I’ve spent the last few weeks chasing a story about WWOOF in the Bay Area. A hundred miles made their way onto the odometer. Five truly captivating people have made time to talk to me. Dozens of pictures have been taken.

I expected an emphasis on learning the how-to’s of agricultural life, but what I found was that this organization focuses on connection more than lessons. Openness to new people and new situations is key, and the community will open up around you if you let it. You may be learning how to tend animals or bring in a harvest, but what you’re taking away is a better ability to communicate.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been dreaming of a year-long road trip that visits each of the 48 contiguous states. I imagined I’d WWOOF along the way, camping in National Parks and couch surfing with interesting people. I’ve started drawing up a map. I’ve considered mileage, gas money, how to pack the car.

Tonight I made the first concrete step towards my plan. I paid for my WWOOF-USA membership and I contacted two hosts. I’m hoping to hear back soon so I can keep moving forward.

Here’s to leaving San Francisco on January 31, 2016 and spending the next 365 days on the road.