Hi.

Welcome to my blog. I'm documenting my volunteer work and travels through a series of letters to family and friends while on the road. I hope you can stay a while - make yourself at home. 

Yamuna - 6,012 miles, 224 hours

Yamuna - 6,012 miles, 224 hours

Dear Yamuna

Here in Seattle, I don’t even have to work hard to take in the beauty of the outdoors. There’s no need to go on long road trips to faraway places. In fact, all I need to do is drive to work every morning. On my way to work, I dart underneath the city and when I rise up and take my exit off of the interstate, there is Mt. Rainier greeting me for the day. As work comes to an end, I head back onto the highway and pass near massive evergreens shooting up amongst the skyscrapers, as if they’re also a part of the city skyline. One can see and feel the strong connection this city has with the outdoors, and it’s safe to say it’s rooted in its DNA.

I knew about this close connection between the outdoors and the cities of my sabbatical, but it has been confirmed over and over in each place I visit. Nearly the moment I step foot into town I feel welcome and plugged-in. Given our many conversations about our love for the outdoors, I’m sure you would feel the same way, especially here in Seattle with all the mighty trees.

Sitting here now, about half way through my sabbatical, it appears I have confirmed a strong suspicion that I’ve had for quite some time. The west is calling. I can feel myself being drawn to it more and more with every day I spend here. The community, the culture, the environment – I just love everything about it. But each time I think about moving here, there’s always something missing.

About a month ago I was in Canyonlands National Park, sitting atop the ledge of a beautiful canyon that led to an incredible expanse below. As I sat there alone and watched the sunset, I couldn’t see a single person around. The sky turned from blue, to red, to purple, and I began to well up inside. While the view alone was likely enough to incite this type of reaction, I sat there in near tears not because of the beauty of the summer sky.

Traveling alone for so long has brought about a fair number of challenges, and certainly one of the major ones has been being without many of the people I love so much. I’ve spent nearly all of my life in the Midwest, aside from some extended trips abroad, and consequently have built up a very special sense of community there. Sitting atop that canyon, I had many doubts as to whether or not I could sacrifice that community to move out west for good someday.

For all the difficulties that traveling alone brings, it has also given me many gifts. In the words of one of my new favorite bands, Will Toledo says, “if you really want to know yourself, it will come at the price of knowing no one else.” I have certainly had the chance to explore who I am and what kind of person I’d like to become while out alone on the road, but what I find even more enriching is getting the opportunity to share these thoughts with others.

It seems as if many difficult questions lie ahead in my journey, but I’m enjoying the struggle, and know that it’s helping me find who I am and where I want to be. I’m just happy, and lucky, I have friends and family like you to help me along the way.

So great to see you and finally meet John this weekend! Give my love to everyone and everything back in Madison.

Love,

Jonathan

Uncle Paul - 6,101 miles, 248 hours

Uncle Paul - 6,101 miles, 248 hours

Pat - 5,897 miles, 219 hours

Pat - 5,897 miles, 219 hours