On July 9th, 2010 I set out on my longest and most risky adventure. I decided to drive – alone – across the United States with no set path and just a list of things I wanted to see. The only definitive schedule I had was that I needed to be in Los Angeles by July 24th for a 6 pm flight to a conference, and that I needed to be back in New Jersey by August 20th for a close friend’s wedding. Approximately 14,000 miles later I rolled up to my parent’s house at 10 pm on August 18th, late for dinner, but feeling great.
In between those days I had run-ins with large animals, the border patrol, a very weird cop in Oregon who accused me of being a drug smuggler, a sand dune that trapped me in 110 degree heat for hours while waiting for help, and had a run-in with a guy right out of a Steven King story in the middle of the desert who literally said “you’re not from around here, are ya…” I visited 34 states (and one wrong turn into Mexico), dozens of national/state parks and monuments, and countless scenic overlooks.
I took wrong turns, had surprise encounters with bizarre Americana (and Americans!), and often was treated to sights and sounds that only existed for me in that moment. I re-connected with friends I hadn’t seen in years and made some new ones on the road in the strangest of circumstances. It was the closest thing I had in my life to a Tolkien-like adventure (well except for that time Ariel and I ACTUALLY went to Middle Earth seven years later) that often felt like something right out of The Hobbit.
The experiences I had changed me forever and the things I learned on this journey have become part of every travel experience I have had since then. This was the original Main Quest, that in many ways has still not come to an end.
And likely never will.