The Moment: The Fateful Drive

by Kim on May 8, 2011 · 16 comments

Kim’s note: I’m excited to present a series of guest posts this month from fellow travel bloggers about the moment they decided to trade in their conventional life for long term travel.  The question, specifically, when was the moment that you decided to change course?  I’ve asked four of the best and ballsiest for their reply and their responses are thoughtful, funny and moving. Today’s post comes from the hilarious Dalene of Hecktic Travels.  Enjoy.

The Fateful Drive

 Photo by Chris Runoff (flickr- creative commons)

I was slumped in the heated leather seat of our car, watching Pete scrape the ice that had formed on the windshield wiper.  Without gloves, he blew warm air onto his fingers and then ran them the length of the wiper, dislodging small chunks of ice that had prevented it from clearing a visible path through the constant accumulations of flying snow. 

We were pulled over on the side of the busy highway just south of Calgary, Alberta.  On our way home from Christmas holidays spent with my family, the drive was a particularly long one.  We inched along the pavement slowly, dodging other vehicles speeding past with a mindful eye for the dreaded black ice that could put us into a tailspin without warning.  Despite the hot air being pumped from the dashboard, the windshield continued to fog and accumulate condensation.

“Fuck it’s cold,” Pete exclaimed, sliding back into the driver’s seat.  He turned to watch for oncoming traffic as he pulled the car away from the highway’s shoulder.  “I am NOT looking forward to the drive into work tomorrow.”

Neither was I.  I stared out the passenger window and sighed, leaning my forehead against the chilled glass.  Never mind the excruciating drive that would take at least one hour each way, the thought of even one day sitting in my dull grey cubicle was enough to conjure feelings of anxiety and disgust.  I envisioned the piles of work neglected over the holidays, the overflowing email inbox and the this-must-be-done-now demands.

“So, let’s not go,” I said, half jokingly.  He smiled in reply.  Conversations such as these, we had quite commonly.  The urge to screw-this-let’s-sell-everything-and-travel-the-world was usually quelled with a bottle of red and a good night’s sleep.

But this time, the conversation went a little differently.  Spurred on by six months of extremely tragic events in our lives that included (but was not limited to) two deaths in our immediate family, our viewpoint had changed.  The fragility of life had become very real, and the desire to fill our days with excitement and new adventures had suddenly become too overwhelming to ignore. 

In the space of a few kilometers on the highway, all sorts of important questions were considered and mostly answered: What about money?  What about having kids?  Who will take care of our cats?  What do we do with our house?  What if…?  What about…? 

As we neared our home town, the discussion had died off and an important silence hung inside the car.  It was obvious that we each had a million thoughts running through our heads, and that if there were any doubts or further excuses not do to it, then this was the time to air them.

Nothing but silence.

I finally broke it.  “Okay.  We’re really going to do this,” I said, beaming.  The snow seemingly began to fall with less intensity, the sun suddenly shone a little brighter.  We pulled into our driveway and shared an excited glance before retreating into our warm house to unpack.  The months that followed brought revolving periods of excitement and fear, but never once did we waiver from our ultimate goal of starting our life anew.

On December 28th, 2007, the momentous decision was made.  And on May 31st, 2009, our life began.

Dalene and Peter are a Canadian couple who have sold everything and been on the road since 2009.  They are currently in Honduras but will soon be starting a new adventure in Ireland!  Follow them on twitter, facebook, and on their blog Hecktic Travels.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Skott May 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I love this story – seriously…..awesome!
Skott recently posted..Ladies Only

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Amy @ Nomadtopia May 9, 2011 at 7:45 am

Fabulous story! I love those Big Moments. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

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Laur @ The mad To Live May 9, 2011 at 9:03 am

Hey Dalene & Peter!
Wow, so well written and I really felt you in that moment. It’s really cool – I mean, that was your aha moment, you can pin point it right there. I love that.

I’m so happy for and inspired by you guys. Sometimes I guess it takes a few months of your life going a bit upside and all around to realize what you really want… to get to that point where you’re no longer willing to loose what you know you deserve.

You guys did it. That’s amazing. You’re story is one I will always remember!
– Laur

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Dalene - Hecktic Travels May 9, 2011 at 9:39 am

Wow, Lauren, thanks so much! I can’t even say how many times we had the conversation to travel prior to that drive (like, DOZENS of times), and that one time, everything just clicked. And it was entirely because our whole perspective on the world had changed. I don’t like that it took all of that crap to make the decision happen, but well, we’re here now! :)
Dalene – Hecktic Travels recently posted..West Bay Beach – Roatán’s Queen

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Lily (Explore for a Year) May 9, 2011 at 10:13 am

Hi Dalene and Peter,

Thanks for telling your story. What a beautiful and life-changing drive you had. It’s so easy to come up with reasons, excuses or fears not to do something bold and adventurous, but at some point you just have to ignore them all. Kudos to you guys for taking the leap of faith!

As one of my favourite quotes go, “Start before you’re ready, and fix it along the way.” :)

– Lily
Lily (Explore for a Year) recently posted..Personal Update- Next 7 Months- Leaving Asia and More Adventures

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Dalene - Hecktic Travels May 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Lily – that is an awesome quote! After that drive, we did question ourselves (our sanity!) several times, but always knew one thing for sure – that we would never regret it. And we don’t!
Dalene – Hecktic Travels recently posted..West Bay Beach – Roatán’s Queen

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Amy Riley May 10, 2011 at 8:20 am

Love it!
Amy Riley recently posted..Charleston and Folly Beach

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Mike Lenzen | Traveled Earth May 10, 2011 at 8:45 am

I can relate. We made our decision nearer the end of Winter at the beginning of March. A combination of weather, work, a dash of getting old, and it was time to make a change.
Mike Lenzen | Traveled Earth recently posted..Traveling in Your Own Hometown – A Pat LePoidevin House Concert

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Justin @Great Family Escape May 10, 2011 at 9:05 am

I don’t think there is a person, couple, or family alive that doesn’t go through this.

But you guys hit the key: “never once did we waiver from our ultimate goal.”

Never give up. Kill all those distractions and get it done.

Thanks for sharing, this is great!
Justin @Great Family Escape recently posted..10 Countries Where Camping Can Be Totally Free

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Amanda @ 88 May 10, 2011 at 3:37 pm

“Never mind the excruciating drive that would take at least one hour each way, the thought of even one day sitting in my dull grey cubicle was enough to conjure feelings of anxiety and disgust. I envisioned the piles of work neglected over the holidays, the overflowing email inbox and the this-must-be-done-now demands.”

!!!!!!!!!!!

I feel like *I* wrote this. This is how I am feeling right now, in this moment, as I sit here – exhausted after another long day slogging through. I worked for 9 hours without a lunch break and make no jokes when I say I have 43 red flagged emails that need to be addressed the moment I walk in the door tomorrow. 43 red flags slowly crushing my heart. Maybe there will be 50 more tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll kill myself whittling them down to 1 or 2, only to watch them creep back up the very next day. I saw a bumper sticker on the walk to my car when I left the office: “Work Buy Consume Die”. YES. Exactly. I want to run as far away from this as I can. But how, but how, but how . . . I admire you guys – and I hope to one day be as free.
Amanda @ 88 recently posted..this kills me

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Dalene - Hecktic Travels May 11, 2011 at 10:26 am

Amanda! Please don’t kill yourself! :)

I totally, 100% understand how you feel, and I hope you find your way out too. It’s going to take some tough decisions, and maybe a big leap of faith, but once you do it, I promise it will be worth it…

There is ALWAYS another way. :)

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Tom Magdziarz May 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I love this story. Love it!

As a co-worker, I saw you bring Lean and other system-techniques to a dept that usually stick their nose up at ‘manufacturing culture’. And you even joined my internal audit (quality) team, also a rare event from the Financial sector. I knew there was something different about you. I couldn’t pin-point it until I heard what u intended to you – you were Open Minded and not clouded by Greed. Do you know how rare that is in Calgary??

You are 2 very inspirational people. I sincerely wish you both the best on your new life.

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Pete | Hecktic Travels May 11, 2011 at 10:37 am

Tom, firstly thank you for your kind words. It was a sincere pleasure having the chance to get to know you and work along side you.

I try and break the rules of ‘normality’. Our journey has taught us to be open minded and embrace change. There is so much more that world will present to you when have this mindset.

I wish the same to you and your family. ^P
Pete | Hecktic Travels recently posted..Dear Uncle Calvin – With love- Penny

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Justin Hamlin May 11, 2011 at 6:25 pm

As many references I have heard to this story, it is great to hear it first hand. 18 months from decision to action, I love it.
Justin Hamlin recently posted..A Smack in the Face Reminder

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Jennifer Barry May 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I lived in Boston for 9 years so I can relate to long commutes in the snow! My husband and I had a similar conversation about moving to Dallas. We were tired of being broke and cold, and we needed a change. Glad you had the courage to make the leap!
Jennifer Barry recently posted..From Gunslinger to Monk

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