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Cross-Country Travel

by Kevin Estela January 27, 2021 3 Comments

Cross-Country Travel

In January of 2021, I embarked on a cross country trip from Connecticut to Utah where I would start a new career with the company Fieldcraft Survival. This marked an incredible life change where I not only left my comfortable teaching career of 14 years in a public high school, but also the townhouse I called home for 7.5 years. It’s one thing to keep your job and switch homes and another thing to keep your home and switch jobs. Switching both places where you live and work is absolutely something that takes careful planning and consideration. My move required transporting most of the contents of my house 2500 miles and some of those contents I would not trust to moving companies. It also meant not getting arrested with more than a couple firearms and plenty of ammo in tow. While it was stressful, the move didn’t break me. Like all moments with pressure and stress in life, this change would definitely make me stronger if it didn’t make me crack in the process.

The Why
Back in June of 2020, I received a text message from Mike Glover. Mike is the CEO of Fieldcraft Survival who interviewed me on his podcast about 8 months prior. Mike and I spoke a handful of times since and we would send the occasional IG message whenever something in one of our news feeds caught the attention of the other. On that particular morning in June, he asked me about teaching survival full-time. I had just wrapped up my 14th year of teaching high school history with the last 4.5 months being all remote “learning”. The remote learning process disappointed me. I found the methods we were told to use highly ineffective and disenchanting. Students weren’t engaged, teachers were frustrated with the board of education directives, and even though we had solutions, they fell on deaf ears. Mike’s offer hit me at a moment when I was questioning my passion for teaching and where it went. I lost more than a few night’s sleep thinking about how drastic of a change it would be to leave Connecticut, leave my job, move far from my family, and start over essentially. I thought about it frequently that summer but after teaching a course with Fieldcraft in August, I was fairly certain I would submit my 2 weeks notice the following year. With the new school year starting at the end of August on the same day that marked a mandatory 2-week quarantine for me, I was instantly thrown back into the same feelings of ineffectiveness as I felt the school year before. While the plan was to finish up year 15, I submitted my letter of resignation for the last day in October. My passion to teach was still there, I just needed a different conduit to present it. Fieldcraft offered me the chance to reach students who were genuinely interested in what was taught. While I would miss my co-workers and students, my decision to leave teaching history was correct.
Pod Life
I had planned to move from CT to UT in April or May but decided to bump up my timeline to January. This meant selling my townhouse and packing up all of my belongings. The real-estate market was hot and in less than a week, I had multiple offers on my unit. After some negotiating, a closing was set and the purging process began. I moved some belongings to my family’s property and the rest were loaded up in an 8’x8’x16’ POD. When reviewing the POD website, it stated this size would fit the contents of a master bedroom, living room, bathroom, etc. The “ETC” didn’t take into account my gear I’ve accumulated for fishing, hunting, canoeing, camping, bushcrafting, etc. Even though Fieldcraft covered my travel expenses, I didn’t want to take advantage of the company and ask for a second POD. I also knew I would have to transport my firearms and ammo personally since they were not allowed in the POD and I am too paranoid to hand them off to someone. You would be amazed how quickly the 8’x8’x16’ box fills up and how it can be packed to the brim. All in all, the process was fairly simple and allowed me to load it and unload it (once it arrived in UT) on my own time and schedule.  

U-Haulin’
There was some equipment that was not going to be handed off to a moving company. Custom firearms, thousands of rounds of ammo, plenty of gorgeous knives (especially my Fiddleback Forge collection), and 1st night belongings had to be transported by a trailer. I contacted my local U-Haul facility and ordered a 5’x8’ trailer for the move. It took 3 hours loading this trailer the day after returning from teaching in South Carolina at the Sawmill Training Center. Loading day was a Tuesday and while I planned on leaving by noon, my actual departure was 4pm. I knew there were 2500 miles between Farmington, CT and my new home in UT. The first night I drove from 4pm to 2am. The next day was from 6am to approximately 10pm. The next day was from 5ish to 7pm and the final day was from 430am to 9:30am. For many of those hours of driving, I sat back and listened to Jack Carr novels but for most of Nebraska and parts of Wyoming, I had to drive with two hands on the wheel and with my full attention directed to the road. Both of those states proved the most difficult to drive through with the strength of the steady wind blowing in all directions. I found my 4Runner with a trailer was easily pushed around and when I noticed some larger delivery trucks swaying back and forth while parked on the side of the road waiting out the wind, I needed to worry about my vehicle moving about without my control. Here I thought driving through firearm-restrictive states would be my greatest concern but it wasn’t. I also worried about unsavory folks harassing people like me at “human-watering holes” but that wasn’t an issue and my Glock 48 stayed holstered.  Possibly the only other time I worried was when I spent 2 nights along the way in modestly-priced hotel rooms knowing a lot of value was only a set of bolt cutters away from a criminal looking to steal from my trailer. Luckily that didn’t happen and I returned the U-Haul after a quick car wash that morning I arrived. 

The Takeaways
When I told some people I wanted to drive to UT, they expressed how they would never do that. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t. Perhaps it is the prospect of long hours in a car or perhaps it is the idea of traffic. Whatever the reason, anyone who IS willing to see the country by car/truck/SUV is in for an eye-opening experience. I enjoyed the trip and especially the stops at various highway rest stops. Making small talk with RV drivers while filling up or the waitress at the attached diner to the gas station made the trip worthwhile. I’m sure I spoke to folks on both sides of the political aisle along the way but politics never came up. We didn’t need to bring that up when there were many miles ahead of us on our respective journeys. It’s amazing how civil we can all be when the constant onslaught of the media is shut off from our lives. Along the way, I enjoyed breaking from my usual diet of mostly health food to have the occasional slice of bad pizza to remind me what good pizza tastes like. I found the drive was best in the hours of the day or night when most people who work 9-5 jobs were home from work. Overall, I would do it again and I have already told myself I’ll have to if I want to bring out the items I left with my family before I left.

There is a reason certain states are called “fly over states” but honestly I would love it if more people took the time to drive through them. I took mostly I-80 across the country and I actually look forward to taking I-70 next time or even a more southern route. America is a country with so many diverse landscapes and in an era when COVID-19 limits where you can travel by air, you have the option to see this country by land if you want, if you are willing. You don’t have to travel all the way across the country to see someplace new. Just find a cool location on a map and go. It’s cliche but the destination is only part of the trip. The journey is really what it is all about. 




Kevin Estela
Kevin Estela

Author

Kevin Estela is a Survival Instructor at Estela Wilderness Education. Kevin is a frequent contributing writer for publications such as RECOIL, Athlon Outdoors, and Beckett Media. He is a Sayoc Kali Associate Instructor Level 5, as well as a BJJ Purple Belt.



3 Responses

John
John

February 02, 2021

I left public school teaching a number of years ago, and it was the best career decision that I’ve ever made. I miss some of the students and the subject matter, but that didn’t outweigh everything else. I’m sure you know what I am talking about. Good luck.

Mike Travis
Mike Travis

January 29, 2021

It’s sounds like an epic trip. I drove from PA to Montana shortly after graduating from college. There’s nothing else quite like seeing America from the ground.
Thanks for sharing !

Ed Gordon
Ed Gordon

January 29, 2021

Great story and I can see why you were successful as a teacher for 15 years. Good luck on your new endeavor, enjoy Utah!

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