Marveling at the Torres, in Torres del Paine Nacional Parque.

End of a Journey, but the Adventure Continues

Thorang La Pass, new elevation high point for me along the Annapurna Circuit.

Thorang La Pass, new elevation high point for me along the Annapurna Circuit.

I’ve now been back in the United States for two weeks since my six month world travels ended and no surprise, things have been busy. Catching up with friends and family, cleaning house, doing ‘adult’ things (stupid taxes and bills), playing with the kitty and generally adventuring whenever I can, it’s a rough life. People keep asking if it is hard to ‘reintegrate’ into the US and if I miss living on the road, and the answer is easily, no. It’s good to be home, now that doesn’t mean that my adventuring is done by a long shot, just changing pace. The #Funployment will continue through the summer, with lots of road trips and a few flights in the works, but keeping Boulder as a home base for all the fun. A few of the potential trips are a visit to the Guadalupe Mountains, canyoneering in the Utah desert, maybe a few weeks in Belize (anyone?), some exploration and maybe a volcano or two in the PNW and some big plans in Glacier National Park. <- So if you want in on the fun, ping me and let’s plan something epic!

Ambling through the dark narrows of Buckskin Gulch. Adventure is not too far from home. April 2017.

Ambling through the dark narrows of Buckskin Gulch. Adventure is not too far from home. April 2017.

Kaytlyn and Ely running into Ding Canyon. The Utah desert holds so many wonderful treasures. April 2017.

Kaytlyn and Ely running into Ding Canyon. The Utah desert holds so many wonderful treasures. April 2017.

But back to this whole traveling out of a backpack for six months deal. The first few days back at home were a bit odd, not waking up in a new location every few days, speaking English all the time, the familiarity of home and the city around. Part of me will definitely miss waking up each day to a new adventure, but part of me is excited to be home as well. I’ve learned a lot in the past six months, but I don’t feel like I’m a different person, just an evolving one. Normally I’d pull on thoughts from my journals for all this rambling, but being that I’ve had 90% of my journal writing stolen, I’m only left with my memories, which I guess is the more important thing. I started this journey with no idea where I was heading or why, only that I had a plane ticket to Thailand and eventually I wanted to make it to Nepal and Patagonia, filling in the gaps along the way. It’s such a different feeling living the adventure day to day and just seeing where life takes you, and it’s made me realize that while planning is a great way to maximize what you see in a location, are you really seeing what matters most? Anyone can hop on a tour and take the postcard shot or follow the guidebook directions, but what really makes a trip special are those unexpected moments where you get to experience the real culture, not the tourism, where you get to meet the real people, not the facade put on for foreigners. I think anyone who travels is guilty of rushing to the iconic site or the stereotypical experience that we’re told we’re supposed to have, but we need to remember that the journey of getting anywhere is a big part of traveling.

Temples of Ankor in Cambodia.

Temples of Ankor in Cambodia.

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Steve watching sunrise on Annapurna from South Basecamp.

Now to say my travels went smoothly would be a lie. There were numerous transportation mishaps, a few mis-schedules, I was robbed twice (losing ALL my ID, credit cards, cell phone and SD card once), got sick a few times and did numerous stupid things along the way. So is life, make mistakes and learn from them (hopefully). But of course the negative happenings and mishaps were a minor part of what was a fantastic journey. I met so many wonderful people from all over the world (made some new friends), saw countless amazing sights, had innumerable new experiences and had my eyes opened a few times to new ways of thinking. I’ve definitely been bitten by the travel bug, but I don’t really have the desire to sell off all my worldly belongs and hit the road permanently for years to come.

Chatting with some of my students in Shishaghat, Nepal.

Chatting with some of my students in Shishaghat, Nepal. Photo by Zahariz.

Enjoying sunrise over Bagan with new friends.

Enjoying sunrise over Bagan with new friends.

While I love the unknown that comes with traveling new places, visiting new cultures and meeting new people, I’m also a little bit of a creature of habit. I like my group runs with friends, Mondays at Southern Sun, playing with my kitty, climbing Colorado’s 14ers, and having more than 3 changes of clothes to wear on a weekly basis. But mostly, I just love where I live. I love Boulder (for its good and bad), I love the Rocky Mountains, I love my friends and I love the lifestyle my home affords me, so being home is a pretty darn good thing. Though it doesn’t hurt that Colorado is a great launching off point for all kinds of far flung adventures; I can drive to Moab in 6h, the Tetons in 8h, fly to the West coast in 2.5h, Mexico in 4.5h, Colombia in 10h, meaning that adventure is never more than a day away. Even after traveling my list of places to go and things to see is pretty large. As anyone who has traveled will tell you, each time you travel and check off a bucket list item, you add another half-dozen (or more) to the list, its one of those good problems to have. So I look forward to continuing to check off bucket list items and adding many more. For now I’ll enjoy running, climbing and skiing at home in Colorado for a little bit, but just until that next adventure presents itself and the wanderlust grows so great that it needs to be heeded. Thanks to all who shared travels and experiences with me and to the Pro-Leisure Tour for making this all possible.

Sometimes when you don't share a language, it doesn't matter. Making friends in Inle Lake, Myanmar.

Sometimes when you don’t share a language, it doesn’t matter. Making friends in Inle Lake, Myanmar.

Marveling at the Torres, in Torres del Paine Parque Nacional.

Marveling at the Torres, in Torres del Paine Parque Nacional.

Sunrise over Paine Grande town, pinch me, because this can't be real....

Sunrise over Paine Grande town, pinch me, because this can’t be real….

Lastly just a few take homes from things I’ve learned along the way.

The most important thing I learned was there is never a ‘perfect’ time for anything, and if an opportunity presents itself sometimes you just need to leap full in and figure the rest out later.

When I first left I didn’t think I could actually live out of an 11-12kg backpack for six months, but turns out you really don’t need a whole lot for life on the road, and I could have gotten by with less (ping me if you want specifics).

Having never traveled Asia the language barriers made me nervous, but in the end many people spoke English and even those that didn’t were eager to help out. Hand gestures are surprisingly useful, and I learned a lot of Spanish along the way.

Sometimes you just need to trust that things will work out. Countless times I was on a bus or in a taxi going somewhere, never knowing exactly what was going on, or where we were, but it always worked out in the end.

Learning the local language (even a few phrases) can go a long way.

Say Yes to new experiences, new foods and new ideas.

Not every location is right for every person. The big city party scenes of SE Asia weren’t my thing, but the small towns offered so many wonderful experiences that were more my style. It’s ok if you don’t want to booze it up every night with the 20-somethings, be you.

Most people are wonderful (locals and travelers); friendly, kind, helpful and mean you no harm, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of your situation as there are a few rotten eggs out there.

When something bad happens it’s no use crying over spilled milk, clean it up and get on living and enjoying the present and future. Losing my SD card sucked, but once it was gone there was nothing I could do but go make new memories.

Lastly, it’s ok if you don’t have a definitive plan for your life. Life is too short to be locked into one single mindset/path, be open to evolution and change.

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