The end of the beginning…

I actually started writing this three weeks ago, not long after I’d arrived in Istanbul. While I was excited to be in such a diverse and active place I noticed that my sense of awe and enthusiasm were not where they should have been. I found I spent more and more time in the hostel or the nearby restaurant reading or talking to people I’d met. My drive to go walk for six to eight hours a day was gone. I was only six blocks from the Blue Mosque and Hava Sophia and it took me three days before I bothered to go check them out. I was awash in an amazing culture and I was, I can’t say bored, I was tired.

Back at the very beginning of this trip I talked to my friend Candice, who was very excited for my trip and the route I was taking. She had done a year around the world with someone and gave me some sage advice. “From one traveler to another, don’t drink the water, use hand sanitizer a lot, and don’t be afraid to stop if you get tired.”

In Sofia I met a man from Hong Kong named Kerry Pan. Kerry was on an overland journey from Hong Kong to the Middle East. He’d spent the last few years traveling all over the world. South America, Asia, Japan, etc… He would always return home to regroup after a period of time.

In Istanbul I met a German man named Johan (I think I’m spelling that correctly). He had been traveling regularly for 20+ years, all on his motorcycle. He has logged nearly 1,000,000 kilometers and was presently on a journey from Germany to South Africa. We talked about my concerns and lack of enthusiasm and he told me that his limit was six months. He’d taken longer trips but hadn’t enjoyed them as much. He found that after six months for him it just became living. “What pub am I going to hang out in?” “Where am I going to eat?” that kind of thing. The thrill started to wane.

I’d planned the trip, saved enough to get me through a year or more, studied the routes, bought the gear, sold my car, and put my life on hold. It wasn’t until I’d spent months on the road that I realized I might have an upper limit on my attention span for this kind of thing. You can’t know unless you try. No matter what, I know that I tried, and that I’m not done.

I’m glad I had these conversations, and many others, with fellow travelers. When I first started to feel it, I was concerned, and it was nice to have others with a long term trip under their belt let me know they’d felt the same way.

I know there will be some that are disappointed in my decision to stop early. For them, know that it was not an easy decision. I spent several weeks, and countless hours, weighing everything. Was I wasting this opportunity I’d created? Was I stopping too easily? Could I just push past it? In the end I knew that this wasn’t the end, just the end of the beginning. Anyone who thought this trip would “get it out of my system” or “settle me down” doesn’t know me very well. This trip, as long as it lasted, has only opened the door for bigger, more difficult, travel and challenges. So as to not become jaded to future adventures it’s better I stop now and regroup.

Maybe it would be different if I didn’t have my future wife waiting patiently for me at home. She has never pressured me into any decisions about this trip. Still, being away from Summer has been the single most challenging aspect of this whole adventure. Thanks to technology and the availability of the Internet I’ve been able to talk with her often but it’s not the same. I’m sure you can ask anyone posted overseas or in another city about that. There’s also the “Damn, I wish she could see this” factor.

I’ve learned a great deal about myself and the world over the past six months. You can’t not with this kind of experience. You learn what you can and can’t live without, there are more extreme lessons in the world I’m sure, but this has been mine. You learn what is important to you. You learn about the insignificance of so many things you worry about every day. Similar I think to when you age, you realize how to be comfortable in your own skin, and how all that self-conscious crap while you were young, was crap. You realize how everyone is just a person like you. Loves the same, needs the same, lives the same, just differently.

So, with all that said, sorry for the seemingly abrupt end to the adventure. It really isn’t the end. I will spend the rest of my life reaching this goal. I’m more interested in enjoying the ride than unenthusiastically accomplishing a task. Life is too short.

Pacific Northwesterners! I’m back! and unemployed! anybody want to buy me a drink?

15 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Personal, Round The World, Travel

  • Crystal

    Brad!! Are you back already?!? Call me! I want to hang out!

  • Crystal

    I didn’t mean, like, back already, in that you cut it short, but like, are you here in PDX now!? I totally respect and understand your decision to cut it short. I can imagine you packed more into the last six months than 95% of the world will have in a lifetime. You are amazing! And really, let’s hang out!

  • Emmy

    WELCOME BACK BRAD!!! Was nice to see you back!!! Happy Halloween thanks for the candy!!

  • Brad,

    An amazing journey– no matter the time spent there! I am really glad you are home– safe and sound. I’d LOVE to buy you a drink, dear friend!

    A

  • The Dad

    We’re really glad to have you home and safe. I know this is phase I and there’s more to come when you’re ready. Yes, we worried cause we’re parents and we do that sort of thing. (Constantly)

    Know that as your children grow, you give them space and wonder where they are. This increases with age and a bike and you wonder where they are. Then they have a car and yes that’s right… you wonder where they are. Then they sell the car and decide to see the world… and you wonder where they are. Well… their in turkey, in a 4,000 year old city, playing in the dirt. where else would they be? Don’t ask.

  • Leslie

    Brad,
    I don’t know you personally. Your father is a business associate of mine and I feel very fortunate that he asked that I be included on the email updates on postings to this site. I have found myself looking forward to your next story or set of pictures. Doing what you have done was a dream of mine in college, eighteen years ago, when I had little to no ties and a reckless spirit of adventure. Now I am an older mother of one and one on the way as well as wife to a wonderful man. My direction has changed but my spirit is still on the reckless side! THANK YOU a million times for letting me enjoy your journey and your views. Your stories were amazing and your pictures were beautiful. Congratulations on the success of your trip – you have achieved much greater things than crossing the finish line. I have enjoyed the ride and hope that someday my husband and I will be lucky enough to bump in to you and your wife on the travel trail. With most sincerity, Leslie Rupell, Kansas City, MO.

  • Dave

    Glad to hear you made it back and all is well. Enjoy your rest, and if you’re ever back down in Reno look me up!

  • Candice

    Brad! I just have to say that reading your last post got me all vaclempt. Traveling for an extended amount of time away from the comforts of your home is one of the hardest things to do. You and I have both been there, I know. The amount of land and sea you trekked through, boated past, walked on is a feat that so many people only dream of doing. Be proud of what you saw and experienced and know that shit, you’ll be back out there doing it again someday. From one world traveler to another…there ain’t nothin’ better than your own bed!! Welcome home.

  • Ron Brister

    Drinks are on me! Give me a call…

  • kory

    brad.. we have all been living vicariously (somewhat jealously) through your blog.. i know exactly what you went through in deciding to cut your trip short.. i have been there.. the world isn’t going anywhere, and after a rest you and Summer can enjoy it together.. glad you are back and hope to see you soon.. kory

  • Justin P

    Welcome back B.

  • alex

    As of Friday Im unemployed too!!! We can ‘drink n dash’. Maybe even a few ‘beer runs’!!!
    alex

  • Jake

    Hey dude… Really wish I could buy you a drink sooner rather than later. As it is, I’ll settle for “later” as soon as it’s interpreted as “as soon as possible” 🙂

    Really respect your decision, brother. Give me a call soon when you get a chance!

  • Matt Earich

    Hey Brad. I know its a hard decision and I am very aware of the fatigue of travel. Good luck in your future adventures.

    Matt E (kid from Belgrade)

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