For as long as I can remember I have wanted to travel. I feel as though it is in my blood, but it definitely wasn’t inherited. My parents have never been much into traveling. When I was young, my dad was a truck driver and for some time he drove across the country. I don’t remember, but I can imagine that my mom must have told me stories of my dad when he was on the road and all of the places he was driving to. Maybe my dad shared stories of the places he had seen once he returned home each time. I don’t know for sure, but something in me sparked my interest in travel at a young age. I’ve dreamed of doing many things in my life and though some of those dreams have changed, my love and desire for travel has not.
When I joined the Marine Corps, it wasn’t to see the world. One doesn’t join the Marine Corps for travel opportunities since there are limited bases outside of the US, and there are certainly easier ways to see the world than this. I was hoping to end up in Hawaii though. Instead, I got the grand tour of the South. This included Parris Island SC, Camp LeJeune NC, Fort McClellan, AL, and back to Parris Island. Keep in mind that Camp LeJeune was deemed toxic and closed at one point and Fort McClellan closed right after I left and as been named the most toxic place on the Earth. So, I wasn’t exactly seeing the most beautiful parts of the Country, to say the least, but I was still excited to be seeing new places. I would hop in my car whenever I had the chance and go out and explore the areas around me.
When I got out of the Marine Corps I made a promise to myself that I would do whatever it takes to at least semi-retire by the time I would have retired from the military, and I would go see the world. My goal was to go out and explore while I’m still young enough to experience it all without the aches and pains of old age holding me back! Since then, 2018 has been on my mind as the year I start my travels.
Upon discharge from the military, I hopped a flight to Hawaii and settled in there for a few years. Some people get island fever, but not me. There was always something new to explore, and if I got bored on one island I would hop to another to see what I could find. Living in Hawaii only fed my travel bug. I had many friends that were military and would talk about the places they had been and I would start adding those places to my “bucket list”. Hawaii was the most beautiful place I had ever been and now I wanted to go out and see more.
Money is always an issue that keeps people from their travels and was certainly my biggest concern. I was broke and living paycheck to paycheck. I knew I would have to return to school and get a degree so I could start my own business that would provide me with the financial means and the freedom to make this dream happen. I went back to college, moved back to NY, met the love of my life, moved to Tampa, finished two degrees, started a few businesses, and have continued to work hard towards my goal of travel. It hasn’t always been easy, but Toni has stood by me through it all and luckily she shares my love of travel.
In 2015 we started planning an 18 month 47 country world trip. No specifics, just started nailing down the places that we wanted to go. We started sharing our plans with friends and joking about how we need to travel soon before we fall apart. Little did we know how quickly all of those aches and pains would multiply and become chronic for both of us. Years of sports, work, military training, and playing in the toxic sludge in Alabama is starting to take it’s toll on me much sooner than we thought it would.
Toni’s car accident in 2015 would change everything for us. Not only did it leave her with some permanent injuries and chronic pain, but it seemed to be the catalyst for a series of events that led to an awful 2016 for us. We were hit with several reality checks in 2016 which gave me some perspective on life, my values, my passion, and what is really important. It also made me realize that our “good years” are quickly passing us by and that if we don’t get going soon, our bodies may limit how much we get out of this trip. We also realized that if things continue the way they are, the Earth’s “good years” will pass by as well and we will miss out on seeing things like the Great Barrier Reef (what’s left of it), and non-toxic lakes and rivers, and National Parks without the oil lines passing through them. Things just seem to be moving in the wrong direction. By the end of 2016 we were ready to move our trip up a year, but with a slight change. We decided that we would begin our trip in the United States and Canada and then continue on around the rest of the world, instead of saving the United States until later. The reason for the change? I am seeking hope.
I live in a country that I barely recognize right now. There has always been a divide and there has always been hate, but it seems to have multiplied significantly in recent months. I believe it’s because it’s what we focus on, what we are fed through the media. As we embark on this journey, in the back of my mind I know that the reality is that I may not decide to return if things continue in this direction. Yes, we are going from state to state to see the amazing sites that this country has to offer and to experience as much as we can, but it’s much more than that. I have made it a goal to go out and find positive stories that are happening in communities across the country. I want to meet people that are making a difference by doing good in the world. I want to be a part of the solution by spreading kindness everywhere we go. I want to see things that give me hope that this country isn’t everything that we see in the media. I want to find my own proof that there is more good, more tolerance, and more love than hate here. I want to learn about people and hear their stories. Travel is so much more than just seeing places. It’s about learning and growing. I hope that I find what I am looking for here, and around the world, and I hope that I can inspire others to go out and find and be a part of the good things happening all over this country.