The Unexpected


The past two weeks have been a strong lesson in going with the flow, taking things as they come, and dealing with the unexpected.

I bought a car for Roller Coaster Tour just 10 days before tour started. It was in the shop almost every day. Nothing major. Little, annoying things. The A/C. The ignition cylinder. The driver’s side lock cylinder. I didn’t think it could possibly continue so I started the tour on Saturday May 21 as planned.

Everything went well. Until it didn’t.

I woke up Sunday to drive to Indiana, which was cancelled because 2 coasters were closed. Oh well, I could make that up later since Indiana isn’t far from my tour end point in Ohio. So then I decided to head to Chicago where my friends The Swellers were playing a show. It was a hot day. 80F+ and sunny. The A/C broke again. Driving with the windows down is all well and good for an hour. But for 5 hours? It’s not so fun. Oh well, I’d figure it out Monday morning before going to Six Flags.

Monday morning I headed to the car repair shop and they fixed the A/C for $150. As I was turning out of the repair shop my turning signals stopped working. What?! So I headed back. Estimated repair cost? $600. I had already spent $2k+ fixing the car. This was my breaking point. I called my Dad, who had offered to swap cars before the tour started, and we met on Exit 39 of I-94 in Michigan, ~200 miles from Six Flags. Thanks Dad! :)

Sunday was a wasted day. Monday was a wasted day. Finally Tuesday tour began again and things were looking up!

Unexpected Exhaustion

What I didn’t expect was that driving hundreds of miles every day, going on roller coasters, and then writing about the experience would be so exhausting.

“You know what?” I thought to myself. “Don’t post anything to RidiculouslyExtraordinary on Thursday. It’s going to be crap because you’re stressed beyond belief. Relax a bit from all these early tour SNAFUs.”

And so I didn’t post anything that Thursday. Even though I currently have 67 draft articles in various stages of completion and could have easily posted one of them. I decided to give The Insider’s Guide To Building Your First Road Bike some extra front page exposure. As I’d determined previously, skipping one day of posting isn’t a big deal. Except when one day turns into two turns into more.

Thursday came and went. And then Monday started creeping up. But I had driven 700 miles on Sunday and didn’t feel like writing anything for Monday. I did have some notes from the road, but nothing coherent.

“Ehh, I’ll just write tomorrow,” I lied to myself. Because “tomorrow” was another 500 miles of driving and I knew I’d be exhausted. And then I remembered Monday was a US Holiday. “Ehh, don’t post on a Holiday, it’s not going to get any traffic. Post Tuesday instead.”

“Tomorrow” is much like “some day.” And we already know, based on Life Lesson #11, that some day never comes. Sure enough, Tuesday came and went.

The First Big Tour Scheduling Conflict

Yesterday (Wednesday) I headed towards Federal Way, WA and Wild Waves theme park. It was raining, but I now know that parks keep rides going unless there is lightning. I called Wild Waves about getting a free ticket and they called me back to say “Hey Karol, this sounds great, but we’re not open this week.” Oops! A scheduling conflict was bound to happen and I put buffer days into my schedule for such a thing, but there was no buffer for Wild Waves. I would be heading to Portland for a conference immediately after.

What did I do? No sense getting upset. “Ehh, there is nothing I can do about this now. What can I do today instead?”

“Seattle, Seattle, Seattle … what to do in Seattle? Experience Music Project!”

As you may or may not know I started playing guitar because of two people. Kurt Cobain and Tony Iommi. The first song I ever learned was All Apologies by Nirvana, before I even owned a guitar. And so I headed to Experience Music Project, not expecting anything besides a Jimi Hendrix museum. I got there and what did I see?

What a nice, unexpected, surprise!

I already had a plan to go to Aberdeen, WA (Kurt Cobain’s birthplace) on my way to Portland on Thursday. This added something a little extra to it.

The Big Takeaway

Does dealing with the unexpected make us stronger? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s very rare that things go as planned, but I believe everything will go exactly as I plan it anyway. There isn’t much sense in expecting things to go wrong.

I don’t believe in “expect the unexpected.” Expecting things to go well feels better. If something goes wrong I can deal with it then, but at least my mind isn’t occupied with negative “what if” scenarios.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I do know one thing. I expect everything will be just fine. ;)


  1. In an ideal world, you’d be able to take trains and buses to every roller coaster, and then you’d be able to recover between stints, watch the world go by and keep the ol’ blog going like Chris Guillebeau did.

    What about dictating your thoughts while you drive? Pin a cam to the rearview mirror and YouTube your posts? Karol Gajda: Raw!

    Be happy. Eat your vegetables. Drink lots of water. Hang loose. Enjoy WDS :)

    • Thanks Meg. When I wrote “notes from the road” I meant my thoughts on video. No way I’d be able to write and drive! :)

  2. Travel fatigue is something I have to deal with all the time. I’ve been in Europe now almost two months going non-stop and I’ve barely had time to write anything. There is a big difference between content creation (writing/photo editing) and content gathering (visiting things).

    There really is no solution to the problem. You can travel and you can blog, but you can’t do both at the same time.

    • I forget just how intense travel fatigue can be. I swore it off after traveling around Australia and New Zealand 100 days. It was far too much moving. But this is a special project and it’s worth it. :)

      “You can travel and you can blog, but you can’t do both at the same time.” – It’s possible, it’s just a little more difficult.

  3. It is indeed exhausting to be in so much motion, constantly driving long days to get to a destination and keep up with some semblance of a schedule. Oh, and try to fit in a work day too (whether that be blogging, coding, photo updating, tweeting, etc.)? Yup.. know that all too well. And a big reason why we’re loving a slower pace of travel, and intend to keep it this way as much as possible.

    Also sounds like you’re getting a good dose of Nomadic Serendipity and rolling with the punches :) Go you… and enjoy the heck out of this trip!

    Wish we were going to WDS… heh, and our own nomadic serendipity will actually have us arriving in the Portland area in the next week or so (via Amtrak) on our vintage bus hunt.

    • Ahh, Nomadic Serendipity! I like it. Thanks Cherie. :)

      It’s funny that I thought driving would be my “time to think and formulate blog posts.” It’s just not an environment conducive to creativity.

      Good luck on the vintage bus hunt!

  4. “Man plans. God laughs.” You have more stamina than I might have in those circumstances. What can you do but learn something profound about life?! Or just take a nap?!

  5. Oh, don’t I know about everything of which you speak. The fatigue just from driving. The goal to balance the traveling with the documenting with the writing with the living. The car troubles and how they just won’t quit. The scrambling to make it work. The constant flexibility in the face of unexpected change, and the occasional frustration that things refuse to go your way. The relentless optimism that it’s going to turn out fine, no matter what.

    It’s all worth it in the end, for sure; you just have to keep a constant eye on the goal, while also being careful not to lose total sight of reality. You’ll know when you’ve gone off track, pun intended, and you’ll know when you’re still okay, even if it’s just barely. Good luck. And by all means, don’t forget to have fun.

  6. Hey Karol, sorry to hear the last week has been so rough. I always like reading your updates though. Hope you’re having fun at WDS – I’m jealous, I didn’t hear about it until way after it was sold out. Hope it’s a kick ass weekend!

    • Hey Elana, it was an adventure. Sometimes those can be rough, but they’re usually worth it. :) Thanks for your support!

  7. Life is full with the unexpected. It really depends on what our mind set it as. If things is all expected, then life isn’t as fun as it is, it’s the “mysterious” part that keep things interesting.
    At least, that’s what I believe and told myself about the unexpected. :p
    Do enjoy your journey Karol. :D

  8. Hi Karol,
    Hope you are well.
    I think life is most definitely full of the unexpected. Life can be a lot like a roller coaster at times, so even if you miss one on your tour or the ride is closed, you can feel satisfied in the knowledge that your always on the worlds biggest roller coaster ride = life ;)

    Glad your week ended on a good note with the Nirvana exhibition. I grew up
    listening to them and Kurt inspired me to pick up the guitar too.

    Hope your having a great weekend nd i look forward to some more updates :)
    take care,

    • Calum, thanks for realizing what the coaster tour is about. “Life is a rollercoaster.” The tour is a metaphor and an attempt at inspiring others to dream big and dream weird.

  9. I don’t know if dealing with the unexpected makes us stronger, but it certainly sometimes takes us to where we need to be! I keep reminding myself that some of the best things in my life have come from unexpected moments, chance meetings, and happy accidents. If everything had gone exactly according to plan, I doubt I’d have had half as much fun! :-)

    Or maybe it HAS all gone according to plan….?

    • “If everything had gone exactly according to plan, I doubt I’d have had half as much fun.” – Bam! There it is. Thank you Brian.

    • Perhaps. But that doesn’t work for me. I expect what I expect. Sometimes things don’t pan out. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they turn out better than expected.

  10. Uggh! Karol, you should have been here (Seattle) THIS weekend! Finally had some decent weather! I’m not sure if Wild Waves was open this weekend, though. I drive by it every week day and Friday it was still dead. I lived in Federal Way for about 10 years and still have never actually gone.

    There used to be a wicked little roller coaster near the Space Needle, but I’m pretty sure that was gone ages ago. :(

    If you ever get back to the Seattle-Tacoma area and need a hand with anything, let me know. Happy trails!

    • Yes, I was in Portland and the weather was fantastic. It was a great weekend. :)

      No coaster on the space needle, but I’m going to figure out if I can get back to Wild Waves sometime later in the tour.

  11. I once tried to write on a road trip across the country. I was still working full-time then and writing time was precious. I was certain the trip was my “big” moment to get a lot of work done. Well that didn’t happen. :)

    Enjoy those coasters and I’ll keep reading even if you’re off your schedule for a bit!

    • It’s a lot of work road tripping and working, but it’s worth it. I’m also working on something that hasn’t been mentioned in this article because we’re not ready to announce it yet. But it’s big and fun and will be announced soon. ;)

      Thanks for reading the off-schedule posts Tanja!

      • Another secret! You’ve always got something up your sleeve that you haven’t mentioned yet. It keeps us in anticipation you know. :)

  12. Yeah, sometimes the best experiences happen from the unexpected…sometimes. I guess if you just go with it, you may be taken in a better direction than if you had meticulously planned it yourself. Although, reliable car is a must…

  13. My car died in 2009 and I got $300 for it. So, after spending thousands fixing it over 5 years, I felt glad to be rid of the thing. I feel your pain of all of these car repairs!

    You sound like you need some people to travel with, so that they can drive and you can sleep. Or you could take the bus, and let someone else drive. Might be cheaper than gas prices too.

    We live in community so people can take care of things for us sometimes.



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