Monday, June 27, 2011


Gallatin Gateway, MT
Edited: Talked to him some more, so I updated parts of this to be more accurate.
And today, I relax.

I'm currently sitting outside in a hammock a little ways south of Bozeman Montana, listening to a small stream.  I just spent an hour in a hot tub 10 feet away, watching TV.  I cannot express how completely and utterly relaxing this is.  I was going to go to Bozeman tonight, but I think that's going to wait until tomorrow.  Tonight, I do nothing.

I'm staying with a guy who used to be a trader in Chicago for 20 years.  He says that's how he got his "Get out of jail free card" for the day-to-day work.  Now he runs a small energy company, but apparently that's doable from out here.  This house is... it's hard to describe how amazing it is.  It definitely took a lot of money.  And it's loaded with stuff too.

I found this guy on recommendation from Carrie who I stayed with in South Dakota.  She and two of the other people I hung out with there headed into Yellowstone (where they got snowed on), and then headed this way and surfed with this guy.  She sent me a message letting me know how cool the place was and how awesome he was, so I looked him up for when I was coming through... and she was right.

I talked to him a little during dinner, but I still don't know a ton of his story.  I do know that at one point he set out in a Ford Bronco with his dog and some stuff and traveled around the country, not much differently than what I'm doing now, after spending so long in Chicago. His profile says one ex-wife, no kids, but it sounds like he's pretty close with his neighbors here, and he has a lot of friends in different parts of the country that he visits.  (He puts enough miles on his car that it even surprised me when he said how many.)  This is a really cool place to live, but I feel like I would get lonely very quickly out here if I lived on my own.  Then again, maybe that's why he started hosting couch surfers.

One of the first thoughts I had while sitting in the hot tub watching TV, is that it would be awesome to live in a place like this.  I would love to have a huge house, the outdoor patio with grill, fridge, couches, heaters, and hot tub and a small stream going through it, the hammock, the awesome videogame system, even the cool staircase.  But the second thought I had is wondering if I would trade 20 years of high stress, long hours, always-on-call work for something like this.  And the answer is... I don't know.

I don't think it particularly matters for me, because I doubt I could stand 20 years of that in order to make enough to have a house like this.  Heck, I spent four years in a place I didn't like much with a job I enjoyed and still had to get out.  So I probably don't even have that option open to me, if I'm completely honest with myself.

But if I did... would I do it?  Would I sacrifice 20 years in order to have the next 20 be spent like this?  He told me he wakes up in the morning and spends from 6 to 8:30 in the hot tub.  He's got a little coffee maker sitting right next to it so he can make more coffee without getting out.  Wake up, go outside, get in the hot tub, make coffee.  In that order.  It's a heck of a life, and it's awesome.

I doubt I could trade 20 years to do it though.  If I knew I was going to live forever, then definitely.  But with 80, maybe 100 years (maybe more depending on how medical advances go in the next few decades) on this earth, I can't imagine spending a quarter or a fifth of those doing something that sucked up my life like that.

Now, he says that he loved doing that and it fulfilled him and it was exactly what he needed at the time.  It was an all day adrenaline rush, he said, and he'd still be doing it if it hadn't gotten taken over by computers. I think that's awesome - he got to do what he wanted, get paid a ton, and then still get to go out to the middle of nowhere and relax when he was done. (As he put it, after spending 20 years on a trading floor, you need some room for yourself.)

Me, though - I'm going to spend the next 20 years of my life working and relaxing.  I'll work when I need to get money, and do trips like this when I have enough saved up.  Because I don't want to get 20 years down the road and then try to pay back all the relaxing that I didn't do on the way.

And just to make you jealous, here's some pictures.

The bed I'll be sleeping on tonight

The videogame room.  The sheets are all laying around from when he hosted 5 couchsurfers a little while ago.

Seriously, tell me this stairway isn't awesome.  (This is from the bottom floor)

I made a friend.

Kitchen, dining room and sitting room.

Other view of the kitchen, and stairway from the main floor.

Patio panorama.  Still couldn't quite fit the whole thing in.

Another view of the patio

Where I'm currently posting from.

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