricted as far as you can see. It was the highlight of the trip and something that wasn’t even on my radar before.
My wife has said she wants to travel abroad but there’s just so much here in America we haven’t seen yet. It’s true. I’ve been to a few places around the country but its always city to city, I lost the vastness of it. I didn’t see the big sky. We are starting to plan the next trip now. Going to need to do the southwest maybe next. I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon. Maybe there will be dogs there for me to pet.