I’ve been asked a lot recently about the decision to leave my job, move out of my apartment, and embark on this roadtrip without another formal job opportunity lined up. Long story very short, I found myself in a stagnant place and knew I needed a big change of environment to jumpstart this next chapter. My life up until this point has followed a pretty common formula..do this so you can do that so you can buy that so you can live there so you can….and on and on and on. Everything felt very ordered and planned out and I knew that if I kept on this path I would likely be able to achieve the modern American Dream of comfort.

The problem is…comfortable is synonymous with complacent. The existence of the modern 40 hour work week has led to an unfortunate combination of people with minimal free time, some disposable income, and a desire to amend for a variety of dissatisfactions by spending money. We have a culture of people who feel vaguely unfulfilled with their overly busy lives but would prefer to continue to wear the newest this or taste the newest that or drive the next best thing rather than take a step back and do some serious self evaluation in search of true fulfillment.

Honestly, fuck that.

I saw myself falling into these same patterns and knew I needed to make some serious changes. Yes, I did get a competitive, desirable job in the field I majored in. I also chose my college major when I was 17 and had no real life experience and had never lived on my own. I could have stayed at my job and done all the right things and maybe gotten some promotions and made a nice living. I worked for a great company with some amazing people who I’ll hopefully be friends with for years to come. Despite everything going according to plan on the surface, I knew I had only found a job or maybe a career, but not my calling.

Was this a scary proposition? Of course! But it was also an exciting opportunity for me to make some big changes and maybe take a few steps to the side (steps back sounds far too negative…) in hopes of ultimately taking the next step forward in a direction of my choosing.

Life is too damn short to spend your time doing anything but absolutely loving your work. I want to find work that keeps me up at night, wakes me up in the morning, and gives me a reason to keep going, not a means to get by. As I prepared to make this transition, this speech by Steve Jobs has given me lots of inspiration and reassurance. I’ll leave it here for your enjoyment.

I know this process of self-exploration in search of my life’s work will be among my most trying of undertakings to date, but I’m ready for every challenge ahead. I know that if I take Steve’s advice and refuse to settle, it’s gonna be one helluva ride.

I’ve recently come to appreciate that the only way to grow and to do truly great work is to become comfortable being uncomfortable. Rather than settling to make a comfortable living, I’m venturing into the realm of the unknown for a more passionate life. I spent too long shying away from the unknown and have finally decided to take a leap of faith and fully embrace it as the spice of life. I like not knowing what’s coming next, it keeps me on my toes and keeps me hungry.

I’m not saying that you hate your life or that you should absolutely quit your job. I have plenty of friends who love what they are doing and it makes me so happy to see them thriving. But I know this is far from the norm today and this was just my personal thought process in my recent life situation. Thanks for listening and now onto new travel stories and photos…

I left the comfort of friends and family in Orange County behind for my first drive up the California coast. Disclaimer: I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the great people I’ve visited along the trip and appreciated their support and hospitality! Despite this, there’s a great satisfaction to be found in getting away from civilization for a bit, finding a safe and semi-comfortable place to sleep, and setting up a tent for the night.

As nice as it is to know where I’m staying on a given night, there’s a special thrill in starting a day with some faint idea of where I want to end up and seeing where things take me. This approach is definitely unorthodox and potentially riskier, but is forcing me to rely on the kindness of strangers, be more aware of my surroundings, and hone my own basic survival skills.

The first night up the coast, I knew I wanted to sleep on the beach and was determined to make this dream a reality. Rather than splurge on an official campground (ie $30 or so for a picnic table and a bathroom), I decided to ask a friendly beach couple for some advice, park my car on a side street, and set up shop by myself on a secluded piece of Pacific Ocean real estate. I may have been a few inches away from a floating tent situation when high tide hit overnight, but this only added to the adventure and I just couldn’t pass up this free bedside view.

I slowly made my way up the coast the following day, stopping every few towns for a view or a short beach hike whenever I felt the urge. A combination of my newfound solitude on the trip and my recent reading of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now has me really taking things slower on a moment to moment basis and thus noticing more inherent beauty in everything around me. On this day,  I was especially amazed by the diversity of colors and shapes in rock formations on beaches in Santa Barbara.

        

I continued North, seeing an enormous gathering of elephant seals along the way.

 

I made it as far as Ragged Point, just shy of Big Sur and was ready to set up another impromptu campsite for the night. I took some advice from the front desk at the local Inn and embarked on a steep hour-long hike up a foggy hillside in search of a flat place to call home for the night before dark.

      

The feeling upon dropping my sweat-drenched pack and setting up the tent after an hour of hard work was exactly the thrill I was hoping for on this trip. I felt I had earned my night’s rest and I sure did need it for the day that was to come.

      

 

The next day marked my first trip to Big Sur and I made sure to pack a week’s worth of adventures into all the daylight I had available. I got a great list of must-see locations from my friend Kristen, and started with Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It was here where I saw the amazing McWay Falls, which drops right off into the Ocean. There was another small waterfall on a woods hike at this park, and I already felt spoiled after our failed search for falling water in New Mexico a few weeks prior.

 

          

 

I stopped for a bite to eat between sites and had a breakfast burrito with a view, thanks again to Kristen’s recommendation.

 

Next up was Pfeiffer Beach, where I continued to revel in the diverse beauty and patterns found in nature.

      

This also marked the beginning of an exciting period of the trip where I made it my goal to climb any and all rocks in my vicinity in search of unprecedented aerial views and the pure childhood thrill of ascent.

 

This awesome secluded beach also gave me a timely reminder of the power of presence from a stranger, a stunning collection of rock stacking formations, and my first experience with purple sand.

 

      

Up next was Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, where I walked amongst redwoods and saw yet another waterfall. The feeling of being absolutely dwarfed by the enormity of nature in all directions was how I will always remember this day.

            

The last stop of the day was to a secluded unnamed beach near the North end of Big Sur that I would have never found without Kristen’s help. I parked on the side of the highway, walked past Jacob’s cabin, and eventually found a gorgeous beach tucked away through a wooded path.

      
I could have stayed and explored each of these spectacular parks and beaches within Big Sur for days, but further adventure awaited me in San Francisco…