A couple years ago, Jalopnik published an article titled, "I sold everything to buy a Lamborghini and drive across the country." This is my own personal version of that story. After spending almost 5 years at a job going nowhere and having my girlfriend move to the other side of the country, I asked myself, "What have I done to get myself closer to achieving a dream of mine?" This question prompted me to examine the monotony and quiet regularity of my life and made me decide that I couldn't put off chasing my dream road trip any longer.
When I was in middle school, I hatched an idea- I wanted to visit every state capital in the US on one single road trip. Minus Alaska and Hawaii, for obvious reasons. Nevermind that most state capitals aren't even the main urban attractions of many states. It was just the completeness and utter audacity of it all. Who else could say that they had been to every state capital let alone all of them in a single trip? I would be like the kid who collected every single Pokemon (remember, this was back when Pokemon Red and Blue were all the rage during my middle school days)! Of course, not being able to drive and knowing that my parents would never be amenable to such an undertaking, I knew it was a pipe dream. But it was a dream nonetheless.
Fast forward a little bit to college. Due to various reasons (which may or may not have had to do with me failing chemistry twice), I switched from being an engineering major to a geographic information systems major. It turned out to be a really fortunate turn of events (though not for my GPA, obviously), since I actually really enjoyed learning about the various aspects of geography and technology and how they intertwine with each other, and I eventually wound up landing a job in the DC area with my degree. Being a geography student and being located right by the nation's capital only fueled my ambition to visit every state capital- I wanted to see first hand how these physical locations shaped the people who live there (and vice-versa), and the differences (as well as similarities) they have with each other. However, being a poor college student still kept these dreams on the shelf and in the back of my mind until about a year ago.
Last April, my girlfriend moved from DC back to San Jose, CA where she grew up. Instead of shipping her car, we packed it up and drove 3,000+ miles in her 2006 Honda Accord. It was a spectacular trip! We stayed in Cleveland, Chicago, Lincoln, Denver, Page (AZ), someplace just outside of Zion National Park, and Vegas before we made it to San Jose. Throughout the trip, I realized how this was almost like my dream of seeing every state capital. Almost. Don't get me wrong, it was a privilege and momentous trip, but still just short of my dream. Along the way, we'd actually only stopped at two state capitals (Denver and Lincoln) and I kept wishing we were driving my car. I currently drive a BMW 335i, which I'd purchased in 2009 after saving up for almost 2 years and with the additional help of trading in an Infinity FX35 that my parents handed down to me (which I was grateful for, but hated driving). Ever since my girlfriend moved back, I'd been trying to get a job and move out to the SF bay area. After almost a full year and what felt like 100 job applications with zero responses, I finally decided that having an uninteresting and frankly dead-end job wasn't enough to keep me from achieving my dream road trip and also going after my girlfriend.
My last day on the job was last thursday. I receive my final paycheck today. It's a little unsettling waking up and knowing I voluntarily gave up employment. But I've realized that sometimes, you have to take big risks to go after your dreams, and the fulfillment of a childhood dream road trip (and pursuit of an amazing girl) is a greater impetus than the security of an unfulfilling job. I don't, however, advocate throwing away worthwhile daily pursuits you've committed to or forsaking any financial responsibilities, especially if they involve others (like your family). I've arranged for my apartment to be rented out, I'm sorting out where I'll be staying along the way that will be cheapest/safest, and I've also started a fundraiser on Indiegogo to help me with my trip costs. If you're interested at all in some of the more minute details of the trip, helping to fund it, getting a chance to get your name plastered on my car for the duration of my trip, or following along via my blog posts, please check it out. I'd definitely appreciate any and all support, but that's not the reason I wrote this post on Jalopnik/kinja. I wrote it because, after lurking around Jalopnik for the better part of 4 years, I've grown to appreciate the openness and camaraderie of this community of gearheads and, with the blog opportunity that kinja's opened up, I thought you all might be interested in the escapades of someone who'll be living on the road for a month, putting 13,500 more ticks on his odometer, testing the limits of German reliability, and trying to dispel BMW asshattery stereotypes nationwide (I'm relentlessly religious about using my signals, staying right unless passing, and parking properly; I get absolutely bonkers when I see people not adhering to these simple tasks). I'll be posting updates during my trip via twitter, tumblr, and a facebook page (and maybe here on the kinja as well, if you'd all rather prefer that!). They're mostly full of inspirational-type musings right now, but will be focused on the trip itself when it's underway in about 3 weeks. Oh, and here's my route (split into 3 parts):
If you're in any of the capitals or along the way somewhere, I'd certainly be down to try and meet some fellow Jalops! If it seems like there's an interest in how this all pans out, I'll definitely write follow-up articles once the road trip kicks off and wraps up. Feel free to post some long range road tripping advice or playlist suggestions in the comments as well!