High-Functioning Hobo

When I hit the brakes, the open packet of Kettle chips slid forward off the passenger seat of my rental Toyota Rav4 and scattered into the footwell. I stared down at the crinkle cuts thinking… what a waste. Gripping the steering wheel, I watched the illuminated spectacle that would become my first ever hit-and-run when a deer artfully leapt between two moving cars on the other side of the road and right in front of mine.

Between hitting the brakes and then the deer I was probably only doing 30 km per hour. The doe rolled twice, away from the car as though I’d just thrown it off balance. All the other cars in the peak-hour traffic had stopped and in those few seconds of frozen time, I begged the animal lying on the ground to please, please get up. And it did. After its brief rest, it leapt up, and ran back in the direction it came from. I continued my drive to the Jackson Hole hostel where I was due to check in, relieved to not have to reckon with the fact I’d become a murderer, and that my rental was still in one piece. Sure it had a few tufts of deer hair in the cracked bumper, but for the next two weeks I wore those tufts of hair on my car like a vintage hood ornament, as a reminder to myself that you can get knocked down, but it doesn’t always kill you. And that comprehensive rental insurance is worth every penny.

I decided to buy the biggest 4WD I could get and turn it into my North American adventure mobile…

This life of mine is the highway kind. I realised it one day with a twist of dread in my stomach, like when you remember you forgot to close the Google Incognito browser before you left the house. I was 28 and editing a poorly-written travel story wishing I could take the same trip and write something better than, “and then I turned left when I got to Wodonga”. So I saved up, said goodbye to any semblance of stability and to what I always considered would be my dream job, and flew to San Francisco. Beyond visiting Alcatraz, I had no idea what I was going to do when I got there except see and do cool shit. I’d be 30 before I knew it, and I’d done my time thinking patience was my virtue.

Call my affliction a constant state of discontentment, or just non-stop adventure mode. But this life is too short and I’ve been blessed with no binding ties. When it finally came time for me to invest in something bigger than a plane ticket, I decided to buy the biggest 4WD I could get and turn it into my North American adventure mobile… which in turn served as a mini apartment for longer than I ever thought it would.

So this 31-year-old leaf on the breeze actively encourages you to get out and blaze your own trails… even if it is just for the weekend. Because getting away from the daily grind? That’s living.

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