A journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single sneeze

It started with the sneeze.


I felt the cool, wet, sprinkles of mucous hit my face.

As I wiped my arm across my face and feigned a smile, the ER nurse of the little boy I had come to x-ray stepped into the room. “I forgot to change the sign. He’s in viral precautions. You’ll probably want a mask.” She says, flipping the beige sign on the door to a neon-green sign that warns of infectious diseases that might be floating in the room’s atmosphere.

“Golly, I sure do.” I said, grabbing a banana yellow mask before turning back to the little boy and his mother. “I thought you were here for asthma, little buddy.”

The mother exhausted and disinterested replied, “We were, but the doctors think he might also have pneumonia.”

I take the x-ray and hurry back to the department to get the image processed and scrub my face clean.

Sitting down at my computer, I open my work email and find a message from my supervisors congratulating me on completing my first year at the hospital.

This shocks me more than a sudden sneeze in my face. It can’t be true. Not me. I’ve never held a steady job. Only adults do that.

But it is true, I check the dates and turn to my wife who has the pleasure of working with me a few nights per week. “Did you know I’ve been working as a responsible adult for an entire year?”

Roberta spins in her chair to face me, “I’ll grant that you have been working for a year. It builds character.”

“Do you realize it has been over a year since we were enjoying ourselves in Southeast Asia?”

“I realize it has been over a year since I’ve been stung by a jellyfish, fallen off the back of a motorcycle, or had food poisoning.”

“It builds character.” I reply, but she isn’t listening. She is also thinking about sandy beaches, snorkeling in clear blue waters, and drinking Choconuts in a hammock.

“We need an adventure.”

Roberta looked half convinced but shook her head, “We’ve finally got full-time jobs, an apartment, some money-” The arrival of a patient and her nurse at the department interrupts her. “I’ll take this one.”

As Roberta went into the exam room, I opened the internets and typed “adventure” in to the search bar. I paused a moment and did a brief mental scan of all the places that intrigued me. The mental wheel came to a stop. I typed, “Mongolia.”

A moment later the results splayed across my screen and I knew exactly what I was going to do. Now I just had to convince Roberta.

It didn’t prove that hard.

“Wablaaachuuuu!” I heard echo from the room, followed by, “Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to mark that she is in viral precautions. You might want a mask.”

A moment later Roberta stomped back into the core of the department wiping at her face. “Get me out of here, anywhere, anyplace.”

Three days later we signed up for and paid the entry fee for a 10,000 mile road rally from London England to the Ulaanbataar, the capital of Mongolia.