You might know Chris Guillebeau for his extremely popular book, The $100 Startup, but to be honest, I haven’t read that one. I did just finish his book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life, and loved it. Not only does he tell about his own quest to visit every country on the planet (wow!), but he writes about others’ quests that range from a mom in Oklahoma whose quest is to cook a meal for her family from every country on the planet to the woman who set the record for the most bird sightings. He writes about the challenges, the motivations, and the logistics of the many quests that appear in his book. I can’t remember what prompted me read this book, because to be honest, I usually steer clear of these kinds of books because they make me so dang jealous. Truth: People fulfilling their life dreams, whether it’s travels or service to a cause, can bring on a very depressing feeling of inadequacy. But something got me interested in this book enough to get over my envy, and I’m so glad. Chris did a really good job of describing quests that would take years and significant amounts of money but also writing about quests that would not take so many years and gobs of money. Lots of ideas and directions. And he offers a lot of useful advice about completing a quest and the importance of documenting the journey. Good stuff.
So pretty much from the beginning of the book, I was wondering what I could take on as my quest. As Chris writes, a true quest requires such things as a clear goal, some kind of sacrifice, and the quest needs to be challenging. (His book contains a complete list of the qualities that make a quest.) In the past few years I’ve started camping a lot with Rosie. I guess you could say I’ve found a long lost love in nature. I honestly don’t know who enjoys the camping and hiking more – me or Rosie. We have an 9-day camping trip in October that starts here in Texas, winds through Arkansas, and finishes with a couple of nights in Oklahoma. It will be camping heaven. As I was reading Chris’ book, I thought the natural thing to do would be to incorporate all the camping and hiking in my quest. Visiting all the national parks would be pretty tough for me as I do work a very traditional 8-5 job with limited vacation time. However, visiting all the state parks in my home state, Texas, would be challenging but still very do-able.
So our quest began last weekend when Rosie and I visited Bonham State Park which is conveniently located about an hour and a half away from home. We took a little road trip and actually got a couple of errands done on the way. It was a very good day, and we’re off to a good start. Of course, it’s just my luck to live in Texas, the second largest state next to Alaska (which is mostly inhabitable so I don’t think it should count). Texas has almost 100 legitimate state parks. Yikes! . There are a few State Historical Sites and State Natural Areas, and we will definitely make every effort to visit those as we travel along on our quest, but the principal goal will be to visit every Texas State Park. We will be camping in as many state parks as possible, taking lots of photos along the way, and journaling about our adventures. I am envisioning a beautiful book full of photos of Rosie and me with all of our state park stories.
Soon I’ll share my spreadsheet where I list all the state parks by location and proximity to home so that I could figure out which state parks would be a day trip, weekend trip, or would require a week-long vacation. Because I definitely got the planning genes.
If you read Chris’ book and decide to take on your own quest, I’d love to hear about it and cheer you on!