the short story is this:
- in mid-june i resigned my position of ten years at my most-recent employer, washington university in st. louis.
- i spent the next three weeks feverishly working to make my exit a clean and competent one. fwiw i spent the five weeks prior as well, starting my work after making the decision to leave. this effort was largely in the name of my staff who i didn't want to leave in a lurch.
- on my second day of unemployment, i got in my car and drove to northern michigan for a week of tent-camping (drive time 9 hours).
- my family joined me two days later. i went up early to secure us a campsite at a very popular, no-reservations campground (which means the first night there typically involves sleeping in your car while waiting for a spot to open). this 48 hours alone in a car and then in the woods or biking through the hills of northern michigan proved splendidly cathartic and i can't imagine a better way to begin a mental detoxification.
- every day i was in michigan i slept outdoors in a hammock, staring at the visible cloud that is the milky way. more catharsis. each day also involved a 30-50 mile bike ride in the morning with an afternoon-chaser of paddle boarding in a chilly lake michigan. one day after paddling for a bit i laid out on my board to feel the roll of the waves and study the pillows of clouds above me. the combination was so relaxing i fell asleep. i'm thankfully trained for twenty minute naps because when i woke up the waves had carried me a shocking distance from the shore, the people on it just being a blip to me. alex who was digging a giant hole in the sand with a friend reported they had lost complete sight of me. i popped up and began a frantic-ish effort paddling back to shore which thankfully proved less effortful than i expected. that said, i now have a personal rule of no naps on the board in large bodies of water.
- after a week in michigan we packed up our gear and drove to st. louis (drive time 9 hours).
- upon arriving in st. louis we unpacked the car, showered and fell into our beds. please note that was my first shower in seven days.
- the very next morning we packed small travel bags, got in the car and drove to southern utah (drive time 18 hrs). aside from stopping for gas and meals, a two-hour bit of sleep at rest stop in the rocky mountains, and marty driving for three hours so i could watch a redBox acquired movie with the boys on our new car's dvd system, i drove straight through and arrived on a lake powell boat ramp almost exactly 24 hours after leaving st. louis (and 30 minutes before we were to meet our salt-lake based friends). regarding the film, the boys grabbed Daddy's Home specifically because they thought i would like it which is why marty insisted on driving so i could watch with the boys. while the movie was funny enough, i smiled all the way through it given the fact that here we were flying through eastern colorado in our new climate-controlled vehicle while i was sprawled in the back seat with my boys watching a goofy comedy, complete with movie popcorn on my lap, on our way to a second week of vacation. this is a far cry from my youth spent sharing a back seat with a dog on a 24 hour drive to pennsylvania with little more than a digital derby and truck-stop copy of war-games, the book-version, to pass the time.
- once our family friends arrived we helped them lower their speed boat into the water, loaded our gear and set off for the house boat we'd be spending the next week living on.
- we spent the next seven days sleeping on the roof of said houseboat that was parked beneath a sheer 300 foot cliff in a solitary alcove where we rarely saw other people.
- after a 2nd week of sleeping under the zillions of dots in the sky (1), we got back in our car and made the 18 hour drive home, leaving at 3:00 on saturday and arriving home at 3:30 on sunday. this would make for 50+ hours of driving in a two week span. the shower i took upon our return would be my second in an 18-day span. you may or may not believe me when i tell you you would have no idea i'd only once seen a bar of soap in 18 days but i would wager you could not.
- on monday august 1st, 2016 i began my new job (ref) working for the best boss i've ever known. hopefully i still feel that way seven years from now.
so, apologies for being kinda absent lately. the places we were staying weren't exactly rich in cell phone coverage. fact is, my phone read no service better than 90% of the time we were away. to see that there were no fires, i would travel every day to a spot that had coverage just to see that all was good and quiet--it was. i'm naming this type of vacationing a BARS FOR STARS upgrade in life. i would recommend the package to any and all. also, over this eighteen day period, i only opened my laptop once and that was so we could watch the hunger games while sitting under the white-dotted- sky--there is something oddly neat about that. once back home, we would continue to watch the whole series, night after night. while anthony said he wished each movie just had more "hunger games" i was pleasantly surprised at the story arc--perhaps it was an expectations thing.
so i'm just returning from the longest vacation of my life. and right now as i write this it is the first time i have not reported to a traditional work situation for this many days straight since i was fifteen years old. the initial report. i'm healthier than ever. i'm happier than ever. i'm hungrier than ever (to succeed that is). and oddly, i'm tanner than ever. it would be hard to architect a better ending or beginning to a
sequel of life.
the above photo was taken by alex. alex proved to be the trip photographer, using the camera of our host as he, alex, forgot to bring his (newb!). i think alex took more than 800 pictures in a week (this made me thankful he left his FILM camera at home). for the one above he noticed how the cliffs were reflecting in my glasses and told me to hold still so he could try to get the reflection. i'd say he did good in that. i'd also say the boy does have an impressive eye for spotting shots of interest in the film of life.
(1) my use of the phrase "dots in the sky" is very intentional as we had many debates during our cell-free week about what ALL those dots actually were. several people were arguing that they were all stars, like our sun. i found that hard to believe and offered counter-evidence like (1) what about when we can see jupiter when the "stars" are properly-aligned--jupiter is not a star and (2) what about when we see falling "stars"--i assume that is not someone else's sun about to crash into arizona. as for an answer i'm not fishing for one. i prefer not knowing and letting my mind chew on the riddle and come up with more viable counter points to twist people far more knowledgeable up in conversational knots. it's always been a hobby of sorts for me.