Escalator to Nowhere

Congratulations – and watch out! You’ve arrived at Jimmy and Janie’s blog, a chronicle of our adventures as we take a hiatus from our careers and some time off from living the American Dream. We currently live in Washington DC, where for the last four years we have worked hard at great jobs (Jimmy is a research scientist and Janie works in international development), had plenty of fun with great friends, and managed a mortgage and few houseplants.

But we’ve got a different idea for the next year (or two, or three). Later this month, we’ll go to our offices for the last day and hand in our office keys and laptops. Two weeks later, we’ll get on a plane and embark on a traveling journey that we hope will take us some amazing places, teach us more about life and ourselves, and offer up many adventures. Along the way, we expect it will also raise our tolerance for travel delays, meals of rice and beans, and long conversations with strangers.

Biking on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2010

So what’s the itinerary? Um, we’re not so sure. Not because we haven’t thought about it (we have), and not so much because there is so much to choose from (there is) – but more because we’ve struggled to strike the right balance between being responsible adults who think ahead (what we’re supposed to do, right?) and still leaving space for what-have-you wacky opportunities that will undoubtedly arise. Also, over-planning stresses us both out and makes us argue.

Here’s what we do know: We plan to spend the first six months in the US – visiting friends and family, riding bikes all day, and exploring new cities. You know, all those things it’s hard to do from a cube or behind an office door. On the docket are visits to:

  • Our adopted hometown of Austin,Texas
  • San Francisco and Oakland,California
  • A trip up the Pacific Northwest Coast through Northern California and Oregon
  • Bellingham and Seattle,Washington
  • A long bike ride from Bellingham,WA to Whitefish,Montana
  • An ironman triathlon in Couer d’Alene,Idaho
  • Summer in Salida,Colorado

After that, it gets a bit murkier. We plan to head to South America for a few months, and then to Southeast Asiafor a few more. Suggestions for this portion of the itinerary are welcome.

Right now, life feels like a blur, but if you’re game, we want to share it with you. There’s a great episode of the Simpsons called Marge vs. the Monorail, where the town of Springfield purchases a monorail from a shady, carny-type salesman and Homer gets trained as the monorail conductor (if you haven’t seen it, run don’t walk to your nearest youtube); at the end of the show, Springfield denizens board an escalator without knowing where it goes. That’s a little how things feel right now – moving, unknown, but hopeful.

At the end of that escalator on the Simpsons episode, it turns out that the elevator turns out to be an “elevator to nowhere” and at the top, riders step out into space. I hope it doesn’t end that way for us. But then again, I guess space wouldn’t be the worst place to go.