Adventure, Dominican Republic, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life, Travel

The Change In Plans

Jessica and Drew

So much has changed in only a week.

The crossing of the Mississippi was successful. After many well-intentioned warnings, it was almost comically easy: I can’t imagine a more pleasant kayak trip. I can say that Jessica was as tough and capable a partner as one could hope for. She has my heart.

And that’s the thing.

As any reader should know, I finished my time in New Orleans and tuned my bike for 700 more miles. Those 700 will take me to Corpus Christi, Texas where I’ll train on sea kayaks until I can paddle the Gulf of Mexico.

Saturday morning the Giant was all loaded up. At the morning send-off party I popped the champagne, put my arm around Jessica, and made the announcement:

“There’s been a change in plans.”

Jessica and I are running away to the Caribbean.

Taking Risks for Love

I will still bike to Texas, paddle Mexico, walk to South America. But Jessica and I haven’t had enough of each other. So we’re both taking a risk.

For me it means delaying the next stage of my Adventure; for her it means cancelling a summer in New York. We’ll spend the next two months together in the Dominican Republic, in a small village on the beach.

Is this crazy? That’s certainly the word we both use. We’re nervous. I don’t really know if this is the beginning or the end. But together we’ll explore deserted beaches, scramble up waterfalls, motorbike through mountain towns. I’ll learn to cut coconuts with a machete, and maybe we will be happy.

It is right to take risks for love.

This is temporary. In August we’ll fly back to New Orleans—hopefully with a clearer picture of what we want for our future—and I’ll resume my trip from exactly where I left off. The Adventure will go on.


At many points, when the going was hard or temptation reared her head, my friends have said it’s okay if I don’t complete the Adventure. I’m sure that many of you share that sentiment, too—it’s meant in the kindest way, and I appreciate that.

But I care.

I care whether I complete the Adventure. It’s not optional to me. It’s woven in my nature, it’s assigned by my highest self.

There will be a day when I limp, drift, raft, stumble, bike, run, or race the last 18 steps and my heart will be complete. I will know I lived a story and I will know who I am and what I must do. Until that day, I take a step forward, a cautious step forward.

And here’s what so few people know: I care about completing the Adventure, but I don’t care how long it takes.

Running away for love is not, to me, a delay in the Adventure. It is the Adventure.

We had joked about this idea for weeks, always a joke. But then reading, researching, looking at what it would take. I told Jessica we had to make a decision. She said no, I can’t do it, I can’t just run away for love. So I packed my bike.

The next day she held me and breathed: let’s do it. “We have to do it.”

And so we do. Set my bow at the storm, let us sail this ocean again. Let us sail the ocean of fear and trembling, because what else is there? Only islands, islands in the storm.

Adventure, Mexico, Sea Kayaking, The Great Adventure, Travel

How to Cross Mexico Safely

I was a stranger and this guy had a gun. He told me he took it everywhere so he could shoot whoever tried to mug him.

I told him I was camping out at the County Fairgrounds.

“You’re not gonna wake up,” he told me. “There’s stabbings there every night.”

But the police said I could camp there. They thought it was safe. He laughed.

“Go anywhere else. You don’t know this town. You’ll get robbed!”

I asked if I could camp in his yard instead. Of course not. So I went to the Fairgrounds.

It seemed really nice. I showered, I met the other campers and I slept all night in a windstorm. It was cold but the cold wind never did try to stab me.

That was in Mississippi. A white man named Whitman said I was going to die. He knew all the black people and how bad they all were. They all had knives. I only saw their kids learning to dance in the park and then some of the teens listening to music in cars. I guess they keep the knives really well hidden.

“They’ll cut your head off,” everyone says about Mexico. A lot of Americans tell me that. They sure know a lot about Mexicans.

But the dangers of Mexico are real. The top 200 miles of that country are a war zone. Foreign travelers aren’t really targeted but someone traveling alone on the highways would really stand out. Mexico is one of the safer countries I’ll cross on my journey—safer for an American than the US is—but parts of it are not safe at all.


I basically had three options for how to cross Mexico on my own power.

  1. Bike it. I can make 50-90 miles a day and if I reach hostels before sunset I can just tear through the danger zone. I think this would be a poor way to go because it’s essentially fleeing from one of my favorite cultures.
  2. Pilgrimage. I could join a pilgrimage headed toward the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City. We’d be on foot and I’d be in a large group, with a spiritual purpose, which is probably safer. I love this idea but it would also veer me away from my course toward Yucatán.
  3. Take to the sea.

Guess which one I chose.

Something like this.

Something like this.


Dawn lights up the waves like crowns on enemy kings. The weather report is clear—eat quick! Slam that coffee. Up, to the water, up!

The tide is going out and our little barks with it. We face the surf, those pounding walls of water diving into shore. They want to take us back; we are not going back. Paddles in the water, struggling from the hip, struggling from the back, arms taut and hair drenched in foam. Is this to trade one fomhór for another?

There is no other way: to reach the open sea we must break through the surf.

Out on the open, science is our concern; check the compass, point the bows, re-check the weather; are all heads present?

We go so far we cannot see land. Here the water is calmer. It is slow oliphants, not charging bulls and rams; it is the heaving shoulders of sleepy giants.

20 feet up on the swell; a glimpse of horizon, a blast of wind; drop back to the trough 20 feet below. A few paddle-strokes will do you but stay together mates, stay together.

We go like this for some time. There are snacks at sea, cameras come out of drysacks, distant boats are sighted and avoided.

Dolphins jump beside us. Did you know that dolphins will escort kayakers on the open Gulf?

Perhaps it’s sunset, perhaps the GPS says it’s time to make our camp. A hard starboard and we cut toward land.

Now the surf is with us, that hammering crashing wall will carry us to our beds—but it is not tame, no it is not tame. It is on the backs of bulls now, the churn of the stampede that we ride. Like Pamplona we make our run.

The final hundred yards. What speed! The beach looms pink before us, come in at an angle now, turn it to the side—there is no reason to rough up your boat.

Come aground, stow that gear; who’s scouting town and who’s making camp tonight? We need street food, we need cold agua. Welcome ashore, bold spirits, welcome ashore.


The plan is this: reach Texas. Get a sea kayak. Learn to use it. Kayak 1,000 miles from Texas to Coatzacoalcos (see map), stopping every night at a different town or beach.


  • I will be a fluent Spanish speaker before crossing the border,
  • I will cross legally and abide by the 6 month maximum stay in Mexico.
  • I will train extensively in sea kayaking before making the voyage.
  • Assume I will procure all reasonable navigational and safety equipment.
  • Some cartels have boats, however as one experienced Gulf kayaker said: “Kayak jackings are distinctly less common than carjackings.”
  • I would prefer not to go alone.

I leave New Orleans in late June, and will arrive in Corpus Christi, Texas around August 7. I plan to practice on kayaks until late 2013 or early 2014, then begin the voyage.

I invite you to join me. 

The Open Call

I believe the myths are real. I believe we can do great things.

Adventure is my path to that. Adventure tests me, frees me, shows me to shatter past my limits. We are capable of great things: to adventure is to breathe them every day.

It’s not always pleasant. It’s not always safe. The adventurer shies away from unnecessary risk, makes every precaution, but when risk is unavoidable—we grin into the wind.

But it is to live, it is to know, it is to know the self, it is to know the self triumphant.

Often I say: there is no call to adventure. There will be no owl with your invitation letter; no wizard will abuse your door.

Today I prove myself wrong.

I invite you to adventure. I’m giving you notice. The true call is silent, it is urgent, it is in the blood: you feel it if you have the call. You must decide for yourself.

But today, one adventurer is reaching out to you. Come with me. Meet me in Texas, we will find you a boat; we will train together; we will do something great. It may not set records, it may not change history, it will challenge every limit we have, we will throw ourselves to that challenge because—

To adventure is to experience myth.

If you feel a call don’t put it off. Email me to discuss it; whether it’s right for you, individually. We don’t need to make a firm plan just yet. Let’s just talk options.

I’m and I would like to adventure together.

If you’re a new reader you may enjoy the report on the adventure so far.

Adventure, The Great Adventure, Travel

The State of the Adventure

Progress, Money, Health, Sex, Prep, Mission: Here is the State of the Adventure.

So Far

I set to cross two continents and meet the gods.

I started from the source of the Mississippi and went 1,800 miles to New Orleans, where I have been practicing Vodou.

In June I will embark once again, this time to bicycle to Texas. I will spend my time there training on sea kayaks. Then I’ll paddle down the Gulf of Mexico to continue the journey.

I. Progress and Pace

The pace of the journey is acceptable.

One of the biggest errors I made in communicating about the Adventure, at the beginning, was not talking about its slow and intentional nature. The plan has always been to allow for (a) taking time in communities to get to know the people and (b) meandering without adhering to a strict itinerary.

Many people tell me this is the “only” way to travel—not true but I feel you—but many were also surprised. They expected, essentially, a marathon bike/walk/paddle to the end destination. That is a different kind of adventure.

I do have pacing concerns. I had always planned to spend an extended stay in New Orleans, the first of many such extended stays along my route. Originally I pictured several months; I did not set a hard deadline, and it has bled.

New Orleans readers will laugh because this city does that (some local friends wrongly think I won’t continue on at all). But it was intentional. I originally planned to stay November – April in order to have the option to undergo Vodou priest initiation in April. That became extended because:

  • Initiations are more likely to happen in May than April
  • It would be unwise to rush to leave at the same time as initiating

So I extended my stay till June. And since there’s a major Vodou ceremony every Saint John’s Day (June 24), I naturally set my departure date at the end of the month.

That will amount to 8 months in one city. It’s disappointing for two reasons:

  1. Priestly initiations have been canceled this year, at least for this spring.
  2. This really is too long. I’ve developed a settled life and I don’t want to until I complete my purpose. I love New Orleans and maybe I will live here one day, but not now.

It’s hard to explain my feelings about settled life. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. There’s a mix of temptation (to simply stay) and regret (that I didn’t come here earlier). Yet all the happiness I have here—all the friends and experiences—would not be in my life if I’d stayed in Natchez, Vicksburg, Memphis, St. Louis, Dubuque, Mexico City. All were temptations as different levels.

It seems insane to give up the happiest life in the world, but my lifestyle is one of exploration and discovery. The happy resting point is only fulfilling as one dot in a greater constellation.

So I would not be pleased with this 8 month stay in any case, and even less so since the initiation I came here for not possible. It would be easy to say I “stayed for nothing,” but I stayed for many reasons and it has been a joy.

The lesson I draw is never to put a secondary goal ahead of my purpose. The Adventure is my life: it is my bark. Long after I am away from the beeswax scent of the Hounfo, when my sisters and brothers are nowhere for me to clasp, I will have the journey and the journey will have me. How could I put one faith above that?
I am a journeyman priest. I will learn from many masters. Seek them out, initiate, give dedication and service. But the heroic way is my highest calling. It must always come first.

This lesson comes a little too late. When I leave New Orleans it will be nearly one year since I started. It may be nearly another before I leave the US. That puts a barb in my spirit.

As a touchstone, I believe my “extended stays” in a place should be about 4 months. Texas may require longer.

II. Money

I have increased my earnings and I feel confident in my income.

Earnings on the road were (barely) sufficient while bicycling. On arrival in New Orleans I plunged into a dangerous financial situation, but ultimately recovered.

In 2012 I earned a total of US $16,964 primarily from freelance writing. I love off my income; I do not have large savings.

So far in 2013 my freelance earnings are the strongest they’ve ever been, and I make over $2,000 per month. If the current trend continued I would likely make between $24,000 and $32,000 in 2013.

But the trend will not continue:

On the road I will be forced to give up some clients and scale back freelance work. It may not be as easy to build them back up once I arrive at my next extended stay.

Nonetheless I expect Texas to be easier than New Orleans for several reasons:

  • Cost of living is lower in Texas.
  • Less debt.
  • Stronger client portfolio (more diverse) means less danger from losing a few clients.
  • Experience handling New Orleans will make preparation easier for future extended stays.

Thus a second crisis is unlikely. The challenge is meeting additional financial goals, such as:

  1. Paying off remaining debt.
  2. Financing the sea kayak leg of the expedition.
  3. Earning enough to buy health insurance.

The last point is the most serious and many readers will likely be horrified that I am doing all this with no health coverage. Others will be completely unsurprised—not because it is acceptable but because it is the reality for most bootstrap travelers and much of the rest of the population.

I consider health coverage a medium-level priority because (a) I can go into debt to cover health costs if the worst happens, (b) once I get out of the US health care will be more affordable and (c) in any case there is no realistic health insurance plan for me after I leave the US. Policies for travelers exclude adventuring or sporting injuries, by far the most likely kind of coverage I would need.

So my financial goals for 2013 focus tightly on:

  • Paying off all of my remaining consumer credit card debt (about US $7,000) before December 31.
  • Outfitting the sea kayak expedition.

If I can successfully reach these goals I will consider health insurance a nice second priority.

III. Health

For 3 years I’ve worked hard to reshape my health, and the last year in particular has been challenging but helpful. If there are no injuries, I expect to be in better health by the end of this year than ever before.

(In this section I will often talk about my weight, but weight loss is not necessarily a health goal. If you eat a healthy diet with a lot of vegetables and exercise regularly, your health can be above average even if you are slightly obese. Conversely thin people can be very unhealthy.)

I feel like I spent the first 30 years of my life abusing my body and will spend the second 30 years taking damn good care of it. I enjoyed abusing my body but it’s more enjoyable to treat it well. Ultimately, I derive more satisfaction from vegetables, yoga and water than from sweets, bread or alcohol.


I desire to be thin because it increases range of motion, decreases the difficulty of endurance travel like bicycling or kayaking, and correlates with lower risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It’s also aesthetic and increases how much sex I can have.

I have found that I am one of the lucky people who can reliably control weight through diet. However there are thresholds.

For most of my life I have been at least slightly obese. Previously I looked and felt my best in college age 19-21 at 189 pounds. Throughout my 20s my weight increased with sedentary lifestyle, worse diet, heavier drinking and unhappy marriage/work life. My weight was between 240 and 260 pounds. I am 5’11”.

In 2009-10 I began to make changes to decrease my weight. By decreasing calorie intake I dropped to 215 pounds. Further weight loss became difficult, but more exercise helped get me to 200-205 pounds.

At that point I turned to healthy diet changes. Specifically I used a 4 month Chinese Medicine diet regimen that cut out carbs, meat, alcohol, gluten, and other specific foods. This resulted in substantial weight loss, which was not stable. After fluctuation I reached a stable weight of about 195 pounds.

By early 2012 in Mexico City I began to use limited alcohol intake and careful choice of foods (mostly vegetables/meat) as a de facto calorie control along with increased exercise (walking). I finally reached my old college weight of 189 and at the very thinnest, just as I returned to US, I reached 178 pounds, my lowest adult weight ever. It looked and felt good.

Since then weight has been very unstable mostly from frequent drinking and inconsistent sedentary/active lifestyle.

It has become apparent that with my normal habits my body “normalizes” around my old college weight of 189 pounds. Regimens and diet plans will not result in further, reliable weight loss.

If it is possible for me to lose more weight and keep it off, it will require lifestyle changes at a broader level.


Alcohol plays a role in the weight management outlined above but it presents special issues worth discussing.

I was raised drinking routinely and I adore alcohol. This is true in all aspects: the taste of good drinks, the pleasant sensation and its social role. It takes effort for me to choose not to drink daily.

(After extensive honest discussion with recovering alcoholics, as well as testing myself, I believe I am not an alcoholic and am able to control my drinking or abstain completely long-term.)

Additionally, weight loss interacts with alcohol tolerance. I’m used to weighing 250 pounds and easily consuming 4 or more drinks without feeling drunk; at 180 pounds just two drinks is a challenge.

Between weight loss and aging, hangovers can be severe and I no longer enjoy heavy drinking. This is particularly problematic since I now have no intuitive sense of what constitutes “heavy” drinking for me.

Finally, I am immersed in a culture of bacchanalia and the assumption in New Orleans is that heavy drinking is part of social activity and fun. I have discovered that my friends are (wonderfully) supportive when I choose not to drink, but it’s still hard to be in a drinking environment and abstain.

The result is that I am heavily focused on adjusting my alcohol usage. If I consume 2-3 drinks and stop, or pace myself at less than 1 per hour over long festivities, I find my reaction tolerable. Even at that rate I worry about the immediate recklessness of intoxication as well as long-term health effects.

In my ideal health world I would never drink. In my ideal aesthetic world I would drink freely for pleasure.


I greatly enjoy vegetables. I also enjoy carbs but I recognize that in many cases they are not a healthy choice.

Meat is a poor health choice. Killing animals for food is 100% ethical and I will never support a righteous vegetarianism. However for health reasons I would prefer a largely vegetarian diet.

Often I will snack on fruits or nuts and eat two meals of only salad per day. That’s one of the healthiest possible diets. When eating that way, I find it no problem to consume some sweets, carbs or meats each day.

However, I am caught in a back-and-forth. I can eat healthy and enjoy it for 2-4 weeks losing weight the whole time. Then I will get intense cravings for sweets, carbs, cream, meat and alcohol which lasts for 1-3 weeks and regain the weight.

My body has been in its slightly obese form for so long that is panics if I lose too much weight. It takes intense effort to continue healthy eating habits during these craving periods. It is part of why I believe I need to change habits at a broad level in order to continue transforming my body.

I no longer seek a “program” like the Chinese Medicine one. I can easily make dramatic changes to diet and achieve impressive results, but they erode afterward as the cravings set in. What I need are sustainable healthy habits I can maintain long term.

Presently I adhere to the “mostly salad” intake (which I enjoy) but I give myself free reign with a daily dessert and some light alcohol intake. My hope is this will bolster my willpower to keep my healthy habits during the cravings and, ultimately, change my habits and my body’s expectations.

Muscle and Exercise

I am physically strong and have no particular muscle-building goals. I value flexibility over pure strength.

I practice Ashtanga yoga five days a week and it’s wildly effective. It increases muscle, flexibility and my desire to eat and live healthy.


My health desires are to look like a lean athlete, which to me is an inspiring image, and to have the physical capability to perform extraordinarily when needed—either for my own survival or to help others.

By losing approximately 15 more pounds of fat while maintaining muscle and flexibility I will be in the fitness category that satisfies me. I believe I can do that before the end of 2013.

IV. Love

I have adapted well to the short term, passionate relationships of the road.

I value romantic love over one-night stands but have enjoyed both. I have sex frequently which is healthy and proper.

I sometimes wonder if, eventually, I will want a long term relationship. Right now I find the fatal nature of my short-term loves to make them sweeter—not only sweeter than a long term relationship overall, but sweeter than even its “honeymoon” phase.

I suspect I’ll continue to make love to many different women as I travel. I’ve become much better in bed and am a more romantic, relaxed man. I remain (often close) friends with the women I’ve loved. I believe they too are happy with our time together, and in turn that brings me great happiness.

V. Prep

My 1,400 mile shoes have done their time and need to be replaced.

Renting a furnished apartment in this country is stupid ridiculous. This country is not for travelers. I need to reach out ahead to contacts in Texas and have a network on the ground before I arrive.

I should probably get a new laptop.

The Giant needs a new seat, professional air pump, more hardcore tires, tire goo, new front light, and a lighter load. I will ship some stuff ahead so I am carrying less. I may install a sound system on the bike.

VI. Mission

The purpose of the Adventure is intact and succeeding. This is more than a way of life, it is a statement, a belief, and a credo.

The world is good; humanity is good; we can do amazing things; travel and you will find it.

The heroic faith is my religion and it has brought me to the very gates of Forever.

Thank you for sharing it with me.


The State of the Adventure will not be an annual report. It will be released between each major leg of the journey.


Fame, Personal Development, Philosophy, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life

Purpose: To Inspire

As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is Part I of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure.

Fame & Inspiration

For a long time I denied that I wanted to pursue fame. Fame is not a goal usually associated with spirituality.  I was very open about it when I was a teenager. I was sure I’d go down in history. In retrospect this is a healthy motivation we should encourage in young people. To crumple that kind of drive is a crime.

But crumple we do.

We want people to be humble. To be spiritual or mature or social or likable, you are supposed to downplay your ambition and self-esteem. Put yourself down with a smile, we like you better that way.

Working to be respected as a priest, to found a temple and to excel at interfaith work, I learned to wear the mask of humility that’s expected of leaders.

Then I forgot it was a mask.

Meditating on an isolated sheep farm I confronted the barb in my heart. Why aren’t you doing what you’re meant to do?

I was afraid my lifelong dream was too selfish, would be too silly to ever voice. People don’t say, “I want to be famous.” Only kids say that. But I do want to be famous.

I can’t tell you, the gods, or anyone why I feel a drive for fame. It’s as natural to me as my love of the outdoors. To die famous is so essentially me it feels like Fate, except I don’t believe in fate. So let’s just say it’s who I am.

I choose to accept that. And more: I love it.

The Value

We are told to regard fame as: un-spiritual, egoistic, unrealistic, childish. It must be a selfish goal. Here’s an alternative perspective on fame. Fame can be an inspiration. As inspiration, fame has the power to improve the world. It becomes selfless.

There was a time when it was considered virtuous to seek immortality through fame, and fame through accomplishment. This is much better for society than meekness. When we challenge ourselves to attain the utmost, we create a culture of inspiring others to move forward.

The difference lies in the motivation. If you seek fame only for your own glory it’s selfish. I used to think this way when I was 14 or 15. Now I’m much more interested in seeing how I can use my life to help the people around me experience happiness.

Many people start a good path with selfish goals. If they’re sincere they will purify.

The Form

So how do I pursue fame and inspiration?

It would be fun to go down as the greatest magician of the 21st century. Or to become a famous writer—that’s a dream anyone can understand.

Those are parts of who I am, but there’s one thread that runs unwavering through it all.


Philosophy is my love affair. It’s my formal training, a personal strength, and the one skill I’ve used in all my other pursuits as author, adventurer, priest, and artist. It is the project of how best to live a life.

My approach is tactile. I use my own daily life as a living drawing board for my ideas. It gives me advantages and hurdles compared to an academic, but it certainly delivers results.

And that’s the power of the Great Adventure. It’s the ultimate practice of experimental philosophy. A trip isn’t worthy of fame—walking really far is impressive but it’s just my personal project. But if that experience can be distilled into something to share with others, then the huge risk is worth it.

So the first purpose of the Great Adventure could be written as:

To inspire courage through the power of adventure.

To become a famous philosopher.

To raise spirits.

As I admit and embrace this purpose, what advice can you offer me? What should I learn and bear in mind as I pursue it?

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.


Could Boring Be Good Enough?

I feel complacent. The days just run together here—it’s me, my parents, my laptop. Next thing you know it’s dark again.

People ask where I am. It always catches me off guard. For some reason I assume that everyone who knows me, from my ex-fiancée from college to coworkers I haven’t seen in a year, must follow my every move. The plan is the center of my life and I forget others don’t follow it so closely. How is South America? Are you still in Thailand? Where are you?

Right now I’m in Wisconsin. Where in Wisconsin? You wouldn’t know it. But it’s near other towns that, likewise, you wouldn’t know.

I like it here. I didn’t think I would. When I left Mexico I was nervous. I planned to spend two months visiting family and I wondered if that might be about seven weeks too many.

We live on a small farm. Neither of my parents grew up farmers, but it’s my dad’s retirement dream. For the first month I was here, Zangmo joined us. I’ve made a few jaunts to the Cities to see various friends and Beth. But mostly it’s been me and the two people who gave me life, in the middle of nowhere.

Zangmo and I went canoeing.

Dad doesn’t talk much. Mom does, sometimes. A lot of the time it’s just quiet (never when I’m trying to write). They have two cats who will run away if you try to pet them, so there may actually be a negative amount of socialization happening in the house.

The hours slip by this way. Somehow it’s March, April, June—what happened? I wake up early each morning, intention to write a lot; write some. I’m making dinner. Then they’re in their beds and it’s just me, the wine, the computer, the music.

I could just stay here. Mom sure would like the company. Dad’d love the help. Two years, ten years. Help with chores in the morning, write nights. No rent, no hole in my heart, meet a local girl.

Nobody would fault me for settling down, and I’m tempted every chance.

Sometimes comfort is the enemy of adventure. I’ve been so complacent I wanted to turn down a kayaking trip. Co-adventurer Mitch and I might take sea kayaks down the Gulf of Mexico when I get that far. We have a chance to take lessons together in Duluth, Minnesota.

For two weeks I’ve wondered if I can cancel.

I don’t actually want to cancel. I’ll actually be much happier if I go do something new, with a man I hardly know who might paddle across the world with me. I thrill at that very idea: if I didn’t, I should take adventurer off my business card.

But I get this way sometimes. When I have a comfortable daily life I convince myself I have lots of writing to do. It gives me a reason to go nowhere and, if I let myself, I would grow old this way and regret it.

Are you the kind of person who’s tempted to adventure, but would rather stay home? Or are you the kind of person who’s tempted to stay home, but would rather adventure?

Support the Great Adventure! If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

The Great Adventure

The Gear Drive So Far

We’re on week two of the gear drive. Time for an update!

Gear matters. That’s me in 2002!

Goal: $860

Raised so far: $810~

This is amazing progress. I want to give my most heartfelt thanks to everyone who’s donated. And of course if you haven’t yet, you still can! Your gift will help me secure the equipment needed to stay as safe and healthy as possible as I undertake the upcoming Great Adventure, crossing two continents under my own power.

But time is getting short. In less than a week I’ll be heading to the outfitter to make my final gear purchases. The money raised here, along with what I’ve personally saved toward gear, will determine what I can get.

Since we have only $50 to go to the goal, there’s no doubt that every donation counts. Even small gifts add up quickly, and there are still postcards and meditation sessions available for you big spenders.

Could your gift be the one that pushes us past the goal?

Thank you!

The Great Adventure

The Crisis Moment Before the Trip

Terror has struck. I knew it would happen sometime, turned out to be now. I’ve been so excited about the idea of my trip, I don’t spend much time thinking about the reality of it. But now I’m on the edge.

This week I took three days to literally lock myself in my room and work. I have a list the size of a painting of things to do before I go on the Adventure. I thought I would just lock out all distractions and work for a few days.

The problem with locking out all distractions is… you lock out all distractions. 

You need those distractions to keep yourself sane. Most people need to be distracted (Netflix, Facebook, video games) so that they don’t think about how they’re not living their passion. But what if you’ve decided, eff that noise, I’m going to go out and wrestle my dream down? Do you get a free pass?


If you’re wrestling your dream you’re doing the scariest thing: standing out, taking risk, trying the path that no one else has tried. You’re in the unknown, and suddenly you’re the only one responsible for how well you do. Then the questions start to come.

The first night it was worries about finances. Can I pay for all my gear, manage my monthly bills, and afford health care while I travel? What if I lose a client? What if I can’t put in the hours online while I hike?

This was a pretty big anxiety pill. But it was only the beginning. 

What Are You Doing?

The second day I got to a long-overdue item: contact consulates. A clever reader once suggested (thank you!) that I ask for letters of safe passage from each country. These letters are 0% likely to actually guarantee safety. But if I’m dealing with local authorities, an official seal and signature can be useful.

So Mexico… Belize… Guatemala… one by one I looked up each country. In addition to consulates I checked their visa requirements, how long I can be there, etc. The State department has lots of this info. And right next to it is the safety warning.


This is some truly horrible stuff folks. Have a look for yourself. None of this is new information to me, but reading it all in black and white—five weeks till showtime—has an effect.


I’m not going to lie. Here are some of the thoughts I had:

  • I don’t want to go.
  • The trip I planned isn’t possible.
  • I can’t afford this.
  • Do I even still feel passion about this? Is it really my dream?


I was so overwhelmed with doubts I had to lie down. I asked myself if I’ve ever been this panicked about something before. At first I thought the answer was no.


I remembered two times I felt this way. The first was the premiere night of the Stone Circle Study. I sat in a freezing, wet tent and knew I had seven weeks ahead of me, plus two people to look out for. The second time was at Teaching Drum school. It was so much harder than I thought it would be. Every day I wanted to back out and go home.

This running-away-terror, this inner rebellion, is something I know. I faced it those two times and persisted. The question is: was it worth it?

I thought about that.

Both of those times turned out to be pivotal moments. Moments that are more than memories, they inform who I am. There would be no Rogue Priest, no Drew Jacob—not as I know him—if I had gone home.

So, I decided, I’ll go forward.

Today I spent an hour in meditation. When I finished my meditation, I was at peace with my self-construed fate. At the end I heard this statement:

Your only duty is to live your personal legend.

All I know is I want to be the guy who met the gods. I can quit my walk at any time. But I have to at least start it.

Join the Adventure—Support the Walk!

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

The Great Adventure

Gear Drive

Here’s what scares me. It’s not just walking, biking and paddling farther than most people drive. It’s not the Mexico border, or the Amazon rainforest. It’s that it all starts so soon.

To calm myself I’ve been assembling my gear. Recently, readers asked what exactly I’m taking with me. What do you take to walk 8,000 miles?

The answer isn’t clear. I’ve priced everything out and I have a wishlist, but the money I’ve saved isn’t nearly enough. There are going to be some tough choices. 

Photo by Beth Varro.

Here’s the dream team:


$160 — OR Highland Bivy (like a tent coffin!)

$180 — 20°F rated sleeping bag, for my toesies.


$225 — ULA Camino Backpack (designed by backpackers, for backpackers)

$30 — A week of food… very, very simple food.


$60 — “MyBottle” water bottle with purifying straw. Sexy.

$45 — Gerber super lightweight hatchet. Perfect for home defense.

$140 — Shoes! Final pick TBA (so suspenseful)

$27 — Outdoor Research Drysack. Keeps my laptop dry even underwater!

$7 — Every adventurer carries rope.


$300 — Smartphone. (My first ever, don’t tell anyone.)

$485 — Smaller, lighter notebook computer. So’s you can still read these blog posts.

Grand total: $1659

I’ve saved $800 toward this, leaving $859 to go. And I’d like to ask you to help.

One of the things I’ve learned over and over from experienced backpackers is that gear is vital. The right equipment keeps you safe from injury and lets you tough out the worst conditions.

To help secure that gear before I go, I’ve started a donation page. Many of you have asked how you can help as I get ready to leave, and if you’re able, this is the best way. Please click below and help support the Great Adventure.

Any size gift helps. You can sponsor a specific piece of gear, or give your lucky number. The amount is totally up to you.

As a special incentive…

  • If you give $50 or more I will send you handwritten postcards from three cities: Minneapolis, St. Louis and New Orleans.
  • If you give $100 or more I’ll give you a private meditation lesson. We can do the session “in person” by Skype. And you get the postcards, too!

Gifts of any amount are truly appreciated, and will help me out every day. Thank you!