The Van Blog (The Million Dollar Mountain)

For those new to this site, I left my engineering job back on April Fool's Day (2016). After driving to San Diego and selling my car I embarked on a six month, 2,650 mile thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). During that time I made a personal resolution to find a way to continue living with a goal oriented mentality after the PCT.

Years ago I rode a bicyle across the United States and I got my first taste of a life where I quantifiably moved myself closer to a goal of my own choosing every single day. Then after college I settled in a stable position at a Fortune 500 company. Hiking the PCT drove home the message to me, that I was simply waiting to live in that cubicle.


Now let me pause, so as not to confuse my message. I'm not a "Society man.. (choke) (choke)" guy. To my core I believe most people can re-frame the very jobs they are currently doing and re-align that previosuly wasted energy into harnessed energy bringing them quantifiably closer to a personal goal of their choosing. I do not believe a cubicle gig is inherently right or wrong, inherently wasteful or fruitful existence. I'll dive more into this topic in other posts. Just know that I am not the Office Space guy kicking down the cubicle wall.


With that aside, much of May and June 2016, during the hike, I contemplated the various ways I could make every day count. 

"Should I join the Peace Corps?"

"No." I concluded.

"Should I become a teacher? "

No that won't work either.

Everything was on the table.  But the purpose was to find a goal that could make every day count, in the same way walking 15 miles brought me closer to Canada and walking 0 miles didn't. 

I needed a goal I could start right away. More importantly I needed a goal could string together with as little income as possible. 

Then I thought of the Million Dollar Mountain. Why do people climb Mt. Everest? There's no one answer, but there's magic in that number, the height of the mountain on Earth taller than the rest. In a similar, but not directly comparable way, there's magic in the figure "One Million Dollars".

Why not go for it?

Pursuing a net worth of one million dollars would test my person in ways not yet challenged by my long distance cycling or hiking adventures.

The goal isn't so much about the money as the challenge. And certainly I could buy in mentally as the tangible benefits of summitting the "Million Dollar Mountain" would be the absolution of my financial obligitations (for some period of time) and the freedom to pivot to almost any other adventure of my choosing moving forward.

My next thought after picking the goal was, "How fast can I get there?" I don't know that answer. I can speculate for sure, but the only question I really needed to answer was where to start.

As general principle, start with what you know. Since the challenge is tied to money, start with your most marketable skill. 

If my most marketable skill was selling lemonade that is where I would start. As life turned out, at the moment, my most marketable skill is engineering. 

But falling into another engineering job wouldn't make me a millionaire any time soon. And more importantly, in most engineering jobs I can't quantifiably move closer to the million every day. Working hard and being lazy often translates to the same exact paycheck as that industry is structured.

My logical conclusion was to start my own engineering business, one that focused on niche markets I could service appropriately with my earned experience. 

On the trail I drew up a business plan, got a handful of friends from college to buy in (non-equity holding agreements), and here I am.

The van is a critical piece of the early stages of this adventure. I've named her "Proud Mary", in reference to the opening lyrics to the Creedence Clearwater Revival song by the same name.

To give myself the best chance I sought to reduce my life’s operating expenses to something that could be sustained working just about any job. That’s where the van comes in, a house/car/office in a single monthly payment that’s less than median rent in most cities, and has the ability to chase down a business opportunity in whatever city may pick up.

This adventure will be measured in years, not months. And you know I'm going to blog about the whole darn thing.