As I continue to share some thoughts from the past year since I quit my job of 25+ years knowing there was something better for me, I want to dig into a second component of taking my life back…Travel! While I was very fortunate to travel quite a bit prior to leaving work and for work, I never felt like I was fully free. On many trips I’d check work email. On others I would have to call in to either participate in or give a presentation. I always had a lap top. I always felt pulled between two worlds. Not anymore! I had quite a bit of freedom and given the prior year was spent mostly in isolation I broke out. I tell people we/I chose travel and mental well being over covid restrictions and lock down. I’ve taken some heat for that, but I followed guidelines, wasn’t stupid and took the proper precautions.
Over the course of the previous 12 months, I have taken 16 trips that had an overnight or longer. If you count day trips where I traveled and returned in the same day that number more than doubles. Each trip had a purpose but were often focused on friends, family or to check off an item on my list of things I planned to do when I quit work. Each trip gave me time to think. Each trip provided endless creative opportunities and freedoms. Each trip brought me closer to the person I wanted to be and the life I wanted to create. If you can’t tell or don’t know me, I absolutely love to travel. It both drives me and feeds me. And with that, I want to bring you a few words and an image or two from each of the trips. This is going to be a long post!
Colorado – Our first trip was a family trip. With our twins headed off to their freshman year of college, we took the opportunity to go see family and my mom as well as stay with some close friends up in Estes Park, CO. After a tough, final year of high school and my work, this was essentially a kick off to creating a new life.
Northern MN Cabin – One of my older brothers retired from work 6 months prior to me leaving my work. In that time he and his wife purchased a property up north and they spent the summer about 4 hours from my home. We took the kids up north for a few days of hanging out on and in the water. We were surprised by a new puppy too (not ours)!
Madison, WI – College drop off of our daughter at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. This was a kicker as we dropped our son off days prior at the University of Minnesota. Leaving our amazing daughter in Madison meant we were officially empty nest and signified the second major change in our lives this year. Jen and I did our best to enjoy some cocktails as well as do a hard hike on the way home to work through some of our emotions. Hiking is one of our favorite things to do together and this was needed to work through all of the things.
Northern WI – We spent a day with friends at a home in northern Wisconsin. Prior to Covid, we had gone in with friends at a silent auction for a day at a private residence to enjoy a day on the water and a catered meal for 20 people. We never got to do this due to Covid lock down and then it continued to be a scheduling challenge. In the end, we just went up with a few friends and Jen’s brother. Turned out it was a private estate and we enjoyed food, drink, private trails and the water. What a fun, short trip.
Madison, WI – Parents weekend. It wasn’t long before we headed back to Madison for parents weekend. We had a great time exploring campus, running by the lake, and walking Madison with our daughter. Little did we know it would just bring all those same feelings back from the drop off a month prior.
Maine with Jen – Wohoo! Our first trip away together. It was also of significance because I had planned to go to Maine for our 15th wedding anniversary and that got changed for one reason or another. We were also meeting close friends later in the week. Jen and I really enjoyed Acadia National Park and the Bar Harbor area. We then met up with my closest friends in Lubec, Maine. Everything we did was incredible and every turn we made was breathtaking. It also turned out that I found out I can eat lobster at every meal if given the opportunity. But this trip turned out to be a very pivotal moment in my year. It was on this trip that I shared with friends an idea for a small business. It also marked the final marker of my parting with my previous employer with my final payment and financial transaction.
Chicago, IL – We had a DBC meet up in Chicago with my closest friends Glenn and Brady. My life is so much better because of these fine fellas. This trip marked the coming back of my creative vision and re finding myself in photography.
Milwaukee and Madison, WI – I had to go pick up my daughter for Thanksgiving so I took an extra day to make time to see a few friends. I saw Tobie in Madison for lunch and then drove to Milwaukee to have dinner and see my friend Todd. I got up early to see the sunrise and was rewarded with some of my favorite images of the year. I have this image printed large on metal over my desk. So good to see some friends that I had been trying to connect with for some time.
Madison, WI – One more trip to Madison, this time to bring my daughter home for the Christmas Holiday. I decided last minute to go the evening before and walk the cold, wintery campus. I ate my favorite burger and had a cocktail at Settle Down and walked taking images. I sound a bit like a broken record, but these walks with my camera have become a huge part of my creative development. I absolutely love just walking, exploring and learning a new city.
Minot, ND – We went to Minot for a family Christmas holiday. It had been too long since we were up there. We were reminded of the cold, the wind and the snow that we left behind by moving out of the northland. Wow. It was so good to see family though and have this time together.
California – Back in November I signed up for an industrial sewing class with Canvas Worker/Brown Buffalo. This is one of those things on my list of things I wanted to learn or relearn. It had been cancelled before due to covid but this time it went off without a hitch. I had a blast and got to see my friends Errin and Sabrina for the first time in many years!
Colorado – Back to Colorado, this time to celebrate my mother’s birthday and spend time with friends in Estes Park. Our last trip to Colorado was with our kids so this one felt very different. It was also the first time in many years that we were together with both my brothers and my sister (and partners/spoueses). Incredible trip.
Stillwater, OK – This trip had a few deeper meanings, the first being I was planning to do Mid South and I wanted to ride my bike. I also wanted to work with my friend Brady in his workshop. Brady is an incredible resource and creative. It was on this trip that I cemented the idea and a direction for a future business. Good friends. Lots of laughter. It was so damn therapeutic!
Stillwater, OK – A few weeks later I made the trip back to Stillwater for the Mid South Bike Ride/Race. This was one of those things that I simply had to do for myself. I had to check that box off as a significant marker that I was getting my life back. Turns out I also found my love of riding again on this trip. What an event. What a community. What a great time.
Spain – I wrote and shared a lot about Spain already. I could write a lot more about this trip as well as share hundreds more images. It was that good. But I won’t. You can read about it just a few posts prior. I will share a few of my favorite pics though.
Colorado – This was a spur of the moment trip with my daughter to go see our favorite team, the USWNT soccer team. This is our third time seeing them play. We took the opportunity to go see grandma too! But we essentially ate great food, drank coffee and walked all over Boulder and Denver.
And that’s a wrap on travel. My year has been incredible for mind and body. But it’s time to get moving forward and use my brain again in a different way. During this time away I found both a creative direction as well as learned a lot about myself. It turns out that I love brand, product and design. My next post here will be sharing what I intend to do in the next 12 months.