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Introduction to Johnny Appleseed Travel Diaries

Which way?

"You have a lifetime to live the life that you want, just don't take a lifetime to decide on which path your life should go." -Dodinsky


Johnny Appleseed

As you may know, Johnny Appleseed was an eccentric man that traveled the country in the 1800’s, planting apples, conducting business, yet living simply, among other things. The name is used here because the image that history portrays of him can be compared to my own outlook on life. I travel, I live simply and honestly, I find myself looking at ways to live my passions and yet bring in an income; my nature is eccentric by definition because I tend not to do things the way everyone else does them.

But you might wonder how I came to be this way and these developing travel stories came about. Whether it is me or Johnny Appleseed or anyone else, life does not quite seem to work out as planned. For the first 40 or so years of my life, I had passions, but I had the somewhat mistaken belief that it takes things like money, a college degree and knowing the right people to get where you want in life. So instead of living my life with my passions in mind, I took whatever jobs and life situations I could get, rather than letting my passions dictate what I should do with my life. This was not all bad, because for me, it has lead to very successful careers as a conscientious caregiver and detailed administrative assistant. However, after spending lots of time in front of the computer at a small medical office, I questioned whether I wanted to sit in front of a keyboard for the rest of my life and contemplated what I might do about it.


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Around that time, I read a book by Po Bronson called “What Should I Do with My Life?” He is of the opinion that ordinary people, such as himself or myself or yourself, can take steps to do what they truly want to do with their lives and live their passions. He told stories of people who changed careers and ways of life in the midstream of life, overcoming obstacles such as lack of money or time, or fear of what family members or friends might think. More importantly, they took steps to follow their passions no matter the obstacles.

Tip: Po Bronson has much to say about his books, writing and other things on his web site: www.PoBronson.com.


Johnny at computer
Thomas Edison with phonograph

That gave me much food for thought as to how I could live my passions, so at this point I had to determine what they were. It is so easy to get stuck in the ruts of life and forget what your passions are, even if they are right in front of you all along. So I reviewed the activities that inspired me throughout my life. I was quite the bookworm at a very young age and recall reading about individuals that particularly inspired me. At the top of that list of individuals were Thomas Edison, Helen Keller and Walt Disney. Thomas Edison pioneered inventions such as the light bulb, phonograph and motion pictures. Many of you may know the story of Helen Keller, who became blind and deaf when she was a child, and just when her family had given up most hope for her to live a productive life, they hired a teacher, Anne Sullivan, who was able to teach her to communicate and to read and write. She went on to become the first blind and deaf person to graduate from college, and became a world famous author, speaker and political activist, showing that disabled individuals can overcome much to accomplish what the rest of us can. Walt Disney became a world famous story teller, film producer and animator. My interest in Thomas Edison’s technological inventions sparked my interest in technologies such as computers and the multimedia content that can be produced on them. Helen Keller helped me to realize that the disabled can accomplish much. Because of that and years of experience caring for disabled relatives and other individuals, I learned to be a conscientious caregiver. Walt Disney inspired an interest in storytelling and filmmaking. On top of that, I’ve been a writer and journalist of some sort all of my life, ranging from writing reports in high school and college to reporting on my own life in logs, letters and e-mails to countless relatives and friends.

Johnny with camera
Walt Disney
Helen Keller


Road Trip

But perhaps the most encompassing passion of mine could be travel. All of my life I have been a traveler by nature. I can recall being a young kid at about 5 years old, barely old enough to read, yet tracing highways on road atlases wondering where across the country they might lead to. Our family did not have much money, so my travel until I was about the age of 18 was limited to the Pacific Northwest states and British Columbia. And travel my family did, whether it was to drive 300 miles across Washington state to visit friends and relatives, or to travel countless miles of back roads in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains for camping and hiking trips, or to explore all that there was to see and do in northwest cities such as Seattle and Spokane in Washington, Portland in Oregon, and the many small towns in between. One of the first things I did as a young adult was to visit California and make my first cross country trip, adventures that would write a story all their own. But that was almost 25 years ago and some memories of that time are hazy; also, I was too young to consider the importance of documenting such travels. Since that time, I have traveled some. In fact, when I contemplate the times I have traveled over the years, I see that I have traveled more than many. It would seem that I live to travel. But travel has been limited to brief periods of time every six months to a year or whenever I can take time off from a regular job to travel. And I still haven’t fully realized my dream of taking one highway across the country from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, to explore the history, culture and people of this country from Washington State to Maine and points north, west, east and south.

Click here for high resolution version of map!

Click on map for nice, detailed high resolution map (2.8 megabytes)!
(Courtesy NationalAtlas.gov)


Old Camera

BBS

So after reflecting on all of this, I did some deep thinking about what career and other moves I might make so that I could live my passions and bring in an income. I thought about how I have been behind photo, movie and video cameras much of my life, whether in photography and multimedia classes in junior high, high school and college, or out in the real world among my family and friends. I love technology and computers, but instead of building computers and programming them, I found myself running a computer Bulletin Board System, designing a web site and experimenting with multimedia content in the form of music, video and photographs. I spent a couple of years or so studying how other photographers, videographers and filmmakers came to know their craft, the ins and outs of filmmaking in Hollywood, what it takes to produce a documentary in Hollywood and other places around the world, and such things. Somehow the Hollywood life did not appeal to me and I did not have the money for expensive cameras or to produce a documentary, printed work or other multimedia publications in the same way that many professionals do. Although I’m a passionate caregiver, I was not sure how caregiving would fit in to my plans.

Camcorder

Movie Camera


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How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player!

As I was contemplating all of this, I found myself reading books by and learning about such individuals as Robert Rodriguez, who produced the film “El Mariachi” for about $7,000, whose start in filmmaking was not much unlike mine, and yet this film launched a lucrative Hollywood career. Perhaps the difference is that he convinced himself to work at this project until his fingers bled, so to speak, a reference to the condition of one’s fingers after hours and days and years of guitar practice to finally get it right. There was also Brad Newsham, an author and taxi driver who saved up about $5000.00 to take a 100 day backpack trip around the world, with the goal of finding someone to invite to America to visit him for a month. I also read Mike McIntyre’s book, “The Kindness of Strangers, Penniless Across America”. He was a journalist who was determined to travel across America without any money, depending on the kindness of strangers. And there are many others to list and that I hate to leave out, but must do so for lack of time and space here. But these individuals are to be mentioned elsewhere on this web site and for me, some are yet to be studied, for example, I have yet to read the travel works of Peter Jenkins and Jack Kerouac and others, who have done much to inspire cross country travel dreams.

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Take Me With You: A Round-the-World Journey to Invite a Stranger Home


Highway 2

So what does this all mean for me, John Wight, aka Johnny Appleseed? I'm still exploring just what it means. My dream is to work towards that goal of taking a highway or two from one end of the country to the other, taking pictures and video, telling stories, publishing my efforts on this web site, perhaps eventually to publish a book, and down the line, a documentary. I might start my story from my home state of Washington, as my home was once on the western edge of US Highway 2, a highway I have always wanted to take to Michigan and then on to New York and through to Maine. I hope to tell stories of the places I see, the history and the culture of these places, perhaps a bit about the people I meet and what I learn from these travel and life experiences. But this won’t be easy, as I’m just a simple, normal abnormal guy with little means. I do gain hope from the fact that other well known individuals mentioned here had to start somewhere, and this is where I start again with a number of years of adult life behind me. To me, to start again is perhaps a bit scary, but experts say that motivation to succeed can come from a source outside of the normal comfort zone, and this can be the passion that drives one to succeed.

Reflections of Motorhome


Lost in woods

I don’t know where this road will take me. The thought has me thinking of the days when my father would take a road to see where it would go. At times we would get lost, but we would find our way back. Many times, we would find new ways of getting from one point to another. Other times, we might find something interesting on that road that causes us to stop and pause, something that made the detour quite worthwhile. The inexperienced traveler might fear to take new roads, but the experienced traveler knows that they can lead to new and exciting things. Please do join me on the road to my life, and let’s see where it might take us.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." -Robert Frost

Road less traveled



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