Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Almost Left

I almost left one night. No warning. No planning. No preparation.

It was about a year ago. I had loaded my pack down with camping gear and hit the track, walking the lanes and climbing the bleachers until my legs burned. I was training for a backpacking trip. On my way home I was caught by a slow moving train. Sitting in my truck, watching the train cars roll by, I couldn't help but wonder where that train was going.

My pack was right there, loaded with gear, water, and even food. I had enough to last a week without setting foot in town. And there was the train, slow and easily accessible. In my truck's visor was over a thousand dollars. I had cashed some checks and hadn't paid bills yet.

When I say that I almost left one night, I don't mean that I looked at that train and considered hopping it. I mean that my pack was on my shoulders and I was standing in front of my truck, about to scribble a note to my parents. The keys were under the seat and the engine was off. I was about to hop a train. I wasn't sure where I would end up or how long I would be gone, only that I wouldn't come back until I had to. I would be gone as long as I had money and clothes and food.

I've always been afflicted with a wanderlust. It's an illness that cannot be cured. I have the hardest time turning around when I'm exploring. It's usually hunger or dehydration that brings me back.

Standing in the darkness beside that rolling train, I made the decision that I would leave, but not quite yet. I would be prepared. Properly prepared. I would have the funds to make the trip last much, much longer. I would do it right. And I would be conditioned to deal with whatever the adventure threw at me.

I'm almost there now. I've lost weight. I know how to eat cheap. I'm better in the woods now than ever before. I'm only $278 short on my $3,000 goal and I have most of the gear that I need. I'll be ready in September. And after the 15th, I dare a train to roll by as slowly as that last one did.