After 20 years of working in the electrical trade I became extremely stressed, and unhappy. I was being told that I had to work 40-50 hours a week, and that I was only able to have 1 week off a year to do what I wanted. Even at that, I had to make sure the week I wanted off was approved by my boss! I was making good money but didn’t need it—I’m not married, have no children, and no car payments. I was a consumer, stuck in the mentality that having lots of money, and material objects meant I was successful. One night, after a breakdown, I realized I needed to make some changes in my life. I sat there looking around at everything I owned, and knew I had to get rid of it all. At this moment it became clear that having money didn’t make me successful, but having happiness would.
My new goal was to become wealthy in happiness, but what made me happiest? For me it was the times of my childhood. My family was huge on camping, and each night during the summer months we sat around a campfire in our backyard and slept outside. My brother, and I would wake up early, hop on our bikes and explore the state forest behind our house. We knew every square inch of South Carver, Massachusetts. From an early age, exploring was something that thrilled me, the excitement of seeing what lays ahead gives me a natural high. I decided to quit my job, and seek out some adventures. I needed that high again.
With this realization I made plans to bike tour New Zealand and that is when I met Amanda. She was working at two new companies in Austin, helping them get started. She was happy at her job, but was also seeking more adventure in her life. In nine months her lease was up, and she had plans to hike the Appalachian trail. Her plans changed after our second date and a month later we both bought one way tickets to New Zealand. We decided to donate all of our belongings, only keeping what was needed, no more than could fit on our bikes. Getting rid of stuff that we had held onto for years was hard, but refreshing once it was done.
The day to begin our adventure finally came, neither of us had much money due to a few “goodbye” adventures in Austin and an expensive chocolate addition, but on April 1st we left anyways. At the airport we got a quick slap in the face when we were told we needed to buy return tickets, but decided spending the summer in Hawaii would be fun. We spent 2 1/2 months in New Zealand bike touring North Island, and had an incredible time. Each day we only worried about food, water, and finding a great campsite. Nothing was planned so each morning we would wake up and decide which way to ride. If we woke up and didn’t feel like riding, we wouldn’t. We were completely free, and in control of our lives. It was great! This was Amanda’s first bike tour and NZ made it easy for us. Not only were the landscapes beautiful, but so were the people that lived there. Numerous times we would be outside a grocery store looking at a map and someone would approach and offer us help, or give us a place to stay for the night. Everyone seemed really stoked on us, and appreciated our story.
Bike touring puts you in the position to meet really rad locals. When touring I seek out the back roads where locals hide. In doing so you really get a feel for the culture that you can’t experience when you’re traveling 80mph down a highway. Another awesome way to get to know a place is through Wwoofing—in exchange for volunteer help, hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. Wwoofing is a great way to keep costs down and get the inside scoop on an area. It’s also a great way to meet other people traveling from other countries. We traveled from north of Auckland weaving our way down to Wellington. Along the way made sure to take full advantage of foods growing off the land, and Wwoofed twice.
We arrived in Wellington late June to catch our flight to Oahu, Hi. We have been in Oahu for a tad over 3 weeks now, spending most of our time on North Shore tanning our buns. When we left New Zealand it was winter so it’s been really nice to suck up some sun rays. We have been full on living the beach bum lifestyle. In doing so we have found some great beaches. Kualoa Regional Park on the east coast is a great place to camp, and watch the sunrise. Malaekahana State Recreation is another great camp spot with clean restrooms, and you can even swim to Goats Island. If you’re seeking more seclusion you can camp on the beach behind the Kahuku golf course. For fun there’s mountain biking in Pupukea Paumala forest, and snorkeling, surfing, and swimming on North Shore. If you enjoy a great sunset, go to no other than Sunset Beach. Basically there are a million amazing places to go. Both Amanda, and I have taken on jobs at a local gluten free bakery to help with costs as we make our way over to the Big Island.
I love living a life where I follow my heart, and not what society wants for me. If you’re not happy, make a change in your life. Hop on your bike and pedal, it has never lead me in the wrong direction.
About the author: Well, that pretty much summed things up. You can follow his adventures on Instagram @grizzaa to see where the wind will blows next.
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