Mark Vlaskamp Road Trip | Canoe Vibes | Freelance Adventurer & Wanderer

What Just Happened: Road Trip Dreamin’

It was seventy dollars. The last lick, the match in my powder barrel, and the knockout uppercut that sent my seemingly-structured nine-to-five life into the ropes.

I sat in the back of the Uber XL for the twelve-minute drive home dwelling on the 5.3x surge charge and the opportunity cost of my macho move to step up and foot the bill. I sat virtually absent from the alcohol-fueled conversation between my buddy and the three beautiful strangers we met at the bar.

Two years ago, a late night seventy dollar Uber ride to an after party with new company was what I worked all week for. This time, the Uber ride and the seventy dollars made me quit my job.



The Opportunity Cost of Expensing Mediocrity

Seventy dollars isn’t much money. With a well-paying job – a job that was more enjoyable than most and a job that I loved – combined with modest-at-best living expenses, my seventy dollars was as disposable as the intrigue our new lady friends had found in our surely-exaggerated stories. The cost of the ride home was not the problem; it was a symptom. The problem was that I fell victim to someone else’s expectation to keep up with the Joneses. It was tricking me into falling for all of the responsibilities, expenses, and limitations that those selfish Joneses handcuffed me into.

It gets glorified to hell and back, the white picket fence climb up the professional responsibility ladder. I’m guilty of the glorification; I fed the status machine for four years, working to make money to afford a break from work that nets a negative in the credit column of the balance sheet and a hazy question mark in the personal enjoyment column of the happiness sheet. Did I enjoy my weekend or did I just throw money at anything that feigned the superpower of relief from reality?

If I had seventy dollars to spend however I wanted in order to maximize my personal enjoyment, would I spend it on an Uber ride to an after party in order to impress some beautiful – and I mean Zoey Deschanel beautiful – strangers or am I just expensing mediocrity as a band-aid that will be ripped off on Monday morning? Under the passive cover of keeping up with the young professional Joneses, the expense – right or wrong – was unquestionably acceptable.

I’ve got a problem with that. Why was I letting myself get robbed of money and – even more valuable – free time only to go back and spend the next five days earning it back?



Turning Vacation Adventures into Everyday Adventures

It’s not much, but seventy dollars gets me, my gear, and a twelve pack of PBR to the Chihuahuan Desert in southwest Texas to see Dolan Falls on the even-more-beautiful-than-Zoey Devils River. Seventy dollars puts me in a sleeping bag under the stars and wakes me up to the sunrise and fresh brewed cup of coffee in the back of my Jeep. Seventy dollars has a lot of potential when it is not wasted Jonesing for quasi-entertaining entertainment.

I’ve spent the last four years selling people this $70 potential that adventure has to offer as my day job. It’s made me realize that most people only adventure on vacations, keeping day to day life reserved for perpetual monotony. Again, I’m not a big fan of that mentality, so I’ve been working to counteract it in my daily life for some time now. It just so happens that I got addicted to the everyday adventure concept and now have a 140ish day adventure planned.



A New Lifestyle on the Road

Yeah, I decided to do it. I packed up my cat, my canoe, and my camera for an indefinite road trip in search of new water, cool people, and cheap beer. Thanks to the inspiration of an impressive family of adventurers, the support of my friends in the paddlesports industry, and the readjustment of my professional responsibilities with some awesome guys back in Houston, I’m hitting the road on May 1, 2016 with plans to wander all over the country in the following months.

I depart from Houston, TX with plans of circling the US and parts of Canada in a counter-clockwise circle – Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Maine, Washington, California, Colorado, Texas. I have roughly 50 paddling and fishing stops planned – in over 30 states – with fishing guides, paddlesports brands and manufacturers, and industry friends that I have built up over time. Look, it’s not as wild as it sounds. The purpose of this trip isn’t to go on some wild goose chase to find Valhalla. The purpose of this trip – and this freshly redesigned Canoe Vibes site – is to step out of the 9-5 rut and embrace my newfound freedom on a personal level while feeding my addiction and fulfilling my desktop-daydream aspirations for everyday adventures.

Let’s be real; I want to entertain myself. But within that and through the development of promotional content for some understanding brands that I have partnered with for the promotion of this trip, I think I can entertain others along the way too.

Buckle up.

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Mark Vlaskamp

After four years as Marketing Director for Yak Gear, Mark now partners with creative outdoor brands and pursues the gray area between freelancing and (f)unemployment. Currently, he is floating between Austin and Houston, TX - still searching for new water, cool people, and cheap beer.

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