My Life and 29 Days on the Road

How does one prepare for their last semester of graduate school?

For me, it started with a van full of gear and zero direction.

I drove south for 3,645 miles and learned some valuable life lessons. Once I left the cold temps of Cleveland on December 13, my mind was ready to hike the Carolinas, but my heart knew I needed to make some important nonprofit stops along the way.

2014 is the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, and on this trip, I wanted to gain a better understanding.

How did the Appalachian poor compare to the poor in my neighborhood?

During my travels, I visited a Habitat for Humanity Restore in Charleston, West Virginia. I learned how the locals live off the fertile land in Boonville, North Carolina. Outside of Sumter, one of the poorest cities in South Carolina, I enjoyed the solitude of 1,000 acres of midland mountains.

I hiked with the Sierra Club in Fernandina Beach. I hung out with the homeless on Christmas Day. I explored the sandy coastlines of Georgia and hunted for sharks teeth at the crack of dawn. My trip to the unknown packed a lot of unexpected surprises for me. I discovered some unique ways to recycle and learned a lot about environment and sense of place.

I knew there were old friends I needed to visit and new ones I had yet to meet. All I had was a GPS to guide me in a direction I never knew. I blew past a chemical spill and came home to a snowstorm on January 9. Something changed me on this trip, but I can’t put my finger on the trigger.

In the next few weeks, I hope to get a million-miles-of-thoughts into a blog post. Right now, it’s time to unpack my van and get ready for my last 120 days at Case Western Reserve University.