When do you leave? Where will you go? What will you see and do?
Since I've kicked off this adventure, a lot of friends have asked me, "When are you leaving? Do you have a planned route? What are you most excited to see?"
The short answer to these questions has been, "I'm leaving in the fall, but I don't have discrete plans." The long answer is more nuanced.
My last day at work is June 30, but I'm not planning to be on the road until the fall due to a series of other events through the summer. In the beginning of July I have a wedding for my friend ZZ in Seattle, where I'll spend several days. That's followed by road tripping to and spending the second half of July in Nova Scotia with my friend Kelly. In August my cousin Joe is getting married in Italy, so I'm taking advantage of that and will be in Europe for a few weeks. Then in the beginning of September I'm spending a week in Isle Royale National Park, camping with my friends Chris, Colin, Greg, and Stephanie. And lastly, in the middle of September I'll be in Florida for my cousin Kiki's wedding... so October. October is my goal for getting on the road.
I do have goals for what I want to see around the country, starting with all the national parks in the lower 48 and Alaska. I'd like to also visit: National monuments, forests and grasslands, historical sites/trails, preserves and reserves, recreational areas, state parks, cities, towns, local attractions, famous and hidden dining gems, and just about everything in-between (take a breath). Additionally, I want some decisions to be motivated by activities: Rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, camping, surfing, and other new activity-based opportunities. It's quite the open book for touring the country - a comprehensive vision without a comprehensive plan.
A big part of how I want to experience this is to embrace the lack of a plan and the opportunity for an ad hoc lifestyle. I want my travel plans to be loose; flexible to go when and where I want, based on what intrigues me at the time. I'll have some parameters to keep it all in check - a general path of travel (zigzagging south in the eastern states, then southwest, then zigzagging north) and activities in which to engage. I don't, however, want to feel like I'm living by an controlled, all-inclusive agenda. My agenda will have 1 item: Decide what you want to do today and execute; or don't.
I'm putting together a list of interesting items to pick from when I'm looking to move to the next thing. But it's just a starter list and could use some TLC. And that's where you might be able to help! I'd like to crowdsource where I should go, what I should see, what I should eat (the list could go on). If you can think of a recommendation for what I should check out during my travel, I'd like to hear from you!
I've put together this Shareable/Editable Google spreadsheet of items listed by state. By default I've included National forests, grasslands, and parks/sites managed by the National Park Services (NPS). No thing is too trivial to add to the list. Please just be respectful and do not 1) write anything bad and 2) edit other peoples' additions. Thanks for your contribution of ideas!