The Traveling Businessman: How I Spent 5 Months Running My Business on the Road. (Part 3 of 3)
PART 3 OF 3 (4)
Into the Wild Blue Yonder
”Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show.” -Unknown
We were now driving into the unknown. It was a little unnerving. It was the first time I felt a little worried about our decisions. We left Austin as we headed toward Washington, D.C. Business shouldn't change. I should still be able to work and contact new clients. The family was still happy. There is just something about driving somewhere you've never been without anything but what was packed in your car—it is exciting but scary.
The great thing about traveling with a baby is they don't need much. They sit there and sleep. They need food and diaper changes and the occasional book or toy, but not much else. Our baby is not a particularly fussy one, so she made for a good travel companion.
We left on Friday to cut time spent needing to work on the road. We were hoping to avoid any extra two-hour pit stops at Starbucks. As we headed out of Texas, we decided Little Rock would be a great place to stop for the night. We'd get there early enough, we could explore the city a little bit before moving on.
I Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Woman
My wife and I have been collecting magnets for all the places we've been together since we got married. After spending the night in Little Rock and attending a local street festival, we went on the hunt for the perfect Little Rock magnet. As long as we did an activity and spent the night, we could justify getting a magnet for our collection.
It was clear Little Rock's claim to fame was the Clintons. Naturally, we had to get a Bill magnet.
No Thank You Very Much
We left Little Rock and booked our next hotel in Nashville. We drove through Memphis on the way so we could see Graceland. I've never exactly been an Elvis fan but I figured we were in the area. Long story short, Memphis is a sketchy city. In the brief few hours we were there, we almost got robbed as we were getting back into our car. The entire time we were on the road, I couldn't help but be nervous about the giant iMac in the back of the car. Not exactly easy to hide. We booked it out Memphis and I'm pretty sure I'll never go back. Sorry, Memphis.
Month 2: Washington, D.C.
Our next Airbnb was about 20 minutes away from the White House, in Maryland. We arrived and were lead down into the basement apartment. We walked down a stairwell that was literally two feet shorter than I am. After doing the limbo down the stairs, I realized there wasn't a single window down there. No natural sunlight.
If we weren't planning on staying there for an entire month (and I didn't have to work down there all day) it would have been fine. But considering this was now our office for the next 30 days, I was worried we were going to go a little stir crazy. I was right.
Since sitting is the new smoking, I set my computer up on the kitchen counter so I could stand and work. I started catching up on projects as my wife planned out things for us to do in the area. We spent the month experiencing everything D.C. had to offer. The great thing about D.C. is there are so many free things to do and see.
We visited several Smithsonian museums, saw the Declaration of Independence and Abe Lincolns top hat. We took a boat down the Potomac and walked through Washington's home at Mt. Vernon. We did it all. We even ventured out of D.C. and visited Antietam and Gettysburg.
There was one regrettable decision we made during our time in D.C. We decided to try and work off some of the queso weight we picked up in Austin by doing a little diet called Whole 30. If you haven't heard of the Whole 30 diet, it's basically cutting out everything from grains, legumes, and sugars, to dairy, and processed chemicals like carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites.
You could only eat meat, fruits, almonds, and vegetables. It made it almost impossible to eat out. We missed out on a lot of good food while we were in D.C. We had to pack hardboiled eggs, fruits, and veggies every time we left the house. My wife (a chef) appreciates good food way more than I do, so needless to say she was even less thrilled about this arrangement than I was.
Time to Go
We made it through the month despite being stuck in a windowless, foodless basement. We saw just about everything we could in the area and we were ready to move on to our cabin in the Catskills.
Month 3: The Catskills
The only reference to the Catskills I've ever had was from Dirty Dancing so I didn't know what to expect. As we neared our cabin, our surroundings became more and more rural. Phone service was in and out as we headed up the mountain. The scenery was beautiful. Cows grazing and farmhouses perched up on hills. It was magical.
As we continued on, it started getting dark and we hadn't yet arrived at the cabin. Suddenly, the woods and rolling hills started losing their magic. It started getting creepy. We were now traveling down a winding dirt road, poor cell service, surrounded by the thick, dark woods. We pulled up to the ominous cabin and quickly unloaded before the night creatures came out of the woods and attacked us. After getting situated, we went to bed.
The next morning, the magic returned as the sun came up and we were awoken by a rooster's crow. I started a fire in the fireplace and we ate breakfast on the porch. It was pretty great.
Before booking the place, my biggest concern was making sure there was high-speed internet. Being so far out in the middle of nowhere, I was surprised when they told me they did indeed have high-speed internet. After setting up the office, I realized "high-speed" was a relative term. It was painfully slow. Downloading and uploading video files took hours. It was inconvenient but I had to make it work.
Two weeks into our stay, we started getting cabin fever. The closest thing to us was the Walmart about 30 minutes away. My wife and I always entertained the idea of buying a big piece of land and building a home away from the fast paced city life. After spending two weeks in the secluded mountains, we realized that life wasn't for us.
No Power. No Water.
One afternoon as I was working in the office on an animation that was due that day, I heard a large truck coming down the dirt road. I looked out the window and saw the truck, carrying a giant load of logs. It became apparent the power line coming out of our house and the height of the truck didn't quite match up. The truck got closer and closer until it hit the power line and ripped it out from the side of our cabin. He didn't even stop.
Sitting there, staring at a dark computer screen, I was slightly confused about what to do next. We realized the water ran off of a well pump and without power, the pump didn't work and we had no water.
Luckily, we were able to get ahold of the power company. The thing about living in a rural area is the power company is far away and they don't have very many employees.
We sat in the dark that night playing cards with headlamps. Wondering if/when the power company would come and fix the power line. We went to bed early and luckily woke up with power again.
A few days later, the power randomly went out again. With work and a baby, we knew this was not going to work for us. We packed our bags and left without a place to stay. We contacted our host and they gracefully refunded us for the remaining weeks. Now we needed to figure out where we were going next.
I realize this got a little lengthy, so lucky for you, there will be a part 4 to wrap this up. Stay tuned.