Mission Creek, Santa Barbara

Mission Creek, Santa Barbara

I recently returned to Europe after a quick detour to the U.S. The trip was last-minute, but it was a great chance to visit family and friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time.

So why exactly did I traipse half-way around the world just to come right back again?

Approach to Brussels

Approach to Brussels

Well, I’d just finished a month of sailing in the Adriatic (I’ll post more on that soon) and was planning to stay in Eastern Europe until I go to South Africa in mid-October to tackle my next big hike, the Drakensberg Grand Traverse.

I’d left the Montenegrin coast and was beginning to explore the stunning mountains and amazing canyons of the high country when I stumbled across an opportunity that was too good to pass up. A major U.S.-based outdoor equipment manufacturer wanted two people to spend the next six months testing their gear on big adventures all over the world. I’d been doing exactly that for a year and a half, so I figured I wouldn’t mind getting paid for the trouble.

Summit of Bobotov Kuk, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Summit of Bobotov Kuk, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

I whipped together an application (that involved, among more traditional elements, creating several dedicated pages on my website and filming a video atop the highest mountain in Montenegro) and continued about my business of exploring the Balkans.

Remnants of refugee encampment outside Budapest's Keleti train station.

Remnants of a refugee encampment outside Budapest’s Keleti train station.

Word arrived five days later that they wanted me for an interview in New York the next weekend. I knew the quick turnaround was a possibility when I applied, but still I was left scrambling to get there. Then in Belgrade, Serbia, I booked a flight out of Budapest, Hungary to arrive on the East Coast two days before the interview.

Overlook near Zagreb, Croatia

Overlook near Zagreb, Croatia

I spent the intervening time in Zagreb, Croatia visiting friends I’d met in Nepal last year. I was excited to visit Zagreb and yet the visit completely exceeded my high expectations. I hopped a flight for Newark, New Jersey three days later overwhelmed by amazing hospitality, great food, fun sightseeing, and a much needed haircut courtesy of a hipster barber at a street festival (obviously).

St. Mark's Church, Zagreb, Croatia

St. Mark’s Church, Zagreb, Croatia

In Jersey, I spent two fun and overdue days catching up with my friend Cecil, his wife, and their sons. Then I headed to a New York City studio for an interview in front of a four-person panel of executives and a trio of cameras.

Just like the good old law school days.

Just like the good ol’ law school days.

My next stop was California to see my family. They had insisted that I drop by to say hi since I was so close – a mere 2,500 miles at that point.

I wasn’t too put out. It had been 16 months since I started traveling and 13 months since I’d passed through California while on my way to hike the John Muir Trail so I was ready for a little down time.

East Beach, Santa Barbara

East Beach, Santa Barbara

I luxuriated in eight whole days in one wonderful place. I spent time reconnecting with my fantastic family and friends, eating home cooking, and generally enjoying the world-class awesomeness that is Santa Barbara.

Lots of good family time.

Lots of good family time. From the looks of things, either the sun was really bright that day or my dad needs smiling lessons.

I learned while I was home that I didn’t get the job I’d interviewed for (although I came close and got a Pro deal on gear for the effort), so I was free to head back out to continue my travels.

My only shot from DC. We'll get a picture next time, Barb.

My only shot from DC. We’ll get a picture next time, Barb.

A quick stop in DC later, where I visited more family and friends, and I was on my way back to Budapest to pick up where I’d left off.

PS – I want to send a huge thank you to everyone who either helped me with the application or took time out over the last three weeks to see me (or both), including Becky, Dad, Mom, Igor, Tihana, Soon Chitza, Ana, Christian, Craig, Justin and Patrice, Taylor, Travis, Grant, John, Gerwin and Jolien, Amy, Graham, Hali, Serina, Thomas and Lisanne, Doug and Lauren, Carmel, Stella, Michel, Cecil, Sandra, Alexander, Pauli, Aunt Jayne, Uncle Jack, Uncle Mike, Karleen, Mike, Larissa, Aunt Dorothy, Shannon, Stacy, Aunt Monie, Uncle Ron, Jason, Lisa, Uncle Lou, Aunt Linda, Michelle, Jeremiah, Kallie, Tyler, Laura, Davis, Deepak, Asha, Chris, Tiu, Barb, Chuck, Anna, Charlie, Patrick, Emily, Shelley, James, Janet, Shippen and Shay. It was great to see and hear from all of you. Can’t wait to do it again!

Saying "Szia" to Budapest, the Paris of the East
Montenegro, a Sailor's Dream on the Adriatic