Finishing Things

My past two weeks have been riddled with endings.

Jóna and I completed a road trip around the US, managing to set foot in all 48 continental US states in under 60 days, and doing it all in Greyhound buses.

Then, Jóna left the US, heading back to her home in Iceland, which ended our traveling together, and also ended the relationship we’d enjoyed for the past year-ish.

Finally, a few days ago I completed my newest book; a sequel of sorts to ‘My Exile Lifestyle,’ which is called ‘Iceland, India, Interstate,’ and tells the story of my past year, and all the adventures therein, using the relationship with Jóna as kind of a chronological meter.

Of these three completions, the relationship with Jóna brings with it the biggest lifestyle change. I didn’t plan to date her for a whole year when we first met — in fact, we had both only intended to date for the final month I was in Iceland! — but it ended up being an incredibly valuable experience, and the past year has been my best yet as a result.

Finishing up a road trip, especially one that goes on for two months, is a big lifestyle shift, as well. We spent about 60 days running from place to place, spending an inordinate amount of time in Greyhound stations, sitting on buses, staring out windows, interacting with incredibly impoverished and legitimately crazy people, and visiting folks in different parts of the country, all of which had different lifestyles and world views, which we had to adapt to while on their home turf.

When I was young, and a Boy Scout, I went on a few day-long canoe trips, and when they were over it would be tough to sleep, because I would still be able to feel the rocking of the boat any time I lay down. I’m in a similar state now: I find myself mentally preparing to pack my bag, grab my ticket, and head for the station, but then realize I don’t have to; I can hold still for a bit.

But in holding still, I found other things to fill my time. My new book has been knocking around in my head for a very long time, and being able to sit down and write it was therapeutic. After a few weeks of doing little but write, however, I’ve come to another ending. Although there are still edits to make and a launch to prepare, I feel my brain crying out for stimuli. I’ve been taxing it for so long, loading it down with adventures and projects and relationships that now, when I’m sans these things, it feels like I’ve hopped off a trampoline, and my legs are still accustomed to being able to take me higher.

This feeling won’t last, though, it never does. I have a new project that’s already been conceived, and is just waiting to be presented to the world, and two more books that I’d like to write before heading out to Romania in June; moving to Romania, of course, will be a new adventure that my excitement-hungry brain will revel in.

So for now I sit here in Columbia, Missouri, happy to have some time to visit with my family and sit quietly (a rare treat), but ready — always ready — for that next new fix: that new start, which will give me something to finish.


  1. I know this is NOT the question to ever ask a well-known nomad but do you think you’ll ever settle down? Like kids? A dog?

    •  @treavioli Haha, well, the answer I usually give to this question (and it is a somewhat frequent one!) is that for the time being, I don’t see that happening. Priorities change over time, though, so it would be disingenuous to say that could NEVER happen. At the moment, however, it just doesn’t fit with my priorities.

  2. How are you offsetting all thecarbon you are pumping into the upper atmosphere by doing so much travelling?

    •  @Steve Holding Honestly, I see ‘carbon offset’ movements to be a nice idea, but more like putting a microscopic bandage over the hole where an arm used to be. I opt for sustainability where possible, but unfortunately there isn’t a legitimate alternative to plane travel that doesn’t use as many fossil fuels just yet (though there are quite a few moves to change that fuel to ones with fewer harmful byproducts), and the tradeoff (being able to interact with people far and wide, and experience the world from different standpoints) is worth it for me in this instance.
      Hopefully we’ll have more alternatives in the near-future, but it’s kind of a matter of waiting for the technology (or rather, the political and economic will to make that technology more widely available) to catch up with different aspects of living in the modern world.

  3. Colin, love it.
    Did you/have you lived in Columbia, MO long? Curious,  as the younger sis and I both graduated from Rock Bridge.
    I might have a few years on ya, but might a know a few of the same peoples.
    Keep fighting the good fight.

  4. Have you learnt any new languages while travelling?I learnt Japanese, Portugese, Russian, and Icelandic when backpacking ten years ago.I don’t think one can truly understand a culture until one has learnt the language of a place.Icelandic poetry is amazing. Do you just speak American English when you travel?

    • I’ve picked up passable Spanish along the way, during and since my time in Argentina, but truth be told, it hasn’t been my focus (and I’m terrible at languages!). I do make an effort to learn as much as possible while in a country, though, and to speak the local tongue whenever possible (even when that leaves me with very little to say). Unfortunately, in a lot of cases this has been quite tricky – in India, for example, it was quite difficult to get anyone to speak with me in their dialect, because everyone wanted to practice their English!
      I picked up a little Icelandic, and I dated a gal from there for about a year, so I know what you mean about the poetry. That being said, they are quiet limited in the words they have to use, so a lot of it goes over my head (using the weather to represent emotion, for example, is apparently something that they have baked in early, but that is tricky to pick up if you’re not looking for it).

  5. Hy there. I’m from Romania, I’m happy to hear you travel to my country. Sad for me i just moved to London,so we will not be able to meet, but i’m glad to help you if i can. I’m also a traveller so i guess i can help you with some recomandations :). 
    I lived in Cluj, witch is probably the best city in Romania (for me it is for sure :) ). So if you need ever any help, or have any questions drom me an e-mail:

      •  @colinwright Who knows, maybe i’ll make a trip back in Romania in the summer, when things will get too hot, dirty and full because of the Olimpic Games in London :)

  6. I’m curious about the 60 day roadtrip to 48 states.  That’s like a little more than a day-ish at each state and if you count travel time and sleeping you don’t really get to really see many places/tourist attractions or landmarks etc.  How much did you really get to see at each state?  Did you make it a point to stop at any famous parks or landmarks or did you just stop at the major cities or in places you know people?
    Did you couchsurf, stay with friends or in hotels?  I really think that seeing 48 states and doing the roadtrip is awesome without having to drive.  After experiencing the greyhound would you recommend doing that or RVing with friends or sharing/splitting the cost and driving with a bunch of other people in someone’s vehicle?

    •  @Katherine Ly Hey Katherine-
      Yeah, it was definitely a far-cry from the way I usually travel, spending as much time in a spot as possible to really get a feel for things. The idea in this case, though, was to get a broad overview with a few longer stops (a few days to a week) for diving a bit deeper into local culture and for sanity’s sake!
      Some states, we got to see a whole lot (because of locals who were kind enough to show us around and introduce us to other locals), while others were just a quick stop, essentially setting foot on the ground, taking a quick photo and waving goodbye.
      We had a nice mixture of large and small cities, and a nice mixture of places with people we already knew and people who we had never met before (we didn’t know anyone in some states, as well). We stayed in two hotels, and the rest of the time we slept on the buses and with locals.
      You know, if you’re able to get enough people together to share expenses, and RV would be more fun and versatile, I would imagine, but if it’s just you or you and a few others, Greyhound would be cheaper, and a very different experience. It also forces you to interact with more people along the way, so it’s a great way to make new friends and connections all over the country.

      •  @colinwright
         Awesome!  I did do a 1/3 roadtrip of the 48 states but it was a mostly drive through with hardly any stops and my only regret was that I couldn’t stop to check out the grand canyon, zion national park, hoover dam, or any famous sites.  The next time around, I’d like to take my time. 
        The meeting new people in different states sounds fun.  You seem like an extroverted outgoing person.

  7. Hey Colin! Glad to see you’ve got yourself another post up.
    A lot of points interested me. First, the fact that you travelled across the U.S. in sixty days. Nice, man! That’s what the fuck I like to see.
    Secondly, when you mentioned that you only “planned” to date your ex for a year. I think I can wrap my mind around putting a time limit on things. I thought it was pretty cool of your to throw a break-up party. As a romantic pessimist, I agree with you. A countdown clock can keep things fresh and exciting, while giving both sides breathing room, because there is no implied life-long commitment.
    Lastly, the projects you have yet to announce. I’m sure they’ll be earthshaking. Hell, put me on the list for the first people you tell about that shit, mate.
    I could ship to boot camp in June, and I’m mega excited. Mainly because the sooner I join, the sooner my four years end and the sooner I can start being legit.
    We should talk again sometime, definitely. Other than that, I wish you well, and keep us Exilers posted on what’s going on with you! Maybe even do some videos? Hope you enjoy the shift to Romania — definitely one of those underrated places!

  8. I love getting on the bus for an adventure. There are no worries about gas, driving, tickets or repairs. You just ride the bus, relax and get a chance to see all your surroundings as they go by. At night, many of them have facilities to get online so I can do stuff on my laptop.  You also took me back to those wonderful camping trips in scouts and the rocking feeling long after we got off the canoe.

  9. Pingback: X Reasons to Quit College and Travel the Country | You're the movement

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