A couple years ago, my wife and I made a list of ten things we wanted to do before we died. I’d like to write a novel. My wife wants to learn how to sew. We both want to go to Egypt someday, to see the pyramids.
Lots of people make lists like this, or at least, they keep them in their minds.
But most people never get to cross all these dreams off their list. In fact, in two years, the only objective I’ve completed on my “bucket list” is to start my own business. Check.
Maybe we’ve heard the cliches like “life is short” or “carpe-diem” too many times for them to register anymore. Or maybe it’s just too easy to say, “Eh, I’ll get to that later,” or “we’ll do that when we’re more secure financially.”
Then there are those like Michael Hodson who don’t even need a list. Some people just act without hesitation.
“He’s one of those guys who gets an idea and goes for it…. He doesn’t let much stop him.” Michael’s brother Ryan Hodson told us.
“A few summer’s ago we were sitting at the bar and (Michael) said, “I’ve never been to Maine. I’d really like to taste Maine lobster in Maine. You want to go?
“The next thing I knew we were sitting on the shore in Maine eating lobster rolls and drinking beer.”
Michael, 41, is an attorney who practiced in Fayetteville for seven years before, back in December, he decided to put his law practice on the back burner, put most of his possessions in his brothers garage, and spend a full year traveling with a goal of making it all the way around the world. The only rules of his trip are no planes and no reservations.
Michael says a combination of factors led him to embark on his journey.
“The standard joking reply I’ve given when asked this question, which comes up a lot, is that it was just a good, solid mid-life crisis that inspired it. The more and more I say it, the more I think there is a good solid grain of truth in it, actually.” Michael told us.
“The other reply I’ve given is, ‘no wife, no kids, able to do it,’ which is also true. Bottom line is that I love traveling. If I can figure out a way to do it for a living, I’d probably travel 9-10 months out of the year. I feel at peace out here and never tire at seeing new places and meeting new people.”
Michael started in Arkansas, headed due south through Central America and down the west side of South America.
From there, he’s traveled to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia in Argentina, back up the east side of South America to Rio de Janeiro where he caught a cargo freighter to Capetown, South Africa. He traveled to Namibia, over to Botswana and then up the east side of Africa to Ethiopia where he awaits his next visa, hopefully into Sudan.
Michael has seen a lot of places that majority of Americans will never see. Some of them, I can’t even pronounce.
“Manchupiccu was incredible. It should be on everyone’s list of places to go.” Michael told us when asked about some of his favorites.
“Climbing Kilimanjaro was a completely unexpected, spiritual surprise. One of the highlights of my life. Etosha National Park and the Namib Desert in Namibia were both spectacular. Zanzibar island was fantastic. Columbia had some of the most friendly (and beautiful) people I’ve ever met. I can go on and on. The list of positives has been overwhelming.”
We asked Michael our standard interview question, about what he’s been listening to lately.
“My iPod is my travel savior. I really don’t know where I’d be without it. I’ve got about 8,000 songs on it and the only thing I regret is that I only made about 50 playlists. I could have used 150. Lately, I’ve been listening to any and all of the following: Supertramp, Collective Soul, Depeche Mode, Chris Isaak, Bob Dylan, Thomas Dolby, and Sixpence None the Richer.”
Michael is flying solo on his trip for the most part, but he’s met some pretty incredible people on the road as well.
“The guide that took me up (Kilimanjaro), Eyan, was wonderful. His family home was about 200 yards from the main gate of the park. He and I talked for the five days we were hiking up about anything and everything. His tribe’s culture. His concern that his children were losing a sense of who they were and where they came from…”
“After the hike, we went to his mother’s home right outside the gate and ate lunch and then I went back with him to his house to meet his wife and kids.” Michael told us.
“Also, I think I’ve probably added 100 people or so as friends of mine on Facebook so far, and I swap emails with at least half of them regularly.”
Michael told us that he does miss his friends and family, and “quality happy hours on Dickson Street.”
Somehow, though, we get the feeling that Michael is anything but homesick.
“If anyone wants to come join me, all they have to do is hop on a plane and get out there with me.”