Brooklyn Biltong

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Few things we learned from traveling for 24 days across the USA

On November 5th 2012 I turned 29. This being my last year in my twenties triggered something small. Obviously I would have hoped it was something much larger like doing an ironman or setting of for an around the world trip, but nonetheless it triggered the desire to take on an adventure before entering the next decade of my life.

Through discussion with my wife I learned that she had never been to the Grand Canyon or visited California. By 29, I’ve seen the big old canyon multiple times and lived for 1 year in San Diego. Me being South African and she a native Floridian, made me want to show her, her own country.

This was the main reason to take a cross country trip, starting in Orlando, reaching San Francisco and looping back to Mickey’s home. A need to escape the concrete jungle of Brooklyn also spurred us on to place our few belongings in storage at the end of our lease in 2013 and take on the beautiful highway.

The main planning for our three week trip went into obtaining the transportation and figuring out a rough route. The only main beacon on our journey was the Grand Canyon, where we booked our 2 nights, and built the rest around that. This gave us the least sense of direction as well as not too much rigidness.

With our white, 2008 Ford Ranger equipped with a canopy on the back, a mattress to sleep on and a dependable phone charger, we set out northwards to see where the road will take us. It was an amazing experience that we hope to repeat again some day in a similar fashion. The revelations that we had in regards to minimalism, perspective and taking action became more clear and shareable in retrospect.

Minimalism

We learned that we really don’t need so much stuff in life in general. Even the amount of clothes that we packed for the trip was too much. After the 5th day of wearing my jeans and alternating 2 tee shirts, it became clear that the outfits I envisioned wearing along the way only became space sucking fabric monsters.

Who cares what I have on when I see that luscious sunset or magnificent mountain? Any clothing with graphics also became a big turnoff. Basically anything that tried to sway our attention from the scenery, nature and wildlife was set aside. Wondering what to wear, eat or be entertained by became secondary to indulging completely in the traveling experience.

The mission. Which was clear every day. Get from point A to point B and absorb everything around you through sight, sound and smell. Let your thoughts escape in these new places and allow them to manifest there so that your world expands. Letting go of the importance of stuff was replaced by an expanded mental universe.

Perspective

Our regard to be connected and exert influence changed over the course of being removed from our familiarity. Rather than wanting to change our situation continually it became clear that to get the most from the trip we should be open to learning to changing ourselves rather than our surroundings.

A desire to have an influence diminished. As we entered unknown territory in south Texas en route to the Big Bend, drove along the loneliest highway through the Great Basin and climbed the rocks in Joshua Tree, it was easier to let our inner worlds be transformed by our outer world encounters.

Rather than trying to change the strangers we met, we learned from them. The mountains, skies and trees were unchangeable so we decided to listen with an open ear. The country’s vastness and surprising out stretched highways absorbed us in a cloud of content. All the little critters that we shared camping grounds with welcomed and humbled us.

Take action

This was by no means a difficult endeavour. The most strenuous was the driving and finding a campground each night. Over a span of 21 days we drove 8000 miles.

Here’s a quick summary:
Feb 28 - March 24, 2013
24 nights
7 nights with family/friends
8000 miles
$3000
20 states

As such we were inspired by the fact that we followed through on our decision to hit the road. It required setting things in place and losing some momentum in other areas of life. The result though, was when we returned to New York we pursued all avenues to start Brooklyn Biltong.

Taking action on our dreams became clear during the journey. I can remember it vividly the night when we camped just outside of Austin at a random campground we found. It was a little gem because of the unending supply of firewood, cold showers and seclusion.

As we braaied some meat over the fire and entered the evening along with worn out birds, I thought to myself, we should do this every year. I believe, experiencing the liberation of being on the road and the simple truth of incorporating exhilaration into our daily lives contributed to us taking action and starting a business. In many ways has our journey across the country been similar to our journey running Brooklyn Biltong.

We continually discover revelations in minimalism; when it comes to our design and product line, perspective; in our compassion for our customers and taking action; everyday. These have only been a few of our discoveries. Subsequently we’ll share more of the things that worked and did not work for us up to now.

Thank you for reading and being a loyal Brooklyn Biltong supporter.

Best,
Ben & Em