An ode to the road…

PLANNING and preparing for a long stay overseas can suck. Sure there’s tons of nervous excitement but working six days a week trying to hit those savings goals while researching destinations, organising yellow fever jabs and figuring out what to pack can be a nightmare. So it was with this in mind that I thought I’d reflect on why I’m doing it all again, forgoing the chance to start a new career or save up for a house like so many others in my age bracket. I had to look no further than my last trip – a 375-day journey that saw me traverse eight countries and endure 18 flights, four ferry trips and 19 derrièrenumbing long-distance bus rides. Here’s a list of some of the PG-rated experiences, good and bad, I had last time that make me want to to do it all over again:

  • hand-fed a mama deer and it’s little one an apple on a bone-chilling walk back to my hostel after a bender one morning in Banff
  • became friends with a gay Mexican facial surgeon
  • lived on a couch in a loungeroom, in a house deep in the mountains, with a snowboard jib setup in the backyard, which was next to a giant frozen lake
  • bussed my way from Mexico City to Costa Rica
  • played a game of soccer with the local Indos near Lakey Peak, Sumbawa
  • drove to Desert Point, Lombok – finding it near-perfect for the second time in my life (then finding the wave ridiculously hard to surf on a bodyboard for the second time)
  • almost got our hire car impounded by a nasty cop and narrowly missed hitting about 300o pigs after finding this wave near Popoyo, Nicaragua. then getting waved down by two cops an hour later only to have them jump in the back of the ute for a ride home
  • got offered heroin for the first time in my life – Jaco, Costa Rica.  No thanks buddy.
  • made an impulse decision to jump on a plane to Sulawesi, and ended up staying in a rustic beachside hut with an old friend I met in Indo a few years prior
  • hiked up an active volcano and toasted sticks on the lava (we forgot marshmallows)
  • jumped off a huge rock face into Central America’s deepest lake
  • partied in an amazing club in Managua two nights in a row where we were the only white people inside
  • partied at the Viper Room in Hollywood with a couple of Austrian girls, finding it to be a shadow of its former self
  • rode the Flowrider in San Diego and didn’t break any bones
  • drove our hire car from Hollywood to San Diego and only crashed it twice – once into the back of a van driven by the hottest soccer mum I’ve ever laid eyes on (she told us not to worry about it, it was just a scratch)
  • put my Spanish to the test in a conversation with a five-year-old Mayan girl about the animals of the forest
  • had to bail a Mexican house party when we found out the tattooed guy spilling bourbon all over the place was a gang member with a knife down his shorts

  • got the best barrel of my life at G-Land, which was almost topped by a Puerto Escondido keg a month later
  • went to the Winter Olympics and watched the bobsled and Super G downhill events
  • learnt to snowboard, conquering backside 360s over large jumps and boardsliding downrails (both big deals for me!) as well as riding powder up to my armpits during a catskiing trip
  • got lunged at by a bear protecting its cub in Whistler while drinking cider with my friends next to a beautiful lake
  • went op-shopping in Vancouver and Seattle, securing my wardrobe for the next few years
  • sold my car to go stay in Hawaii  with a Swedish friend I met in Canada on the way back to Australia, just because I could
  • hiked the beautiful Na Pali coast in Kauai then struggled to hitchhike home because I looked like a hobo
  • had a suss of Jimi Hendrix’s guitars and Kurt Cobain’s handwritten lyrics in Seattle
  • got barrelled in Hawaii (not Pipeline or anywhere else of note but still barrelled all the same!)
  • played golf beneath a double rainbow on one of Hawaii’s best courses
  • spent Christmas Day hitting kickers and rails (horribly) on one of the world’s best ski mountains
  • went to an NHL game and saw the Mighty Ducks (Anaheim)
  • got ice-cream headaches surfing in Tofino, Canada
  • spent my 23rd birthday gyrating on a pole onstage at a sketchy Mexican strip joint, with an even sketchier looking crowd
  • met 2009 bodyboarding world champion Jeff Hubbard in the Kauai airport – then went back to his parents place with him where his ma made me English muffins for breakfast
  • watched Canada win Olympic Gold in the ice hockey and nearly had a teary at the restaurant I was working in
  • woke up outside my mate’s apartment building in Vancouver to find an aggressive raccoon staring me down at my feet
  • ingested some funny-looking mushrooms high above the clouds in San Jose Del Pacifico and almost died on the way there when a truck almost hit us on a narrow hairpin next to a cliff (or did I just imagine that?)

Aah to go back…

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