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ZDXP – What You Should Know & Frequently Asked Questions
Below are questions I was asked during my adventure…
Note: Many of these questions came about because of (and are directly related to) the Choose-My-Adventure Project that I was involved with for the first year of my adventure.
But then one day all this “stuff” became known as “The Zero Dean Experience”. The name came about because I needed some way to distinguish what I was doing from my former “traditional” life. And “The Zero Dean Experience” seemed like a fitting title since what I was doing was all about the experience (my own personal journey and the interactive experience I shared with others).
The problem is, it was always kind of weird for me to refer to it as “The My Name Experience”. And as much as I think capitalizing on the uniqueness of my name is a good thing (I mean, I deserve some perks for surviving grade school, don’t I!?), it also felt tad (just a tad!) egotistical — especially considering I’m not even reality-tv or youtube famous or anything.
So when my *enormous ego (*not really that enormous — it’s only moderately enormous) wasn’t looking, I pulled a “KFC” — which means I shortened it to “ZDXP” whenever (and wherever) possible. And then I felt better about it. Plus, ZDXP is like way easier to type than the Zero Dean Experience!
And when that was done, I ran out and bought ZDXP.tv – yeaaah!
This was all happening during the global economic crisis — I felt lucky to have a job — and although I had some savings, I just didn’t know how far I could stretch it.
Initially, I considering putting my savings toward opening a photography studio (again), but I started psyching myself up to do something a bit more unconventional — which was put my money into pursuing my passions and use that to find a way to make a difference. ZDXP was the answer.
I always thought that there was enough novelty in various aspects of ZDXP that I’d eventually be able to find some sponsors — or perhaps I could grow enough of a following that online advertising would help offset my costs.
Neither has happened (yet), but I am ever the optimist.
If you’d like to see a map of all the places I’ve traveled, the ZDXP GPS Tracker Page has a map with a rough outline of my travel since departing on my journey.
And then there is the detailed & interactive map on Travellerspoint.
Although it may seem to be a selfish gesture, I believe we all have a unique set of talents, gifts, and skills — and I believe using a combination of these things is what allows us to fulfill our unique potential. And it is through fulfilling this potential that we can most give back to the world in a truly meaningful and wholly unique way.
Since my former life had me sitting behind a computer for far too many hours than is healthy socially or physically — it was also my intention to use it as a way to make myself more visible in the world — specifically for my future wife. Yes, it is crazy-cheesy, but as a romantic at heart, I’d be quite content if the results of my actions lead me to meeting my fashionably late mate.
In fact, at this point, I don’t see how they could not. Every day is a step closer.
When I’m done with my adventure — or once I’m able to determine what kind of story it is — I plan to write a book about my experiences .
I also hope to publish a coffee table photography book of photographs taken during my travels.
In answer to the question, “Have you started your book?”
No, I haven’t started it yet. Mainly because I don’t know what kind of story it will be.
My goal is to write about my travels and experiences along the way — and that’s why I am keeping a blog — but because I’m in what feels like Act 2 of this story, I don’t know exactly how everything falls together in Act 3 — and that will dictate what kind of story this is.
Is this a “love story“? — is all of this leading up to the moment where I am face to face with my soul mate — someone I never would have met if I didn’t take those fateful first steps? I don’t know — but I’m hopeful.
So without really knowing how my own story turns out, I don’t know which experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met are most significant to the outcome. I won’t know what my story will be until I feel like I have some kind of resolution — and more importantly, what I feel is a story worth telling.
That’s the most important thing to me — I don’t want to write a book simply to write a book — it has nothing to do with creating a “product”. I want to have a story worth telling that results in a book that I’d actually want to read.
So for now, I would have to say that to some degree, every day since May 8, 2010.
Every day that I’ve kept going — though definitely some days more than others. Especially the days I feel like I did something that made people realize they are capable of more than they once thought. The days I make people think or smile. The days I see people connecting through something I’ve done. The days people see things they may never have had the opportunity to see before. The days I make people spit their coffee — or someone else makes me spit mine from laughing. And every day I don’t quit even in the face of adversity & living beyond my zone of comfort.
- Meeting Jamie Hyneman, from Mythbusters.
- Meeting Mark Zuckerberg.
- Having my mnt bike and road bike stolen with bolt cutters.
- Eating Rice-a-Roni on a moving trolley.
- Hugging a giant Redwood.
- Finding out one of my fans and active followers was terminally ill. — Then finding out that person wasn’t actually a real person.
- Being in my car when someone tried to break into it at night.
- Sleeping on a bag of ice to stay cool.
- Live TV interviews on News9 in Denver and the Sacramento & Co. morning show in California.
- Accidentally destroying my dream laptop with coffee — and many others.
- Being escorted out of Starbuckes by 2 police officers.
- Photographing the creators of AxeCop.
See the ZDXPedia for a much more complete list of my most memorable ZDXP moments.
I think the easiest way to catch up with what I’ve done and what I’m doing (currently) is to read my featured blog posts.
While that obviously leaves a lot of blog posts unread, my featured blog posts are generally the ones that indicate major “events” or provide interesting details or information.
- Canon EOS 5D Mark II (primary)
- Canon EOS 1D Mark II
- Canon Powershot s95 (primary for snapshots)
- Canon Powershot sx20is
- Canon D60 converted to infrared
- Panasonic DMC-GH2 (Micro Four Thirds system)
- Kyocera Event (Virgin Mobile $80)
Samsung Galaxy S3 (retired) HTC EVO 3D(retired) HTC EVO 4G(retired)
Also see: The ZDXPedia for a list of ZDXP related gear that I use.
Even the cheapest hotels cost $50 (average) or more per night — and camping, while cheaper, costs $15-$30.
Now, consider the fact that as of this writing (the last time I updated this answer), I’ve been on the road for 1,074 days — you can see how lodging can be a huge expense.
Cheapest average camping option: $15 x 1,074 days = $16,110
Cheapest average hotel option: $50 x 1,074 days = $53,700
And then there is couchsurfing (yes, I’ve heard of it). While couchsurfing is always a “free” option, in order for it to be reliable, it requires knowing where you are going to be (and when) a fair number of days in advance — and my journey has been much more “organic” in nature than that.
I even considered purchasing a cheap used camper/RV — but realized that I wouldn’t be able to really get off the beaten path if I ever wanted to — plus, I just didn’t want to spend money unnecessarily.
So I looked at what I had and realized I already had a low-cost solution to lodging…
So the answer to “where do you sleep?” is –
I mostly slept in my car.
Yes, in the back of my car — a 2002 Toyota 4Runner SUV.
So yes, both nights before I was interviewed on live TV — I slept in my car.
The night before I was interviewed for Spirituality & Health Magazine — I slept in my car.
The nights before I met Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook or Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters — yeah, I slept in my car.
The nights before I toured Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic, Dreamworks, and a number of other companies — yep, my car.
And dating — *cringe* (I’m not cringing at the dating, I’m cringing at the admission) — yep.
It turns out that if one is semi-intelligent about it, sleeping in one’s car doesn’t really hold a person back from accomplishing most things.
No, it’s not glamorous, but it’s probably not as bad as you think (if you’ve ever slept in a tent on a sleeping pad, then you can roughly imagine how “comfortable” it is).
As far as why many people hear “sleeping in one’s car” and immediately assume the worst, I think it’s because sleeping in one’s car is often associated with stories we hear about desperate people stuck in situations “beyond their control”.
Well, I’m not desperate — I’m “disciplined”.
It has been said that “Discipline is simply choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” And what I wanted most meant making some temporary sacrifices.
So as a matter of working towards a long-term goal, I chose this as one of a number of sacrifices I’ve made to be able to do what I’m doing. But as awful as it might sound, it works. But when I mention “living beyond my comfort zone”, this is certainly one aspect of that — not just in doing it, but in also having to explain it.
But if you think about it, people sleep in automobiles all the time — in RVs, campers, tour buses. Well, this isn’t entirely unlike that. I sleep in relative comfort — I can stretch (sort of). I have a mattress pad. It’s not unbearable — it’s an adventure.
The only real problem I’ve encountered — besides people trying to break into my car while I’m in it (which has happened 3 times so far — and is varying degrees of terrifying) and other safety issues (so yes, it’s dangerous) — is when it’s hot at night. Because whatever the temperature of the air is outside, add a perceived increase of at least 10 degrees F (and little air circulation). Due to both safety and privacy issues, I sleep with all of my windows up, but my sun roof open — and trust me, if I didn’t feel like I had to do that, I wouldn’t.
I’ve slept in temperatures above 100F and below -22F. The Bryce, UT weather screenshot at right was taken at 8:10am — it was reported that the night time temps were -22F. I had a 1 gallon water jug next to me freeze completely solid that night. (I have a great sleeping bag for such occasions — and if they wanted to sponsor me, I would gladly tell you what brand it is).
But as scary (and occasionally terrifying) and as uncomfortable as it has sometimes been (I bought and slept on 20 pounds of ice one night because it was so hot) — it’d be impossible for me to travel on a minimal budget like I have and stay in hotels or campgrounds on a regular basis.
So no, I don’t have access to a lot of common conveniences that many people take for granted…
I have no stove.
No running water.
No changing room.
What I do have is the ability (and willingness) to deal with a fair degree of discomfort and to adapt to my environment. I utilize all that I need to survive as I have (to be clean, to eat…) from other sources.
Outside of the nights in my car, I’ve been hosted by some wonderful people who are following my adventure. And, as of day #465 (the last time I popped in here to update this figure), I’ve slept in a hotel only once on day #10.
EDIT: Since I wrote the above on day #465, I had a follower make reservations for me to stay at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee for two nights for the adventure/experience.
EDIT 2: As of today, I have slept in my Toyota 4Runner nearly 1105 days
However, for ZDXP I decided for the first year that I wouldn’t accept invitations to stay places, but I would actively pursue couchsurfing on my own. I can’t say exactly what made me decide that — I just wanted to have a different type of experience.
Since passing the one year anniversary of my departure, I’ve yet to use couchsurfing.com, but it’s something I’m open to.
As of this writing (day #465), I think I’ve slept on an actual bed less than 10 times since May 8, 2010.
It was also my intention to visit and travel through Canada, but after my first attempt and being denied entry into Canada, I haven’t made a second — but I’d still like to.
If you’d like to get involved behind-the-scenes with ZDXP, you can join the “ZDXP” discussion group on facebook. This group exists to help me work things out with a select group of people interesting in being involved with what I’m doing on a more direct level.
To date, I have received donations that were specifically allocated to the following:
- Dinner and a movie
- A beer
- A rock
- A travel thermos
- A tripod
- A replacement phone when my EVO4G died
- And a few donations towards a replacement laptop after my catastrophic laptop spill.
On day #110 of my journey, while searching for a Bald Eagle companion, I discovered a plush rooster sitting on a shelf staring at me…with those eyes. And he made me laugh — yes, I actually laughed when I saw him.
I thought having a rooster side-kick would be ridiculous. I wanted an eagle, dammit! I picked him up with the intention of having him be a travel companion on a “trial basis”. But within an hour, we were buddies and there was no going back.
Where the name “Plucky” came from:
I didn’t think about it. “Plucky” just sounded like a good name for a rooster. I had no idea it actually means: “Having or showing determined courage in the face of difficulties.” Which sort of goes along with everything I’m doing.
Naming him Plucky was a fortunate accident.
I also figured it would make an amazing addition to my life story if it worked out:
“Man quits job, terminates lease, sells everything.
Embarks on adventure of a lifetime.
Meets woman of his dreams!”
500+ days and it hasn’t exactly worked out that way…yet.
For one, online dating is difficult when you hold a good job with a steady income, live in a stable location, and are basically surrounded by things that are familiar to you. All of these things bring you comfort. Dating only gets more difficult the fewer of those things you actually have.
And there’s an art to writing a dating profile — which most women won’t even read if you don’t pass the “photo stereotyping test”. First you have to be attractive enough to get their attention — then you have to make sure your photos don’t inadvertently say the wrong things about you.
If you pass the photo test, it’s up to your profile to say just enough of the right things about you to compel that person to want to get in touch with you — without saying anything that turns them off.
But then, there are things people should know — for example, if you’re a guy traveling the country, I think you should share that information. But wow — that’s a pretty big obstacle to overcome. For one thing, there’s only so much you can “explain” in a dating profile before you start losing people. Explanations are boring — and in the online dating world, if you sound boring, you probably are boring (even if that’s not even close to the truth).
If there’s anything I’ve gathered from browsing profiles, it’s this:
Women want stability. They want someone ambitious. A man with a good job and source of income. Someone “practical” that they can count on…
Now think about explaining what I’m doing in an online dating profile (here are mine).
There’s really no easy (and entertaining) way to explain that I have a pretty solid work ethic. That I paid off my debts and saved up enough money to do what I’m doing — and that I made it last for so long (ie. I’m “fiscally responsible”).
And the other things that I seen women say they want or how they live — it’s not always true…
Many say they love “adventure” — but when real adventure knocks on the door, they (most often) don’t even answer. A 3 day weekend in Las Vegas with friends is an “adventure”. A cruise to the Caribbean is an “adventure”. But doing anything that involves calculated risk or a bit of discomfort — that’s not an “adventure”, that’s just crazy! Ok — I’m generalizing a bit, but that has been my experience.
And I get it — it’s the “better to be safe than sorry” mentality — but living life to the fullest is about calculated risk. And it’s about having an open mind and living beyond your comfort zone.
So despite the fact that it’s not terribly difficult to look into what I’m doing to discover I’m genuine, it’s kind of a huge hurdle in the online dating world.
I mean for one thing, I’ve been pouring out my heart and soul online for over 500 days. And just doing a search for “Zero Dean” will lead to a whole section devoted to testimonials from women I’ve worked with. I can’t be all THAT bad, can I?
But seriously, you can’t honestly think you’ll find “her” this way?
I can’t say I will — I mean, I’d certainly like to — but I can say I think it’s possible.
I mean, if you look at where I was before I started my journey — working behind a computer monitor in a male dominated industry 6 days a week for weeks on end, I’m a lot more “visible” now than I was then. The difference is, I’m also pretty transient — this has a plus side in that I get a lot more “exposure”, but the downside that transient men are not all that attractive to women looking for stability.
That said, I am completely open to adjusting my priorities in order to make things work out if it seems like the right thing to do.
I also think that even if I have a chance encounter with someone at a coffee shop, we have a magical connection, and then I leave the state the next day, that doesn’t mean there isn’t the possibility of something working out with that person later on. All it takes is the desire and initiative of both parties. Where there’s a will, there’s a way — and I’m certainly committed to making things work (with the right person) from my end.
But even as I write this, my life has already changed so dramatically since I disconnected from my former life that anyone I meet now will already be a direct result of my journey — even if it’s 5 years from now and I’m living in a small town somewhere. My life has been changed.
But I’ve got to know…
Are you super cool? A smarty pants? Got a great sense of humor? Into your health & fitness? And do you suddenly find yourself irresistibly attracted to me — and you’re a woman?
Well then, we should talk!
Where I go specifically will largely depends on suggestions and invitations from people following my adventure. The more people I hear from in a certain city, the more likely it is that I will visit it.
If you would like to invite me to your city, and particularly if you have a challenge or request, all you have to do is ask.
Although I gave up working out during the first 9 months of my trip, I started up again in January 2011 and have been pretty consistent with it since. And since November 5th, 2011, I’ve been doing an hour of cardio every single day.
When I am beyond the range of my gyms, I have found other — uh — “creative” ways to stay clean. At some point — and definitely in my book — I plan on providing more details.
I will admit, however, that there have been times when I haven’t felt entirely — uh — “fresh”.
Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll be invited into a top secret government organization involving interstellar travel (hey, it could happen.)
So hey, even though I don’t know… I do know I will be writing a book. I have to. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And it’s something I’ve got to get out of my system. It doesn’t mean it’ll be any good. I like to write, but it doesn’t mean I’m any good at it. And I hope to get back into photography, too…somewhere. Somehow. The future is very fuzzy. I guess we’ll both just have to wait and see.
I don’t plan on going to Alaska (they wouldn’t let me into Canada anyway). And I don’t plan on starving to death.
I think Robert Anthony explains it better than I can:
Many people use the philosophy of service to others first as an escape from taking responsibility for changing their own lives. They say that their husband or wife must come first; their boyfriend or girlfriend; their church, family or the world must come first. This is nothing but self-deception. An example of this kind of behavior is the person who buries himself sacrificially in a commendable project with missionary zeal when, in truth, he can’t face and eliminate his own problems.
You can’t change the world, but you can change yourself. The only way the human situation will improve is for each individual to take charge of his or her own life. The time has come for you to stop everything else and give total priority to your needs first. This is the only way you will ever be free. Physical slavery is a punishable crime but, far worse, is mental slavery for the punishment is, as Descartes put it so well, “A life of quiet desperation.”
As you begin to search for and follow your joy and excitement you may feel this process appears a bit selfish. There may be other people around you that feel you are being selfish, but that is only because they cannot understand that by allowing you the freedom to find your joy and excitement that this will in turn make it easier for them to find and follow their joy also.
In the beginning having a family around you can at times make following your joy and excitement more challenging. Sometimes following your joy may feel like you are not being practical or looking after your responsibilities. You could subconsciously be afraid that you will end up playing away your time, or indulging yourself rather than looking after your family.
In the beginning it can be a delicate balance, but as time goes on you will be much happier and the quality of time you spend with your family will improve considerably. Also, other things that need to be done will seem more enjoyable when you allow yourself to do them when it feels right rather than when you thought you should be doing them.
As you follow your joy and excitement people will automatically see how much happier you are and how much more you are enjoying your life. This gets their attention and will slowly rub off on them as well. So in the beginning you could possibly receive some resistance from those close to you. This will pass as you become happier and more excited to live each day. Joy is very addictive and draws people towards you. As people see that it is okay to follow your joy and excitement and that it is creative rather than destructive, they will very quickly attempt to bring this process into their own lives.”