My First Trail Runs in Bozeman, Montana

Just last week I signed up for my second marathon! I ran my first 26 in Dunedin, New Zealand in 2015, and I’ve been wanting to do another one ever since. So with a deep breath in, and a long exhale, I clicked that button to register for Missoula Marathon this July 9th! 

 
Running around the neighborhood parks in Bozeman.

Running around the neighborhood parks in Bozeman.

 

As the snow has now melted (mostly) and as the weather warms I’m taking this training opportunity to explore the trails in the Bozeman area. So far I’ve run two trails and both were fun and beautiful and I’m excited to check out more!


Sypes Canyon Trail

My friend/training partner on the Sypes Canyon Trail, overlooking Bozeman.

My friend/training partner on the Sypes Canyon Trail, overlooking Bozeman.

This trail is located on the west side of the Bridger Mountain range, just north of Bozeman. It’s a popular single track trail along Sypes Creek that is used by hikers, runners, and mountain bikers. I did this run at the start of April and even with the light snow this year there was still a lot of snow on the trail. My favorite part of this run was running on the ridge and seeing the wide view of Bozeman and the Gallatin Mountains. Second favorite part: the downhill run!  Some people like to connect this trail to the “M” trail that goes down to another parking lot. I might try out this combo later in the season!

Another picture of my model friend!

Another picture of my model friend!

Round Trip Distance: 6.4 miles (10.3 km)
Parking Waypoint: N45.74526 W111.00796
Elevation gain: 1600 feet (488 m)
Opportunity for sweet pics: high, I'm bringing my better camera next time!


Bozeman Creek/Sourdough Trail

I set my phone on a few rocks to get this shot!

I set my phone on a few rocks to get this shot!

This trail is located south of Bozeman and is probably one of the most popular trails with the locals. I was out on a weekday morning and I saw walkers, mountain bikers, and families will strollers and dogs. The trail is a dirt road that gently gains elevation as it follows Bozeman Creek. I ran 4 miles out took some pictures, and thoroughly enjoyed the mostly downhill return. At some point I do want to run (or maybe just hike) the 9 miles out to Mystic Lake. From the lake it’s also possible to continue another 5.5 miles on the New World Gulch Trail to end at another parking lot.

Quick snap from my iPhone

Quick snap from my iPhone

Round Trip Distance: 10 miles (16 km) to the “5-mile bridge” and back, 18 miles (29 m) if you go to the lake and back.
Parking Waypoint: N45.59210 W111.02541
Elevation Gain: 800 ft (244 m) to the bridge
Opportunity for sweet pics: good

These are just my first two trail run and I plan to share more as my training progresses! 

Happy adventuring!

Why I Haven't Written In So Long...

This blog has been untouched for roughly a year and four months. I didn't write much to begin with but I didn't plan to leave it for THAT long. So what happened? I got busy... a lame and cliche excuse, right? But really, I was busy... 

After I left New Zealand, I went home briefly to visit friends and family before heading off to Japan. Snowboard guiding in Japan took up a full three months of my life, I didn't have the internet at my apartment, and although the hotel I worked out of had wifi I only used it for emails, phone calls, and the occasional Instagram or Facebook update.

My job was to take you to the powder ;)

My job was to take you to the powder ;)

Then I went to Fiji to volunteer and holiday for a month,

Snorkeling off the coast of Fiji

Snorkeling off the coast of Fiji

visited home briefly, then flew to Alaska where I worked full time as a glacier trekking and sea kayak guide for 5 months! And once again, didn't have wifi or even a cell signal where I lived. On days off work, I spent time with my new friends going hiking, ice climbing, and on sea kayak adventures.

Hiking to the Mendenhall Glacier

Hiking to the Mendenhall Glacier

Oh and blueberry picking and pie making/eating. Blueberry heaven up there!

I'd pick blueberries for an hour to fill a quart sized container.

I'd pick blueberries for an hour to fill a quart sized container.

So that puts me in September of 2016 and that's when Aaron and I departed on our two-month road trip in our 1988 Ford Ranger from Juneau, Alaska, down through the Canadian Rockies, to Montana, over to the coast of Washington and Oregon, and back to Montana where we decided to make our home for at least the winter.

Fall colors in the Yukon.

Fall colors in the Yukon.

Snappin' pics at the Salmon Glacier.

Snappin' pics at the Salmon Glacier.

Road side snack time in Eastern Oregon.

Road side snack time in Eastern Oregon.

And then it was time for family visits over Thanksgiving before heading back to Montana into full-on winter and snowboard instructing, yoga teaching, lame restaurant work, and little adventures on days off.

Hiking the ridge at Bridger Bowl!

Hiking the ridge at Bridger Bowl!

It's been kinda hectic, and simply put I didn't prioritize blogging.
That's why I haven't blogged - because I didn't prioritize it. 

Prioritizing snowboarding and fun in a smoke shack somewhere at Big Sky. 

Prioritizing snowboarding and fun in a smoke shack somewhere at Big Sky. 

So here I am now, in April of 2017, the end of another winter and posting on this blog again. I have so many pictures and video clips, many that I have yet to edit, and a list of mini adventures I want to write about and share.

What's next? I'm currently in the midst of the interview process for a couple possible summer jobs. I'm also planning for my trip to Israel with my grandma, and for my solo trip to a few places in Europe!

So stay tuned and follow me on Instagram and/or subscribe to this blog! :) 

 
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Cheers, y'all! 

Seven Days from Queenstown to Auckland

Its common for tourists to come into New Zealand through Auckland, rent a car, and travel south, leaving the country from either Christchurch or Queenstown. Because of this, many rental cars end up in the South Island and rental companies will offer relocation deals so that people will drive these cars back up north. Through TransferCar.co.nz I booked a relocation car for 7 days. The rental fee was waived but I still spent roughly $300 NZD because I opted to pay for the full insurance and I had to pay for fuel. Still not too bad, and it was definitely worth it.

Queenstown. I didn't explore this time around. I picked up my car, sent my snowboard bag to Japan, and was on my way north.

Franz Josef. I met up with my a friend here. It was cloudy and drizzly, but that didn't stop us.

Nelson. I spent only a few hours in this little town, enough to sit at a cafe, wander a bit and take a few photos.

Queen Charlotte Drive... This road from Nelson to Picton traces parts of the Marlborough Sounds. You can't see it in the pictures but the air smelled amazing. It's probably what all those "ocean breeze" candles try to imitate, but better, because it actually smelled like flowers.

The nifty vehicle.

The nifty vehicle.

Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds

Time for a selfie. Clouds don't stop me.

Time for a selfie. Clouds don't stop me.

Picton. This is the port city where I took the ferry across the Cook Strait to the North Island.

North bound ferries at the PIcton Harbour

North bound ferries at the PIcton Harbour

Wellington. I stayed with a friend here and in the morning we went to a cute cafe on Lyall Bay, the south side of the city.

Lyall Bay

Lyall Bay

Weekday breakfasting.

Weekday breakfasting.

I drove up to the Brooklyn wind turbines for a view of the city.

Wellington from above.

Wellington from above.

On the road north...

The view from my roadside toilet. 

The view from my roadside toilet. 

Flowers everywhere!

Flowers everywhere!

Mahia. I was hoping for better weather by now, but well.. it wasn't happening here. 

Road out of Mahia

Road out of Mahia

Random road side morning walk at the historic Tauranga Bridge.

Random road side morning walk at the historic Tauranga Bridge.

Tauranga Bridge

Tauranga Bridge

Whakatane (pronounced fah-kuh-tah-nee.) I arrived around noon and decided I would spend the day and night here. So that evening I went on a little mission - I took a bus to Ohope Beach, then followed the 2-3 hours coastal track back to Whakatane. I got pretty side tracked with taking pictures and wandering, so I ended up having to run the last part to beat the dark.

Ohope Beach

Ohope Beach

Whakatane and the evening sun

Whakatane and the evening sun

Pictures from the road...

Coromandel PInensula. When I arrived at the Cathedral Cove parking lot at 6pm, nearly all the spots were full, which meant there'd be lots of people down there. So I quickly decided I'd do that walk and check out Cathedral Cove in the morning, for sunrise, when there'd surely be less people out. So that evening I chilled out at Hahei Beach, did a bit of yoga, journaled, and took pictures as the sky did all sorts of weird, magical things...

Hahei Beach after sundown. Yes, this photo was edited, but the sky DID actually look like this.

Hahei Beach after sundown. Yes, this photo was edited, but the sky DID actually look like this.

The finally morning I woke up at 5:15 and made my way down to Cathedral Cove just in time for sunrise. 

That sunrise!

That sunrise!

The archway at Cathedral Cove

The archway at Cathedral Cove

After hanging out at the beach, and watching more and more people trickle in, I left and headed to Auckland. 

I'd call it a success!

Winter in Wanaka: Recap and Reflections

Summer is just around the corner but I’m just now editing photos from my first few days in Wanaka - right at the start of winter. I had no idea how the next few months would unfold and I’m so satisfied with how it all happened. 

Evening sun at the lake front

Evening sun at the lake front

TLDR; I settled in Wanaka for the winter. Day 2, I got a job at a cafe, Day 4, I moved into a house with three other people. For three months my time was taken up by marathon training, snowboarding, yoga, and cafe work. It's been a good time.

Morning sun on the mountains, viewed near Beacon Point, Wanaka

Morning sun on the mountains, viewed near Beacon Point, Wanaka

When I got to New Zealand I was a little nervous how things would play out. I wanted to settle in Wanaka for the winter and when I told people, they responded with a mix of encouragement and warning. I was told it would be difficult to find a job and accommodation, and if I wanted something similar, Queenstown would be a better option simply because there was more opportunity there. I was starting to wonder if I was being silly by choosing Wanaka.

On my second day I had a job, and on my 4th day I moved into a rental house with three others I had met through a Facebook group for winter accommodation.

The house I lived in.

The house I lived in.

When I was leaving the hostel after just three nights, I was feeling a bit guilty. Many of the others were looking for the same things I was - work and a place to live. I can’t say if I was trying harder or if I was just lucky. Whatever it was, the universe was definitely working miracles..

Working to Live

It’s the least exciting part of my winter, but I feel really fortunate to have gotten that cafe job so quickly. The first couple months were busy, but I didn't mind it - I had free sushi for lunch each shift! Towards the end I did get a little bored of it though.

Washing dishes really wasn't so bad.

Washing dishes really wasn't so bad.

Snowboarding and Instructor Training

In Wanaka there are two local mountains to chose from and after a few conversations with my housemates and other people I decided to get a season pass and train for an instructors certification at Treble Cone. I understand how some might see it as silly to train to be an instructor, when really, I needed lessons myself. But that is exactly why I decided to do the training - I wanted to become a better rider, and I wanted to learn how to ride the correct way before forming bad habits. 

Instructor training at Treble Cone

Instructor training at Treble Cone

For eight days I trained with Rookie Academy at Treble Cone. Everyday I learned new things and felt an improvement with each ride down. August 7th I passed the exam and I am now a SBINZ Level 1 certified snowboard instructor! :)

Fellow boarders that I trained with after we all passed the exam!

Fellow boarders that I trained with after we all passed the exam!

And the rest of the season was fun too!

Shenanigans up Treble Cone, Wanaka

Shenanigans up Treble Cone, Wanaka

Running and Marathon Training

For about a year now, I’ve been itching to train for a marathon… And I suppose I have been training all along, just not intensely. I’ve been running sorta-kinda every now and then since I was 12, I did two half-marathons last year, and running has been my main form of exercise and stress relief while traveling. But I’ve never put much discipline to my running, which is what I’d have to do if I was going to run a marathon - without getting injured.

Running on the Glendhu Bay Track

Running on the Glendhu Bay Track

Things I learned...
How to dress myself for running in the cold - two pairs of yoga pants, long socks, thermal top, wind breaker jacket, neck buff, and ski gloves (because normal running gloves don't work for runs longer than one hour.)
Running when its -5 C outside sucks. Any temperature above freezing calls for a smile.  
I have confirmed with myself that I can indeed get over the I-don’t-feel-like-running-today thoughts if I really try.
Distance is a lot in the mindset.
I actually really like hills now. Yay for the Glendhu Bay Track!

Running snapshots and selfies 

Running snapshots and selfies 

On September 13th, I ran my first marathon in Dunedin, New Zealand. Finished in 4 hours and 29 minutes, and I’m keen to run another!

Post marathon!

Post marathon!

Yoga and Teaching

Before I arrived in Wanaka I had sent an email to the two yoga studios in town asking about possible trade work. After a couple weeks of being in town I finally pulled myself out of bed early enough to make it to a 6am class (only class I could make on the schedule), introduced myself to the studio owner, and after teaching an initial trial class I was given the opportunity to teach once a week!

IMG_6989.jpg


Planning and teaching a weekly class challenged my creativity and was that extra push I’d been wanting. I became more confident in my sequencing and teaching abilities. Seeing familiar faces in my classes and practicing amongst them made me feel a part of the yoga community. Also, hanging out in an empty yoga room, before or after class, is awesome. 

After class hangout with my camera.

After class hangout with my camera.

 

Conclusions... 

Testing out that selfie stick on my walk to work

Testing out that selfie stick on my walk to work

I'd like to say something wise and insightful... but I don't have anything really other than I had a great winter and Wanaka is beautiful. :)

Sunset from a tree on the lake front

Sunset from a tree on the lake front

Sophia University

Four years ago, almost exactly, I was supposed to start my semester abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. I had been wanting this to happen since the first week of college. This was the semester I would become fluent. I would experience life as a student in another country. I would get to learn more about my mother's culture. And as a bonus, I would be arriving for the one week of the year the sakura trees were in bloom.

上智大学 The Japanese Name of the University

上智大学 The Japanese Name of the University

However, ten days before my departure, Japan was hit by the most powerful earthquake it had ever seen, followed by devastating tsunamis and the meltdowns of three nuclear reactors...
I had to cancel my trip. 

Nearly 16,000 people died. Thousands more were injured and missing. I was, on the other hand, snowboarding in Colorado… My education being put off course was a trivial, first world matter. I could never complain about my privileged situation but I can’t deny that I was disappointed that the plan I had for myself didn't pan out.

Instead of studying in Japan, my life took a different path. Since then I have traveled places, met people, formed relationships, and had experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. 

Near Lake Toya, Hokkaido, Japan.  Credit to Echo Widmer

Near Lake Toya, Hokkaido, Japan.  Credit to Echo Widmer

A few weeks ago my friend and I were in Tokyo, Japan staying at a hostel in the Shinjuku area. We had been traveling together for a good while and I was in need of some alone time so one morning I decided to head out for a run at the park. First I was disappointed the parks were way too crowded (because of cherry blossom season), and ran along the sakura lined roads instead. Through a random train of thought, I unlocked my phone, opened Google Maps, searched "Sophia University,” and it just so happened to be a few crossings away. In a city as large as Tokyo, how crazy..So I walked to the campus, wandered around a little, and sat down at a central picnic area. I took an apple out of my backpack and enjoyed my snack among the students there.

The what if thoughts didn't really show up. I wasn’t resentful that I didn’t study here. It was hard to even imagine myself being a student again. Instead, I thought about the series of events, places, people, and decisions that lead me here to this very moment...

Because of all that has happened, here I was, in Tokyo, Japan, sitting at a table at Sophia University. It's strange that somehow, I still ended up sitting here.

Yeah, it's cliche, but the dots only connect when looking back. 

I can only wonder what this whole trip will mean to me ten years from now...

My Outlook On Travel, Episode 1

Traveling: taking on a journey, usually one involving different geographical locations. 

Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

The act of traveling involves movement, and with all the movement and forced fluidity of my recent life, I’ve found it extremely difficult to manifest anything. Aside from posting pictures and blurbs on Instagram for the reassuring pleasure of seeing 20 likes in the morning, I haven’t edited photos or written in my blog since I’ve been on the road. 

There has been plenty of time spent chatting with other travelers though. Exchanging stories with these new friends has been one of the best experiences over the past few months.   

After I realized I had been repeating almost the same story of myself week after week, I almost started to get tired of it. 

However with each host, hostel mate, or new friend, I found that each iteration of my story was slightly different. Each time was a chance to choose new words to tell my story in the way I felt about it in the moment. As I told my story I’d sometimes feel that a word or phrase I had used in the past would no longer fit with my new days' outlook. 

Through conversation with fellow travelers, a variety of questions are asked. Often I knew the answers to the questions.. “Where are you from? What did you study in school? How long are you staying at this hostel?”  But sometimes, I didn't know the answers right away. To keep the conversation going, I had to spit out some words, and sometimes those words felt right. Sometimes they didn’t. Then at night in my bunk, or on a wandering walk, in my mind I’d draw out an imaginary tree diagram and trace the different possibilities of an answer that was no longer for the conversation, but for myself. 

This sounds like a really complicated process, but in the moment I didn’t think of it so systematically. It’s just what happened.

The question I often ask a long term traveler...
“Why did you decide to start traveling?"

I ask partly because I'm curious of their answers, but primarily I'm hoping to find parts of my answer in their words. 

I realize this whole process sounds pretty darn selfish… But maybe its selfish for the other person too, just like it is for me. They get to share their story too while I listen. It’s like a two way therapy session, but for free. In a dialog I think its natural for each participant to seek a little bit of their own truth in others’ words. The more stories I hear, the more words I have to choose from when trying to piece together a speck of truth for myself. I can only hope the other person feels similarly. Maybe I’m just delusional.

So, here’s how I see it at the moment:

I want to learn more about myself. 

Without the label of a city or a job title, without my comfy apartment, without my circle of friends, and without the subtle expectations of who I am or how I should behave…. who am I?

Without the things I “should” be doing, or people I “should” be seeing, what will I decide to do? Who will I decide to spend time with?

How will my journey look like when I am truly forced to pave my own road?

 

I understand that all these questions might not ever be completely answered, and that’s not necessary. I just want to feel more confident with who I am, what I believe, and what I genuinely desire. And after three and a half months, I do feel more confident with my truth. 

This could be is my quarter life crisis in full swing, and if so, well, life is pretty awesome. 

"How does one prepare for a trip like that?"

Many of you might already know that earlier in 2014 I left my high paying software developer job, sold my furniture, and transferred my apartment lease. And before the year closes out, I’ll be departing alone on a one way flight from Austin to Australia with a backpack, a purse and a yoga mat. I’ll get to reflect on my past year while flying over the Pacific Ocean and ring in the new year with my arrival on the Southern Hemisphere. And you might be wondering… “Aw, I wish I could do that” or “That’s not possible for me” or “Wow, that’s crazy...” Or, maybe you’re thinking “Damn, that’s crazy and awesome!”

Hopefully you’re thinking the last one, and if you are, here’s some good news: you can do it too if that's what you most want. Many people hear the word travel and think “not for me,” “I’m too busy,” or “I can’t.” What most don’t realize is that travel, however you desire to go about it, is a life project than anyone can pursue and achieve.

In the countdown to my December 30th departure date, I’ve been asked variations of the same question:

“How does one prepare for a trip like that?"

The truth is that everyone’s story is different. Everyone has their different ways and ambitions and no one direction is more “right” than another. All I can share is how I have prepared and I hope that this gives you a point at which to start.

It’s tough say exactly when I started preparing for this trip. I always saw travel as something I’d do in my adult life. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve been inspired by others to make a decision and take action towards a life I seek - the experience of travel.

Get Inspired

I read several travel blogs - some I vibed with more so than others. Many travel bloggers will write about how they were inspired, how they saved up money, and how they planned (or didn’t plan) their trip. NomadicMatt’s blog is the first travel blog I stumbled across, and this article in particular stuck with me: Why it’s never a perfect time to travel.

Reading books can also be very inspiring. I read Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, which along with practical advice for minimalism and long-term travel, was sprinkled with inspiring quotes from many well known authors. Getting ideas from other people, online or in person, is probably the easiest way to be inspired.

Set a Timeline

Setting a time line is the best way to achieve any goal. You’ve probably seen this idea in action many times throughout your life. In school you had deadlines for papers and projects. At work there were deadlines for clients. In life there are deadlines like birthdays and Christmas. And those papers, projects, and presents all come to fruition in some way or another because of the pressure of a deadline. The same goes with travel.

I decided to treat this travel goal in the same way I saw my school and work assignments - I made a list of smaller tasks and I was going to make it happen.

Back in February of 2014 I wrote down a target leave date of January 1, 2015. It was an arbitrary date that sounded nice and it was far enough away to not be too scary. I talked about this travel thing with my friends and family, as if it was a real thing, even though the image in my mind and the words from my mouth were the only real things at the moment. Slowly but surely, those images and words, have turned into actions and plane tickets.

Quit The Job

Many people leave their jobs before they travel. Some people can figure out a way to take their jobs with them. Many others figure out another way to make money while on the road.

I left my job back in July for reasons other than travel, but my travel plans were very much part of my vision. This step really got the ball rolling for me.

Decide Where To Go

Before I bought my tickets I had to decide on a place. In accordance with my target leave date, which at the time I half heartedly took seriously, I wanted to go somewhere away from winter. I also wanted to start off “easy” in a place that speaks English and with clean tap water. So between the choices of summer in Australia and New Zealand, I choose New Zealand because of the extremely green and mountainous nature of the land.

PHOTO BY YOUNGADVENTURESS
PHOTO BY YOUNGADVENTURESS

Also, because it’s a smaller land mass which in my head seems more appealing. And if I’m being honest, the name “New Zealand” sounds nice - I’ll admit, my choice was largely arbitrary that was then justified with some reasoning.

Rack Up Rewards Points (and buy a ticket)

There are many ways to purchase a plane ticket. Of course you have the option to pay full price. However, this is extremely pricy especially if you want to fly internationally and to the opposite side of the planet.

Another option is to use rewards points and airlines “miles."

There are many articles online and even entire blogs dedicated to this topic. The basic idea is

  1. Apply for travel credit cards
  2. Use the credit card for your everyday purchases until you hit the spending required to earn your bonus rewards points
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have enough points for where you want to go
  4. Purchase a ticket with your rewards points.

So what exactly did I do?
Since I’ve been banking at Chase I looked into their rewards program and found it would be fitting for me and the travel rewards I wanted. I applied for the Chase Sapphire Card. This card required that I spend $1000 within the first 3 months to get 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Pretty sweet.
Shortly after raking in those points, I applied for and received the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which required spending $2000 before receiving 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Awesome.
Finally, I applied for the Chase MileagePlus Explorer Card, and because of a promotion at the time, I received 50,000 United Mileage Plus miles. (I later realized that I didn’t even need this many points and miles, but it didn’t cost me to do this so now I have extra points!)

Bankin'

Bankin'

How does this all fit together?
Chase is partnered with United Airlines which allowed me to transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points one-to-one to United Mileage Plus miles. Since United Airlines is part of Star Alliance, a set number of seats on Star Alliance partner flights are reserved for rewards bookings. Through the United Airlines website, I was able to search for flights and dates and see how many points I would have to spend to get to a particular city. I wanted to start my travels in New Zealand, but all the rewards seats on the Air New Zealand flights were sold out. So, I instead booked a rewards flight to Sydney, Australia (35,000 points + $29 booking fee) and then a few days later I purchased a ticket from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand ($173). So to get halfway around the world I spend a total of $202. I did this in mid-November and I’m pretty proud of myself here!

Pay Off Debts and Save Up Travel Money

I feel very fortunate in this department. I graduated with very little loans and I had a well paying job right out of college. Reading this starter guide and having relatively frugal spending habits helped in saving money. Having money isn’t the *most* crucial facet and its certainly possible to travel on very little, but it’s also important to have enough money to feel grounded especially when everything else is in flux.

Sublease or Break The Lease

This is totally dependent on the place you live. Sometimes breaking the lease doesn’t cost much and it’s worth avoiding the hassle of finding a sublease.

I decided to find a sublease by putting an ad on Craigslist. I put up several pictures and a detailed description of the apartment and included why I was moving. After meeting with several prospects I was able to officially sign lease-transfer papers within a month.

Buy Necessary Gear

It’s important to not go overboard and buy every little travel accessory you come across. Buy only necessary or semi-necessary things. This will be different for everyone, but for most budget backpackers, that includes buying a good quality travel backpack. I also spent money on a hydro pack (can be used as a daypack), a slash proof purse, a Kindle for reading books, a DSLR camera (what better time to get into photography?), and a few other small things… I’ll save the details for another post.

Selling, Keeping, Giving, Trashing

"The things you own end up owning you." Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

"The things you own end up owning you." Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

This quote is quite relevant when it comes to getting rid of stuff. All those things I own, I am responsible for. I spent many hours sifting through, organizing, and making decisions on what to sell, keep, give, and trash.

I knew I wanted to sell the big stuff to make extra cash. I once again used Craigslist to sell my bed, couch, coffee tables, TV, and kitchen table & chairs. Then there was stuff like winter clothes, cards, pictures, art work, memorabilia, etc, that I knew I wanted to keep. I packed it all into boxes, Tetris’d it into a rental car and drove that stuff to my mother’s house during the holidays. I’ve been actively finding new homes for things that still have value - like my whiteboard, random decorations, paintings, kitchenware and my juicer. And I’ve thrown away two trash bags of stuff that should have been thrown away a year ago.

(I’m three days away from departure and I’m still not done...)

Austin at sunet

Austin at sunet

It’s been a gradual process and only now that it’s a few days away does it make my heart quicken when I think about it. The preparation for this trip has truly been a journey of it’s own. It started with a simple idea: the desire to travel. I listened to that voice in my head, set a goal, and made a decision to make it happen. Day dreaming and reading articles online turned into selling furniture and purchasing plane tickets. Many of the major steps I’ve taken were overlapping in time. I started saving money and applying for credit cards before I quit my job. I was buying gear and getting rid of stuff simultaneously. This has not been the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it also has not been the most difficult either.

If you want to travel, you can too. Set a goal. It’ll happen.


Have you prepared for a longer term trip before? How did you prepare? What have I missed? Let me know in the comments! :)


My Favorite Places to Run in Austin

I've lived in Austin for over six years now. Through out my time in Austin, I've gone through many phases and life changes, but one thing that has remained constant is my off and on relationship with running. This might sound crazy to some people, but for me running has always been a stress relieving and calming activity. During my runs I am able to dedicate time to myself and no one else. I could go on about why I love running, but for now here is a list of my favorite places to run in Austin, curated over the past six years.

The Barton Creek Greenbelt
Accurately described, the Greenbelt is an area surrounding a creek bed with natural trails crisscrossing around the creek. Very centrally located, the greenbelt is a great place to get away from the noise and traffic of the city without actually leaving the city. It’s a place where you can really feel immersed in the wilderness. The trail itself is pretty rocky (so be careful!) and it will have different vibes depending on the time of year and how recently it rained. In the hot summer months, the creek is usually completely dry so the round, chalky rocks are exposed.

Peaceful trail at the Greenbelt.

Peaceful trail at the Greenbelt.

If you have strong ankles and would like a fun challenge, you can try walking or running on these rocks. During the spring months is when the creek collects the most water. Its a great place to jump in and cool off especially after a run. After rainstorms in the fall season is another time the creek will fill up, and as an added bonus the surrounding vegetation will be all sorts of warm colors creating a very serene setting for a long run. This trail is not just for runners. You’ll see mountain bikers, rock climbers, families with pets, and walkers and runners in a variety of shoes (or no shoes!)

The Greenbelt in November after a very rainy weekend.

The Greenbelt in November after a very rainy weekend.

Hike and Bike Trail at Town Lake (aka Lady Bird Lake)
Officially named the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, this trail is literally in the middle of Austin tracing the sides of water with crossing access at 6 bridge points, allowing you run a loop of 1 mile, 3 miles, or even 10 miles (map). The trail is well maintained and while you might get little rocks in your socks, you won’t be tripping over any big boulders.

Sunset over Town Lake from the South 1st Street bridge

Sunset over Town Lake from the South 1st Street bridge

There are several access points with plenty of parking, however this also makes the trail extremely popular especially on beautiful, blue skied mornings, evenings, and weekends. You’ll definitely be surrounded by other health conscious runners, walkers, and bikers and its a great place to run if you don’t want to be stopped by traffic lights and noisy vehicles.

Taken on the South side of Town Lake, east of Congress Avenue.

Taken on the South side of Town Lake, east of Congress Avenue.

Shoal Creek Trail
Shoal Creek runs roughly north and south along the west side of downtown Austin, and continues north through Pease Park and then through some residential areas. Parts of the trail are more difficult and rocky (between 29th and 38th Street), parts are pebbly (in Pease Park), and some portions are paved.

Shoal Creek Trail just south of 38th Street.

Shoal Creek Trail just south of 38th Street.

The portion of the trail that traces through Downtown is interesting because its set below the streets, and I feel that it gives a somewhat hidden view of the city. It’s a great trail to run out and back, or you can create a loop that also goes through the UT Campus, or through Downtown Austin depending on where you start and how long your run will be. 

Hyde Park Neighborhood and Bouldin Creek Neighborhood
I’ve lived in both of these neighborhoods so I might be biased, but I think the eclectic mix of houses in this area are very interested to look at while running. There are older houses, castle-like houses, modern boxy houses, houses with jungle like yards, and everything in between. Because these neighborhoods are older and don’t have to follow strict guidelines of newer suburban neighborhoods, you can see the character of the different people who have resided in them. There is not much car traffic in the neighborhoods, so your run will be pretty quite and streamlined. 

Around the Capitol
If you are running through Downtown, definitely run around or through the capital building! I’m usually not about historical sites, but this building really does look magnificent, especially at night. There is no security check for accessing the area around the building so its really easy to see. And if you end your run there, the yard is a great place to take a breather and stretch. 

Whether you're into running or not, if you're in Austin, I hope you decide to at least take a stroll through or around some of these places! 

Thoughts on Leaving My High Paying Software Job

I majored in computer science. Throughout college I learned to like it. Initially, I was not passionate about it. I simply chose it for the promise of financial stability. But it turns out the subject was interesting enough. The study of computer science has tremendously advanced our society and culture in the past century. We wouldn't have our iPhones or even Google without it.

I spent five years studying towards my my degree. And I've built up an pretty sweet resume over the course of four internships in four different cities. During my last year of college, I flew to San Francisco, then to New York, did several phone and Skype interviews, then again to San Francisco, all to ultimately decided that my first full-time, yuppy job out of college would be in my current city of Austin, Texas. I comforted myself by reminding myself this job would be as temporary as I decide it to be.

When I started working, it was such a relief to go home at 5:30 and not have homework to complete or quizzes to study for. And what a relief it was to have a nice paycheck and to have enough money to not think about money. Life was good.

My first team placement after training did not work out too well. Turns out a manager in another state overseeing a team with new grads is not a good combination. So three months later I got placed on another team with a manager that was much better. That was all fine and dandy for the little while. But as I explored my interests on the evenings and weekends, the idea of climbing the corporate ladder sounded less and less appealing. When I was at work I'd stare out the window and want to be outside. I knew when I got off work the sun would be down, I'd either run, or go to a yoga class and then it'd be time to eat, then sleep and do it all over again. My list of personal projects was ever growing with rarely enough time to complete anything. 

What I did at work did not interest me. 
The nine to five routine became a grind. The Monday through Friday work week felt like a social prison.

Although the hours were somewhat flexible and I excelled and even got a pay raise on my mediocre efforts, I still had to arrange my life around a job I did not care about and around a lifestyle I did not agree with. 

And I know, as fresh college graduate in 2014, I had made this privileged life for myself that others my age would kill for. I don’t regret any part of the conventional path I’ve taken so far. I’ve learned a great deal and there are many worse things than having an unsatisfying job. I know I'm griping about first world problems here. But for any problem, I like to think about solutions. I didn't want to sabotage my efforts, so first I decided to question what I have.

So, I asked myself, why am I still working here?

My answers:
The pay and stability.
The novelty and prestige.
My college degree.
The societal vision of what adulthood should look like.

And my logic to why I don't need to hold on to those things:

The pay was great but I don’t need that much right now. I don't have student loans and I participate relatively little in the consumer culture. Although it is nice, I don't need that much pay right now. I don't plan to buy a house or condo, and I don't have to provide for a family. And besides, in the past year I've accumulated a pretty good looking savings account I can use while I figure out another source of income. 

The prestige and novelty of being a rad female software engineer. I liked the surprise, pleasure, and fear I evoked when people found out I'm in the technology industry - as a software engineer. I'm smart, I know how to code, and I probably made more money than most other people my age. Honestly, I liked feeling the cultural approval for my efforts. But pride is a silly thing. Pride doesn’t make me a better person. Pride serves my ego but it doesn’t serve my wellbeing. 

The college degree. Five years of studying for quizzes and exams, interviews, career fairs, and conferences, internships, and more interviewing: I've gained so much from my experiences. I worked and completed a B.S. in Computer Science at University of Texas and it was a very difficult five years. From that I learned that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. And knowing that I can accomplish anything, I would be would be limiting myself if I kept at doing something that didn't interest me. From completing that degree, I gained the confidence I'll need to get from point A to point B and I know I can learn whatever I need along the way.

And that idea of adulthood. You go to work, get paid, and buy pretty things. You drag your feet during the week waiting for the precious weekends. You wait for next quarter, next summer, next vacation. You wait for the next pay raise or promotion. You buy a house, start a family. Then wait for the kids to grow up and get out. Then wait for retirement and finally when you’re old you'll have time to do whatever interests you. That's not for me. I want to pursue my interests now. I don't need to and I don't want to fulfill our cultural vision of "adulthood."

So instead of just talking about it, I did it. I left that job.

Now I’m about two months into what I like to call “fun employment.” I’ve been living off my last few paychecks and because I recently bought a new laptop, I’ll have to dip into my savings account soon. I’m creating some monetary income from teaching yoga and freelancing websites. Yoga, running, art, reading, cooking, cleaning and seeing my friends and boyfriend keep me busy. I haven’t yet produced any large fruits of my labor, but I’m reminding myself that everything takes time. It was after five years of college and internships that my software job manifested and right now I’m only two months into my self employment projects. I certainly wasn’t making money two months into college, so I’m doing great!  

I know my savings account eventually will empty out if I don’t bring in more money, and I’m not sure yet exactly how I’m going to create more income. I don’t know what I’ll be doing five years from now - I don’t even know what my interests will be either. Sometimes I feel worried or frustrated and that’s okay. It’s natural for humans to feel ungrounded or nervous when faced with uncertainty. And it’s silly to worry about the future too much when the only guaranteed moment is now. So today I’ll continue to direct my energy to bring my ideas down towards manifestation, first by writing this piece. 

 

TLDR: Monday-Friday, 9-5 does not resonate with me so I quit my job and I'm learning how to be okay with the unknown.