I'm finally back from my six-week road trip and thought it's about time I get started on the trip report. Obviously there's no way I'll be able to even come close to writing about all 42 days tonight, so I thought I'd get an intro/summary outt here to get started, and try to write a few days' worth of reports each night.
So let's get started. First, some background. I started planning this trip in May 2011. I am a journalist, and ever since doing a story back in 1999 about a young couple who rode their tandem bike across America I have wanted to do the same. Well, now that I am 43 and have numerous physical ailments, that wasn't a possibility, so the next best thing was to drive across America and see many of the great sights in our country that I have always wanted to see.
It also should be known that I quit my job to do this trip. Unhappy with both my job and the newspaper industry overall, I am looking for a change - hopefully to get into the craft beer industry, which I have been passionate about for 20 years. And so, visiting breweries was not only a fun part of the trip but also hopefully a good way to network and learn more about the business. Also, since I left the newspaper on very good terms, I continue to freelance for them and was able to generate some stories during the trip about Sierra Nevada (Chico, CA) and Oskar Blues (Longmont, CO), both of whom are building East Coast expansion
breweries here where I live.
This was also something I just needed for my soul. In the previous couple years I had a bad car accident, bad bicycle crash, hurtful break-up, and a diagnosis of a pre-cancerous skin condition - on top of being miserable at my job - and I just said to myself that life is too short to just go through the motions in life and not take a chance. It was the ultimate risk, and I realized I could very well fall on my face when I got back - with no job - but I'd also have an experience of a lifetime that 99.9 percent of the population either cannot or will not ever do. I had money saved up, I am single, no children, and my cat not only loves my parents but also their condo, so if I was going to do something like this, why not now before it's too late?
Finally, I must also mention a huge component of the trip, because it will come up a LOT in my daily trip reports that follow this introduction: As a runner and huge Forrest Gump fan doing this big cross-country trip, I decided to do a video re-enactment of Forrest's run across America. The goal started out as a Christmas gift to my parents, but I hooked up with a fantastic videographer friend back home here, and he totally jumped on board with the project. I purchased a GoPro camera, a Forrest outfit, ect., and we went to work filming the local scenes a couple weeks before my trip, with the idea of me shooting the rest of the scenes out West and returning to have my friend edit the whole thing. We are planning a big premier of the film on a giant screen at our local brewery in December, and if my footage from out West came out OK, this thing is going to be epic. Some of the scenes were magical, and the story I have to tell of the scene at Monument Valley - the most important shot of the film - was so incredible that you're not going to believe your eyes when you read it.
So back to the trip. I left at 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day, and was gone for exactly six weeks, returning this past Tuesday evening. In summary, the trip was incredible, horrible and everything in between. I had some of the very best moments and days of my life, and also some really dark days where I simply could not enjoy where I was no matter how hard I tried.
The main culprit for the bad times was exhaustion. Folks, when the DEs on here advise you that your plan is too ambitious - listen to them!!! They say these things because they know what they're talking about. It's not that I didn't listen to them or didn't believe them - it's just that I decided to go for broke anyway. Being a once in a lifetime trip - and, as a former Ironman Triathlete, knowing my ability to push my body beyond normal limits - I was determined to see as much as I could since I was traveling so far from home and likely wouldn't have another chgance to see most of these places. Granted, being by myself, being a very motivated and determined person, and also being an "expert" at eating all of my meals on the go, I was indeed able to see more than most people would in a day, and in many ways I am glad I pushed myself so hard to be able to see so many great sights that I'll cherish for a lifetime.
On the other hand, because I pushed the pace so hard, I drove myself to the point of exhaustion many times - to the point where days were lost because I was too tired, too irritable, too stressed to enjoy anything, no matter how beautiful the place was that I was visiting. It also caused me to become careless and accident-prone, and as a result I wound up losing my credit card, two pairs of sunglasses and the power chord to my laptop; ruin my iPhone by unknowingly putting it in a cup of water for 20 minutes; hitting a deer head-on while driving at night on Highway 12 between Boulder and Torrey (low point of the trip); getting two costly parking tickets in downtown Denver; and thinking I lost my wallet four different times - even having the Glenwood Springs (CO) police searching for it 75 miles from where I was at - only to find it stuffed under my seat each time.
Yes, folks, that's how exhausted I became at times!!! Please learn from my mistakes.
OK, onto Part 2 of the introduction ...