Introduction Part 1: Outrunning the Rapture from New York to Virginia. and exploring Personal Development

May 21st, 2011

If indeed the rapture occurred today, it would have had to chase me. I got on the road at noon headed south toward my ancestral home in Warrenton, VA to spend the night. Nobody I know got beamed up, which is not really conclusive, but as far as I can tell the apocalypse will hold off until at least the road trip is over.

On a beautiful day for a rapture, I was not just outrunning it. I was also gaining distance. I was gaining physical distance of course, since I put 356 miles between me and home, but I also was gaining the emotional distance from my family and loved ones that I need in order for this project to work.

Of course I love my family, but in order to awaken the sort of pensiveness I need to be writing, I need to put some distance between us. So today I drove from about 1 P.M. to just past 8, which is more than I’d like to be doing on a daily basis. I look at today as a sort of transition day. It is the first day of the trip, but I am going somewhere I know well and feel comfortable, and I’ll be sleeping in a bed rather than my car. The project won’t really start until I get out of my comfort zone next week.

Anyhow, I’m sure it would be useful to define exactly what the project is before getting started. It has three parts.

First, I want to develop personally.


Second, I want to show other college students the opportunities outside of internships and jobs.


Third, I want to encourage young people to consider the solo Road Trip as a Rite of Passage.

I’ll get a little more in depth with these ideas interspersed with pictures from the  first drive. Today, I’ll write about internal personal development goals. Over the next few days, I’ll cover the other two more outward looking goals.

Oil Rigs in New Jersey. It's a One Way source of energy. Ha.

First I’ll write about my internal goals. I want to become more confident. My friends and parents laugh at this one a little bit, because people tend to think of me as overconfident if anything, so let me explain what I mean by confidence.

To me, confidence is the ability to approach any person at any time and be able to engage them in an interesting conversation. This includes people of different ethnicities, people who speak different languages, attractive members of the opposite sex, and celebrities.  I hope to be able to treat all these people equally.

Confidence is also the internal sense of security that can be seen in people who are unafraid to voice their opinions even when everyone else in the room opposes them. I’ll work on this with a series of goals that I’ll write about in another post, but the most obvious goal is to talk to as many people as possible.

Today, I had conversations with a group of Hispanic fisherman in Maryland, a gas station attendant in New Jersey, and a traveler at the Clara Barton rest stop, but hopefully I can reach more people on a day less full of driving.

The Delaware Memorial Bridge. It also takes some confidence to film while driving.

The other slightly confusing internal goal is Charisma. This is a fairly subjective term. In Leadership and the Humanities, a class I took with Prof. Peter Kaufman at the University of Richmond this past spring, we learned that there are two primary types of charisma. The first is a distinct connection with people. Everyone has that friend whom they walk around with and somehow everybody knows them. My freshman year roommate Stewart is like that, and I am just a tad envious. The other type is a celebrity charisma, in which people are in awe of you because of a heightened quality like immense courage or wealth and power. When you get ‘starstruck’, that’s the kind of charisma you are witnessing.

Where do I fit in here? I’m obviously not a celebrity, so the idea of Charisma I’m talking about ties into Confidence. I think that the more I talk to people in different cultures throughout the country, the more I’ll be able to connect with them.

The other internal goals: Enhanced self reliance, deep reading, resourcefulness, and diversity of culture are fairly straightforward, but I’ll write more about them as I find opportunities to test them.

Those who know me well may have noticed an issue with what I have written so far. If I am pensive, the odds of me being outgoing at the same time are pretty low as the moods for each are near opposite. Part of the challenge is going to be balancing the time I spend reading, writing, and being thoughtful and the time spent talking to people and experiencing the country.

Also thrown in here is the idea of masculinity. I’ll devote an entry solely to it at some point, but I will write a bit now as well. The way masculinity is defined depends a lot on where you live. I don’t get manicures or wear skinny jeans, but I don’t much like hunting and getting into fights either. So, part of the experience will be developing my own sense of masculinity and building myself up around it as well.

This is much less of a practice travel writing article as others will be. As far as what I actually did today, I left my house around noon and went to Dobbs Ferry, New York. I dropped off a head-shot for a possible role as an extra in Predisposed with Tracy Morgan, and got my car washed. Turns out the casting director also played Benvolio in a Shakespeare play, so who knows what might come of that. Then I looked at some yard sales and got on the road.

Seneca Park in Maryland had more graffiti than fish.

I stupidly took 87 to the George Washington Bridge, which was backed up. All went well through New Jersey, and Delaware. In Maryland I got bored of I-95 and decided to take another route. I ended up lost, but found a nice little river in Seneca Falls, Maryland. Finally, I made it to Warrenton about 8:20 pm. I am writing sparsely about these areas because I have traveled through them many times and would like to spend more time and effort in new territory.

Thanks for reading this far! As a reward, enjoy this picture of Baby Alligators from my trip to Florida.

Baby Alligators. They hiss, it turns out.


3 responses to “Introduction Part 1: Outrunning the Rapture from New York to Virginia. and exploring Personal Development

  1. The book “The Intellectual Life” struggles with one of the issues you raise, how to be both contemplative and engaged in the world. An amusing and thoughtful first post! Think aobut this. You may find that your comfort zone will follow you. That is the many diverse people and places that you’ve already experienced may end up meaning you will feel comfortable in alot more situations than you think.

  2. I took a 10,000-mile road trip around America in 1989 after I graduated from UNC-CH (not solo – a bit trickier for a woman to travel alone). We were in a gray 1988 Mazda 323, camping mostly, with a bit of couch-surfing, and I had a budget of about $750 (gas was a bit less in those days). It was one of the best experiences of my life and definitely shaped my personality and outlook. I can’t wait to see how you and your journey unfold! Recommended reading: John Steinbeck, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America.” Must see: Graceland. Ramble on!

    • Wow I’m jealous. $750 for 10,000 miles. That’s a great deal. I’ll certainly try and work Graceland in. If you would like to follow along, be sure and subscribe using the button on the front page and you’ll get a quick email for new posts.

      Nice to hear from you,


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