“A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is not what it is built for.”
― Albert Einstein
I’ve just reached a three month milestone in Sydney, where I haven’t had to jump on to a long distance plane, train, bus or boat ride to move from A to B. During this time, I’ve found a job, establish some form of routine, caught up with family, old friends, friends with new additions to their family, and also made an attempt to see a different side of Sydney that I wasn’t familiar with. All in all, it’s been like a working holiday.
My biggest fear about coming back was to Sydney was that I’d slip into old habits and give up on pursuing the interesting things that fueled my desire to continue exploring. So what I did to make sure that this wouldn’t happen, was on the day that I started work, I booked a one way flight to America in August. In a weird way, it felt like the right thing to do, and allowed me to set a firm leaving date, and focus on maintaining a moderate level of fiscal discipline, plus invest more time into planning my dream road trip across America.
My initial interest in America was sparked when I met a few American’s at a hostel in Ecuador. I knew that they were a sports obsessed country, but what caught my attention, was a group of guys and girls, huddled around a table, screaming and shouting at a college football game that was being streamed on a laptop. I also found out that that college football was bigger than the NFL, and after being told about the size of the stadiums, crowds as well as the legendary tailgate parties, it didn’t take much more convincing for me to add this experience on to the “must do” list.
Being a lover of meat – especially of the BBQ variety, I had to make this an integral part of the plan as well. As a former owner of two BBQ’s, a smoker, and an unhealthy addiction to the Man vs Food TV show, I knew that I had to explore the heart and soul of BBQ culture along the southern states. Whether it be dry rub vs marinades, or pulled pork from the east vs the smoky brisket from Texas – I intend on trying it all.
Want to become involved?
I have scheduled meetups with friends and family along the way, but I’d love to meet any readers out there along the way. Most of the blog visitors are from America, so if any readers who want to show me your favorite BBQ shacks, offer your couch for a weary traveler, take me to your favorite sporting game or just meet up for a coffee, then get in touch via the comments, or email me at jimmydau (at) gmail.com.
It’s not all about pork butt, ribs and wings
Long term followers of the blog, would know that travel photography has become a big thing for me. So straddling both sides of my time in America, I’ll be focusing on expanding my landscape photography portfolio. I’ll be flying into San Francisco, and from there I’ll be heading on a twenty day road trip with my good friend and photographer, Tim Poulton. He is on a location scout for future photography tours that he will lead, and our route will take us through California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Wyoming and then into Banff, Canada.
After my time in Canada, I’ll kick start the solo journey from the east coast. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, coinciding with the peak of the fall foliage in Vermont, follow by the scenic Appalachian and Great Smokey Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee.
After I’ve gotten my dose of football and eaten my way through the South, I’ll then head into the deserts of New Mexico and then the canyons of Arizona and Utah. If I still have will and the desire, then I’ll finish up in Oregon and Washington State.
Getting out of my comfort zone in search of adventure
My route through America has been heavily influenced by these above factors and it comes with its own set of risks that hope I haven’t foolishly taken on. However, but I’m a firm believer that in order to be more to be adventurous, one should spend some time out of their comfort zone. By choosing to drive most of the entire way will probably be the most ambitious task I’ve undertaken, with many situations that I’ve had very little experience in.
As soon as I reach New Hampshire, I’m looking at acquiring some form of transportation with four wheels. The thought of it feels quite daunting and something that I’m uncertain of how will unfold, but I’m putting myself out there and giving it a go.
There’s also the distance that I’ll be covering. I’ve done a few road trips, both by car and scooter, but never have I traversed across twenty seven or so states – let alone across an entire continent. I’ve allocated four months to complete this, which doesn’t seem like much, but I’m estimating I’ll be driving around 8,000 miles/12,800 km, which sounds mind boggling.
Finally, I haven’t had that much unguided trekking and camping experience. I’ve only pitched a tent a handful of times, but it’s something that I feel like doing. As stupid as it sounds, a part of me enjoys spending time outdoors and in some form of temporary solitude. It’s something I got a taste of whilst trekking in Patagonia, and it’s only now where I understand why my landscape photography friends can become so philosophical at times. The only thoughts on my mind right now is the fear of becoming mincemeat for a bear in the woods, or falling victim to a snake bite in the middle of nowhere.
So they’re the plans for the next five or so months that will keep me busy from August until the rest of the year. I’m not sure what will happen after that, but it’s only been a few months since I arrived back from an adventure that was originally meant to last six months, but turned into two years. Only time will tell.
Where do you think the best road trips in America are for BBQ or food in general? Any tips on how to escape a rampaging bear?
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Feature image by Thomas Hawk