Searching for the right spot…
I tend to wander between the mountains and the sea…
I was fortunate to grow up in Colorado which has amazing mountains. Now after living in Florida for several years, I’m realizing just how much I took my home state for granted. I have always been looking to another place over the horizon.
Most of my youth was spent outside climbing trees and camping. I started to get into hiking and climbing towards the end of high school, however I felt this force pulling me to the coast.
My family and I took a vacation to San Francisco that completely changed life as I knew it.
One day we took a walk around some docks full of fancy yachts. At the end was this very run down green steel two masted sailboat. At first it was funny to see this mess of a boat sitting between all these very expensive water craft, but after a few minutes I fell in love with it. I could see the work the owner was doing, and where they were starting to make progress in fixing up this old boat. At that moment I was taken by sailboats forever.
I could see this sailboat taking me on grand adventures to places I could only dream about. Why buy a house and be stuck in one place when I could live on a boat any place I wanted…
At that moment I think I became a wanderer. More consumed by the journey rather than any destination.
As soon as we got back to Colorado I started to take sailing lessons. I was able to find a Red Cross class that taught basic sailing classes. I learned to sail in a little Sunfish on a large lake not too far from the house. A far cry from that grand ship that inspired all this.
The class was a great, and not too long after finishing I bought my first boat. My friends and I would take that boat to the lakes high in the Rockies several times over the following years.
And then I changed my mind…
Anyone that has been around me long enough knows that I change direction frequently, and quickly.
After I finished high school I had decided to move to Orlando to learn to work on boats. I had lost all interest in going up to the mountains and camping. All my focus was on getting to a nice sunny spot, on a boat of course. I secured my spot in school and even started to look at apartments.
After everything was in place I decided on a whim to just join the Army instead. With all this focus on boats and the sea you would think that I would have chosen the Navy. I did go to them first, however at the time they were not guaranteeing what job you would end up with. Knowing my luck I would end up doing laundry, so jumping out of planes and blowing shit up sounded much better. Joining the Army was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The reasons behind that deserve their own post.
The next chapter…
Fast forward three years and I found myself working at Denver International Airport in one of the worst snow storms I can remember. After I got out of the Army I decided to go back home and enjoy the great outdoors Colorado had to offer. I started to get my hiking gear together, and even joined a climbing gym.
Sitting in the break room that very cold evening, I found a SCUBA diving magazine. In the back there was an add for “Paychecks in Paradise”. Having spent the last three years being cold, I thought it would be nice to get a little slice of paradise!
A month later I was learning to dive in the FL Keys. I finished dive school and jumped on a sailboat and headed to the Bahamas. After a few months I found myself in Seattle, but six months later I was back in Florida.
The nice thing about being a SCUBA instructor is that you can generally find work. You don’t make much money, but it did allow me to move frequently. I was really enjoying the warm salt water and sunshine, but than a familiar feeling came back.
The thing with being back in Florida was that I miss the mountains. There are plenty of places to go camping and hiking, but it isn’t the same. Florida is very flat… and also very hot. If you plan to do anything outside in the summer, it is best to make sure that it involves water. My wife and I spent a couple nights camping in the summer in Ocala and it was not very fun.
Finding a happy medium in the land of no mountains…
The bad thing about moving between such extremes is that balance is hard to find. While heading out to the beach here is easy, finding a nice hill to climb is more difficult. It’s not easy to find the time to make an eight hour drive to the nearest mountain range while working a full time job. Not much fun spending more time in the car than on the trail.
My goal is to take at least one major hiking trip a year. In 2016 I went on an amazing hike in Washington that challenged me in ways I have never been before. Trips like that make up for not being able to run out for a quick trip over the weekend.
I will always find myself daydreaming of the exact opposite of the environment I am in. I know that about myself now. As much as I long to be out in the middle of the woods, I can still see myself on a sailboat heading to some distant island.
I think happiness has a lot to do with finding a little bit of peace where you’re at, while always looking towards that next adventure…