I have some exciting news to share with the blog today!
A few years ago I tweeted that I was leaving to journey around the world for the next 2 years. Sadly, this was an April Fool’s joke that … nobody caught because part of the joke was that it was actually April 1 in New Zealand, but hadn’t yet gotten that far for the rest of the world.
However, today it’s NO FOOLIN!
I am leaving. I am selling/giving away all of my personal belongings and am heading out into the world on a grand adventure. The goal is to be gone for the next FIVE years!
As far back as 2011 I’d been making plans or dreaming about riding my bicycle from Los Angeles to New York with a friend of mine. That never panned out, for a wide variety of reasons. But the dream has always been there, clawing at my brain.
Later, during my job search where I ended up at Nationbuilder, I was looking for a job that would allow me to work fully remotely so I could basically work while I was bike touring. Like I would set up at a campground for the week then ride to the next place on the weekend. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and honestly, it probably wouldn’t have worked long term anyways, but again, setting the stage for what’s to come!
Back in 2016 I traveled to New Zealand for vacation. I’d never been outside the US except for visits to Canada, and I’d heard good things about New Zealand.
The plan for the trip was to land in Christchurch, which I’d read (on Wikipedia, probably) was the “bike city” in NZ, spend a few days there, exploring, having a good time, take the train out to Greymouth, rent a car, go skydiving in Franz Josef, drive around, end up back in Christchurch. After that I would take the bus out to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, which is an old volcano formation just southeast of Christchurch, and spend 4 days hiking the Banks Peninsula Track, a private tramping track with huts with cooking fuel, hot showers, electricity to some degree (at least, electricity enough to charge my phone), and comfortable beds.
After finishing those last 4 days on the Banks Peninsula Track, I referred to them as “the best 4 days of my life to this point”. I’d made a number of mistakes: I was wearing jeans, for one, I misunderstood what a “tramper’s shop” was (I thought it was like a convenience store, it’s more a pantry with an honor box), I broke a window by accident. But despite the mistakes, it was truly an incredible time. And I wanted more.
So a few months later, in April 2017, I decided I wanted to go to Japan for a few weeks. Only this time, instead of touristing it up for 2 weeks and then spending a few days on the trail, I wanted to tourist for a few days and spend the rest of the time on the trail. I’d found the Tokai Nature Trail which runs from Tokyo to Osaka, and I would spend some time hiking part of that. I started in Kawaguchiko, which is on the northeastern corner of Mount Fuji, walked counter clockwise around Mount Fuji for a bit, and then departed and headed west toward Osaka. To say this was an amazing experience is not even remotely doing it justice. A truly wonderful time. I thought after 3 days of hiking around Mount Fuji I would get kinda tired of seeing it, but nope. Not once. Every time I turned a corner and had a new view of it, it was like seeing it for the first time all over again.
Later that year, after having a bit of a falling out with my employer and leaving, a friend of mine offered to watch my cats for me while I went back to New Zealand and hiked the South Island section of Te Araroa, a trail that runs the length of the country, from Cape Reinga at the very tippy tip of the North Island to Bluff at the very tip of the South Island. So I went there and spent 52 trail days walking, starting from Bluff and heading north. What an incredible experience that was. The people I met, the places I saw, the food I ate. All the things. Absolutely incredible.
Fast forward to a year ago. I wasn’t happy with my job. We were on the second year of COVID. In the span of a few days I lost 2 of the most influential people in my life: my foster mom Betty Becker, who had been declining for quite some time, honestly it was amazing she lived as long as she did. And my best friend Sam Haber, who went from perfectly normal happy fun guy to having a seizure, being diagnosed with glioblastoma, and dying less than a year later. I was miserable. I needed out.
I’d been thinking about a trip for some time where I would walk the length of Japan, from north to south, which I expected would take about a year. So, I decided I was going to do it. I was going to make it happen. And that would be the first leg of a trip where I would spend about 5 years traveling around the world, primarily on foot.
However, COVID is still today running rampant around the world. Life has mostly “returned to normal” but only just recently has Japan fully reopened to foreign travelers without strict itineraries and supervision and private transportation. As it’s heading into winter in Japan, it’s not a great time for me to start walking across the country, or at least, it’s not a good time for *me* to be doing that, as I want to kind of ease into this trip a bit, especially since I’ve put on a *lot* of weight since getting back to New Zealand. Furthermore, the more I looked into the route I would take, the more I realized that the first few days, weeks, maybe even the whole trip, would involve a whole lot of walking on roads. And not even particularly pretty roads, just roads. For days at a time.
I have a very very beefy touring bike I built several years ago. It’s a Salsa Marrakesh, but that bit is mostly the frame. Nearly everything else about the bike is different. It has a Rohloff Speedhub 14 speed internal gearbox in the back, Jones H Loop handlebars, Sugar Wheelworks wheels, and dynamo powered lights. It is a rolling brick but I love it a lot. I built the bike to tour around the world, to be able to endure any condition, and … well maybe I should just use that?
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to start in New Zealand, and spend about 6 months riding around on my bike all over the country. Why New Zealand? Because New Zealand is a traveler’s paradise. There are inexpensive accommodations all over the country. Public transit is decent. Hitchhiking is a national pastime, and, well, honestly it has a lot to do with: I speak the language, I know how New Zealand do, and I really love the place. And it’ll be spring/summer/fall when I’m there, so ideal time to visit!
After New Zealand, the rough plan is to, yes, go to Japan and bike there. I will still be trying to figure out how to go about walking, and there may be a bit of a hybrid approach, where I bike to get around but do a lot of backpacking side trips, especially things like the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage. I still would like to spend a full year in Japan, I feel like there’s so much to see, so many trails to hike, that I really just need to, but we’ll see. From there, possibly China, I’ve heard that’s a really great place to tour. Southeast Asia. South America. Really, wherever the winds take me.
Where you gonna post?
I have a Twitter account (obviously), but I really don’t plan to use it. I don’t have Instagram, I don’t have TikTok, or any of that stuff. I may post some videos to YouTube, but I don’t have a channel set up for that or anything. So I’ll mostly be posting stuff here, be it long form blog posts, interesting photos, short blurbs about a place, whatever. This is going to be the primary location for all of that.