Hooniverse Asks Bonus – What's Your Version of "Going Bowman"?

zach bowman odyssey
Zach Bowman is on an odyssey. He’s sold almost all of his possessions and has hit the road with his wife and baby daughter with no particular destination in mind. If you’re not already following his trip on The Drive, you should be.
Reading his dispatches from my cubicle at work, I sigh heavily. My day is stable, pays very well and I’m genuinely applying my talents to help people in need (if you ever have a stroke, give me a call. Actually, don’t, go here instead). But still, I wouldn’t do it for free. Hooniverse has always been about encouraging people to go for it, even (especially?) when “it” is an ill-advised but awesome adventure. Project cars and LeMons fit the bill nicely, but so do road trips.
Still, there’s that next level, where you abandon some major tenet of “normal” adult living to have the adventure you just can’t have in your spare time. Commit yourself to the cause. Start or join a race team. Open a shop or dealership. Move to the country and take over some hermit’s junkyard? Things like that.
Personally, I want a warehouse for a house. 10,000-20,000 square feet of polished concrete under 24 foot ceilings. We’ll get a decent two bed, two bath manufactured home and park it in the corner (maybe even the top corner on stilts) and turn the roof into a 1/3 acre yard with a deck and garden beds. Obviously, that leaves the remainder for storage and maintenance of a giant fleet of hoopties. On a larger scale of ambition, I’d go even bigger and use the surplus space to run a sort of garage co-op where members get access to space, lifts and tools they can’t get at home.
But that’s just me. I’m sick of wistfully sighing if only I had the space.
Maybe yours is different. Maybe it’s not cars at all. What would you go off the deep end for?

28 Comments

  1. My version of going Bowman would be to sell all of my SAABs and buy a single car, an Alfa Romeo Milano.

    1. Get the Milano, but keep one of the Saabs. You’ll know why when it happens. Trust me on this.

      1. Oh I know. One of my friends had an ’88 Milano Verde and he tried daily driving it. It was a disaster, and that’s exactly why I’d do it.

        1. Having also daily-driven a Milano Verde for about 10 weeks before going back to Peugeots for reliability reasons, I completely understand the desire to do this.

  2. I’d do something like Zach is doing, but instead of a Dodge truck with flatbed camper I would buy a Sportsmobile and drive from Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia, ship it to South Africa and drive up Africa to Europe, across the Silk Route through Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, then skirt around China to the north and pick up the Road of Bones across Siberia to Kamchatsk, ship the truck to Alaska and hit Denali, then head across Canada and back down to the US in time to get home.
    No, I haven’t thought about this at all. Yes, I could die about 32 times on this trip.

    1. Just try to keep the dying part until after you’ve seen the sky in Afghanistan. As a kid I remember visiting my aunt in Texas and looking up at the stars and being amazed, but nothing compares to what the sky looks like in Afghanistan at night. I would love to ride a motorcycle across Afghanistan if it ever becomes more peaceful. It’s a beautiful country with lots of very hospitable people.

  3. My version is very similar to yours. Basically live in a warehouse with lots of room for hobbies. I like the garden idea too. I stayed at the house of one of my grandfather’s coworkers in San Diego one time and he had this really beautiful rooftop garden with a spiral staircase going up to it. It was really cool.
    I think running a bunch of small businesses out of said warehouse where I could be my own boss would be cool, doing things like making custom bumper stickers, sand blasting stuff for people, powder coating, etc.
    Really though, my wife and I are thinking about working for an aviation NGO (something like JAARS or MAF) once she gets done flying in the Army. Living in the middle of nowhere, getting to help people, all while having few possession but having to take care of something technical like an airplane sounds like fun for us.

    1. We’re on the same page. There’s a bunch of different things that my wife and I would like to do, but none of which constitute a full job. However, tack six 1/6ths of a job together and you’re set.

  4. I would leave my home state of nearly 25 years and go live in a cabin in the Ozark Mountains. Oh! Wait!

  5. After a dotcom bubble layoff, I decided I’d had enough of being a corporate meat resource and chucked everything to go live for a year in Asia, a continent I’d had zero interest in prior to that decision. Six weeks later I was in a new country. One year turned into six years. It was pretty damn great – I followed the Silk Road across Central Asia and saw ghostly ruins of cities that have been vacant for 1,000 years or more; there were motorcycle trips around SE Asia; I learned new languages and how to scuba dive. Endlessly great decision. Except: coming back to your home country after that is really difficult. The culture shock was worse coming back than going, and it meant rebuilding a career and being ten years behind my peers in that space. Those kinds of leaps can be life-changing but one must be honest with one’s self about the pitfalls as well.

    1. Having been a dot-bomb casualty as well, I can relate. My version of bumming around mainly consisted of long road trips in a somewhat battered-but-bulletproof Peugeot 505. Got to know a lot of off-the-track places in the desert courtesy of that car.

    2. That’s a very impressive decision. Did you spend most of the time just travelling in your own company?
      I’ve always been to rational by kind to just make a jump like that, but my ambition has been to earn enough to live comfortably, get to the mountains, live a simple life. I’m getting closer and closer, first moving to Norway, than buying a house in the countryside. Having small kids is a setback in that particular regard, but they enrich our lives endlessly otherwise. I might never get that mountain pasture because I realize how much work it is, but one day I’m going to own a forest and a lake. I love doing my own firewood, and I have lots of ideas how to turn a forest into a productive and wonderful place to be. Dick Proennecke is also a huge model to me – he was not particularly extreme, but he acquired skills, patience and values that I respect dearly.

      1. I had already been keeping my life very uncomplicated – single, no car, very little furniture. That made it much easier to jump into Asia with no hesitation. Certainly I made lifelong friends living overseas, but really travelled mostly on my own. Being alone on an iron Chinese bicycle in the middle of the Taklamakan Desert was my idea of fun, but probably not for most people. I would aspire to be more like Dick Proennecke but I’m hopelessly uncrafty and would probably die sewing a button onto my coat. Everyone’s ideal is different, and I’d certainly caution people that travel is not really necessary and does not make you into a whole new person.

        1. Haha, relevant advice, that last one! Of course, one will carry a lot of baggage around, but going to new places over time is also a great force to expand and develop one’s mind and capabilities. If you ever have written something somewhere about the “coming back period”, I’d very much like to read that.
          When it comes to Proennecke, I got to say: I am still a very long way off. But he started his hermit life in his 50s, and I’m not worried that almost two decades of learning might get me there. I’m an academic analytic and do well with such jobs, but my mechanical skills are few and very hard earned. Takes time. 🙂

      2. Most of the time it was just me solo, but there were a few places where I met up with friends and hung out with them for a couple of days. Did that for a little over two months, sleeping (mostly) in the car and going in no particular direction – if something sounded interesting, I’d head for it.
        If you were to draw a line from the Canadian to Mexican borders travelling down the Eastern borders of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, at one time or another I was at least in (if not driving across) every State to the West of that line except for – I think – Wyoming. Somewhere in the region of 14,000 miles and nine weeks later, I ended up back in L.A.
        It was an excellent way to get some clear headspace for a while. Had I actually planned this beyond putting my stuff in a storage unit and finding someone to look after the cat while I was gone, the only thing I would have done differently would have been to have changed out the saloon for a wagon. Could have slept much more easily in the back of that.

  6. A friend who is a web developer and who was home schooling his kids, bought a 4 door Silverado 2500 and a 5th wheel and decided to spend a year traveling the country. When the year was up, they came home, sold all their stuff and headed back out. That was 5 years ago, I think.
    For me, I’m looking ahead a couple of years when our kids will be gone and we plan to move closer to work. My only criteria is some kind of decent out building where I can play with my toys. My suburban 2 car garage has served me well, but I’m tired of not having room to work.

  7. As much as I love the fact that he said “F IT” and shed the workaday life in order to spend more time with his family on the open road, there is a little part of me that feels hurt.
    I feel hurt because all of the things he threw away, the house, the project cars, the KTM, most especially the job at R&T, are the things that I spend my days pining for. I spend my days toiling away hoping someday to achieve the life that he has the self-fulfillment to toss away.
    I don’t know how to communicate exactly what that makes me feel, but it makes me feel, man.

    1. That’s something I can relate to in a way. I was born in the GDR and all my childhood was some sort of “safe poverty”. Later, I saw my parents struggle to serve loans and realize small dreams, then cancer suddenly took my mother when she was only 45 years old. I had already moved to Norway and hopped off the work-centered life so common in Germany, but that was another massive reminder on how to set priorities. Still, coming to Norway, with all the rich kids spending gazillions on…nothing, really, just realizing themselves and complaining about how the gold windfall in their lifes didn’t entirely fall in their lap, but also splattered around, I got that feeling you talk about. “Value your birth luck!”…sort of thing. It probably just boils down to having two sets of goals: Small ones you can achieve regulalry, and very big ones you probably won’t achieve – so they can’t disappoint you in a “isn’t there more?” kind of way – but that are worth stretching after.

  8. If you ask my wife, she’d want to do the same thing, but with a sailboat, along with assorted plane trips inland.
    I don’t like being away from home that long – there are nights when I’d rather not even head 5 minutes down the road. I’d be happy to have a 2, maybe three car garage somewhere walking distance from things, and a reasonable commute from work. I’ll still get out and see bits of the world (my wife will see to that), but somewhere stable that’s mine is nice.

  9. Jimmy Buffet’s verse in Zac Brown Band’s “Knee Deep”:
    Wrote a note said “Be back in a minute”
    Bought a boat and I sailed off in it
    Don’t think anybody’s gonna miss me anyway
    Mind on a permanent vacation
    The ocean is my only medication
    Wishing my condition ain’t ever gonna go away

  10. You’ve just described my exact plan for a house before I met my girlfriend (who wouldn’t put up with that level of tomfoolery).
    My plan was to have a bachelor pad in the upper reaches of a hangar with a funky floating staircase up one wall to get up there and a big glass window overlooking a workshop full of cars in various states of repair.
    If I get mega-rich I might do that anyway…
    As for Bowmaning, living in the UK I’ve always wanted to buy a RHD classic down in South Africa (probably an Alfetta saloon as they like their Alfas there), fly down and drive it back. Would be a hell of an adventure, if not quite to the scale of Zach…

  11. My ‘live in a shop full of old cars’ dream was a lot like yours, only instead of a mobile home inside on stilts, the upper half of the building was going to be a suspended cargo net, with a couch hanging from cables and the TV hanging from cables and so on to create a sort of Swiss Family Robinson meets Sanford and Son palace of old beaters.
    I also used to drive by this giant long steel barn way out in the country that was permanently for sale, someone’s failed factory or mushroom farm or who knows, which I wanted to buy and turn into an huge indoor salvage type yard. I planned to travel small towns looking for cars 25+ year old cars parked under trees and rescue them. The goal would be to sell whole cars to people as projects if they were save-able, part out the ones I have to. But indoor!
    I also wanted to buy a Grumman Goose and mount kayaks under the wings, and start an island hopping fishing guide service in the Caribbean taking you to out of the way, isolated spots. That dream has changed a little now to wanting to have that same Goose, only now to fly my family around in adventuring.
    But I think what wins out most days is a combo of what engineerd, Bradley Brownell, and the always wise longrooffan are maybe saying–want what you have. Want what you have.
    I actually have a pretty great life when you get down to it, I fly for a living in the Navy, I love the people I work with, I enjoy my job most days, I have a beautiful wife and family, I have gotten to live in some great places, so I don’t know. Bradley nailed it, this question and adventure makes the feelings hard to explain, but they are there, feeling.

  12. In 1988 I decided I had enough of being primed for middle management and chucked it all to be a full-time musician. I pursued that for several years before I got that out of my system.

  13. My plan is to fly to India, buy a Royal Enfield motorcycle, and ride through Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and the whole length of Vietnam, a la Top Gear. I might even go through China, Mongolia, and end up in Tuva (southern Siberia).
    http://media1.santabanta.com/full1/Bikes/Royal%20Enfield/royal-enfield-4a.jpg
    Of course, I’ve never ridden a motorcycle, let alone in Asian traffic, so I’d probably be killed. And after a little Googling, the shortest route I’ve planned is more than 4,000 miles. So maybe I’d take a boat from India to Thailand. Google Maps doesn’t want to compute routes between Vietnam and Mongolia for some reason, but just a wild-ass guess I’d say it would add at least 2,000 miles.
    https://goo.gl/maps/jkKSWFLXb8r

  14. I find it funny how many our dream home/garages (mine included) sound like that of Dirk Pitt’s (fictional character created by Clive Cussler).

    From Wikipedia:

    “When Dirk Pitt is not traveling, which he is doing most of the time, he lives in his unique home – a remodeled and refurbished hangar on the grounds of Washington National Airport, near Washington, D.C.. A cast-iron stairway leads into a cluttered apartment with maps of the sea and models of ships scattered all about. The hangar houses his classic and antique car collection, as well as a Messerschmitt Me 262 aircraft, a Ford trimotor aircraft, a Pullman railroad dining car, and a totem pole. The hangar also contains items collected from prior adventures, such as a cast-iron bathtub with an outboard motor fixed to one end, and is protected by a state-of-the-art security system. Pitt occasionally adds classic cars to his collection purloined from a variety of antagonists over the course of his adventures.”

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