THERE IS AN OLD QUOTE, often attributed to Buddha, that states: “Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” It is a sentiment that we often strive for, yet many of us fall short, especially when it comes to the daily commute.
So for a little guidance, we’ve tracked down a few guys who enjoy and find inspiration in their journey to their epic jobs. You won’t find them crowded in a noisy subway car or sucking down exhaust fumes in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Instead, you can often catch them on the road less traveled—sometimes never traveled—even when it means sharing the route with a grizzly bear.
From biking to a new borough to hopping a plane to a new destination, their routes just might inspire you to upgrade yours in the process.
SEAMUS MULLEN, CHEF
Homebase: Brooklyn, New York
The Office: Gotham West Market, New York
The Ride: Sycip Touring Bicycle
Duration: 15 minutes
Seamus Mullen opened the doors to his restaurant Tertulia about seven years ago, and until closing this year, it remained one of New York City’s best. These days, he has transitioned his focus to whirlybird + greens, a casual spot which is sourced from small farms. Keeping an innovative kitchen going is not easy work, and after a health scare, Mullen completely overhauled his life, which included his commute. Mullen rediscovered his love of biking and now rides to work every day, in every season. The freedom of being on a bike allows Mullen to make a stop for fresh produce when a dish comes to mind.
What makes biking better for you than other means of transportation in the city?
The thing I love about riding my bike is instantly my commute is now enjoyable and not a pain. I feel in control, not stuck in a subway car with a bunch of strangers. You are moving your body so you are feeling better that way with the exercise. Sometimes you will catch a little sun on your face.
What do you listen do on your ride?
I listen to a lot of podcasts. Right now I am putting on Pod Save America or The Daily pretty religiously. The Daily is perfect for me because it is just the perfect amount of time for my commute. Sometimes if I’m stuck on one, I’ll make my ride a little longer so that I can finish the episode.
The thing I love about riding my bike is instantly my commute is now enjoyable and not a pain. I feel in control, not stuck in a subway car with a bunch of strangers.
How many bikes do you have?
I have a few, but right now I mostly ride a custom townbike that my buddy Jeremy Sycip made. It has a commuter set on it, a touring bike with mountain bike handlebars and a rack. It is the perfect bike to commute with. I also have a Brompton foldable bike that I will take if I know I am going to a late dinner or the weather is rough. That way I can throw it in a taxi if necessary.
Ever take a detour?
I run into people I know every time. I will pull over sometimes and grab some coffee on my ride. There is just a tremendous freedom to being on your bike; you aren’t beholden to anyone else’s schedule.
PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, DIVER
Homebase: currently Al Wajh, Saudi Arabia
The Office: Red Sea, Indian Ocean
The Ride: Panga Boat
Duration: for now, 90 minutes
Philippe Cousteau, Jr. grew up with seawater in his blood, being the grandson of legendary undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau. The California native now spends his days furthering the work of his grandfather and diver father Philippe Cousteau, Sr. He does this through educating with his organization EarthEcho International, his Travel Channel show Caribbean Pirate Treasure, and various scientific studies. Having the ocean as an office means Cousteau’s commute usually includes an early morning cruise over crashing waves. So if the coffee doesn’t wake him up in the morning, then perhaps the sea spray will do the job.
How would you describe your current commute?
The biggest thing about a commute on the water is that it is never the same. The ocean is an unpredictable place. One day, we are sailing on soft blue water, the breeze in our hair. The next it is cold, rainy, rough, and tossing us around like we are toys in a tempest.
What do you love about being on the water?
The freedom. The oceans have been the cross roads of civilization for millennia, our highway to new adventures. I believe the ocean speaks to our soul and reminds us that anything is possible.
How do you prepare for it?
The first thing that I do is checking the weather. It is important to know what you are getting into and make sure you have the right mindset, the right gear, and the right people around you.
What piece of gear do you absolutely need for that trip?
The conditions on the ocean can change in an instant. So having water to drink and a waterproof jacket in case the situation gets rough is always smart. No matter how good a swimmer you are, I always have some sort of flotation device available.
The freedom. The oceans have been the cross roads of civilization for millennia, our highway to new adventures.
What do you like about your commute now?
I have recently been doing a lot of diving in the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia. This year is the 75th anniversary of my grandfather co-inventing the aqualung, and in the beginning, he spent a lot of time in the Red Sea. I am returning there to work on some very exciting projects that offer hope for the restoration of our oceans.
How would you describe the dives in the Red Sea?
The reefs in the Red Sea are some of the last healthy coral left on Earth. If there is a Garden of Eden, it is a Red Sea coral reef. It’s the most beautiful thing to behold and with all the bad news about the health of our oceans, it is so refreshing to visit a place that is still thriving.
BOONE SMITH, BIG CAT TRACKER
Homebase: Preston, Idaho
The Office: Southeast Lands, Idaho
The Ride: GMC Sierra pick-up truck
Duration: *the time is takes to chase down a mountain lion.
Boone Smith spends his days chasing animals that are used to doing the chasing. Coming from a long line of big cat trackers, Smith has been internationally recognized for his work and was hired on as an on-camera expert by National Geographic. Despite being the occasional television personality with a crew of cameras, he is more used to being on the pursuit solo or with his hunting hounds. Over the course of two decades, Smith has been sent to track jaguars in Brazil, snow leopards in Afghanistan, and pumas in Patagonia. But a lot of his work is done right in his own backyard: in the mountains of Idaho. That means getting to wake up in his own bed, round up the dogs, and jump in the truck to start the chase.
How early are you waking up for the chase?
On a typical day I will be up at 3 in the morning and get right out the door. I start off in the truck and maybe a snowmobile in the winter to cover as much ground as possible. Sometimes I will jump off and do a quick little hike through the woods until I find some tracks. Once I have tracks, I go by any means necessary to gain some ground, or “freshen up the tracks” as we call it.
How do the dogs like waking up then?
They dig it. They race me to the truck. They are bombing to get in the back. This is what they live for. They know when they are going to work. They can spend days roughhousing with my kids and playing around, but when we get into the field, they are all about business.
On a typical day I will be up at 3 in the morning and get right out the door. I start off in the truck and maybe a snowmobile in the winter to cover as much ground as possible.
Do you listen to anything on the way?
I’ll throw on a little Johnny Cash just to get into the spirit. Once I’m in the woods, I keep my ears open though. I ran into a bear when I had headphones in once so I don’t make that mistake anymore. You have to be able to listen to the woods.
How long have you been doing commutes like this?
I grew up in Idaho, so lived here forever. I can remember going out cat tracking with my dad and my grandpa back when I was four or five years old. That is when I first started getting into cat chasing. Since then it has always been a part of my life.
Beside your gear, do you take anything special out there?
The only luxury I bring: a jar of peanut butter and chocolate, which gives me that little bit of energy encouragement to push through when needed.
How long are you out there?
You have to move until the job is done. If I get lucky, I will get home in the afternoon, but most of the time I am not done until well after dark. Those times it is not uncommon to start a fire so that I can recoup after the long day. Occasionally you don’t have the energy left, so you don’t go home, and camp out instead.
Do you have supplies for overnights?
I go out prepared, but I don’t go out prepared for winter camping. I don’t have a tent or sleeping bag because carrying that is a lot of weight. That means your skillset needs to include being able to build a good fire and a good shelter.
DAVID ASPREY, FOUNDER OF BULLETPROOF
Homebase: Vancouver Island, Canada
Work: Seattle, Washington
The Ride: Single-Engine Cessna 206 Airplane
Duration: 45 minutes
David Asprey, the man behind Bulletproof Coffee, has become one of the most familiar names in the worlds of self-optimization and performance enhancement. So it only stands to reason that the entrepreneur would put deep thought into his living environment and how he commutes to work. The quest for a better life for his family and for himself led to an interesting commute: a border-crossing flight down from the Great North.
When did you make the move to Canada?
I left San Francisco about eight years ago because the housing market was out of control. I wanted to live somewhere that had an amazing environment where I could raise my family, and I just happened to find that in Canada. I was able to find a 32-acre farm on Vancouver Island where we can hike in the woods, grow vegetables, and raise sheep. On the days that I am not able to work remotely, I charter a small single-engine Cessna 206 to our corporate offices for Bulletproof in Seattle.
What do you do during that commute?
The trip takes about 40 minutes and costs around $600, which includes the cars in the city. Sometimes less if I charter along with other people, and it eliminates the headache that commercial flying can be. During the commute, I like to appreciate nature and marvel at how beautiful the scenery between Vancouver and Seattle really is. I enjoy that time up in the air.
During the commute, I like to appreciate nature and marvel at how beautiful the scenery between Vancouver and Seattle really is. I enjoy that time up in the air.
Have any profound experiences on that commute?
My daughter came along with me one day and there just so happened to be a rainbow that appeared above the clouds. It was the first time she had seen anything like that, and it was amazing to experience that with her.
ERIC HINMAN, ENDURANCE ATHELETE AND ENTREPRENUER
Homebase: Denver, Colorado
The Office: Boulder, Colordao
The Ride: Tesla
Duration: 30 minutes
Eric Hinman is one of those lucky guys who can call being outdoors his job. His hobbies as a Crossfit and Ironman competitor set him on a course to work in the fitness landscape as an entrepreneur. Hinman opened a few health-focused restaurants in his hometown of upstate New York before making the move to the mountains of Colorado, where he currently works with various nutrition brands. Not to mention, he gets the chance to find the perfect place to cut up some bike trails on his drives through The Flatirons.
What do you enjoy about driving through Colorado?
Colorado is a mecca when it comes to hiking, running, mountain biking, and outdoor living. There is always a kind of activity that I can do anywhere in the area. Every drive that I do in the state is incredibly scenic. I believe getting to take in that kind of nature on a daily basis is good for the soul. The drive into Boulder from Denver is especially beautiful. When you hit four miles out from Boulder you just see all of the Flatirons, Chautauqua, and all the mountains in the Front Range.
How does the commute usually play out?
First stop is Heil Valley Ranch, a pretty amazing mountain biking trail that is just about 10 minutes outside of Boulder. Once I finish that I will usually do a trail run of Mount Sanitas, which can take anywhere around an hour.
Do you listen to anything on the drive?
I like to crank a little hip-hop music, the standards like Tupac, Biggie, Kanye, and Jay Z. I have been really getting into Drake’s new album.
How does your Tesla handle Colorado?
I have converted my Tesla in an adventure vehicle that is usually full of gear, smells of sweat, and is covered in mud. I love the autopilot feature on the highway, being able to be more productive than if you were fully in charge of the drive is a great benefit for me. The only drawback is there aren’t as many charging stations as I would like just yet, but I am usually able to work ways around it.
The drive into Boulder from Denver is especially beautiful. When you hit four miles out from Boulder you just see all of the Flatirons, Chautauqua, and all the mountains in the Front Range.
What do you do when the car is charging?
I plan it out so that I will use that opportunity to do some kind of Metcon workout, and maybe a set of handstand push-ups. By the time it is finished charging, it’s time to commute back—usually a little after rush hour.
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