I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana; which is the unique and beautiful city I still claim as home even though I moved from there before I was three. My two loving sisters and my parents were the roots of an interesting and loving environment growing up; I have been fortunate in so many ways. I was raised in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, north of Lake Ponchatrain. My rural neighborhood was a mecca of opportunity for any budding explorer; I took full advantage of these opportunities. Endless reptiles (alligators, turtles, and snakes), creeks, and woods encompass my strongest memories from childhood.
When I was 13 I moved a few miles further north to Hammond, Louisiana into a tidy neighborhood; explorations of a different kind would begin around this age. Trying to figure out how to fit in with the crowd was my primary goal, but it never quite worked out. During most of my childhood I was in scouting eventually reaching rank of Eagle. I attribute my love and knowledge of the woods, my love of teaching and leadership, many of my best memories with my father, and a good chunk of my thirst for adventure to scouting.
At some point during the end of my college years, I broke away from what others thought of me and started spending more energy thinking about what I thought of me. It seemed no matter what I did I was hated by some and loved by others; I was villinized for things I was not responsible for, and overlooked for my greatest accomplishments. This is likely the story of many of our lives. Shifting from pleasing the people in my life to being pleased with myself was very important for my life’s direction. Slowly I moved from materialism to self reflection, and the pursuit of knowledge; its still a work in progress. I largely thank my older sister for this shift; who shook me at just the right time and gave me a different perspective of what may be important.
I studied Biomedical Engineering, which I was very good at, at Louisiana Tech. Unfortunately, I never truly fell in love with the Engineering part of it. The interactions with friends while studying, and the interaction with experts in different areas while working on projects gave me the most joy during college. After college I went to graduate school in Atlanta, Georgia to continue studying Biomedical Engineering. It is difficult to say exactly why I ended up on this path, but the best way to describe it would be a snowball rolling down a hill, it took much less energy and pain to continue to let the snowball roll than to try to find a way to stop the ball and reevaluate.
During my time in Atlanta, I began traveling with a group of guys from Denver, Colorado. It all started with a winter ascent of Gray’s Peak (technically 3 days into Spring, but “winter ascent” makes for a better story), a relatively easy 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado. I had a very hard time with the climb, unprepared for the deep snow (no snow shoes), the physical exhaustion (from repeatedly climbing out of the snow), or the altitude (I was at 100 feet only a few days before). I truly believe, looking back, that I was in some serious danger on the mountain. I was having black outs, slurring my words, and lying on my back repeatedly, but I was determined to make it to the top (summit video). I was euphoric when I reached the peak, and this euphoria continued for the decent, the ride home, and into the next few days and weeks. This summit taught me three things: I absolutely love the feeling of pushing myself to the limit physically and mentally, I want to have this feeling as often as possible in as many ways as possible, and I need to always be well prepared.
With these same guys, I would go on week long backpacking trips, typically twice a year. These trips and the friendships I made changed my life and largely quenched my immediate thirst for adventure, but I was always left wanting more of the same. This is where the seeds of the bicycle journey that I am currently on, were planted. Eventually I received my doctorate in Biomedical Engineering, an exciting and amazing achievement, but it was clear to me that the life of a largely isolated researcher was not the life for me. Once again the people that I met and the beautiful people that I worked with were the highlights of my educational experience and not the content of the work.
I am determined to live a life that I find exciting and meaningful; I am determined to find a job path that matches this description. I am determined to find inner peace that I know exists, but that I have a hard time holding on to. I am determined to find love with a like minded adventurer. I am determined to know true and lasting happiness. All humans desire nothing less than love and happiness; hopefully we are all doing everything we can to get there. This adventure is my unconventional attempt at finding these things. I spent my life learning about the soil that I need to become the tree I want to be. I’m already a budding tree; unique and strong, but I have a vision of what I can become. This adventure is what I perceive to be the perfect mixture of the necessary elements for growth; I’m watching closely to see what changes come.
When I have put myself in situations where my body is taxed; where I am unfamiliar and often uncomfortable; where my mind is forced to work quickly; where I rest my well being on the kindness of strangers; where I forge the deepest friends in the most unlikely of situations; I have found the most profound happiness and clarity. So here I am, on the most epic adventure of my life, wandering south, in hope of finding all that I am looking for and things that I never knew of was looking for, with no absolute knowledge of how or if I will get there.