A Final Manifestation: Wandering Chicago & Journals from an Epic 175 Day Adventure

Today is an especially auspicious day, for today is the completion of the story of my West Coast Adventure.

That’s right. After so many dozens of entries, covering hidden gems, incredible landmarks, and lessons learned, we’ve finally come to the end of the West Coast Adventure series. (Though never fear. There are many more adventures coming up soon.)

Yet before I finally set foot in Wisconsin again, I took a final photo set during a brief exploration of Chicago with a new friend (selections from this photoset can be found farther down). And, in honor of this being the final article in the series, I’m going to do something I don’t normally do. I’m going to share with you some private entries from my personal log.

As you’ll soon learn, my short time in Chicago went extremely well. Here’s what I had to say about it on the final day of my adventure:

Direct from the Journal

2009.11.12; 13.13
Chicago, IL

My last host was and is a truly excellent final host for this trip. Her name is Alyssa, and we have a series of improbable things in common. Yesterday we went around, just walking downtown taking photos of the oddities of this Second City called Chicago. We even found an enclosed alley with a black iron staircase going up to a few small patios tucked away in the middle of the block. We went to a man-made beach near Navy Pier. We bought fruits, vegetables, and tortillas. But we parted ways after, I heading back to her place to prepare the rice (which takes the longest). She wanted to go to a yoga class. I returned home; but about 15 minutes later, she walked in.

She told me she decided to do some yoga at home instead, and I was so happy. This meant that I would have enough time to show her how to prepare and sauté the vegetables and to show her the delicacies of cooking rice to perfection. We had a great evening and even had time to watch the first 25 minutes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie that she had never seen before. She was really enjoying it. Too bad she started falling asleep. (She’s an early riser because of her teaching job. In fact, staying here has helped me go to sleep earlier.)

It seems my intentions are really starting to manifest now.
Only 3 days before, I wrote this intention:

I set out the intention that I’ll have more energy than I’ve had over the past couple days, that at the perfect time I’ll find a ride that can drop me off in Wisconsin, and that my remaining hosts will be wonderful, encouraging, and caring.

Energy, check.
Ride (even better than I anticipated), check.
Wonderful host, check.

I may go back and add entries from my new intention journal.


Looking back, this was one of my best early experiences with consciously using Intention-Manifestation while travelling, and things worked out incredibly well. I can only attribute my positive experience with a positive attitude, combined with proactive actions (such as posting on Craigslist and keeping an eye out for others posting), and not being too attached to one specific outcome. These three attributes served me immeasurably during my travels. And writing these down in an intention journal helped me clarify them and release the intentions out into the Universe. 🙂

Still, November 12th was my 175th day, and I knew things would never be the same. I wasn’t the same person who had left from Wisconsin over 5 months previously. And even before I arrived in Chicago, I contemplated this:

2009.11.02; 13.47
Denver, CO
Sometimes I wonder how life will be when I return. Certainly things won’t ever be the same, at least not within me. This trip has changed me, in some ways more subtly than others. I feel well-rounded, more confident, and every day I feel more that this trip was meant to be, that it was part of a path that I was meant to walk down, though I had to choose it.

As Within, So Without

And I am eternally grateful that I did. Now that I look back on that incredible, ineffable experience that the West Coast Adventure was, I am so grateful that I took a chance, relied on the kindness of “strangers”, and pushed myself to grow. In the end, I realized that I hadn’t only been exploring the United States for the past 5 months. I had been exploring myself. My desires, my limits, and my values. In fact, as I was doing research for this article, I came across this small entry that I made when I was back in California, two months before my adventure came to a close.

And I can’t say it much better than I did back in that blustery September:

2009 September
Bay Area, CA

I was born in a place of blue skies. Some of the bluest blue you’ve ever seen. With greens that kept their green, even into Autumn. I was young when I left, and now I find myself back, the sum total of an uncounted number of small decisions and works of Providence.

I have been exploring lately, and at first I thought I was exploring the land. Now I see that I’ve been exploring myself all the while, what I’m capable of, what I really want, what drives me in this current existence that people call a Life.

I’ve been learning self-honesty and self-acceptance.

I seek to blow all my assumptions about life out of the water. I will experience life more fully, more lovingly, and more powerfully than I ever have before.


And I did. 🙂


Vertical House above garage

Hidden Alley between buildings

Packed streets of Downtown Chicago

— Bonus —

Marco appears in all 6 photos in the accompanying photo gallery. If you’re new to the “Where’s Marco” game, it’s similar to “Where’s Waldo” or “I Spy”. Don’t worry. He’s bright in every photo, so be sure to look for him in the bright spots.

Learn how to play →
Then find him in the photos! →


Hilariously enough, I arrived at 11.22PM on 2009.11.12. (I’d found a ride passing near where I live, the craigslist ad of which was posted ironically enough at 11.11AM.) For those of you who don’t really care about number significance, you can safely ignore this, but I found it amusingly synchronistic.

Being November in Wisconsin, I wasn’t surprised that there was a chill in the air that night. But that was alright. I was home. After 175 days, I was finally home.

For those of you who have kept up with this series and have provided feedback or left comments, I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU. As I said above, there are many more adventures coming up soon, not to to mention some interviews with some of my favorite travel writers of all time! So stay tuned, and stay in touch. 🙂

A Hint of What’s To Come

2009.11.17; 17.37
Once again, November 17th holds significance. Today I started my novel, for real this time. Sure, I’ve had a few false starts in the past, but now I’m really feeling it. The basic idea of the novel is that I am actually creating a universe as I write. Not all authors acknowledge this, but they all do it.

However, I do acknowledge that I’m creating a universe, and have therefore named the book PROTOVERSE, at least tentatively. The name may already be taken, but for now that’s its code name.

Not gonna lie: the book has already been written and is currently being edited. I’m pretty excited; and if you like SF/Adventure/Philosophy as a genre, you may be in for a surprise quite soon.

*sigh* Time to make another website… 😉

See how the West Coast Adventure started ↩

All accompanying photos are in the Wandering Chicago photo gallery. With so much free, high-quality content, why not tell a friend and share this article?

Craigslist Miracle: A Rideshare from Heaven

Miracles still happen, even in November. Perhaps especially in November.

While I wouldn’t say November is an especially good time to visit Denver (it isn’t), it was a necessary stop on my way back to the Midwest; and just as in Las Vegas, I had no idea who I was going to carpool with for the next leg of my journey to Chicago.

Yet I had faith that things would work out in the end, as they always had. And so, I did my tried and true methods: I posted on craigslist’s rideshare, as well as voiced my desires to my friend who was hosting me. He didn’t know anyone heading that far, but I was still confident something would work out. After all, I’d already gone over 5,000 miles via carpooling; so with just a thousand miles to go, I didn’t think it would stop working now.

While I waited for an opportunity to manifest, I visited the Colorado Capitol Dome once more (the one with the awesome tour); and soon realized that the intervening five months had sucked most of the green out of the view.

A Match Made in Heaven

Don’t get me wrong. Exploring Denver is always fun, especially if you’re a member of Couchsurfing.org. And I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces at the weekly Couchsurfing meetup. (I also seized the moment to enjoy one last hummus wrap from the City O’ City cafe.)

And then, after a few days, I was contacted by a woman (a middle-aged professional) who was moving to Chicago, of all places. Best of all, since she didn’t feel comfortable driving on freeways, she not only offered to pay for all of the fuel to reach Chicago, but also offered pay me a bit extra for being her driver until we reached the city.

Say what? Get paid to get where I’m going?
I could practically kiss my driver’s license at that point.

Quite simply, it was a match made in heaven, and I’ve written about that experience in greater detail in my article about how to get paid to travel 1,000 miles. Because that’s exactly what happened. I was determined to complete the trip in one day… and I did. But you don’t have to read that article to understand the next (and final) article in this series, because when I finally arrived in Chicago over 16 hours later, a few surprises were still in store before my grand adventure came to a close.


United Nations Park from above and Denver World Trade Center beyond

Denver City and County Building with Rocky Mountains behind

Denver City and County Building silhouette

Autumn tree backlit by streetlight

— Bonus —

Marco appears in all 5 photos in the accompanying photo gallery. If you’re new to the “Where’s Marco” game, it’s similar to “Where’s Waldo” or “I Spy”. But this time, he’s cloaked in every single photo, so be sure to look for him in the dark shadows.

Learn how to play →
Then find him in the photos! →

Coming up Next:

The final part in the West Coast Adventure series, in which I bring it all together, featuring the discovery of a hidden Chicago alley, a bizarre vertical house, and the power of an intention journal.

Don’t miss this.

See what happened in the end →

All accompanying photos are in the Denver in Late Autumn photo gallery. With so much free, high-quality content, why not tell a friend and share this article?