I was up at 4:50 this morning. After a shower and breakfast we loaded Miranda into the car (she likes car rides) and set off for the airport. By 7:00 I was on the plane, bound for Georgia.
I knew before I started this that it was going to be hard to leave for so long. I got my first real taste of that difficulty on Friday. It was my last day at work and on the way out at the end of the day the little responsible guy deep inside me was shouting, “Hey, you can’t just leave your job for 6 months!” Of course at the same time the adventurous guy in me was cheering, and I have to admit that I did drive home with a smile on my face. The perfect weather was a perfect accomplice, forcing me to roll down the windows and turn up the music.
Responsible guy of course showed up again this morning at the airport. However I have to say isn’t making me feel bad. If anything it helps me realize that I am incredibly lucky: I have a job that is as supportive of this as I could ask for, I have family and friends who are excited for me, I have the means and opportunity to attempt this, and I have a wonderful wife who supports me chasing my dream.
I haven’t talked yet about my job situation so let me do that briefly here in the interest of anyone considering a similarly crazy and outlandish undertaking. I am now on a leave of absence from work. I count myself lucky that I work at a company that provides this benefit. I will not be paid while I am gone, nor am I guaranteed a job when I get back. However if there is a position open when I get back then I can have it. I think this is fair, and it is about as much as I could ask for. My management chain was incredibly supportive of my trip, recognizing that it was a once in a lifetime kind of thing and that I had wanted to do it for a long time. I’m not too worried about there being a position when I get back either. I work as a statistician and, seeing as how Americans aren’t the best at math, there aren’t a ton of statisticians out there. Also my company has had openings for statisticians for most of the last decade, except for a brief time during the recession. So while I am definitely taking a risk, it is calculated and more importantly I believe it is worth it.
Tomorrow my dad and I will make a trip to the grocery store to pick up some last minute food items. Then we’ll make a trip to the sporting goods store to get some stove fuel before coming back here to do a final gear check and pack it all up. Dinner tomorrow? Ribeye and baked potato, yum! Wednesday morning we leave early and by 12 I should be on the Approach Trail hiking toward Springer Mountain and the AT!
Obligatory gear photo