May 11th is Matt and I’s six-month travel anniversary! On November 11, we left Denver with nothing but vague plans (if anyone is keeping score, very few of those plans actually panned out which I consider a good thing) and a sense of adventure. It has been an incredible and amazing journey, and I’ve loved almost all of it, but it is drawing to a close for me. On May 26, I begin a 36-hour journey back to Denver while Matt continues on to Europe. This is the homestretch. In three weeks, I will return to the real world.
A lot of people have asked me how I feel: am I sad that this crazy adventure is ending or am I excited to be going home?
That’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. The politically correct answer is “both” (or “neither”?), but we all know that’s not the truth. It’s closer to a ratio, 40:60. Or maybe 30:70. Little Billy can be a shithead, sometimes.
There are so many things I love about open-ended travel that I’m going to miss. I love the freedom and simplicity of being on the road. I love not waking up to the same routine, day after day. Of these 180+ days, very few bear any resemblance to another, and I find that exciting.
We have so much freedom — what should we do today? Chill out, explore this town, move on to somewhere else, shop, climb a mountain, stay at a monastery, trek through some rice terraces, go find that amazing dish again, meet some new people, play ultimate, lie on a beach, or whatever else strikes our fancy? I love having no idea what could transpire each day.
And life on the road is so simple. Trekking is an even more distilled version of travel which we got our fill of on the Annapurna Circuit. The AC is often referred to as the “Apple Pie” trek not only because you walk through the apple-growing region of Nepal and can get an array of apple products along the way (juice, brandy, cider, jam, dried apples, pie, crumble, bread, etc etc), but also because of how relatively easy it is. There are teahouses all along the route where hikers rest each night, so you don’t even need to set up camp or cook for yourself! Our days consisted of waking up, getting breakfast, packing up our few possessions, walking onwards until we felt like stopping, eating lunch, exploring the new town, eating dinner, and going to sleep. The hardest choice we had to make was one slice of apple crumble or two?
Many of the stresses we often face at home (work, relationships, money) are greatly diminished or non-existent on the road. We are free to live in the moment. We aren’t prisoners to deadlines, subjected to performance reviews, or worried about paying rent.
But even with all those things in mind and as fantastic as this trip has been, I am more excited to go home than sad that I won’t be long-term traveling anymore.
I can’t wait to go home. HOME!! I haven’t rested my head on the same pillow for more than a week in the last six months (although totey has been a constant by my side) — I can’t wait to be able to return to the same place night after night. I can’t wait to have a space that is my own. I can’t wait to not live out of my bag. I can’t wait to be able to have long conversations with friends and family in person and not stunted chats over the internet. I can’t wait to laugh hysterically at stupid inside jokes. I can’t wait to hug everyone. I can’t wait to play beautiful ultimate and make a run at Nationals with Molly. I can’t wait to eat my favorite food (mool nyeng muen) and kimchi. I can’t wait to hike through my beloved Colorado mountains.
I set out on this trip with the arbitrary goal of a year. And I learned that, for me, twelve months is too long to be on the road, and somewhere between 4 and 8 months is more ideal. This journey also showed me how much I value ultimate, friends, and home, and I eagerly anticipate going back to them.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the road, and this will not be my last long-term journey. But I am beyond thrilled to be returning to my wonderful life back in Colorado. I will do my best to live in the present moment for the next few weeks (hopefully made easier since ten of those days will be at a meditation retreat), but it will be challenging to not think of the near future and seeing everyone again!