The life of a vagabond is one of shifting cities, hours in transit, waiting, boredom, loneliness, excitement and the unknown.
But that’s not always the case.
The past 27 days have been a fast forward blur of cities as a friend and I road tripped from Massachusetts out to Denver then down to Atlanta.
We have stayed in 13 cities (or metropolitan areas) and passed through 17 states in less than a month. Generally an advocate of stays lasting at least a week (usually 2 weeks) this rush of scenery was a drastic change from city hopping via planes.
Traveling in a car through the U.S. as an American is an experience that so few of us actually take the time to do. Had we been in Europe we would have passed through as many countries as we had states with their flags, culture and language.
In short the U.S. is massive and diverse in culture, landscape and even language. The experience of driving through Nebraska end to end with a detour along a state highway towards Chimney Rock was one of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen. I would never have called Nebraska beautiful but driving through the windswept plateaus and ravines, kicking up dust and rolling through towns with nothing but a water tower, a gas station/grocery, and dirt roads changed that opinion. Admiring the country that you live in is something so few Location Independents do. Most of us are technological nomads accustomed to urban centers with the occasional wilderness jaunt to sate a cultured desire to “get away from it”.
Yet the miles of cornfields, empty highways, decaying farm and industrial towns that I have passed through and stopped in has given me an appreciation that I think only an older generation of vagabonds and nomads understand. There is a hint of Kerouac in the true cross-country road trip. Kerouac saw the road as a spiritual journey, whether you are 300 miles into the middle of cornfields or in the heart of Chicago, it is a journey which changes you if you are willing to be conscious of it.
There is no getting away from it, it is always there. Those cornfields go on for miles. Those people work to feed hundreds of people. Those roads are vacant with the occasional semi screaming through at 85 MPH. The vistas of wind carved stone are populated with cows and rattlesnakes. The world is always there – vast, living, growing, dying – whether you are there or not.
Consider that vastness. It should make you feel small. Then the vastness is in you. You are as much a part of that vastness as the dust, the windmills, the mountains.
Before you consider leaving the country you live in, take a moment to consider if you really know it or just your little corner of it. Then, go out and journey.