Every year during spring break I have a dilemma. As a college professor, I should be working on research. You know, publish or perish. I have no classes that week, and that gives me a perfect opportunity to get a lot done. That’s what most professors do during spring break. Catch up on grading and work on research.

Each year, however, my birthday falls during the week of spring break. So I typically do some research, wishing I was off on a trip. The result? Not a lot of research gets done, but, neither does any adventure. It’s the worst of both worlds.

This year, for my 50th birthday, I decided I was going to do something different. Research was going to have to wait this time. I wanted to live a little. Do something that scared me. It was time for an adventure.

So I got this idea. Actually, I had had the idea for a couple years. But I’d never really done anything with it. I hadn’t even told anybody about it, especially my wife, Julie. Although very tolerant, she doesn’t often find my crazy ideas amusing.

The proposal was to take a tour of the U.S.. Not very novel, right? But there was a catch. You see, I wouldn’t know where I was going. I’d let the ticket clerks at the airlines choose my destinations.

I’d walk into the airport, hand over my credit card, and ask them to send me somewhere. Anywhere they wanted. Charge the card, print the ticket, and hand it to me. Only after the ticket was bought and paid for would I know the destination.

After spending a day or so in the first location, I’d walk back into the airport there, and do it again. For a whole week. The goal was to see five to seven places over seven days, and never choose a single destination. It would sorta be like – Travel Roulette.

When I told my wife about the idea, which I called “The Birthday Project” in an attempt to garner her support, in late February, she was surprisingly agreeable. She said it sounded like a great idea and would be a lot of fun. For me.

She had no interest in going with me on my adventure. It was a little too “spontaneous” for her, she said. But I was welcome to go. Truthfully, I think she figured I wouldn’t actually do it. I’ll explain a little about my fear of flying later. And if I did actually leave, she got a week without me hounding her about crazy ideas. She said go for it.

I, however, didn’t want to go on the trip alone. What fun is that? I wanted to have someone to go on the adventure with me. I figured that, not only would it be more fun to travel with someone, it would be safer. Who knew where I might end up. Traveling with someone sounded like a good idea. At least at the time.

So I called my best friend, Kevin. I knew he’d be interested. He’s always interested in a new idea. I frequently call him to run ideas by him. I call it the – Good Idea, Great Idea game. If the idea I pitch gets a – Great Idea – response, I explore it more. If it’s just a – Good Idea – I let it go. Everybody has good ideas. There’s only time for the great one’s.

When I pitched this plan to him, he said it was a “horrible idea.” Not – Great. Not even a – Good Idea. It was horrible. But, he was in. What could go wrong, he asked. In retrospect, maybe I should have stuck to the rules of the – Good Idea, Great Idea, game.

After he agreed, I told him I wanted to leave that coming Saturday. With spring break fast approaching, I had no choice but to go the following week. He cleared his calendar. We were set.

Read what happens when we set off to play Travel Roulette in the next post here.