I’m a native Californian, raised in the coastal town of Santa Barbara, about 1.5 hours north of Los Angeles. Over the decades, I’ve lived both in northern CA and south of Los Angeles in Del Mar, and briefly out of country, most recently, New Zealand (2018). I had an opportunity to begin a new life in New Zealand, and despite the intrigue of new challenges and the country’s astoundingly beautify dynamic landscape, I gravitated back to California. California will always be home, when I’m not exploring trails.
Call me a hiking fool….well, my long time friend just calls me a “fool”, but it does beat recognition as a “working fool” by a long shot! Don’t get me wrong…we all have to work, but whether you live to work or work to live is what matters. In more rare instances, one discovers a lucrative passion that becomes your life, but it’s more rare than common. The vast majority are waiting to live their lives after retirement, if that day ever arrives.
It took me half a life to discover how to work to live. I’ve spent my life searching for a career that nourished my mind and body; one that took me to faraway places. One can dream! I pursued a career as a geologist in my home state, first in environmental, and later in geotechnical-engineering geology for the Department of Transportation. I followed the logic that If I thrived in geology academically, I would be fulfilled working in this field. Geology in the context of consulting, was just another monotonous job for me. I longed for freedom! At the end of 2015, I made a bold (and some would think foolish) move to resign from the complacency of my career with the state. I left my retirement and benefits behind in exchange for a walk across New Zealand during their summer months (December through March).
My lifetime search for freedom ended my career and led me back to what I always have loved from the time I was a boy…exploring vast mountains, basins, and canyons by foot. Yes, hiking doesn’t make you an income…though it could if your were creative, but I’d come to realize that I needed it to nourish my mind and soul. Over recent years, I’ve reverted to a simpler life, one of minimalism- van life, or what I call stealth urban camping. I was living beneath a tarp with a foot print not much bigger than the length of my body, so moving into a van was easy. Adaptation is key when you want to spend half a year pursuing the life you love.