The End Becomes the Beginning
When I returned home after backpacking 3000 miles in 2016, I knew what my next step was going to be, building a camper van.
The goal being to build myself up by being able to take more equipment on the road. Since carrying around 30 lbs of film equipment on your back in addition to your camping equipment is not ideal. Learned that one the hard way.
I knew that with the van not only would I be able to take more equipment with me and be able to write more, but I would be able to travel faster. Going faster was not an immediate goal, but looking back towards the end of my backpacking in 2016, I had a severe case of road burnout. It happens right about the 3000th mile you walk. I remember trudging with the weather getting colder just trying to get to the next place I wanted to see, when I realized I really wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I was tired, all kinds of sore, and the cold setting in didn’t help matters. However, my parents were visiting some of their cousins in New England and we planned to meet up to go deep-sea fishing in Massachusetts where they filmed The Perfect Storm.
When I met up with them I knew I wanted to go home.
The Second Longest Grind of my Life
Arriving home for me was both a relief and a bit of a let down. I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to keep going. However, I knew that going a bit faster could help me keep to my original plan of being north during summer and south during winter.
Sure there were tradeoffs I foresaw. By driving I would have to pay for gas, vehicle maintenance and not to mention deal with the biggest crooks on the planet…insurance companies. Also moving quicker might make me lose some of those awesome interactions I had with people and the wonderful friendships that came out of them. But with change comes possibility, and I believed I was on the right track and still do.
After I rested for a few weeks, I got back to work doing the same thing I used to pay off my student loans…construction. There is a shared joke in my family, if its sunny we probably aren’t working, but if the weather is terrible we’re probably working in it. So needless to say it was not easy work, it was not fun work, and it definitely was not something I wanted to go back to doing. However, we do what we have to in order to achieve our dreams, right?
A couple of months of work later, I was able to buy my van and quickly dubbed it the Beardmobile!
The next step was to save up enough to trick it out like a tiny house on wheels and to put enough into savings to have a good baseline for when I got back on the road, so I could stay on the road. My goal was to be on the road mid-summer, but you know that old saying “while you’re making plans God laughs.” Work slowed down and my hopes of getting back on the road during the summer began to dwindle.
However, while slightly discouraged, I adapted my plans and figured I could start the van build in the early fall and work my way south for winter. It was at this time I wrote The Countdown Quest. I figured with work being so off and on, I could finally get my first book done. But I wanted to aim even higher. So I gave myself a countdown to write a bestseller. The countdown to my 30th birthday to be exact. Meanwhile:
God:…ha..haha…hahahahaha! Boy you have no idea what’s in store.
Work slowed to a crawl and my hopes of getting on the road with the van done before winter diminished significantly. However, there was something that kept me motivated.
My good friend and travel buddy, Harley, invited me on another epic adventure (January 2016 we went to Machu Picchu together). This time he wanted to kick it up a notch and invited me to the number one place in the world I’ve always wanted to go to:
He left the planning to me because he knows I tend to be a bit OCD when it comes to research and planning. I quickly figured out the cost of the trip (which was significantly reduced because he works for an airline), but knew I was going to have to work a bit longer than I had originally intended. However, now I had some extra motivation to keep me going.
Then it was like someone let down the floodgates and we were slammed with work. I managed to save up enough to trick out the van, but not enough time to work on it being as I was working 60-70 hours a week.
However, around October the work dried up and I had nowhere near enough savings for the trip to Australia or enough to get back on the road. The entire month we had about 4 days of work. I was getting depressed thinking about how much I still needed for everything.
However, pissed off beats depression every time.
The company I’d worked for through a subcontracting company for 4 years, decided to bring in some guys with no experience, pay them the same rate as me, and told me I didn’t need to come in at the last-minute when work finally picked back up.
So I called my job recruiter that day:
Stacie (my job recruiter): “Can you be in Vermont tomorrow?”
The company was installing solar panels on this absolutely huge warehouse roof. I’d never done this before, but within a week I was helping run a crew on Saturdays. The company crew were a bunch of great guys who showed me the ropes. It was pretty easy putting the stuff together (like one giant Erector set), but hauling the cinder blocks in late November and early December weather in Vermont was kind of rough. Especially, when everything started to ice up. I really felt bad for the other subcontractors who were nearly all from North Carolina and nowhere near used to that kind of weather.
At the end, every part of me was tired, but my work ethic carried me through. The company guys said if I ever needed a job there would be one waiting for me in Vermont.
I returned home a few days before Christmas, weather worn, and burnt out on construction. But victorious in accomplishing two out of the four things I set out to this year (2017). One was getting enough saved up to do the van build, which I will be starting as soon as I return from Australia and New Zealand. Two was saving up enough to go on this epic adventure. Somewhere I’ve always dreamed about, not a bad way to spend my 30th birthday.
That being said, my goals haven’t changed and I will be accomplishing the other two next year. The first is building enough savings to get back on the road and the second is to get my first book published (bestseller preferred). The way I will achieve this is simple, I’m going to tie both goals together. Next year, I will be giving everything I have to turn my writing into a career. So I haven’t given up on the countdown quest just yet, more of I’m resetting the clock, since I got caught up in what I needed to do rather than what I wanted to do.
So this upcoming year get ready for some more stories! More videos! And MORE EPIC ADVENTURES FROM THE OUTSIDER!!!
Oh, and one more thing to get you even more excited. I’m filming the entire BEARDMOBILE build as a DIY video series! 😉
Forever your friend,
P.S. I would like to personally thank a few special people who helped me through this year when I was particularly low.
Calvin Thatcher: Thank you for the constant motivation on getting my book done and for all the good times we got to have together, with many more to come.
Christine Thurber – Thank you for having me over to your place for a great weekend full of laughs and fun.
Harley Geoff – For two guys who never hung out in high school, we have become quite the pair of friends. I can’t thank you enough for helping me get to places I would never be able to afford unless I worked a few years straight. But more than that thank you for being my friend that understands what it means to be truly rich in life. So I’ll pay you back the only way I know how, by adding to what will make us millionaires in memories.
Michelle Thatcher: Thank you for putting up with me and Calvin.
Paul Hellman – Thanks for inviting me down to go fishing. Nothing cures a heavy heart more than time with good friends.
Patricia Share – Thank you for your letters and books. They meant more than you know and always came at just the right time. I am truly glad I got to meet you and can call you my friend.
Stacie Garland – Thank you again for hooking me up with that job in Vermont and always looking out for me and Jarred.
I love you all. God bless 🙂