After six years living in Manhattan, a number of circumstances jolted me into the awareness that I hadn't spent a significant amount of time in the woods during my tenure in this lively city. As you might guess from my domain name (an Appalachian Trail thru-hikers' term), hiking and the outdoors were once a prominent feature in my life. Walking around in the fresh air, in nature, in solitude, in the vastness of a mountain landscape away from the bustle of city life is one of the ways I keep myself sane and take time to reflect on what's going on in my life.
New York City is an amazing place, but it consumed me. In selling my car upon moving to the city, I gave up my means to get out, off the beaten path, on a whim. While it's certainly possible to venture out of the city, doing so requires a bit of planning, and renting a car concentrates the expense of getting out such that it feels like a significant expense at the time. One of the things I've learned from the Heath brothers is that one's environment can have a strong influence on one's behavior. I decided to take the financial hit up front (and again every month...this is Manhattan after all) as a way of encouraging myself to go out and explore as my default behavior and bought a car well-suited to taking me on the remotest roads I could find. Knowing how much money I was spending to keep a car in Manhattan proved to be a pretty effective incentive for me to take advantage of my investment.
Over the next year, I spent most of my weekends discovering the outdoor opportunities available to an NYC resident. I explored the Catskills, found the beaches of Long Island (many of which are also readily accessible by LIRR), went camping in Vermont, and found a few great hiking spots within reach of the city. These trips helped me realize two things: first, the more exposure to the outdoors I got, the more I wanted; second, NYC was stressing me out (and I'm a pretty easy-going guy).
At the same time, my work as an agile software development consultant left me wanting something more. Though I was working for an employee and quality focused company that was the best job of my life thus far, spending my career working to fulfill other people's goals left me feeling unsatisfied. I had ideas of my own I wanted to explore, and nights and weekends didn't seem enough to give any of them a shot at becoming something real.
After pondering a move to another city that would give me better, closer access to outdoor opportunities, it struck me one day that the best way to get both my nature fix and more time for my product ideas was to pack my apartment into storage, leave the city behind, and set off toward the western United States to roam around, to live close to nature in a tent, and to find a balance between travel and product work.
I am happy to report that this new endeavor has been rewarding in ways I never could have imagined. I write as I kick off the third leg of what is shaping up to be an indefinite journey. Since setting out on August 7, 2013, I drove from Boston, Massachusetts, to Portland, Oregon, and as far as the Pacific Ocean. My route in between wound through California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, in addition to the mostly direct route I took out west to pick up my off-road trailer and roof-top tent through New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. After returning to NYC in November and spending the last four and a half months consulting and living out of Airbnb spaces, I'm set to fly back to Portland in a few days to meander down the west coast and join the Overland Expo in Arizona in May.
Welcome to my adventure.