Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dying. That's Goddamn Right. Part 1

If you've read my last blog, than you are probably aware that after playing Gone Home, I took a long hard look at myself and I didn't like what I saw. A little background info about myself to maybe make this a little more understandable.

I was born in 1981, I grew up in San Diego, CA. I was considered a "gifted" child when it came to education. Math, reading, and writing; I excelled at all of them. I was rather creative and due to my passion for writing, I wrote numerous little stories as I grew up. Having an interest in video games, I also came up with ideas for them. I think being "gifted" was a detriment more than a blessing for me. School was not challenging, nor engaging, and by the time I hit middle school, my grades were merely passing because I was bored with school and school work.

I barely graduated high school in 2000, and at the end of July of 2001, I joined the US Marine Corps. That was a challenge. A goal for me to accomplish, to be one of the few and the proud. Marine Corps boot camp is 13 weeks long, and a mere five weeks into my training, 9/11/2001. Being of prideful American stock, I was ready to "get some." Obviously, I had to finish training first. After boot camp, I had a less than eventful enlistment. I volunteered for every deployment that came up, but since my first duty station was in Okinawa, there weren't many going to Iraq or Afghanistan, and, to myself at least, it seemed I had made myself too valuable and was denied the opportunity to go on any of those deployments. My active duty enlistment ended in 2005 as a corporal, and I decided to go into the reserves, since they always seemed to be getting deployed. I finally did get deployed to Iraq, as a sergeant. I won't go into my experiences there, suffice to say it was a sobering one. I was a fool to want to go to war; there is no glory there, "heroes" are dangerous, and man is it fucking boring some times. Real heroes are the man on your left and right that are helping keep you safe while you do the same for them.

I was passed over for promotion to staff sergeant, and that ended my time in the Marine Corps in 2011, since I couldn't do a full enlistment on active duty, they wouldn't let me do an extension, and I was done with the reserves. So I came home, no more challenges to face except civilian life.

But at least I have a badass car to show for it.

Since leaving the Marine Corps, I feel like I've been in a holding pattern. Same shit, different day. I was surviving, but not really living. Go to the shitty job you got in this shitty economy to pay your bills. Day in and day out, the same thing. I lost that passion I had for life somewhere in that transition from marine to civilian. Tired, cynical war veteran who is just surviving. That's a pretty apt description of me, and not one I'm happy with.

Here's the meat of the matter...I think I may be able to change that, or at least give myself something to live for. A goal, a challenge to face and conquer. And since I've had the midlife crisis car since I was 27, why not go whole fucking hog with it? Take command of my crisis. Find myself or some shit. At least I'd have a interesting story when all is said and done, and maybe, just maybe, I will be refreshed and love living life again.

I am planning a trip; a drive in that car around the United States. Starting in Jacksonville, FL across the southern states to San Diego to see my brother, then up the PCH to see some friends in Oregon, maybe up to Washington to just drive the entirety of the PCH. Then I am going to drive across the northern states, an area of the country I haven't been to, on my way to Toronto visit some family. Making a stop in South Burlington, VT to visit the Magic Hat Brewery for a tour, I then plan on heading back to Florida, first making a stop in Providence,RI just so I can say I've been to every state on the eastern seaboard. This drive, as it stands now, is 8500 miles, and I figure it will cost me about $2000 in gas.

Right now my trip is in the planning stages, and that's where I need some help.I'm not asking for money, I need some places to stop and see on this voyage. I've got a couple spots I'm planning on hitting, like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, getting some BBQ at The Shed in Mississippi, and the Grand Canyon, since I've only ever flown over it. But I would like more. So I am asking that if you know of some places that are awe-inspiring, or some oddball attraction that is must see, or just something cool, please give me ideas.

I don't plan on making this trek until either late 2014, or spring 2015, I figure it will take me that long to save up the money necessary for this. So there is plenty of time to suggest, and I appreciate any help.

One final thing, take it or leave it, always have a goal, something to strive for, something difficult to achieve, conflict and challenges make life interesting. And for those users who are still in their early 20's or younger, by all means grow old. But don't ever fucking grow up.

9 Comments Refresh
Posted by Giantstalker

I have a somewhat similar story so yours really speaks to me. I'm still part of the Canadian Army though, and after a tour in Afghanistan I stayed in as an enlisted soldier (I have no other skills or education and no way to make money outside the Army). Sounds insane but my only real goal is another deployment, of any kind, nothing back here in Canada really does it for me anymore. I've done nothing but freeze up here and collect a paycheck, very few go overseas nowadays.

Regarding the whole driving thing, I've driven across my country and back; I'll be frank it was boring as hell. I went alone, this was maybe a mistake as I ended up drinking a lot and just wanted to power through it both ways. Hopefully the USA road trip treats you better. In fact I am seriously considering emigrating there, a change in citizenship might be what I need to get motivated again. Best of luck to your endeavors man, and nice car.

Posted by Deadlydog

The Botanical Gardens in D.C. are pretty cool and relaxing, and Georgetown in D.C. is a cool place too. (I don't get out enough...)

Edited by Example1013

I still want to go back and finish going through the Smithsonian Natural History Museum chronologically.

RI is somewhat of a shithole to be honest, but if you're dead-set on going, you can always stop at the Roger Williams Zoo. I think the only real highlights are that and the food. RI has some great clam shacks by the shoreline, as does CT and MA. But for that you'll want to be sure you're there in season, which means summer. The other option is to come during the Eastern States Exposition (Big E) in like September, because there's samplings of basically every local food imaginable from every state in New England, along with a good number of micro-breweries who show up.

Depending on how interesting you find military stuff (and whether you've got clearance still, haha) you might be interested in checking out the Groton sub base, or even the Coast Guard Academy. Sometimes the Eagle is there, and I don't know the details, but you might be able to get a look at it or something. There's also the Colt Armory. New England actually has a fair amount of places to visit, it really just depends on whether or not you find all of them supremely boring. I just figure since you're going through 2 states specifically, you should at least try to plan around a season that's got something interesting.

Winter has skiing, but you can kinda do that a lot of places, and anyways you don't wanna be driving in a snowstorm in a rear-wheel-drive car. American muscle in winter up here is no bueno.

EDIT: just wanted to point out that last time I was there the sub base had a part that was open to the public, so you can like sorta visit it. There's also a museum fairly nearby that has a ton of historical stuff on sailing and old ships, including a few tall ships that are in the water at the docks.

Edited by Slag

@sgtsphynx: Consider going to Zion national park in Utah.

far prettier than Grand Canyon.

Might as well hit Vegas too if you've never been.

make sure you stop eat a lot in New Mexico, best mexican food in the US. Alberquerque is a fun town.

San Antonio/Austin and New Orleans are fun towns and worth a visit/stop.

Also Death Valley should not be too far off your route.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Glacier National Park in Montana is absolutely incredible. It's easily one of the most beautiful places and drives in the country. Well worth a visit. Yellowstone is awesome too, but is a bit more tourist-centric. Other than that, I'm a huge fan of Seattle, especially the market area. That's a cool city to bomb around in for a few days.

Posted by Aetheldod

Well Im not a grinog so my knoledge of the US amount to 0 ... but Im glad that you have set a goal for now :)

My I sugest tho that you write about your experiences in war .. but not here as , you said in your other threath you wanted to be a writer ... so maybe writing about something personal in a fictional setting might ignite the spark. To your writng I mean .... :/ please dont take this the wrong way duder D:

Edited by Jeust

I lost that passion I had for life somewhere in that transition from marine to civilian. Tired, cynical war veteran who is just surviving. That's a pretty apt description of me, and not one I'm happy with.

I know what you mean. What I say is don't settle for the less of two evils. Don't give in into confort, as the worse death is the one that settles while we still breath.

Edited by Fredchuckdave

Get busy Shawshank quotin'

Posted by SgtSphynx