“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” -Kurt Vonnegut
Waking up at 5:15 on a -15 degree Chicago morning, I realized that the grey hairs on my head had decided to take up permanent residence. They weren’t going anywhere and neither was I. Locked into my job as a commodity trader, I had reached a point in my life where the only objective was putting more money in the bank. Sitting in front of 8 computer screens for 10 hours a day wasn’t doing much for my soul, and the prospects for adventure were limited to checking out a new bar or a 3 day ski trip to Colorado. The Chicago winter had kept me from seeing sunshine on a weekday for the past 4 months.
Something had to change.
That something was me.
Life has a way of reaching a stasis, putting us into a rut that seems impossible to escape. After a contentious bonus negotiation, I realized that more money wasn’t going to do anything to change my life. I would still be waking up every morning, trying to make money by clicking a mouse and swearing at computer screen.
I’d seen the old guys in my industry, miserable millionaires addicted to the next purchase or bonus check. I’d always known that I didn’t want to become one of those, but here I was, coming closer to that undesirable end day after day.
I knew that buying a condo or a shiny new Lexus wouldn’t do anything to make me happier. They’d just put more bills in my mailbox and keep me further locked into a job which I no longer enjoyed.
So I walked out.
The subject line to my former world travelling Australian roommate read simply:
“Quit my job. Need an adventure. Call when you can.”
Less than 24 hours later, I received a call from my favorite dingo kicker. In his coarse Aussie accent, Benny cut straight to the chase. “I’ve got two mates driving the perimeter of Australia. Fly into Perth and we’ll drive 1800 miles to Broome. We’ll fish, surf, camp and dive up the coast, then you and I will go backpack through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and wherever else tickles our fancy.”
Suddenly I had an adventure waiting on me on the other side of the world. It certainly wasn’t how I’d imagined my week going when I woke up on that cold Chicago Monday morning.
A week later I had a plane ticket in hand, vaccines stuck into my arms and a 90 liter backpack which would be the extent of my worldly possessions for the next half of a year.
This is the story of that adventure.