Throughout my crazy #RunningTo road trip, I’ve been connecting with so many incredible people. The reaction and reception, both online and off, have been fueling me forward. I’m honestly thrilled that so many of y’all are thrilled.
After living on the road for over a month now, a few commonly asked questions have arisen. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to address some of your concerns for future reference.
Yes, there’s a question about my beard. Among several others.
1. Where are you staying while you’re #RunningTo? Hotels? Hostels? Your car?
In the aftermath of Struggle Central, I received numerous emails from precious people the continent and world over. Even before my big #RunningTo announcement in April, many of these people invited me to visit them since I guess I’ve made it no secret that I dig the wandering life.
When I did make my trip official, many of these same people echoed their prior sentiments and offered up their homes for me. A month into my trip, I’ve been blessed to connect with some of these saints.
Beyond readers or friends or family, I’m also staying with total strangers. I’m using this awesome Couchsurfing website to find people who open up their homes to wayfarers like me. Just because.
While somewhat awkward at times, couchsurfing has worked wonderfully thus far. There are such awesome, hospitable people in this world. Here’s my Couchsurfing profile if you’d like to take a gander at the process. I’d encourage anyone to give it a try!
2. How are you paying for everything? Gas, food, etc?
I was fortunate to save up some funds this spring, but I’m also basking in any kindness to be found along my wandering way. If you’d like to fill up my tank or cook me a meal or knit me a tanktop when I come visit you, please, by all means! Otherwise, I’m hanging in there . . . for now.
3. Who’s taking all those pictures for you?
It boggles me how much this particular question has been asked, though I suppose I’d probably ask it too. It’s not really that complicated.
No, I’m not setting my iPhone down on a rock ten feet away. No, I don’t have a self-timer. For the most part, my hosts or complete strangers are taking all those wonderful pictures for me.
It’s honestly as simple as asking someone, “Hey, would you mind taking my picture for me?” 9 times out of 10, asking someone turns out great. I’ve since learned not to ask the 80-year-old chain-smoking lady to properly operate my complicating iPhone.
Sure, I could selfie it up everywhere I go. But that sort of look grows wearisome on my Instagram feed. I much prefer the distanced “3rd person” perspective, though I will occasionally pop a selfie if I don’t see anyone in my immediate vicinity.
Asking someone to take my picture is a little thing that’s actually teaching me boldness on this trip. Approach a stranger; it’s not as scary or awkward as you’d think it.
4. So, where are you wandering next?
Let me be clear: I am so excited that so many of you guys are so excited about my trip. Honestly, I don’t know that I’d have the strength to keep doing this if nobody out there cared.
That being said, those who know me best know that I’m always one for surprises. I understand and appreciate the curiosity, but that’s exactly why I’m not apt to reveal where I’m wandering next. So, unless I’ve already gotten in touch with you about crashing your couch soon . . . why not sit back and enjoy the unfolding journey?
5. Are you really not going to shave this entire trip?
Apparently, my facial hair has affected the masses. Oh boy. I had no idea my patchy whiskers could attract such attention.
So, to shave or not to shave? When #RunningTo started, I thought not shaving would be fun for maybe a week or two. But then people started complimenting my forming beard and making me feel all masculine and powerful. Plus, it’s nice not to worry about looking “presentable” for an employer or kids or my mother.
I have no idea how long this beardy phase will last, but I’ve committed at least another month because I’ve never gone that long without shaving. Come August I’ll reevaluate the facial situation, but I’m kinda digging my new carefree hippie look. It could certainly be a “thing” for the entirety of this trip. Maybe even beyond.
Oh Mother, please still love me.
6. How long will you continue wandering?
At least until August, but probably longer. There’s just too much to see! I’d love to hit all 48 contiguous states and several Canadian provinces, too. The longer my trip goes, the route will depend more and more on finances and emotions and whether I’ve found somewhere I’d like to settle down.
Which brings me to my final frequently asked question . . .
7. What are you doing after #RunningTo? Are you going back to California?
That’s the biggest question of all, and it’s one I myself keep returning to over again. The answer?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.
I addressed this in my Goodbye, California post, but it’s worth restating: I do not despise California. It’s not that I want nothing to do with sunny SoCal anymore. Over the last four years, I’ve encountered some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met there. I am who I am today largely because of them, and that’s no exaggeration.
That being said, I’m open to other options and adventures. I have a few places in mind where I could potentially relocate after #RunningTo. I do like the notion of a fresh start and a new chapter for my story — if it makes sense.
Ultimately, if I encounter a magical city where purpose and community fuse into such an obvious place of belonging, then yes, I want to step into that story. Whether I return to southern California or blaze a new trail elsewhere, I want my next chapter to make some level of sense emotionally and spiritually.
It’s terrifying not knowing where my big road trip is ultimately ending. But I’m staking this entire #RunningTo journey on that age-old mantra:
The journey is the destination.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any other questions about my #RunningTo road trip? Ask away! And if you haven’t reached out to me yet but would like me to wander your way, simply shoot me an email: tmz [at] thomasmarkzuniga [dot] com.