Traveling, it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.

~Ibn Battuta

From Tupelo, I had a 400-mile drive to the Chattooga River, Georgia, where in the morning I had a white water rafting trip booked. The drive was peaceful and quiet through the rest of Mississippi and Alabama before hitting some major traffic in Atlanta, Georgia. It was slow moving, much like the sunset. I made my final destination just past nightfall and slept in my car, too tired and lazy to pitch a tent.

I awoke at first light excited for the day’s adventure. Besides amazing rapids, the Chattooga was known as the river where they filmed Deliverance, starring a mustached Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, and an actor (Ned Beatty) forever known as Squeal-Like-A-Pig. My rafting group consisted of six, plus the guide, all students from neighboring Carolina. I was placed in the front of the raft with an amateur oarsman, his paddle always dangerously close to my face. Read More

A man travels the world over to find what he needs and returns home to find it.

—George A. Moore

I thought Austin was going to be my home for the next few years. I had cheap rent close to the city on South Lamar and was living with my best friend. But life has a sense of humor at times. It holds your little world like one of those tiny snow globes and shakes it up just for the fun of it, to see where the pieces fall. Within seven months, I was once again presented with a choice of should I stay or should I go. The pattern of my life summed up by a Clash song. Read More

The real voyage of discovery consists in not seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

~Marcel Proust

It was a cold, snowy, mid-October day when I exited Yellowstone for good. I stayed a night in West Yellowstone, Montana, population 1,271. From there, I continued west through Idaho on my way to Portland, a drive of over 800 miles. I stayed in Boise, not quite the halfway mark, but close enough, adding another state off my list.

The drive through Idaho wasn’t that memorable, but things really picked up in Oregon. As I crossed the state line and entered rolling hills a pale yellow, I couldn’t help but reminisce about one of my favorite childhood computer games, The Oregon Trail, stocking up on bullets to shoot wild game for food and losing half of my posse to dysentery. It was all worth it though, just to see that little screen pop up, stating “Congratulations! You have made it to Oregon. Let’s see how many points you have received.” Read More

Not all who wander are lost.

— J.R.R. Tolkien

The Tetons greeted me like an old friend as I made my way back to Yellowstone. Their tranquil beauty so inspiring, it was like viewing them for the first time all over again. That’s the thing about mountains, they never get old.

My orientation wasn’t until the following morning so I had the entire day to make it to Gardiner, Montana, population 875, the northernmost entry point into the park and not far from Mammoth Hot Springs. Read More

Wherever you go , go with all of your heart.

~Confucius

After saying our goodbyes, those of us remaining spent the rest of the day driving to Yellowstone National Park. I was happy to be a passenger, focusing more on the sights than the road. The flat fields of nothing opened to rugged wilderness. We stopped along the fast-flowing Snake River. Our hearts and minds going with it.

We came to a quaint mountain town, the sign reading “Howdy Strangers, Yonder is Jackson Hole. The Last of the Old West.” There were old-time saloons, log cabin-styled buildings, and a masculine, resilient pulse that can only be described as being in the West. We posed for pictures beneath a giant archway constructed of antlers. Expecting a nice sit down, mom-and-pop style breakfast, I was greatly disappointed when we pulled into a McDonald’s and got our food to go. Read More

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

~Saint Augustine

I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to Arizona, but Viva Las Vegas was calling my name. On a recommendation from my host in Flagstaff, I stopped at an In-N-Out Burger and had a burger “animal style,” or in layman’s terms, with extra toppings. Best fast food I ever had.

The heat reached a boiling 114 degrees as I winded my way to the Hoover Dam. I kept looking at the temperature gauge with dread. Hoping to avoid overheating, I paid eight dollars for parking in the shade and gave my car a much needed rest while I toured the inner workings of the dam. Price of admission was eleven dollars, but taking the elevator down to the generator room and seeing the machinery within was quite a sight. The ingenuity of man never ceases to amaze me. Once again, I couldn’t help but reminisce about Beavis and Butthead Do America, especially when they asked “um, sir, is this a god dam?” Read More

The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive.

—Bill Watterson

There is no greater sense of freedom than the open road. Clichéd as that sounds, it’s true. I’ve done my share of road trips across the U.S., hitting every direction on the compass, and I can say from experience, there’s no greater way to see this vast, diverse landscape than by car. Ever since the dawn of the industrial age, highways and automobiles have been the driving force of the American spirit. Worries and problems just miles to put behind us, while ahead lay endless possibilities realized in perpetual motion.

The great thing about road trips, you don’t need a lot of money to do them. Just the willingness to let things unfold before you and rough it when necessary by camping and/or asking a friend or stranger for a place to crash. The only expenses being gas, food, park fees, and the occasional cheap hotel. Read More

“When you’re on your path, the universe will conspire to help you.”

—Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Everyone is a little crazy in their own way. It’s what makes us unique and different. Of course, there’s cray-cray, a swinging knife silhouetted against a shower curtain, and then there’s the right side of crazy, what makes life interesting. For me, keeping things on the right side of crazy means embracing who you are and always listening to that little voice in your head telling you to just go for it and “dare greatly.”

We only have one shot at this life, yet so many are content with the status quos, living for vacation and the weekends, settling for a life of comfort instead of doing what they really want, which requires courage and a huge leap of faith. People love the idea of “the road less traveled,” but few venture or actually set foot on it. From money to time restraints, there are a million excuses to stay the course familiar instead of taking a chance on the unknown. Read More

Every once in a while, a piece of art reaches out and gets a hold of you and doesn’t let go. Like somebody has slipped beneath the veil and spoken directly to your heart, as if this one moment was waiting all along just for you to realize. That’s what good art does. It stems from the mystic, moves to the brain, frees itself through the senses, and then becomes a part of you.

At least, that’s how I felt reading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Read More

It’s not every day that you see Superman. But that’s what happens when you go for a walk. Anything can happen. Randomness just around a corner. Adventure only a footstep away. The best way to move is without direction. Mark Twain might have said that. Maybe not. Either way, you know he was thinking it.

Sidewalks and roads are the rivers of the soul. Our bodies try to keep up with the rambling currents of our minds. They hardly do. Thoughts never stop. They just keep going. On and on and on again. Forever. That’s where we’re aiming. Where we’re all heading. The end of the line, just to begin again. Of course, it’s not about ever getting there. It’s the act of leaving—another word for beginning—that’s important. There’s bravery in steps, even ones that lead backwards, and cowardice in standing around, staying put. Anyone can do that. Even a person with no legs.
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