Turn the Payge

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I’ve never been the kind of girl who dreamt of wearing a white princess dress for a big church wedding, or living in a huge house with a picket fence, 2.5 children and a dog. There is absolutely nothing wrong that dream; I think it is great and I live vicariously through my sister, minus a dog.

As I progressed through my teens, twenties and now thirties, I wondered if there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want those things. As long as I can remember, I have always had a gypsy soul, wanting to travel the world, meet new people and try everything.

I grew up in the Pennsylvania countryside; I am literally three generations removed from driving a horse and buggy, so I was genetically wired to stay put! But I couldn’t, much to the chagrin of my old-fashioned dad, and I took every opportunity to experience the world. I studied International Politics and Spanish in college, and when I was accepted into a study abroad program at a university in Spain, Dad was not happy. He said, “Why would you ever want to leave the United States?’ He said the same thing the following year when I studied abroad in Mexico.

In my twenties, I really tried to convince myself that following the natural progression of societal life expectations would make me happy. Go to school, get a good job, get married, buy a nice home, have children, retire to the south and die, right? So, after finishing school and entering the corporate world, I stopped “living in sin” and married my longtime boyfriend at the age of 24. Dad was happy until he found out we were having a simple beach wedding in Jamaica, but at least he didn’t have to wear a tie when he walked me down the sand. I wore a cream colored dress — I thought white would have been a stretch — purchased off the rack somewhere in Vegas a month before the wedding for $89.

By the time my husband and I entered our thirties, we were the quintessential DINKS (double income, no kids). I had a great husband, the house, the cars, jewelry, investments, and a couple of cats. We had accrued it all, but I wasn’t happy. What was wrong with me?

Every ounce of me still wanted a bohemian life. I was climbing the corporate ladder instead of the far-off mountains in my dreams. It was frustrating and hard to explain. My dad thought I was crazy, or that I was going through an early mid-life crisis. My husband didn’t feel the same way I did, but he listened. We both agreed that it wasn’t fair to deny or compromise our own life dreams to live someone else’s — we simply wanted different things, so we pursued them. I’m not going to lie, I was sad, and I mourned the death of our relationship. It was scary taking that next step alone. But I did it one day at a time.

I was in control of my own happiness. After my divorce, I made a game plan. I got my finances in order and got out of debt. I started working out again, and I quit my job and sold everything to fund my dream.  After careful research, I left on my first adventure and haven’t looked back.

In the past three years, I have traveled to 24 countries on five different continents. I have climbed the highest mountains in Africa, Japan and the continental U.S. I’ve cycled across southeast Asia and backpacked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and the entirety of California’s 221-mile John Muir Trail. I trekked through the deserts of Egypt and Jordan, through the Amazon Rainforest. I have touched six of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The best thing is, when you are backpacking and staying in a tent or a hostel, it doesn’t take a lot of money to do what I do. It just takes time, patience, creativity and a sense of humor. I’ve had an African bull elephant wander into my camp out in the Serengeti, and I’ve escaped an erupting volcano while backpacking with the Maasai through Tanzania’s Rift Valley. I’ve hitchhiked from the base of Mt. Fuji to Tokyo and cycled off a bridge into the Mekong River. I’ve eaten tarantula in Cambodia and barbequed rat in Vietnam (and yes, it does taste like chicken).

Early on, I created a website and started blogging about my adventures. It was mostly for my family and friends to keep track of me, but I managed to gain a following — I was inspiring people to do their own adventures! They would email me travel questions, and I would share my tricks and lessons learned. Companies started contacting me to review gear, or to offer me sponsorship deals and writing assignments. Before I knew it, I was living my dream and making money doing it!

Today, in addition to my blog and sponsors, I have an outdoor travel advice column, “Ask Payge,” in the magazine Self Reliance Illustrated. I am a contributing author for several magazines and write gear reviews for companies including Sorel, Camelbak and Mountainsmith. I am also co-hosting episodes with Alaska HDTV this year, including coverage of the world-famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race. I’m finalizing edits on my first book — the working title is Turn the Payge — reflecting my outlook on life. Like a book, we sometimes get stuck on one page, and you need to turn the page to see what adventures await you.

I am living my dream.
 

Comments

deen's picture

I feel sad when some one call me to weave cloths, But when i come out from my home i feel shy. I write some sad quotes which help me in developing a strong belif and hope.

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