Is the sequel ever as good as the original?

jump into the Skagit River

I posted a photo every day of my journey. Check ’em out!

I flip-flopped like a politician throughout August. One day, I thought I’d leave Seattle in time to be home by Labor Day. The next, I planned to arrive in Tempe the day of ASU’s first big home game against UCLA. Finally, I decided to rent an apartment in Greenlake and stay until October.

If you like your insurance, you can keep it.

In the end, the decision was taken out of my hands. I rented the apartment and still made it home in time for the UCLA game. Football wasn’t the deciding factor. My grandfather’s rapidly declining health was. I arrived home just in time to see him (and write his obituary) in mid-September.

My second meander was far different from my first. This time, I was outside Arizona for 85 days but on the road for just 17 of them. The vast majority of the time was spent based out of Seattle.

These were great times connecting with family, rafting with new friends, and having my own place in Greenlake. But these were not the deeply-inspiring times I experienced last summer.

So, like, what was the point?

As this trip wound down, I thought about a question I expected to hear. How was Meander 2.0 different? The big thing is that it was less intense.

There were fewer go big moments. Shorter hikes. Longer morning coffees. More time sitting by lakes and rivers rather than walking around them. More nights at “home” playing Settlers of Catan with Doug and Nicole or Legos with my little cousins.

Beyond the activities, my senses were duller too. There were fewer emotional moments. Fewer highs. Fewer lows. More evenness, much like the life I’ve worked to create back home. Here are a few thoughts as to why:

I’m used to adventuring. My first meander was epic. And in the months since it ended, I had smaller adventures to Southern California, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas and Havasu Falls. This summer, I tried to show up with fresh eyes, but some things you can only truly feel once.

I saw fewer new things. Eighteen months ago, I’d never seen a glacier. I’d never camped on a roaring river. I’d never seen redwoods or sequoias or Washington’s amazing moss-covered pines. On my second meander, there were quiet moments when I was still awestruck. But, sadly, there were also times where they felt commonplace.

I isolated less. Last year, I traveled large stretches alone and left my cell phone off for days at a time. My primary means of coping with loneliness was journaling or writing a postcard. This summer, I made a point to stay in touch with my people back home by (gasp!) calling them on the telephone. And I spent far more time among family and friends from Seattle.

I had less to figure out. Last year, I constantly wrestled with various emotional challenges. Finally, after eight weeks on the road, I had run out of things to process. My mind went quiet. That continued this summer. It seems like life just gets easier with every passing year.

So, like, now what?

Honestly, I’m not sure. Last year, I came home with big plans. Some materialized. Some didn’t.

This year, I feel a bit rudderless, a bit uninspired. There are no big plans. I’m just kind of blah – perhaps in part due to grandpa’s passing and in part due to other, smaller disappointments.

There was no doubt upon pulling into my driveway, that I love my home. I’m excited to return to my little communities, plant in my new garden beds, and even get back to something more closely resembling full-time work.

But the road doesn’t stop calling to me. I’m already thinking how I can make Meander 3 more like the original and less like the sequel. Hell, is it May yet?

Meander reboot, y’all. See ya in August!

Meander through Joshua Tree National ParkGreetings from Joshua Tree National Park! I’m on the road again and won’t be back until sometime in August or beyond.

Didn’t expect to hear that. Did you?

Honestly, I didn’t expect to say it. When I woke up last Friday, I thought I had three weeks to kill before flying off to Seattle. But when I unexpectedly closed out my second contract in as many days, it was time to hit the road.

It’s been quite a journey to my second meander.

The seed was planted in March while exploring Walnut Canyon NM in Flagstaff. I waffled as I waited for word on a killer temp gig with Nomadic Agency. When the gig fell through, I began planning a second meander … until changing my mind a few days later.

I’m glad I did.

A trip to Las Vegas and Havasu Falls rekindled my spirit of adventure. And three days at Firefly Gathering let me live again without a smartphone or watch while working through some of the fear that made me cancel my plans in April.

Still, I intended to play out the summer as planned – flying to Seattle on July 11, spending three weeks in the PNW, and returning to the desert in time for Camp Tontozona. Then, on Thursday, I finished a big Infusionsoft project. On Friday, my second biggest client put our contract on hold.

My heart immediately jumped to the road. And my body was just four days behind it.

Meander reboot, y’all. See ya in August!

Silvia's Wash at Joshua Tree

My bodhi tree may be a coastal redwood, but this palo verde at Silvia’s Wash wasn’t bad either.


NM. LOL. I’m not meandering this summer.

I walk outside. It’s hot. Damn hot. I remember the one (count ‘em, one!) triple-digit day of last summer’s Meander in Nevada City.

I wonder if I’ve made a mistake.

Last Thursday, I received the answer to the lingering question that forced me to kill time hiking at South Mountain. I learned that I didn’t get the temporary digital marketing gig that I thought was the only thing that could keep me in Arizona through the summer.

For a few days after the news, I proceeded as though Meander 2.0 was a go. I invited a friend to rent my house. I contacted road trip buddies. I researched campgrounds.

And then I changed my mind.

NM. LOL. Contrary to photos of my bearded face posted to Facebook, there will be no Meander this summer. Sorry for being a tease, y’all. I just don’t feel like it.

No Meander? WTF? Why not?

The Meander was founded on three principles: No girl. No gig. Just the road. That’s fine for one summer. Great, actually. But not two in a row.

The truth is, I want a girl. No, wait, I want the girl. Alas, the road offers up more flannelled forest cougars with one front tooth than, ya know, potential soul mates.

I like my gig. I’m a digital marketing consultant with some amazing clients. I’m socializing a luxury tile manufacturer, email marketing a therapeutic eyewear seller, and just plain gettin’ things done for one amazing entrepreneur who lets me be me (and meander whenever I like).

And, finally, there’s the road.

I’m not afraid to admit that it’s hard out there. And I’m a bit of a chicken about plunging back into the isolation of traveling the way I traveled last summer. For every shirtless hiking selfie I posted to Facebook, there was a tough night in my tent wishing I was home with friends and family.

Again, sorry for being a tease. This summer, I’m chillin’ … figuratively. Not literally.

OK. What you doin’ instead?

Instead, this summer I’ll keep it local. Kinda. My summer travels will commence with a Las Vegas-Havasu Falls trip in late May. I’ll commit some sins in Sin City, then pay for them by carrying a 30-pound pack 10 miles into and out of a canyon. The summer will end with Camp Tontozona and a trip to Arches and Canyonlands in August.

In between, I’ll enjoy our scintillating summer sunsets at Tempe Town Lake. I’ll work on my handstand. I’ll watch Game of Thrones (spoiler free!). I’ll camp and cabin up north, visit the beach in SoCal, and maybe even tuck in a week or two in Seattle.

The quiet of summertime in Tempe has fostered some of the most spiritual times of my life. This summer, I’ll embrace it.

Of course, there’ll be times when I’ll second-guess this decision. I’ll get cabin fever during long weekends at home. I’ll burn my bare feet getting the mail. I’ll grumble as I dash through the oppressive heat from my AC’d house to my AC’d car.

I’ll be left to ponder …

What’s the temperature in Washington right now?

And who do I know with a pool?

summer in az