w: ajleon

Handstands on Dirt Roads & the Big Winner

It’s 10:47 pm.

My head is slightly tilted admiring the brightest stars I’ve seen since I was standing on the shores of Lake Malawi two months ago. I see a patch of mischievous clouds swirling towards me, and I can hear their thunder in the distance. I’m watching the moonlight careen off the rush of steamy spring water cascading down the nape of an exquisitely orange rock formation. The water trickles from that rock into an antiquated porcelain bathtub that was installed into this mountain sometime in the mid 1900’s.

I’m sitting in it right now.

Enjoying the dense water that a band of nomadic Native Americans from the Ute used to enjoy 300 years ago. In the 1800’s American pioneers would stop here for a brief repose before continuing the treacherous journey of manifest destiny.

Today, a guy named Mystic Mike runs the property. He bought it in 1995 after returning from the last Grateful Dead show in Vegas. For three nights, Melissa and I have stayed in a renovated school bus in what seems to be a scrapyard where a mixture of backpackers and old hippies live. One of the hippies has a pet Llama, I think his name is Bruce, the llama not the hippie.

Sure, I could stay in the next town over at a shitty Holiday Inn and drive here to soak in the magical hot springs, but that wouldn’t be much of an adventure now would it?

Every morning at 6am I get up, write a bit, go on a run, then return and climb up the little mountain and soak in the hot springs for about an hour with Melissa. We then make the trek to one of the three restaurants in town, Monroe’s Real Mexican Food, the only place with wifi. I write a bit more and we work for a few hours. Then we walk around absorbing the extraordinary Utah mountains and the low hanging clouds while we dream about the projects we want to launch in the next 12 months.

I have enjoyed every last second of this little adventure in nowhere Utah.

Today is Day 7 of the first leg of my trip around the world.

And I will remember this bastion of hippies and hot springs fondly. I won’t remember it like the homogenous memories of a polished, all-inclusive holiday in the Caribbean designed to make us feel like we never left home. Nope. I will remember the abandoned lot of rusty buses and the weird looking dog that followed me on my morning runs and Mystic Mike’s collection of pioneer cabins and the one restaurant with wifi and doing handstands on dirt roads and the midnights dreaming with my wife in a porcelain bathtub on the side of a mountain while the moon smiled at us and, of course, I will remember Bruce the Llama.

I will remember it because while holidays are easily outsourced a graveyard of Facebook Albums, any real adventure demands living storage space in the recesses of our hearts.

____

My friend Jon Swanson recently shared an article he said reminded him of me in which the author posits that the difference between an adventurer (a traveler) and a tourist is that a tourist is one who risks nothing and is simply on an “exotic detour home” while an adventurer “immerses himself in a culture, learns the language and customs, lives with the locals, imitates the dress, eats what’s set before him. He takes risks, some enormous, and makes sacrifices, some extravagant. He has tight scrapes and narrow escapes. He is gone a long time. If ever he returns, he returns forever altered.”

In a sense, he says, the adventurer never goes back.

The irony is that being a tourist is very expensive, while being an adventurer is not.

You know how much this little adventure cost me?

$40 a night for Mystic’s Mike’s magical blue bus. Cheaper than a Motel 6.
$18 a day for a rental car + fuel.

I doubt I will ever return here, but I am certain I will never forget it. And 30 years from now, Melissa and I will be chuckling, recalling the tales that only adventurers tell.

Want to know one of the great unsung characteristics in life?

The ability to thrive when you don’t know how the story is going to end. And there is nothing that instills that quality in you like a great adventure. I’m truly hoping that our giveaway winner will learn this first hand.

And now …. Announcing the Winner of the Once in a Lifetime Giveaway

In last week’s article, on the day I left for my trip around the world in 1,880 days, I felt compelled to give someone else the opportunity to go on the adventure of a lifetime as well. If you missed it, you can read more about it here. There were over one hundred submissions from all over the world. From the onset, I decided to completely recuse myself from the decision and let my super secret Jedi Council make the selection instead. The Jedi’s all told Melissa and I personally that this decision was one of the most excruciatingly difficult decisions they’ve made in quite some time because there were so many worthy submissions.

Well, the votes are in. And the Jedi’s have chosen.

Drum roll please ……. The winner of the best 3 day-old website giveaway in history is Kara Knight. Congratulations! Melissa will be contacting you shortly with the details. If you’re still reading, I hope you’ll take the time to congratulate her in the comments below.

And if you did not win, remember, I am not the gatekeeper . Now you know where you want to go. So save your pennies and make it happen, okay? Alright, I need to continue to sojourn and catch a train West.

 

Your Fellow Misfit,

AJ

Written from: A tub on the side of a mountain in Utah, the only restaurant with wifi in Monroe and published from a cafe in Helper, Utah. #Day7

997 words

8.26.12

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