My last day of work came and went so smoothly it was almost a bit surprising. The office gathered and some words were said by my leadership that were equal parts good-natured roast about my plans to be a drifter and genuine farewell. For my part, I attended the event in workout clothes with my long hair down as a “zero-fucks-given” tip of the hat to my still employed colleagues that would be well advised to adhere more closely to “business casual” dress code. You don’t quit often so may as well have fun with it. I used the opportunity to poke fun at the organization as well as dole out some heartfelt thanks to the folks I had spent so much time with over the past 7 years. After a few hugs and handshakes I was spirited away to sign some non-disclosure agreements, my badge was taken, and I walked out the front doors as if I were leaving any other day of work. But it wasn’t any other day. It was my last. My brain knew it, but strangely I didn’t really feel anything. How could that be, after all those years I spent in school, applying for jobs and then advancing in my career to pursue western society's definition of success? I’m not sure. But quitting happened so quickly and seamlessly I didn’t even have a chance to think twice about it. Which is probably for the best. Don’t stand on the edge of the bridge and carefully weigh the relative merits of bungee jumping. You already know you want the experience and you know it's "safe-ish" so no more thinking, just doing.
That weekend I decided to to take a trip to Shenandoah National Park with some friends to do an overnight hike. Not only was this a good time to catch the fall colors and cooler hiking temps but also a chance for me to do a gear “shakeout” for my trip. I plan on staying primarily in hostels as I travel but having the necessary equipment to post up anywhere in any weather is key to really winging it. So I brought a camping hammock, inflatable sleeping pad, lightweight sleeping bag and a bivy sack. Even if it rains I should be toasty, dry and off the ground where all the Southeast Asian creepy crawlers may be looking for a snuggle buddy. The additional benefit of the bivy sack is that once your sleeping pad and bag are inside, it all stays together as one unit and doesn't become a yardsale every time you shift around. It set up quickly, the sleeping pad insulated the bottom of the hammock, the bivy cut the wind, and it all fits compactly in the bottom of my pack so that’s my home away from home when I’m not crashing in a hostel. Now the hard part is waiting for my flight to Bali in a few weeks. I'm so ready to get this show on the road!