“I bought a ticket with a little help from my tax return, and made it a ‘no going back’ situation..”
“..had the ticket, so now I had to go, regardless of how my funds were once that date came”!
Set yourself up for inability to fail, and go…
Freaking take a chance on yourself.
And it worked out.
“Confidence comes with experience, experience involves taking on the unknown, & taking on that unknown takes confidence.
Cheers to those who don’t run from the fear of not knowing, but instead take the opportunity to stand up to that feeling head on, knowing in return they will receive the experience needed to build the confidence wanted, to continue exploring lifes constant unknowns”. – Jake Shafer
Typically when we say “it worked out” we often refer to the fact that we had fun, didn’t die and didn’t run out of money.
“How was the trip?”
“Glad it worked out”….
What about all of the unique and interesting people you met, what about the story where you almost got attacked by the worlds most poisonous spider. What about how you lived and worked on a farm with people who spoke zero english. What about all of the beautiful women you met in Montinita and the breathtaking beaches you walked.
“While cutting some trails through the tropical coast of Mompiche I came across the worlds most deadliest spider. Thanks to a friend I met in Alaska, Mackenzie, she told me all about this spider and how when its frightened, or in attack mode it will lean back on its legs, sticking its front legs straight up. After kicking a stick at the spider that was in front of me, it jumped onto its back legs, and then I knew exactly what type it was and its deadly nature. So I snapped a pic and walked away with no bites” said Jake.
The above are just a handful of Jake’s latest experiences that you would never know about if you kept a conversation with him to the surface.
Next time you ask somebody how their latest voyage was, I challenge you to dig deeper.
That plane ticket Jake purchased was to Ecuador.
“I wanted to visit another country in South America. I started researching Ecuador only because it was one that I haven’t heard much about, turned out there were a bunch of sweet Volcanoes, along with jungle, rainforests, beaches, mountains, everything I knew I would enjoy exploring” said Jake.
And that was that.
Jake spent a little over a month and a half in the “Republic of the Equator”.
His brother Drew spent the first two weeks exploring with him, until Drew left him to do the rest of the trip solo.
“[My] favorite place to party, was Montinita, beautiful women, beautiful beaches, big parties, and the surf was good (even though I’m not a good surfer)” Jake told me.
“[My favorite non-party area, definitely Mompichi. Learned so much about myself, and being able to work on that farm gave me some very cool experiences, I know I could only get being there”.
Jake worked on a farm in Mompichie with a crew that spoke zero english. He said, “My Spanish skills were not that to brag about, so working with them and communicating with them was quite the task”.
Would that be the end for you, would you give up in this situation, or would you find a common interest and work through it?
“Seeing how we all smoked pot, that helped the situation quite a bit, we were always on the same page, even if we didn’t speak the same language” said Jake.
Fuel the light. Find a common interest. Bond. And work from there.
“It was a lot of fun” he said, “and by the end of it, I could understand them, and they could understand me…”
Of course that began as a struggle and there were others. “Not having a lot of money, made traveling, and everyday a little harder”, but Jake worked through them all.
“I learned that in sink or swim situations, that I’m a fucking swimmer. And also that I have a weak spot for empanadas, and ice cream sandwiches” – Jake
Solo travel teaches you instinct, it teaches you what you are good at in times of panic, where you struggle and how you will handle yourself in difficult times, but what it does not offer you is a tunneled vision of where you see yourself in the future.
I personally do not see that as a bad thing.
I asked Jake where he saw himself five years from now.
“Haha, who knows!” he said. “But I will give it a try. I’ll be thirty in five years..and as much as I love rambling around and traveling, I would also like to have a family and a house to call my own”.
Family is important to Jake.
Jake recently spent some post-Ecuador time in his hometown of Leonard, Michigan rebuilding a roof with his Dad, before heading back to Keystone, Colorado for another winter on the slopes as life operator.
Jake’s “pop” is his favorite person he has met, even after all of his travels.
“I hope I can be half the man that dude is” Jake said.
“He is hands down the coolest dude I know. I learn, and continue to learn so much from him, and I know I’m not the only one that looks up to him. The way he carries his character, it is something to be proud of”.
However, both of his parents keep him motivated.
“Having them support my lifestyle is what gives me the strength to live it”.
“Maybe five years from now I will be closer to building my own house and looking for a family to share it with” said Jake.
“But either way, wherever I am in five years I know I will be happy, because the next five years are going to be a direct result of doing what I love, and spending it with the people I love”.
Ecuador is only Jake’s latest adventure.
It all began with a post high school road trip. Jake’s parents asked if he wanted a new lap top or a chunk of his schooling paid for, but he had a different idea.
“How about helping me get my truck road trip ready, and a new tent and sleeping bag” Jake responded.
Jake still remembers the grin on his dad’s face, and the respected “have fun!” from both of his parents when he called them from across the country, informing them he wasn’t coming home anytime soon, because “there was just too much to see”.
And it did not end there.
“I am constantly buying and selling new rigs. My favorite would have to be the 1979 Chevy Hop Cap RV with orange shag carpet that me and my brother travelled the country in for a summer”.
As if Jake’s spirit for adventure hasn’t inspired you enough already, let me tell you about his most life changing decision he has made so far.
“The day I decided to move to Keystone for my first year running lifts, instead of accepting a big job in the Oil Industry four years ago” he said.
“[I] got offered a job working for a pipe laying company out in Eastern Colorado. Would have been a 70k a year job, instead I said ‘naw, I think I want to snowboard for a season first, then maybe next year I’ll start that big job'”.
Well it has been four years, and Jake has continued bringing himself to the job he loves on the ski mountain in Keystone each winter.
“My life would be very different had I accepted that Job”.
I asked Jake to pick one thing he could do everyday for the rest of his life.
“Snowboard, no doubt in my mind”.
He could live off of cheesy potatoes, “the way my mom makes them”. Coffee over tea any day, and he doesn’t know what wine is. “Beer all day”.
Jake loves his wanderlust ways, his vagabond lifestyle and feeding his constant hunger for adventure, but there at indeed things he misses about living a more grounded lifestyle.
“I think the things I miss most about living a nomadic life will in return pull me back into a less nomadic life”.
“I do constantly travel, season to season depending on which way the wind blows…but I don’t see myself doing that for there rest of my life. I eventually want to plant some roots”.
Incase you don’t think booking a ticket to Ecuador on a whim, turning down a 70k a year job or almost getting attacked by the world’s deadliest spider isn’t crazy enough, let me tell you about Jake’s bull riding days.
“One of the craziest things I’ve done was getting on the back of an 1800 pound beast. Thanks to the adrenaline rush it will be one of those crazy things that I will definitely do again” Jake said.
“Whenever I’m with people I love, I’ll be at home” – Jake