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2000 words

June 5, 2009

I am a native son of Oregon, I have the webbed feet to prove it. For those of you who don’t know Oregon is located in the Pacific Northwest, needless to say it rains a lot out here. Our two university mascots are a duck and a beaver, that should explain it all. However without the rain we wouldn’t have the lush green forests that surround Portland and stretch throughout the Willammett Valley and the coast. I will often laugh at people who travel here during the summer months and decide to move here not knowing what is in store for them during the winter months. So if you don’t like rain don’t move to Oregon, however if you don’t mind it Oregon can be paradise.
I love Oregon, it is my home, it is in my blood, however I have always had a strong desire to travel. I believe that to truly appreciate your home you must venture out and see the world. For most of my life the farthest I had ever ventured was Alaska, and the only foreign nation I visited was Canada.
Sometimes when I am bored I will go on the internet and look at maps and dream about traveling to far away places. One day in my early twenties I was looking at Google Earth and I decided one of these days I am going to circle the United States. I decided it would be best to travel the United States before I went anywhere internationally, because I wanted to see what my country had to offer before I went abroad. Sadly I was in school and I was a poor college student. However I decided that when I was finished with school I was going to make my trip happen.
Before I could make this trip happen, I had to figure out how I was going to make it happen. Like Doc Brown from back to the future once said, “you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it.” I needed to figure out where I was going to go, so I began to brainstorm. First I mapped out my trip, I wanted to spend half my time camping and the other half in big cities. I would start in Portland Oregon head west until I hit the coast then I would head south through San Francisco, there I would visit Alctraz.  Then I would like to do some camping in the redwood forest and visit Yosamette Natioanl Park and see El Capitan. Then I would hit Las Angelas, check out Disneyland and other amusment parks. Then I would be off to Las Vegas, visit the Hover Dam, and the Grand Canyon, then I would zigzag to Monument Vally Utah then to Phenox Arazona. From Phenox I would go to El Paso Texas, then on to Huston to see the space shuttle launch. If possible I would like to hit New Orelens for mardi graw, then I would head to flordia for Disney World, then it would be off to the battle ground states and washington DC. From Washington I would go to Boston then to the Big Apple, New York City. Then I would head back west hit yellow stone national park and then go back home to Portland Oregon.
After I mapped out my trip I realized I would be gone for an extended amount of time. I decided this trip would take me at least six months if I was to do it right. The next phase in my planning was the how. I figured I would be spending most of my money of food and lodging. On day I looked up free travel on the internet and came across a web site called wayfaringtraveler.com.
Wayfaringtraveler.com is a grass roots campaign dedicated to alternative ways of travel. This site was loaded with free information on how to travel practically free. From their home page you can click on their many links and gain access to a wide range of programs that exist for the frugal traveler. Such as (WWOOF) World Wide Opportunities of Organic Farms which is a program that seeks volunteers who wish to learn how to grow things organically, in exchange for your work, the host farm will offer food and lodging and on your days off you can visit the local area and experience the culture where ever the host farm is located. There were also links to hosting programs called Globalfreeloaders.com, couchsurfers, and Sevas.com. On these sites you have to apply to become a member once you are a member you gain access to an extended network of hosts, in return you must become a host yourself. Much like a high school student exchange program a host will show the guest/traveler around and provide food and shelter for a minimum of two days and one night. It is then up to the host to decide if he or she wants to extend that stay. However if you don’t feel comfortable with the host/guest arraignment there are al sorts of volunteering programs that you can join that is if you don’t mind going to developing nations and putting in some elbow grease. Many of these programs can be found through you local churches. On the other hand if you find yourself as not religious there are other programs you can find on the net that offer you a similar experience without the religious overtones, such as globalvolunteers.com.
After visiting wayfaringtraveler.com I began the next planning stage of my trip, budgeting. I found a supply list for backpacking through Europe on wayfaringtraveler.com. I used this as a starting point for what I needed for my trip around the united states. It is also recommended that you budget $30 dollars a day for your trip, that comes to about $900 a month, I rounded that up to $1000 a month. If I was going to be gone for six months I needed to raise $6,000 for my trip. I was also on the look out for a Volks Wagon Camper, not only would it be a good mode of transportation it would be a place for me to sleep. I figured I could get something for under $4,000 so my whole budget in all would be around $10,000 dollars in all. I figured I would need to make an extra $41 a day five days out of a week to save $10,000 in a year. So I set up a savings account at my bank and named it the escape fund.
I started my quest for $10,000 by selling as many possessions as I possibly could. Also when I wasn’t in school or at work I was busy looking for work making money under the table. I started by doing yard and house maintenance for my friends dad. Through word of mouth I began to find a steady amount of work, if I wasn’t doing yard maintenance I was house setting, and or taking peoples dog for a walk. Eventually I finished school and got my associates degree in graphic design. For the next few months the economy sucked and finding work as a graphic designer was hard to come by. So I started my own business and worked part time at the YMCA as a site director. In the morning I worked at the YMCA from 6am-8am then I went back in from 2:15pm-6pm, my mid afternoon break I worked on building my business. By winter I managed to save up the money needed to go on my trip.
The things I have learned over these past few months you cant learn in school. They don’t teach you how to hustle in school, it’s only through putting yourself out in the universe and working like a dog till you get recognized that you can begin to make it. Like Sean Puffy Combs said “you have to fake it till you make it.” However the one thing school did teach me is how to learn, and by no means is my journey over. One of my goals while on this trip will be to build my business, it’s like one of my teachers told me you never know where you are going to meet your best clients.
Just by luck I managed to find myself a van that I was able to customize with some sleeping quarters and a table/work station. Plus my friend Robert helped me outfit it with some electronics, such as a GPS and a Ham radio. I also managed to get myself some solar panels so I can power my laptop and cellphone so I don’t kill my car battery, that set me back close to $1,000 but I think it was well worth it.
Before I set out on my trip I signed up on some host/guest exchange programs that I found on wayfaringtraveler.com. I plan to document and post my feedback on the web when ever I get the chance. I have also bought myself a video camera and a good digital camera for stock photography. Who knows maybe I can figure out a way to turn my traveling into a career, maybe I will write a book.
When I am not camping or traveling I will be staying with friends and extended family that I have contacted. When I get to Arizona my friend JJ will fly down and meet me at his parents vacation home, and when I get to the east coast I will be staying with my friend Chris. I also have some extended family that lives in New York, and North Dakota. Most of my family that lives in North Dakota are Norwegians, my cousin Don promised to take me out for lutefisk. If you don’t know what that is let me tell you lutefisk is dried whitefish (normally cod, but ling is also used), prepared with lye, in a sequence of particular treatments. Apparently it’s a Norwegian delicacy I heard it taste like fish jelly if they made a fish jelly, sounds awesome. For the rest of my trip I have made aragements with people I have found through wayfaringtraveler.com, couchsurfing.com, globalfreeloader.com, servas.com and wwoof.com. On this trip I am testing out multiple host/guest programs to see which one is the best for me, for sometime in the near future I plan to make a similar trip to Europe. However that will come at another time.
Already I feel I have made some great friends from my online correspondents to my future hosts. I met this one lady named Sharon through Servas.com she is retired and runs a bed and breakfast in San Francisco. She has been all over the world as a guest through Servas.com. She uses one of the rooms in her bed and brekfast to host other Servas travelers, I cant wait to hear her stories. She also promised to show me some great hole in the wall restaurants that only the locals know about. I also look forward to the time I will spend on the organic farms. It will be nice to learn some new skills, I love the opportunity to learn hands on. I have some experience working with hydroponics, my friend JJ and I built a mini hydroponic tomato garden when we were younger.
So in a couple of months I will be leaving for my trip. Consider this my first post before I get underway. Oh yeah I almost forgot I got myself a companion for my trip his name is Odin he is my new Tamaskan puppy for those of you who don’t know what a Tamaskan dog looks like they basically look like a wolf and they are the size of a German Shepherd. The Tamaskan breed comes from Finland their ancestors are the Husky and Malamute.

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