My workbench

My workbench

Friday, December 11, 2009

Penn station

I had an amazing privledge last night.  While waiting at Penn Station for my $1.50 bus to Boston to arrive, I noticed an older woman trying to get help from a few passerbys.  She was speaking in a foreign language, and as she approached me I recognized it as some form of Arabic.  Now, my Arabic is CRAP.  A few words is my limit, barely enough to communicate.  Still, I know what it's like to be lost in a transit station, where nobody speaks your language, and you just want to get out of there.  While unable to properly communicate, I smiled as sweetly as I could and motioned for her to stay put.  I walked around to various different Amtrak officials, asking if anyone working in the station might speak Arabic.  Naturally, all looked confused, stating quite certainly that nobody spoke Arabic and that they couldn't help.  The transit police booth stood empty, another dead end (where's a cop when you need one?!).  I collected the woman and walked over to the service desk, where she showed her papers to a customer service rep.  The rep realized that she was trying to collect her luggage, and sent us over to the luggage claim area.  Closed.  I asked a nearby janitor what we should do, and he pointed to the next stall over, where a gentleman was standing behind a desk.  I motioned for the woman to follow me, and explained to the man behind the desk that the woman was trying to collect her luggage.  She gave him the tickets and luggage tags, and he dissapeared to a back room.  A moment later he returned with two large rolling suitcases, and she was overjoyed.  "Shukran, Shukan," she said to me (Thank You in Arabic).  Next, she wanted to go and find the taxi stands (I now know why).  We took the elevator up...and waited.  She pulled out a piece of paper, which had a cell number written on it...in Arabic.  Sadly, I've forgotten my Arabic number system (SHAME), but she punched in the number.  I spoke to a man, whom said that he was waiting at platform 11.  We took the elevator down, and soon enough the woman was reunited with a man and a young boy, whom I assumed to be husband and son.  He thanked me many times, and I was overjoyed to see the smiles on her face.
Often, the greatest reward for helping someone is just that, helping them.  She also gave me a backage of dried figs (they taste great!) and a redbull (ehh) which she had in her bag.  As I mentioned, I know what it's like to be in that situation, and I would certainly hope that someone would help me out the same way.  Come to think of it, more than once folks have gone out of their way to assist me in foreign countries, especially Egypt and eastern Europe.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FLIGHT

Jan 25th, from LAX to Hong Kong via Taipei.  $466, one way. 

I found a flight on Etheopia Airlines for $153 from Hong Kong to Bangkok on the 1st of February. 

I won't be traveling with a return ticket.  I spoke to Zsuzsanna last night, and I think it would be hella fun to go clean RTW and head back through Europe.  This, of course, incurs additional cost, but I'm not truly worried about that.

...Maybe I can make the 3rd European HHing festival...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dreams for the future...

Rubber Tramps.  That's what they call folks whom live out of a vehicle.  Currently, I'm a Leather tramp, as I move by foot (and usually thumb).  Hobos ride the rails, but that's just not my thing long-term.  I've tried out a few different methods of travel, from long-distance hiking to busses, hoboing the rails a few times and as I am mostly known for, hitch-hiking.  I certainly don't want to give up my hitch-hiking ways, but it seems that, for my greater purpose of travel, I may desire a car.

That's right, I'm thinking about buying a car.  A nice Toyota wagon, I think.  Something inexpensive, reliable, smallish, discrete, and yet big enough to be home. 

The possibilities flood my mind like a tidal wave:
I would be able to carry a cooler, which means fresh food and cool drinks
BOOKS.  Like I've never been able to carry before.
TOYS.  Electronics, my laptop, camera, hammock, soldering iron, RISC programmer...the possibilities are nearly endless.
The freedom to go where *I* want, up into the hills, the mountains, exploring and adventuring far and wide.
The ability to, in some ways, repay the karma I've accrued, picking up and helping out hitch-hikers that I see.
And the ability to truly go off the beaten track.

In some ways, I'm afraid of losing track of what I love, the freedom of not having all of the gear, all the toys, all of everything which complicates life.  At the same time, I think this is a good idea, if only for a year.  I've got the means, the method, and the mind.  Who knows what might happen...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Binghamton

"Life is like a box of chocolates..." Well, I didn't get chocolates, but I just finished an amazing chocolate chip cookie, compliments of the awesome woman at Midtown Cafe in Binghamton, NY. Just a day after my misterable re-introduction to New York State, I have met some good folks while awaiting my bus up to Utica. Honestly, if I had not already called and said that I would be arriving today, I would have stayed and chatted for another hour (the Cafe closes early afternoon).
The first guy I met as I walked in saw my pack and immediately tagged me as a hitch-hiker. He shared his own ambitions for hitching around Mexico, as well as a pasty story bisecting Mexico last summer (I think). Afellow couchsurfer, I hope he is listed in the Binghamton CS, so that I can contact him. I chatted with numerous patrons on their lunch breaks, relating some of the ups and down which I have faced along the way. Don, I hope I see you on the road in the future, just to know that you're enjoying your dream of living in an RV, if just for a short time.
This experience truly reinforces my belief in the basic Good inside people, one of the driving forces behind my travels. Also, the Balance, between positive and negative experiences, which cannot be explained has once again presented itself. True, one negative event may cause the next good one to be seen as more positive than not, but either way, I am greatful for the experience. While waiting for my bus, the woman acted as my advocate, actually telling one (rather attractive) young woman "you have arrived just in time! [...] You should begin talking to this young man immediately." I was more than flatterred, though managed (I think) not to blush. So, a truly heartfelt Thank You, for reminding me that great people are everywhere, you just might not know it. I did not mention your name because I didn't have permission; thanks to recieving your business card, I will call tomorrow and check if it's ok.
Here's to a three hour bus ride, to old friends, and those I've not yet met. I share company with a cookie and some excellent cranberry juice, soft music playing in the background. Another day on the journey of life.

New York State

New York blows
Ah, I feel better. Stuck for hours in some backwoods town 90 miles from Binghamton, memories of the various tales of hitching through NYS come to mind. One gent, when he got a flat tire on aa state highway, was cited by state police for not having the proper tools to change the tire. I have had encounters with multiple officers both times I have hitched beyond NYC, as well as having riddiculous waiting times. Friends have spent nights, weekends, or longer in cells waiting to be given a ride out of town and a kick in the rear.
After waiting four plus hurs with hundreds of cars slowly passing, and with adverse weather approaching, I ate a bland flavorless breakfast at a local diner and walked to the bus depot. An incredible fourty dollars will get me 160 miles to my destination. I supremely dislike this place, and don't think I will be returning anytime soon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dancing!

I've only got a few minutes on the library computer here in Springfield, MA, but I wanted to drop a quick note about last night. I was in Northampton, MA at Hampshire College, and had a BLAST at a contra dance with Elise and a bunch of random folks/students from the area.  A really nice gentleman gave me a lift all the way from Burlington to downtown Northampton earlier yesterday morning.

Well that's about all the time I've got.  I'm heading back to Greenwich to relax, shower, and change out some gear.  Hopefully make it tonight, if not tomorrow!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Photopost

Playing around with different ways to post pictures...


Hanging out in Portland (the second time), I had the fortune to again stay with Steph.  Monument square, just down the street from her apartment, had this awesome jack-o-lantern festival thing going on.  It was pretty sweet!








This is the typical view of a hitch-hiker.  While catching a lift with the aformentioned Quebecois dude, I snapped this photo to play around with depth-of-field shots.



When I get more pics uploaded, and permission to post them from friends, I'll post some more

Sunrise over Cambridge


CanadaTrip 264
Originally uploaded by llipschutz
Just, y'know, playing with posting pictures and whatnot.

From Portland to...Meat Cove. Now with extra backpost-y goodness!

Now with bonus material after the break: The Missing Latvia file... (Click "Read More")

Hitching out of Portland was a piece of cake: I took the #7 bus to Falmouth, asked somewhere where the 295 onramp Northbound was, and walked over there. No sooner had I stuck out my thumb than a BIG GMC 2500 pulled over, and I was beckoned in. The driver, Kris, had hitch-hiked when he was growing up in northern Maine, as had his son over the more recent years occasionally. He thought it was complete nonsense that someone would be reasonably afraid of a hitch-hiker; furthermore, as a Mason, he felt obligated to help out his fellow man (I WISH more people thought that way), and gave me a ride halfway to my destination! He's held all sorts of jobs, and even took a slight detour so that I could grab some photos of the gorgeous Maine Coast.

Kris dropped me near Belfast, Maine, where I camped for the night under some very light rain, enjoying the feeling of being back on the road. I would have continued to hitch, but the light was fading fast, and I had a good campsite already with a nearby 24h truckstop (running water, toilet, food if necessary). I was in no hurry, and drifted off to sleep easily.

The next two days saw me hitch a number of rides north to Calais, Maine, where I crossed the border with some suspicion, slept for a night on a root, and in the morning hitched all the way to Antigonish. I hung out there for a day with Viera, staying for one night with a creepy acquaintance of Viera's, and afterward (I was not terribly thrilled with the experience), headed north for some scenery and enjoyment.

Hitching up to Cape Bretton and the Cabot Trail (http://www.cabottrail.com/) was a breeze, one single ride got me over the causeway. Two lifts later got me up to Cheticamp, where I had a quick hot cocoa and sat for a while to enjoy the blowing wind and rocky inland-facing coast. One LONG walk out of town lead me to a small grocery store approximately a kilometer from the entrance to the National Park. After perhaps a half hour of hitching, a young Quebecois dude picked me up and offered a lift. He had a military ruck in the back, and looked like he was in training. As it turned out, my driver friend was attending the Canadian Naval Academy in nearby Sydney, the 'capital' of Cape Bretton.

With my new Quebecois friend, I took a trip for a full 24 hours circling from Cheticamp up to Meat Cove (where we camped for a night), and back down to Cape Ann. Camping at Meat Cove was a HORRIBLE idea, mostly due to the wind, and compounded by the rain and snow which hit our unprotected selves. I managed to survive the night by thinking about the warm, warm sun which would break in the morning and remember that as wet and miserable as I might have felt, I was warm, and therefore the worst that I'd become would be sleep deprived. Eventually I was able to drift off to sleep, occasionally waking due to cold feet, repositioning myself, and returning to sleep.

The second half of the trip will be added with an update

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pictures from the road


NEVER a good sign to see while hitch-hiking...

a frost-covered flower, indication that it's time to head south.


not a bad way to end the day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Portland, Maine: What a wonderful town.

I write this sitting on the #7 bus from downtown Portland to 295 north. My first destination will be Bath, where I will pick up Route 1 for the rest of my journey.

Candi dropped the fourt of us off before rushing to work, a small of joy forming at the corner of her eye as we hugged goodbye. I took a quick picture, and we headed off. My memory of the area was a bit fuzzy, revealed to us when we were greeted not two minutes into our hike by a homebum and his dog on a bike. We explained that we had just dropped in to town, and he gave us a good bit of info on locations, a thrift store, offered his yard for camping, and gave us the atmosphere of the town. He also suggested an alternative route to downtown, as apparently walking the way I had suggested could have proven hazardous. We proceeded down Warren Ave, talking and joking with spirits high and full of optimism about the town. A quick stop at a thrift store netted Andy a new pair of Old Man Shoes, which while not a permanent solution, would certainly help to replace his badly worn and hole-y sneakers.
Walking past a gas station on Forest Ave, we were approached by a woman mentioning 'I think you might be part of my tribe.' She was quite friendly, and though not headed towards downtown, she gave us a lift for the remaining four miles directly to monument square. W didn't have quite enough space, so Andy ended up on my lap. Along the way, we were informed of the [only] local punk house, a few good places to get veggie/vegan food, some local thrift stores, and again given a feel of how portland folks may treat a few travelers. Eva (our lift) even told us about an anarcho-punk circus, which while appealing, won't happen until thursday night. She also invited us to camp at her house in progress, asking half-heartedly if we might be interested in helping she and her partner do some work, as they are building it themselves. I may keep in touch, as I will be returning to the area and it sounds interesting.
The four of us got dropped off at monument square in downtown Portland. I used Andy's phone to call Steph, my and Andy's couchsurfing host. I hoped to also ask if our other two travel partners could crash. A small energrtic Steph approached, gave us her keys, consented to the extra company, and hurried back to work. We spent a few hours cleaning up, unpacking, and exploring the old port for the afternoon. We ended up at Sebago brewhouse for some snacks and beer, leaving just in time to grab Steph (having just finished work) and head to a bar for a couchsurfing meetup.
The CS meetup started with the five of us meeting one other CS dude and ordering beers and some grub, ending with sixteen people and bluegrass music live from ten feet away. Steph and I returned to her place while Andy, accompanied by Adam and Jess, walked down to the old port to meet a friend. We went to sleep before they got home, but had some pretty awesome chats before that. Did I mention that Stephanie is an ECE (electrical/computer engineer)? She's a whole lot of fun.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Maine Primitive Gathering

The MPSS gathering was awesome. I walked from Wells up to the gathering, a short six mile hike out of town to a beautiful old farm. After registering and setting up my sleep area, I walked over and observed a guy skinning a fox which had been roadkill a few hours before. I walked over to the 'fire buddah' and learned how to make and use an Inuit strap drill, which I am now carrying around, y'know, just in case. I watched and learned a bit about flintknapping, starting with a piece of obsidian in my hand, leaving a nice little cut. That stuff is SHARP. My buddy Andy had shown up while I was working on the strap drill, and had introduced me to Other Andy, a friend of...Andrew's (of Florida). Too many Andys! I helped Other Andy rig his tarp.and we all hung out around the pit fire for the rest of the night, talking, swapping info, meeting new folks, etc.
Around 5am the rain started, and continued on and off all day. Despite this, my gear stayed mostly dry. I ate some communal breakfast, and spent Saturday 'networking', meeting friends, getting ideas, swapping stories.and learning. I picked up info on blacksmithing, edible foods, lactofermentation, trading, more flintknapping, how to build a hot propane forge, and a few other interesting skills. I also watched Bob butcher the alarm clock (whom I named Stew), a rooster which had been brought for that occasion. Stew was a good...chicken. And an even better Stew. There wa a potluck Saturday night, with some truly amazing meats (moose, elk, fox) as well as some spectacular food cooked over a fire. More hanging out around the fire, and I called in early, unable to find my flashlight or groundcloth. Naturally, I now have a leak in my Thermarest, but will be heading to EMS to get a patch.
Sunday saw the rain dissapear, and a mostly cloudy day turn to sun. Tomahawks, axes, knives, and the occasional child (kidding) were thrown at wooden targets, while I learned a lot more about flintknapping and cordage making. I helped out with a bit of the cleanup while grazing for hours on home made yoghurt, dumpstered sweet cake, fire cooked bacon, and other small nibble-able snacks.
Too soon came the closing circle. I picked up some good info about an Odwalla depot and a chocolate factory in RI, along with some open invites from folks to visit wherever. Everyone was super receptive to my method of travel, especially mixing technology, primitive skills, and sharing (hitching and couchsurfing). I c n't wait to return. I was also given some info on schools and possible apprentuce opportunities, which could be appealing when I want to learn and settle down a bit.
The four of us 'dirty travelers' (andy, myself, as well as adam and his girlfriend jess) were offered rides to portland the following morning (monday), with an offer to camp in Candi and Marks yard. Jess and Adam are travelling musicians, like Andy out on their first trip (adam has apparently traveled for a bit) and had fun entertraining the three children with music. Candi, Mark, Andy and I had a great disscussion on everything from politics to people, while we scarfed down pizza (perfect after a few days of camping). Mark showed me how to work a drystone, getting my knife razor sharp in the process. The following morning, among Numerous Thanks and apreciation, we got a lift to Portland, Maine.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wells, Maine.

I spent the day in Wells, walking around and waiting for the library to open (naturally, ONLY on Thirsdays, it opened late at 1pm). After seeing the poster for the New Hampshire Brew Festival, I had the inclination to call George and see if he wanted to meet me there on Saturday (Portsmouth). Well, initial plans fell art due to a prior comittment of his; fortunately, the MAINE Brew festival is going to be on the first week of November in Portland. I am going to see if I can perhaps get a small crew (mixing friends, family, and CS) together to enjoy the brews. I need to start making phoe calls (and posts) soon.

Otherwise, it got down to 43 or ao last night.right at the limit of my Switch bag. Without a pad under me, without thermals, I was on the very edge of discomfort. So, I'm pretty confident in my gear, as the flip side is rated to 25 degrees and I've got lots of other warm gear. Now, if someone could simply turn off the rain which is expwcted for next week...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Made it to Maine

Dad dropped me in some little town in western Mass, and my journey began. I walked slowly up RT 13, heading north towards Nashua, NH. The sun was out, with a slight chill in the air even for 9 in the morning. I walked perhaps a mile before my first ride pulled over. A VERY large guy, 380lbs at perhaps 6'5", sat in the drivers seat. "Where yah headed," he asked in that all-too-familiar NH accent. I told him that I was heading to Maine, but was trying to get up to Nashua or RT 3 for the moment. A many do, he told me that I was not on the right road to get picked up (...?), and gave me a lift slightly out of his way to RT 3. He was a fascinating guy, having recently switxhed professions from dealing pot to being a sculptor (he had been busted). He gave me the leftovers from his breakfast, half (cut) of a spinach omlette wrap and home fries. H smiled as we parted ways, saying that he would have given me a lift up to Maine, but he had to go to work.
After breakfast and some sign making, and perhaps a 45 minute wait, I caught a lift with an amateur photographer to downtown Manchester. We discussed the death of the profession of photography due to digital cameras, while acknowledging their usefullness in the field. After a stint at the library, I headed to RT 93, where I quickly picked up a lift with a Mauritanian guy studying at UNH Durham. W had a great chat on society and the differences between those whom have everything and yet cannot be happy (western culture), and poorer 3rd world nations where people have less, but almost always seem happier. Why is this?
I walked from UNH to RT4, briefly thinking about hitching north to North Conway, but kept on my original course. Quickly again I was picked up, this time by a farmer/traveler on his way home and to do errands. He bought me a beer when he stopped for a 6pack (dogfish head Midas Touch), and gave me a ride to Berwick, 15miles from wells at the Maine border. Unfortunately, I left my hat in his truck, but he expressed an interest in the primitive skills gathering, so I may yet get the hat back...
My final ride for the evening dropped me smack in 'downtown' wells, where I had some DQ for celebration and wandered off to camp.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Random night shot


I was playing around with the tripod that Steve got me and my new 35mm f/1.8 Nikkor lens. This is a shot off the deck of Greenwich Hospital, around midnight. (Really I just wanted to test photoblogging on my blog).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Watch the video

http://www.birdsbeforethestorm.net/2009/09/police-state-in-pittsburgh/

Monday, September 21, 2009

A quote from Shoestring...

There are three things it helps to have to be a great hobo:
1.) Have a wishbone
2.) Have a backbone
3.) and have a funny bone

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Arrived

I'm sitting at the train station in Trenton, waiting for my train to Penn Station. I've arrived, am relaxing and soaking in the northeast, again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/opinion/09ehrenreich.html?_r=4&ref=todayspaper

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Krakow! and updates

So I made it to Krakow three days "late". Well, everything has been late, as by now I expected to be somewhere in the middle of Finland. How to describe the excitement and fun of random travel...I don't know.

I have begun typing up the stories of my travels, and I will be posting them back-dated so that they appear as if posted on the correct days. This will make it easier to follow.[

Travel plans update:
As I am wayyy behind where i thought I would be, I don't think I will make it to Norway or Sweden. I am trying to hit Warsaw tonight, unfortunately Remi has just sent me a message that he is on Holiday and therefore I have no real reason to STAY in Warsaw...so I will skip through. My next 'planned' stop is Lithuania, hitching wherever and however I may go. I would like to spend my last week in Amsterdam, and therefore will not be pushing it too hard to get very far.

The past few days have been amazing! I hitched from Budapest north through Slovakia, and was picked up at the border by Marcin and his friend. Instead of giving me a lift to Krakow, he invited me into his home (he's 25), and we have spent the past two days hanging out, drinking beers, eating food (his mother is an EXCELLENT cook), and talking about climbing/snowboarding. This dude is amazing! He also offered me a lift up to Norway in two weeks, right after he is finished his second attempt climbing the Matterhorn! I've been completely awed, and blown away. He only started climbing serious mountains four years ago!

Anywho, I'm a bit confused by the messages from Casa folks, sad that I missed you in Budapest, but if anyone is up my way/heading towards Lithuania, drop me a message on my polish mobile (+48508525930), which now has a correct recharge, battery, etc.

Reese: Sorry, I didn't realize the batteries in our phones were different!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Alive!

Okay, I'm in Budapest, still hanging out/walking around, heading to Krakow and then to meet Remi up in Warsaw, but wakling around with Veira and her friend in Budapest for a bit. I will update some more when I get time to settle down. Also, my phone is currently down, so skype number is the only way to reach me occasionally.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We're going to...Budapest? I think so...

No sooner had we said our goodbyes to Tanya (she had not even left), Viera spotted two Russian priests and asked if they were heading towards Chop, on the border with Hungary. We had decided the prior evening that we would head directly to Budapest, because Cliff and Viera were both meeting friends there (Cliff was going to the Sziget music festival), and I was having so much fun I decided to tag along. The priests let us off 24km from Chop, and after a half hour of debating which direction we should go (Chop and direct to Hungary, or towards Kosice in Slovakia, and then down to Hungary), we headed for Chop. We picked some fruit, got two quick lifts, and were at the border!
SH*T. At this border, as with some others, we were not allowed to walk across, and were required to get a lift in a car. Initially, the border guards were yelling at us to go away, and we spent a fruitless few hours being harassed by locals in an attempt to get us to pay them to drive us across the border. We met a deaf Ukranian trucker, whom I conversed with in a mixture of ASL and gesture-sign (I don't know Ukrainian/Russian sign language), and he said that the trucks were having trouble and would not be able to take anyone across for many hours, and that folks were scared that we were smugglers with our large backpacks. A french hitch-hiker came, got a lift, and left, leaving us hopeful but disheartened. Eventually the border guards changed, and the new guards had no problem with our standing directly at the border. Soon, in fact, they were very slowly approaching cars, giving us (Viera) enough time to politely ask drivers if we could get a lift. I watched locals standing there, waving their passport, and getting lifts across the border, and no sooner did it dawn on me how to get across, a lift for two people was offered. I yelled at Viera and Cliff to get in, while I took up position with the locals waving my shiny blue American passport. A minute or two later, a woman pulled over and picked up a man, and then said something to me. I didn't understand, but tried to open her door, and she quickly reached back and unlocked it. I got in, and was away!
Two hours later, we regrouped on the other side of the border, found somewhere to camp, and crashed out. Viera and I ended up talking in my tent until almost dawn, at which point I'm fairly certain I was a complete Zombie.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tanya, L'viv, Amazing hospitality

Tanya, the woman whom picked up Cliff, Viera and I from Vinnystia and gave us a lift all the way to L'viv, was quite simply an awesome person. She spoke a good amount of English, and wanted to practice with us. She had just been having a vacation in Crimea for a week, and was on her way home. When she heard that we were planning on camping outside of L'viv, she invited the three of us into her home to spend the night, wash our clothes, and relax. She had two daughters, both whom were attending university, and therefore had two spare bedrooms. When we arrived, we made some tea, ate some of my pasta, and crashed. Well, Cliff and Tanya did anyway. Viera and I split a bed, and immediately a deep conversation degraded into a wrestling match. Viera is a LOT stronger than she looks, and it took a good amount of my normal strength, plus some wrestling moves, to stop her from tickling and poking me. Eventually we were both tired out and crashed like cement logs.
The next morning, we woke to a wonderful breakfast being prepared. We were also informed that Ola, Tanya's 19-year-old daughter would be showing up. We washed out clothes (FINALLY in my case, it had been almost two weeks...), and when Ola arrived we all went out for coffee, picking up one her friends from the street on the way. After coffee, Tanya had some errands/work to do, so Ola and her friend took Cliff, Viera and I around the city, seeing the center, some churches, and ending at a small amusement park, where I treated everyone to a few rides (around $0.75/ride). The rain started as we were walking back to the apartment, and so we abandoned a trip to Ola's university and went directly home. That night, we all went to the supermarket (Ola driving, BLASTING some pretty cool Russian rap music) to pick up supplies for Cliff's personally prepared meal. Unfortunately Coconut milk is unheard of in Ukraine, so the taste of the chicken curry was not up to spec (according to Cliff; the rest of us loved it). I crashed before Ola got back from walking around/partying with her friends, and when I awoke, it was morning.
The next morning, after a light breakfast and some packing, Tanya gave the three of us a lift to a petrol station just outside of the ring road around L'viv, a perfect spot for hitching. We had some coffee, took pictures, and said our goodbyes...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Let there be FRUIT!

We woke, and set off on the road. Viera and I set off on our own, giving Tyler the sign for L'viv I had made and wishing him good luck. It seems that he got so cold during the night that he was feeling sick, and thought he might have caught pneumonia! Personally, no disrespect, but I think he was suffering from a combination of cold and alcohol abuse, having gotten so ridiculously drunk the previous night. After an hour or so of no success, Viera and I decided to walk through town and try hitching from the other side (why did I not think about this? I was FAR more interested in our conversation, which ranged from personality problems to stories to experience and everything in between). On the way, we saw some fruit trees, and Viera showed me a bit about recognizing fruit (basically, seeing it on the ground, and looking up) and picking it for then and saving for later. I don't know why I've never really done this, but it makes sense and MAN is it tasty. The only disagreement we had was when a tree was growing inside someone's yard, but the branches stretched to the street. I felt it was inappropriate to 'trespass', while she had no problem with it. In the end, we skipped the cherry tree, and I thought of all of those flowers Mom picks from the 'wild'...
Following the signs for L'viv and Vinnytsia though town, I realized that I was becoming more able to read Cyrillic. The letters were making sense, and I was able to read the signs for businesses, streets, and cities. This made me feel good, as I have always felt that I am horrible at learning new languages. We got a lift on the other side of town, and soon passed friends Chris and Cliff, on our way to Vinnytsia. Viera conversed with our ride in Slovak/Ukrainian, while I smiled and listened. She had begun teaching me basic Slovak, so I practiced the words she had written down for me. We were treated to local treats (coffee, a poppy-seed pastry and a caramel pastry), and then given a bit of a tour, ending up at Werewolf, the WWII German forward base for the invasion of Ukraine.
Attempting to hitch out of Vinnystia, we soon saw three Russians whom we had met at the gathering. I gave hugs to each, forgetting any of their names, and they set off, after telling us they had just walked completely across the city. We did not see them get picked up, but when we walked back to where they had been a little while later, they were gone. Soon Cliff and Chris joined us, their driver nearly hitting me (scaring me intentionally). Apparently he was an old Russian hitch-hiker, and when he got out of the car he was smiling, so I laughed. The four of us went for hot-dogs (I paid for everyone by accident, a whopping 36 krivna, or around $4.50), and soon we were back on the road. Chris expressed a desire to skip Rainbow and simply return to Cluj (Romania), and so Cliff joined Viera and I on our quest to L'viv. Viera and I were still joking with eachother, and quite quickly Cliff joined in, with tickling, poking, sign-whacking, and plenty of other shenanigans as we walked down the road hitching as we went. No sooner had we found a suitable place to camp, then a driver pulled over with space for three, and so we met Tanya. We got in, headed directly to L'viv.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hitting the road with...Viera!

I managed to get a few hours of sleep, once again wrapped up in my tarp, before the warm sun and throng of friends returned. There was quite a commotion when folks realized, some still slightly drunk, that they had been robber, and naturally they were pretty pissed off. Mixed breakfast and goodbyes ensued for a few hours, with people figuring out where they were trying to go and with whom. I talked with Viera for a bit, and she put forth an interest in learning about camping from me, in addition to needing a hitching partner. I canned my trip to Moldova (Sorry Erin!) in favor of hitching with Viera to L'viv, and from there to the European Rainbow gathering. There were again eight of us heading off to the same place, and so after much commotion, goodbyes, hugs, more hugs, delays, goodbyes, etc etc (getting hitch-hikers moving in the same direction is slightly easier than re-stuffing a pillow with feathers after it's been emptied), we headed out. I had checked the “board” for directions on which tram to take out of the city, and someone had written “Tram 8- from main train station.” Shaun pointed out that Tram 5 SHOULD get us to the road to L'viv, but unfortunately I trusted the person whom wrote on the board. Well, a 20 minute walk, losing Timon on the way, a tram in the wrong direction, and finally seven of us were at the road to L'viv! Viera and I paired off, and Tyler, now partnerless (Timon had been lost in the tram confusion at the main train station) joined us to form a motley crew. Normally, 3 people hitching together is a difficult hitch, as with the added space of backpacks, the only possible lift involves one driver with almost no luggage. Well, as luck would have it, almost immediately someone pulled over...And wanted money. Viera, being Slovak, was able to converse and the person sped away when he realized we were not willing to pay for a lift to Kiev (550km). The next person, a young woman, agreed to take us to Uman, the halfway point, where we would be able to hitch a lift to L'viv. The ride went smoothly, with my offering chocolate to Tyler and the driver, while Viera slept (I got a picture...).
At the interchange in Uman, I began perusing the stalls looking for a snack. When I turned back around, Viera was heading for me, asking my help with something. Apparently, some guy had dropped his wallet, and when he walked away not realizing it, another guy (his 'friend') picked it up, and offered half the money to Tyler. Tyler had agreed, but the friend had returned too quickly, and the man had stuffed the wallet down the front of his shirt. It took a couple of minutes for Viera to explain to me what exactly was happening, and immediately I recognized it as a scam. I pointed to the guy whom now had possesion of the wallet, saw it pretty obviously outlined against his stomach under his shirt, and pointed to my own stomach and his. The guy attempted to search me, and I moved away and lifted my shirt. When I attempted to do the same to the guy, he slapped my hand away and became quite agitated. I gave him the finger (in Russian, this is done by placing the thumb under index finger, like a “T” in ASL), a polite “screw you moron”, and walked away, telling the others to walk as well. I walked to the gas station, bought myself and tyler some snacks (Viera did not want anything, but ate some of mine), and we took off hitching.
At the hitch-out spot, we met a Russian dude heading to the Carpathians (BEAUTIFUL mountains in the southwest of Ukraine, stretching from mid-Romania to Crimea...). He got a lift out, and soon Sarah and Valentina showed up! Strangely enough, when they were walking past the market, a dude dropped his wallet...
Eventually the three of us got a lift 60km in a taxi, free of charge. Apparently that night, 11 hitch-hikers camped out in the spot we were waiting, but we had just departed before many of them arrived. At our new location, after buying some water (Viera was wary of any tap sources, I had been drinking from the tap all along), we made camp, ate some pasta, all crammed into my tent and chatted for a while, and eventually we all crashed (Tyler outside, Viera and myself in the tent). It was WONDERFUL after two nearly sleepless nights to be able to be in my own bag, in a mostly quiet, cold area. Unfortunately, both Tyler and Viera were cold that night, and though I opened my bag to wrap it partially around Viera, she was still a bit cold (no ground insulation). Naturally, being close to another warm body, I was nearly sweating.

Odessa

Too much to write about right now, still in Odessa, and planning my trip north asap!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Night

I woke up a few times to the drunken revelry of those left at the park. I thought nothing of it, as drunken people are generally, well, drunk and not of much interest to me as long as they are not being belligerent. I noticed that Ben and Robin had also decided to camp near me, and thought nothing of it at the time. Soon enough, however, I realized that both Robin and Ben, along with Viera (whom was now conscious and apparently was not as drunk as I had thought) were constantly getting up and arguing with the remaining Ukrainians to leave. I got up, joined the fray, and realized that a few of the Ukrainians were rifling through some small packs. Apparently in their drunken stupor, a few Ukrainians, one American (Tyler), and the head of the new Lithuanian hitch-hiking club had all been robbed. They were all still passed out, and we spent a little while collecting the remaining items scattered about the area. After chasing off the rest of the locals, I volunteered to stay awake and keep watch over everyone, in case they decided to return. Belatedly I realized that I had not really slept the night before, and I did not have any coffee/redbull/chocolate to keep me away. I used the old fashioned method, water, exercise, and music, and made it till Sunrise, when the Lithuanian guy woke up and kept me company after realizing that his small change, camera, and mobile phone were gone. Apparently they ate his food, too...

Workshops and discussions.

The next morning brought an interesting scene, with people passed out all over the beach. I slowly began gathering my gear from the people I had borrowed it from, cleaning and packing away my stuff. I realized quickly that I had forgotten my groundcloth at the park the night before, and hoped someone had picked it up. I ate a light breakfast with Reese, Valentina, and Shaun of bread and meat, and soon headed off with Julien and a Ukrainian dude to go back to the park. Along the way we met a somewhat lost Ukrainian woman also looking for the gathering, and kindly directed her to the park for the eventual workshops, or the beach for the majority of the people at that particular moment.
Back in the park, more general laziness took place. Lots of hanging out, relaxing, and chit-chatting were had as people organized and shared stories and relaxed. I began talking with a few people about Train-hopping in the US, while apparently Robin began simultaneously chatting up some folks about hospitality exchange and sustainable living. Soon enough, signs were made and the quiet unobtrusive discussions became official workshops. My workshop covered train-hopping and squatting, as well as experiences hitching around Europe. As people arrived from the beach, they settled in to either my circle or Robins, and soon rousing discussions ranging from gear to safety to boat-hitching were underway. Many of my friends, new and old, joined my circle, including Cliff, Viera, Alex, Patryk, Reese, Timon, Julien, and Ben, providing valuable input as well as questions and comments. Soon Alex, a Russian from St. Petersburg, took over the discussion and began giving a counter-discussion on train-hitching, boat-hitching, and general hitch-hiking all over Russian (especially Siberia), and to some extent in central and western Asia. I took a page of notes, and will soon transcribe them for my friends over at StP, whom I am certain will be interested in the thought of train-hitching in Siberia (I WILL try this).
Eventually a lunch break was had, and while a joint discussion with Reese and I was slated for the post-lunch discussion circles, my chat (apparently I was the only one with any significant experience) on hitch-hiking in the United States took precedence. So for over an hour I sat and explained the convoluted laws of the US, attempted to explain the difference between “written” law and the way many police officers interpret that same law, shared some of the extremely positive and negative experiences I have had (SLO-cal and NYS being respective examples), as well as answered questions and attempted to dispell certain myths while reinforcing others. Topics ranging from bribing police to drug policy and frequency were brought up and discussed in a civil and intelligent manner. Eventually, as with all things, other topics had to take precedence, with many of the women heading towards the “hitch-hiking safety/dangers as a solo female” discussion. A little later on, the always infamous “next year” circle was held, of which I abstained.
Around this time, Anatoly found me and announced in his now-common broken English that he and his friends were leaving. We hugged, a few times (perhaps a dozen?) and promised to keep in contact. I need to find his E-mail, I know it's on the 7/8/9 website somewhere!
Soon thereafter, chaos! Well, for some people. As night fell, a LOT of alcohol was consumed. One of the local Ukrainians brought Reese and I to a liquor store after we explained that we wanted to try Local vodka, something that he as a Ukrainian would be proud of. WOW, was I blown away. For around $4 we purchased a bottle of wild-honey and cayenne pepper vodka, and MAN was it good. Almost immediately, however, the vodka vanished. My tendency to share everything was well-received, directly down the gullets of the friends I had made. To my horror, when asking for more at the store, I was told that we had received the LAST bottle. I purchased a bottle of 'regular' cayenne pepper vodka, but it was simply not the same. At some point the Lithuanian guy came up to me with Victor, a Spanish hitch-hiker. Victor's bag was missing, and we hoped it had simply been carried down to the beach by a friendly hitch-hiker (or by mistake). Victor was clearly too drunk to make it down there, and was in need of somewhere/something to sleep in. Again, I gave away my sleeping bag, figuring that I had already slept without it for one night, a second one would not kill me. Little did I know what would be happening later... The night “ended” with my crashing close to Viera, as she had drank a bit more vodka than she could apparently handle and was sound asleep, still in the park. Her hitching partner Ben had been planning on returning to the beach with the majority of people, and so I said I would make sure she was ok when she woke and would take care of her in the off chance she got sick. But there was more to come...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First day in Odessa

The day started with my finding Chris and retrieving my groundcloth, which I had loaned him for the evening to sleep on the somewhat hard rocks (I found it pleasant enough). Lucy, Sasha, Sarah and I made it out to the tram, and headed for a small cafeteria to have some pre-prepared breakfast. This was a nice change from cooking my own food and eating from petrol stations, and I very nicely enjoyed a few glasses of fruit juice, and a cup of steamed milk (I thought I was going to have a Mocha, but surprise! It was pleasant enough). We met Reese and three Lithuanians at the cafeteria, and had a pleasant group breakfast. Just as we were leaving, a much larger group of folks appeared; Reese and I greeted people, and headed for the park.
Once back at the park, we hung out for hours, meeting people (again), exchanging ideas, and planning for the day. At some point, introductory Russian lessons began, and we quickly formed a circle around a Russian girl giving lessons. I wrote most down in my notebook, with English, transliteration, and Cyrillic of the basic necessary phrases. These proved to be extremely useful in my later quest of decoding Cyrillic. We organized a flash mob (somewhat of a failure), a tour around the city was graciously provided free by a local tour guide in both English and Russian (I did not attend, but instead spent the time chatting with friends and playing with some Swedish guy's firestaff), and mostly I spent the day hanging out meeting other hitch-hikers. At some point a small group of Russian travelers appeared, and I met Anatoly, my Russian friend! Though he did not speak much English, we got along quite well, and shared beers, vodka, food and stories (with the help of one of his friends whom was translating). He stated, and I agreed, on the following statement:
“World says F*ck Russia. World says F*ck USA. Therefore we brothers!”
Truer statements have not been made.
After some time, I met Igor, a somewhat local Ukrainian whom has spent the past six years training in some Ukrainian military martial art (kadykalishnov?). He proceeded to demonstrate techniques to me for an hour or so, and was quite adamant that Alpha, the Ukrainian special forces, were the best in the world. Compared to what I have heard from Ryan, whom is currently in SEAL school, we don't have anything to fear from the Ukrainians; I kept my mouth shut. After a while, a representative from Elbe, the Ukrainian hitch-hiking club, made a small speech. Unfortunately, Igor kept interrupting and trying to get me to drink some beer, ending with my telling him that I REALLY needed to hear this talk, and if he would please find me afterwards. After the talk, in which we were all invited to attend one of the gatherings (I would love to go to one, eventually), Igor found me again and, along with one of his friends, proceeded to attempt to teach me local Ukrainian curses, while shouting as loud as they could every English curse they knew. I grew bored of this, and soon wandered away, finding a group assembling and discussing various experiences of hitch-hiking and free travel.
At some point, people agreed to head to the beach, and so we did. I lead the first group, simply by pointing out that all anyone needed was Momentum, so I simply started to walk. Quickly others followed, and soon I realized that I did not have any idea where I was going. Fortunately, I was with Robin, Valentina, and Tau, and with friends, you can never be truly lost. So we walked, and walked, and walked...Eventually finding our destination. I sat on the road with my blinky red light for a while, writing some poetry in my journal and directing other folks to head down to the beach from where I was sitting. Just before I headed down myself, a local Ukrainian came up to chat with me. Unfortunately, I do not speak a word (well, at the time anyway) of Ukrainian, and quickly he realized this. Abandoning his attempt at conversation, he left with the following words of wisdom: “Life is good.” With this sentiment in mind, I walked down to the beach to join friends.
Quickly, I dropped my pack and met up with Cliff, a Taiwanese guy whom had moved to Canada when he was 13. We headed off to the 24h supermarket, Cliff to pick up food, myself to prepare for a party which was not really going to happen. A bottle of Moldovian wine (great for the price), a carton of local white wine (for the winos, myself included), some Red Bull (just in case, and for tomorrow morning. I hate the stuff, but it might be necessary and beat coffee for the time being), and some snacks. We returned to the beach, where I met Patryk, along with my Russian friends (including Anatoly, whom was unfortunately too drunk to stand up). We passed around a guitar and took turns telling stories (I did not partake in playing the guitar) until people were too tired and slowly drifted off to sleep. I shared the bottle of wine until it was gone, and when most were getting ready to go to sleep, I went in search of others. Soon enough, I found a member of Elbe, whom unfortunately did not speak much English. I would pull over translators as I saw them pass (Marten helped quite a bit, until he went to sleep), until a young Ukrainian girl came over to translate in perfect English, as long as kept feeding her some of the wine (the Elbe member and I both had liter cartons of wine, so this conversation lasted a while). In the end, I gave the poor freezing girl my jacket, and eventually my sleeping bag, at which point she passed out. I moved on once again, found myself in a group of Russians whom spoke NO English whatsoever, and still spent some time laughing, singing, drinking wine, and attempting conversation.
Patryk came up to me suddenly, stating that I MUST be able to help. Misha had somehow lost his sleeping bag (it turns out someone had given it away), and was looking for somewhere to sleep. I had already given my sleeping bag to someone, and so I dug out my thermals and gave them to Misha. Though not a great way to sleep, they would help. He climbed into a tent (which apparently had a couple already in it..oops!), and crashed. I returned to my friends, whom were all knocking off for the night. One of the Russians, cuddled up next to me, probably to absorb the heat which I am infamous for. Soon, wearing only shorts, and wrapped in my tarp, I lay down, cuddling with this Russian whom was speaking to me in a mixture of Russian and Ukrainian, and not understanding a single word I said. At points, she would gesture to someone, either the big Russian guy meditating on a rock, or someone stumbling past, and then at random points she would look and me and say the only English word she seemed to know: Speak. And so I did, in the waning moonlight (it was nearly 3AM I assume), drawing on my amazing poetic powers and spouting our random on-the-spot poetry, which unfortunately I am completely unable to reproduce. It was something of a combination of the lack of communication, our misunderstandings, the beauty of the moment, and whatever else I could find which rhymed well. She eventually went back to her tent (which I discovered the next morning contained her boyfriend), and I crashed out to the rising sun. Wrapped only in my tarp, clad in shorts, and with a heavy wind blowing, I went to sleep, dreaming of hitch-hiking all over the world...

Made it!

I don't have a ton of battery, and I am going to be acting as a public internet terminal for some of the Hitch-hikers, but we all made it to Odessa! Ukraine is a pretty awesome, very inexpensive place. And odessa has some GREAT beaches and cool spots! Love all of ya.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Odessa at last!

So we woke in groups of two and three, assembled gear, and headed out for the road. Someone had gotten instructions from Lucy and Sasha (whom were staying with a different host) on where to hitch out of Kiev, and the proper bus to take to get there. We opted to walk 30 minutes or so to the proper bus, instead of paying twice ($.25 or so), and to have a bit of a walk before ge/tting on the bus and then hitting the road. Once again, we paired off, this time I would be hitching with Julien, a french guy I had met last year at 8/8/8, and someone whom I have had many interesting conversations with.
Some wanted to stop and eat, while others (Julien, myself, and Jeppe) decided to hitch out directly. Fortunately for me, Julien spoke a passable amount of Russian, and in no time we had a lift with a pleasant woman all the way to Uman, a little over half way to Odessa. In addition to speaking English and driving a hella comfortable Subaru, our lift gave us chocolate, yoghurt and some milk to enjoy while we waited. We had a quick breakfast with some bread and sausage we had also picked up, and headed down the road. Soon enough, a pair of local teenagers walked up to us and were attempting to speak (completely in Ukrainian) to us about hitch-hiking. The girl pulled out a white-out pen (I had forgotten this trick) and improved our sign immediately. We had a second piece of cardboard, and eventually we put together a second sign for the other kids to use.
Eventually we managed to pick up a lift, with the local kids explaining to the driver that we were tourists and spoke no Ukrainian, but were trying to get to Odessa. Though slow, our lift was headed almost directly there. At some point, we were controlled by the police, but this passed without Julien or myself being controlled directly (we did not have our passports checked). The ride went smoothly, and though we took turns passing out, we were dropped approximately 3 kilometers from downtown Odessa.
We began to walk, holding out our sign and thumbs, and within a few minutes were picked up by a man and (I assume) his father. They initially asked for money (the younger [son?] spoke English), but when we explained that we were hitch-hiking and carried very little money, they agreed to take us to the trolleybus, and in the end gave us the two Krivna (Ukrainian currency) to pick up the bus directly to Shevashenko monument. On ths bus, Julien met a young woman whom spoke a bit of English as well as French, and she directed us to the correct stop. Beer, food, and a money changer later, and we were off to explore the park and find our friends!
Soon enough, we found the monument, and a throng of hitch-hikers conversing in a mixture of English, Ukrainian, Russian, and a smattering of other languages. We found some friends (Valentina, Shaun, Misha, Lucy, Sasha) as well as a few friends from last year and some of the locals. Almost immediately, I met a young Canadian girl named Viera, and soon we were chatting about the various modes of free travel in North America, most notably train-hopping and hitch-hiking. As time moved on, Reese, Jeppe, Sarah, Martin, and a other friends slowly showed up. As night fell, a group discussion was organized, which I graciously moderated (mostly by standing shirtless in the middle of a circle, and yelling at people to shut up when someone else was talking or translating to Russian). With this we brainstormed ideas for the next two days, organized some workshops, made some loose plans, and then headed for the beach! A small party ensued, though as everyone was so tired from the days of travel, most people quickly passed out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Destination ahead!

Hitching to L'viv! A night of mostly restless sleep, waking up at 6AM, and after breakfast, SIM card swapping/purchasing, and organization, and we hit the road at 10AM! Reese and I paired off and immediately picked up a 25km ride with a metalwork artist. He had a portfolio of his work with him, and some of the stuff was absolutely amazing! We also picked up Misha (Mitch) on the way, a French cameraman whom we were friendly with from last year's 888 conference. We waited around as cars passed, some loaded with our other friends hitch-hiking past, some empty and giving us the short-distance sign. Occasionally a cow would wander into the road, and one of the local farmers would run into the road and herd the runaway back into the fields. After what seemed like hours, but was likely 45 minutes, a car pulled over headed directly to Kiev! Our luck seemed great, and we quickly hopped in. Just as quickly, we discovered that neither of our drivers spoke a word of English, and unfortunately were unfamiliar with both the road to Kiev, and the concept of long-distance driving (or highway driving, for that matter). The 525km lift took almost 9 hours, and we arrived in Kiev at 9:30PM. A short metro ride later, a few questions, and we were reunited with our friends at a cafeteria in Kiev. After eating a much-needed meal and a few beers, we collected the other wayward hitch-hikers and made our way to Anton's, our totally awesome and gracious host.
Seven hitch-hikers, one host, two dozen beers, and everyone having just hitched 550 km from L'viv to Kiev certainly made for an interesting evening.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

To Kiev!

Half an hour spent wandering around looking for the best spot to stand, and perhaps five minutes of actual waiting, and I was off! My lift spoke a bit of Ukrainian, was Polish, and spoke a decent amount of English. He turned out to be a telecommunications engineer/professor, and we had some fascinating talks about the various aspects of the telecommunications industry. Additionally, after dropping off the other passenger in a border town, he helped me cross the border and we spent an hour or so driving around picking up various supplies (vodka, medicine, cigarettes, candy) for his return trip. We parted ways, and soon enough I picked up a lift to L'viv in a truck. An hour later, and I was in L'viv, Ukraine!
The two km walk to the center was only interrupted twice, once for lunch and once to call home and speak to mom from a McDonalds front lawn. I also contacted Lucy, a host in L'viv, and arranged to meet she, Sasha, and Sarah at the central square for food and a place to crash later on. Naturally, I was ridiculed for how little, and slowly, I ate, but I persevered and finished my meager plate. We walked back to Lucy and Sasha's place, and hung out while waiting for other to show up (Jeppe and Martin an hour or so later, Reese and Julien around 1AM). Dinner of pasta and local Ukrainian beer (not the greatest...) made for a complete day.

To Kiev!

Half an hour spent wandering around looking for the best spot to stand, and perhaps five minutes of actual waiting, and I was off! My lift spoke a bit of Ukrainian, was Polish, and spoke a decent amount of English. He turned out to be a telecommunications engineer/professor, and we had some fascinating talks about the various aspects of the telecommunications industry. Additionally, after dropping off the other passenger in a border town, he helped me cross the border and we spent an hour or so driving around picking up various supplies (vodka, medicine, cigarettes, candy) for his return trip. We parted ways, and soon enough I picked up a lift to L'viv in a truck. An hour later, and I was in L'viv, Ukraine!
The two km walk to the center was only interrupted twice, once for lunch and once to call home and speak to mom from a McDonalds front lawn. I also contacted Lucy, a host in L'viv, and arranged to meet she, Sasha, and Sarah at the central square for food and a place to crash later on. Naturally, I was ridiculed for how little, and slowly, I ate, but I persevered and finished my meager plate. We walked back to Lucy and Sasha's place, and hung out while waiting for other to show up (Jeppe and Martin an hour or so later, Reese and Julien around 1AM). Dinner of pasta and local Ukrainian beer (not the greatest...) made for a complete day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

L'viv, Ukraine

I woke up, packed up, cleaned up (sort of), and for the next hour or two, watched all of the trucks in my stocked parking lot slowly rumble to life and disappear. I was becoming somewhat disheartened when a nice young couple pulled over and offered me a lift “near” Krakow. Good enough, and off I went! Well, they ended up dropping me just outside of Katowice, which while 30km from Krakow, is a nightmare to hitch. I attempted to pick up a ride on the A4 onramp, but after a few hours of failure (mostly due to the 10 minute lag between cars), I broke down and took the minibus “Krakow GR” in to town. At least, that's where I thought I was going. The bus immediately turned the opposite direction from the motorway, and proceeded to went it's way through the countryside, entering Krakow almost an hour later, despite the 30km birds-eye distance and the A4 motorway. Also, I managed to overcome some significant confusion when I realized it was a fixed fare to get on the minibus, and it did not seem to matter where I was going. I think. I ended up dropping some coins in my hand and letting the driver take what he wanted. I'm pretty sure he took 5 zloty, or about $1.
Once in Krakow, I disembarked in what I thought was the center (based on absolutely NOTHING but intuition). I found a phone shop, picked up a SIM card, and found some wifi at a local pizza joint. As it turns out, I was about three blocks from the actual city center. Huzzah! Checking out Couchsurfing and the 789 project website, I found a likely meetup and possible host, and proceeded to call the number. I thought I was reaching the local contact, but instead apparently I reached Jeppe, my soon-to-be hitching partner. Two hours later, one McDonalds for a recharge (power outlet), twenty minutes of confusion, a few text messages, and one ice cream, and we were on our way out of the city to hitch to L'viv! Well, that was, until Martin, Jeppe's original partner, send an SMS saying that he was 60km from the city, and would be there shortly. We waited at a rest stop for an hour or so drinking beer and getting to know one another while Martin caught up. By now it was around 6PM, and we had not yet hit the road. After signs, questioning, and a discussion on our breakup, we began walking down the road. IMMEDIATELY, a car pulled over with space for two. Jeppe and Martin hopped in, wishing me good luck. Ten minutes later, a car going 60km further pulled over, and I was off! The 250km (approx) ride was pleasant, with good music and ridiculous speeds, however I ended up in the very center of the city of Szeczow (sp?), resulting in a ridiculous hour+ walk to my eventual camping spot. The only real downside of the evening? Mosquitos! Well, and my being too lazy to set up my tent.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Poland

I woke the next morning to slightly overcast skies and a slight drizzle, but more importantly, the sound of heavy machinery. I quickly vacated my ad-hoc squat, heading back up the road towards the correct hitching spot. I walked around for a bit, evaluating the best hitching spot while getting lightly sprinkled on by the overburdened clouds. Soon enough, perhaps after 30 minutes, my patience paid off, and a kind young woman pulled over and offered me a lift to Berlin. As it turns out, she was going to Prenzlaurberg, where I had stayed last year with Sophie's sister. I mentioned having a friend in Pankow, to which she replied that she actually worked in Prenzlaurberg, but also lived in Pankow. What are the odds, eh? Anyway, I was dropped off at a rest-stop without a gas station (my [extremely poor] choice), where I would spent the better part of the day. During my stay there, asking people, flying my sign, etc, I was controlled by the German police. In this case, they were extremely cordial, checking my passport/visa status and reminding me that it is fine to talk with drivers, but I must not walk on the Autobahn (Interstate, again) itself. I thanked them for this, and they dissapeared. Why can't American police act like this?
My luck changed when I flashed my sign to a Polish truck driver, whom gave me the “jump on up” signal, and away I went. I had been flying a sign for Warsaw, though I actually wanted to get to Krakow, assuming that I would be able to get a lift in that direction, and then change lifts as necessary. Well, using his CB radio, my ride got me a lift a bit further than he was actually going, and I ended up at a Polish rest stop with free wifi (but no power!) near Poznan. I picked up some road food, preparing myself for a night out (and thrilled to be finished my cheese and crackers, the only food I had brought from Amsterdam). Between intermittent drops of spittle, a truck stopped with a super-friendly driver. We drove for HOURS, on our way through Lodz (the back way), again attempting to pick up continuation lifts with the CB, unfortunately also unsuccessful. I camped at a rest stop south of Lodz around 1AM.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dresden!

My battery is dying, I failed to meetup with George (NOT my fault this time), and I need to get out of town. Here's to Krakow!

Dresden...

The next morning I got a quick lift to Michendorf rest stop near Potsdam, Germany. Here I picked up a map (I had been traveling without one), and met a German hitch-hiker on his way to Lithuania. We chatted for a bit, he mentioned he was from Stuttgart, and I gave him one of the 7/8/9 postcards to show him the event, though he had other plans. He allowed me to go up and ask some of the drivers (normal courtesy is to wait for the hitcher already there to leave before attempting to hitch out), and my first ride was heading in his direction, so I quickly grabbed him and off he went! By this point, I was no longer interested in going to Berlin, but instead straight down to Dresden to meet George. The Dresden HOG (harley owners group) pulled in, and I grabbed a picture of a group of leather-clad Germans riding American Harleys, with smiles all around. Soon enough, a young couple (A student and his girlfriend, a car mechanic) pulled over and offered me a lift right to the center of Dresden. So far, so good. The ride down was comfortable, albeit smoky (all too common), and we talked about everything from politics to globalization to militarization to the similarities and differences between Germany and the US.
Dresden was a beautiful city, with lots of bustling tourists despite it being a Sunday. This, however, meant that most shops were closed, and I spent the better part of two hours walking around, attempting to find a wifi spot to connect to the next in hopes of receiving a voice-mail from George. When this did not happen, I called Dad, attempted to call the international number I was given for George, and finally looked up good hitch-out spots and maps of the city. I walked over to the Hauptbahnhaf (HBF), or main train station, to grab a bus to the hitch-out spot. As luck would have it, not only is there a Lidl (German box supermarket), but also a Burger King with power outlets and a nearby Wifi hotspot. I chilled here for a while, recharging my toys a bit, and eventually catching the bus out to my hitching spot. I was unsure of the spot I needed to get off at, though I ended up getting off at the correct spot and then walking in the wrong direction! I realized this about the same time it started to rain, much to my disappointment. Well, at the same time, I noticed a huge complex of abandon building across the street, some mildly fenced off for construction, other simply left to rot...
A few minutes later, I was warm and dry inside what looked like an old prison building, with bars on the window and rooms with a single sink (some a toilet), absolutely falling apart. I spent the night here, after writing a bit in my journal and enjoying the sounds of thunder and lightning crashing all around me. The flashes were so bright they lit up the entire room, while some of the thunder claps were loud enough to scare the heck out of me! But at least I was dry...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Out of A'dam

Hitching out of Amsterdam started a bit later than I had hoped for, but as it turned out this was a good thing. Anu and I walked to the Liftplaatz, a dedicated hitch-hiking spot created by the Dutch government before they started giving all Dutch students free rides on the trains, where I would grab the A-2 motorway all the way across Holland and most of Germany. A few hundred meters down the road from this spot was a gas station, a good back-up spot if I was having no luck hitching from the liftplaats. After a short while, Shaun and Valentina showed up, also planning on hitching out in the direction of Berlin. As a courtesy, they continued down to the gas station, so that a driver would not think we were all hitching as a triple (normally more difficult). After an hour or more, I walked back, wanting to try my luck at the gas station (And wondering if they were still there); they moved up to my old spot. Within a few minutes, a car pulled over, and I got a lift with a Dutch gentleman and his young (perhaps 3-year old?) daughter.
This guy was, as most of my rides are, very interesting. He had actually seen Shaun and Valentina, and was considering pulling over for them when he saw me. He was heading to Appledoorn, a good distance from A'dam, and a nice first ride. We spoke a bit about free travel, why I am doing what I am doing, and some of the things he will be doing with his wife and child in the near future. They have decided that the “typical” life is simply not what they desire, so they are in the process of ridding themselves of most of their possesions, and going to travel! Already they have an extended volunteering trip set up to Nigeria, to work in a village doing some form of volunteerism work. I was quite surprised, as this guy had a good job/normal life in the Netherlands, but realized that there were alternatives, and he wanted his daughter to grow up having traveled and having some unique life experiences.
Dropped at gas station on the motorway (Interstate), I proceeded to ask around for anyone whom might be headed towards Germany/Berlin. I had no luck, though I did not wait long for a ride. As I sat down staring at empty fuel lanes, waiting for more cars to pull in and ask for a ride, a pleasant voice popped up behind me “hey, you looking for a ride man?” It was Shaun, along with a very large Buddhist monk. He invited me back into a van, where I tossed my pack into the back next to a cage with a wounded bird in it, and hopped in the front with Shaun and Valentina. They explained that they had seen me in passing, and the driver had actually stopped on the motorway, and driven backwards down the on-ramp to the petrol station to pick me up. This guy was AMAZING. I believe he was originally Dutch, but was living in a commune/monestary on the Germany border. He believed in the preservation of all animals, especially birds, and absolutely LOVED geese! He gave us a lift all the way to Osnabruck, almost 100km out of his way, and the whole time we talked about everything from sustainability to Aikido. There was another passenger in the front seat whom we dropped off on the way, and when we dropped him off, he gave us juice boxes and some cakes in return. The generosity of some people will never cease to amaze me.
Valentina got us our next two lifts by asking people (a small cute Italian girl, go figure!), a woman whom used to hitch around when she was younger but now works on selling large-scale wind turnbines and a gentleman whom did not say much but was more than happy to drive us a hundred or more KM. His good friend was Italian, and happened to call, so he handed his phone to Valentina, and they conversed in rapid-fire Italian, simply to have the chance to speak their native language. We were dropped off at a gas station on the motorway again, though this time we had much worse luck hitching. After MANY failed attempts and hours of waiting, a VW van with Polish plates rolled in, able to take two. I encouraged Shaun and Valentina to go, while I would continue to hitch on my own to Berlin for a meeting that night. I was planning on meeting George the next day in Dresden, so if I would not make it to Berlin I would simply hitch straight to Dresden. Well, I had no luck, and began wandering around in search of a camp. The first time on the road I needed to pitch my tent! Well, I may not have NEEDE to pitch it, but it was great to have a bug-free, warm, dry shelter wherever I wanted. I wrote a bit, ate some cake, and went to sleep.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From Eugene to Bishop

Looking back, I realize that I freaked out exactly the way in which I would normally
riddicule 'normal' folks when I realized that I only had $8 in my ATM account. I quickly transfered some cash from my savings, and started to walk. Walking lets me think, and I had a lot of thinking to do. I ran through all of my options, ranging from spanging to flying a sign to outright shoplifting, and a few minutes later forced myself to calm down and think rationally. I had enough food for days, I simply needed somewhere to cook it.
Downtown Redding is NOT the place to start a campfire, but looking at some of the
riverbank property, it looked camp-able. I met a gent on my way walking otu of town whom was truly down on his luck, having just gotten back into using drugs after years off of them, and subsequently kicked out. He had no money, food, pack/shelter, nor any idea where or how to procure them or get around. I was tempted to give him some of my food, and looking back probably should have, but at the time I was more worried about my own food position than his; how selfish of me. I stood and chatted with him on some of the basics of flying a sign, hitching, food shelves, food stamps, etc, although in the end we parted ways.
Looking back, I wonder why I did not stop and help him more. What would he havedone
after the meager amounts of food I could have given him had run out? I'm two days ahead of schedule, I've got money again, and these awesome folks have taken me in, fed me, and are hopefully returning in a bit to hang out and have some water fun. I feel midly shameful for not helping the guy, but at the same time, I had no idea my fortune would turn out so well.
Well, I managed to hitch to the outskirts of Redding, where I made a dry cold camp, infested with red ants and managing to lose my only remaining light down a small hole in the ground. No light? No prob, though again I was initially scared. I slept most of the night well, waking occasionally.
The next morning (the 11th), a lift got me into shingletown, where a prison guard picked me up and dropped me in Susanville, prison town USA! Back in the desert and heat,
I began to once again worry about water, my eyes spotting every available water source from stream to McDonalds. Soon enough, I got an out-of-town lift from two highschool girls, and then a lift directly into Reno with two Mexican guys. Unfortunately,was in completely the wrong direction to hitch south, and walked to the library to cool off,
grab water, and hop on the net for a bit. Still having $8 (in a debit card), I was
unable to take the bus, and ended up walking 9 miles to the edge of Reno, where I
promptly camped off the side of the road. I built my first road-side campfire in a LONG time, and had a delicious meal of lightly fried potatoes in olive oil, along with a peanut butter sandwich. Oh, on the way I stopped at a supermarket, as I had run out of both peanut butter and bread, and picked up a new jar, a loaf of bread, and a pound of pasta for $4.30; my anxiety waiting for the debit pin pad to read "ACCEPTED" was palpable.
I realized that evening that it was possible to have a road-side fire without anyone really caring. It was a joyus moment, also realizing that starting up and controlling fires for cooking is becoming much easier and quicker, more ingrained and certainly less than the bonfires I am used to creating.
The 13th was a significant travel day for me, with a lifts from Reno to Carson City,
to Minden, alll the way down to Lee Vinning/Tioga Pass, to the Mammoth Lakes onramp.
Despite it being only 1PM or so, I decided to camp for the night, knowing that Bishop was not too far, and believing it to be an easy hitch in. I hiked in perhaps a half mile to a stream on some BLM land, knowing that I could camp wherever/however I wanted, and began setting up camp. I took a relaxed day, cooking almost the entire pound of pasta in two large batches and using my huge can of pasta sauce, along with a few spices, to fill my gut. After worrying so much about food, it felt amazing to be full. It also felt great not to worry about anything! I took stock of my food stores again, having a few potatoes left (perhaps 6 small reds), plenty of oil, a bit of pasta and sauce, and a stream with fresh water within 100 yards. Despite the annoyance of a few ants, I had an awesome time cowboy-camping just off the road, not worrying about other people, police, food, money, water, shelter, or really anything. Occasionally offroad vehicles passed by, but none
stopped or bothered me, and I spent the rest of the day, night, and half of the next day (yesterday) simply relaxing.
So after getting on the road yesterday and walking for perhaps 5 minutes, I got a lift directly to the Library in Bishop. I hung out there for a while (no wifi!?),
walking outside to pick up a wireless signal and call a few folks. I checked my account balance and...I HAVE MONEY! It's an amazing revalation, given how I had been feeling.

More to come later...

AWESOME way to travel

Check out THIS conversion vehicle!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

WAKE UP AND MUTATE

...was the first thing I heard at 3AM, nearly falling out of my hammock during my first night at Autonomous Mutant Fest XIII. This was a pretty good indication of the rest of the time spent there, vascillating between having too little and too much fun, meeting ***holes and some awesome new friends. HUGE thanks go to Sanyo (Sanjo? sp?) from Olytopia for giving Shirt and I a ride out, as well as to Shirt for buying us food on the way out. The hot springs, the company, and all of the fun events were a blast, though some of the crusty punks and true scum brought a bit of a downer out. All in all, a good time was had!

So I'm (once again back) in Eugene, waiting to meet up with Lauren, and then who knows what. I need to call cale and see if he's getting some sort of CS thing together tonight,a nd then I need ot figure out where I'm heading from here. I need to head south soon, down to Cali, but I'm considering sticking around for a few days for the Oregon Country Fair. It's supposed to be one heck of a time, and I'm always game to have some fun. No determination yet.

Also, a new surprise is brewing on the horizon...Arrow has put a new thought into my head, but I'm keeping it mostly under wraps until I get back to NYC...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

FLIGHT

So, I'm waiting to get a confirmation from Orbitz, but I've purchased a flight from the 27th of July to the 17th of Sept between Philly and Amsterdam. For some reason, flights from NYC to AMS were all over a grand, whereas PHL was less expensive...So there ya go! Sadly, I spent wayyy more than if I had booked a week ago, but so be it.

So for a 6PM train, I'll PROBABLY be leaving NYC in the morning, train train train, arrive at airport, etc. Possibly. Another possibility will be seeing whom might graciously let me crash the night before somewhere in Philly, in which case I'll head down Sat. Afternoon/morning/etc.

It also means that I won't have any backend trouble getting home, I can hang out with Anu, and I'll have months to have fun!

So, that's the story for now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Phone Number

Finally got a number!

(802) 735-2538

It's mostly to voicemail as its through Skype, but the thought that counts! Oh, and this will be able to make calls forwarded to me while I'm in Europe!

From Eugene to Portland and Back!

So the past few days of been a continuous stream of half-conscious memories and mix-matched dreams. I hitched a ride up to Portland, walked from Burnside to Rose Square and then from Pioneer Square/Library to Katherine (my CS host) 's place on Glisan. From there, it's been a nonstop roll of fun, my only regret being unable to link up with Alex while he was also in town (Sorry!). We went out for drinks, relaxed in her studio, talked to NO end (there were two other surfers), and general shenanigans. Though it was now days ago, I'm so burned out from all of the action that I'm still tired! What started as a simple night hike led to my meeting a new AWESOME friend (Suzanne), and immersing myself in her life for three or so days to help her move. She dropped me off at the WinCo in Eugene earlier today, and I've made my way to the library. Hopefully I'll make contact with a friend here this afternoon, otherwise I'm heading directly out to Mutant Fest.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

BAM

I found it!

From Eugene!

I crashed the night at Cael's, the dude I met in Croatia on the Beachsurfing adventure (the

FIRST American hitch-hiker I met!!!). He's a cool guy, with some wicked awesome plans to go

teach english down in south America and travel free; I totally support him!

I am beginning to notice a significant difference between "normal" people and the random

run-down travelers with whom I am associating and befriending. While I've got plenty of

good friends all around, the few whom I've met also living on the road seem super

trustworthy and I've just clicked with so strongly. It's difficult to explain, but I can

feel myself drawn in to some of these travel circles.

That being said, I still have a lot of contempt and considerable disdain for those 'travel

kids' whom go between three or four cities and simply get drunk and party. As everyone

knows, that's not quite my gig, and I'll pleasantly abstain.

On a completely random note, Cael's roommate Tobin brews his own beer! While his attempt at

a Belgian White did not come out as he had hoped (a little under-hopped), it was great to

taste someone's home brew, in addition to all of zthe brewpubs etc in this area.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rambling postage

So I camped out a nigh above Cascade locks, right between bridge of the G-ds and I-84. Not the quietest campground, not a

good place for a fire, but a soft bed of ivy, along with immediate (100ft) access to running water/flush toilet. I rigged my

tarp mid-night sometime when the rain came down, and promptly crashed out afterwards. In the morning, I woke to a taut pitch

with one small trough holding (without dripping) water. I packed, headed back to the bathroom area, and spread out my gear

to dry. A nice gent with a dog dropped in, used the lav, chatted for a bit, and headed off to a short day hike with his dog.

After two hot oatmeals and a cup of tea (Stove, no fire), I repacked my gear tight and took off for Rt 14, the washington

state road (Like Rt 3A through wilderness) across Hood River from I-84.
My first lift dropped me 3 miles away, in the town of North Bonneville. From there, 20 minutes later, a lift dropped me

probably 20 miles away in the middle of a total nowhere. 10 minutes later, I got alift in the back of a pickup to the

outskirts of Vancouver, WA.
I walked my way from Exit 4 of Rt 14 to a coffee shop, picked up Wifi, called Arrow, hung out for a few hours while it

rained, and took off walking again. One sampler, two bowls of soup, and a pint of ESB (ALL of the beer was watery, and most

of it seemed to have a case of mistaken identity). I had a nice wander around Vancouver trying to find the walking path over

to Portland (need to stop asking homeless guys in WA for directions!), and away I went! I humped allll the way across

Vancouver and Portland to finally crash off next to the UP ebd/sbd split. There must have been a drug deal going down,

because I saw at least a half dozen cars driving down to an abandonded spot where I normally see homebums crashing out.
Well the next morning I walked to downtown Portland, where I caught a bus down to Tualatin, where I caught a diner breakfast

and hitched a ride to Salem. Arrow came to pick me up, and I spent a while running some errands and then showering and

hanging out at her place.
This morning, Arrow, Bolt (her daughter) and I drove down to Eugene, picking up Ben, a hitch-hiker (19, rather new to it) in

Salem and dropping him a few blocks from DirtyFeet's huose. I'm currently at DirtyFeets, having met she, her mother, as well

as Gingerail and her roommate. i'm going to crash at DirtyFeets (Ali: she lives in a Yurt!), and not sure what the future

holds. I offered to run escort for Ducky up to Seattle from Portland, but haven't gotten a response on that one. If not,

I've put out a few other offers to drop by, and will figure stuff out as I move on. Eugene seems like a pretty chill place,

and if I can find something to do/etc, I might actually stick around for an amount of time. At least, I think I might. And

then there's always MF, which Dameon invited me to go with him, and Gingerail seemed interested in. C'est la vie!

I've spent the past few days in Eugene, which I've found to be a really REALLY cool town/city in oregon. My plans are

finally taking form, if only because I've puttered around enough that I'm running out of large chunks of free time. So, it

looks something like this:

I'm going to Cougar Hot Springs to camp for a day/night
heading to Portland to see NickC and some friends, and I've just recently found that Alex will be in Portland Fri/Sat.
AMF goes from Monday to the 6th of July, and I'd like to attend SOME but not all.
Cael, the hitcher I met in Croatia, lives in Eugene. I'd like to stop back in and visit w/him.
I need to book flights to NYC and AMS/FRA.
Hiking in the sierras, which leads in to meeting with dad. This ends with my return to NYC, which leads to flying to Europe

a few days later.
Visiting with Anu for her birthday, checking back in with Casa, and hitching to Odessa for 7/8/9
Returning west a bit, meeting up with ANu, and traveling around with her somewhere, sometime.
Touring around Scananavia/the Baltics until I need to return back to the US.

That should drop me in NYC around the 10th of Sept.

Along the way, I'll be looking at visiting old friends etc.

NO idea what i'm doing this winter, but it could involve work, travel, or some combinatino therin. Work would include

working somewhere in/around the Gorge just east of Portland, Squaw Valley (Tahoe), Moonlight Basin, or heading to Colorado.

MANY possibilities.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shelter thoughts?

Gatewood cape with Meteor Bivy...$250, but could SERIOUSLY be worth it eh?

18 ounces for no bugs, with a half-bivy and raingear! Also carbon fiber tent pole (45", see if it can be cut in 12" instead of 15"?)

The stuff is from Six Moons designs, and I know a few folks whom have traveled with the Cape. The big appeal is the multi-use design, as well as 360 degree coverage. I don't like single-use items, and I've been moving away from a tent as the versatility of one is definitely questionable.

Also, I'm in Vancouver, Washington (Just north of Portland). I'm headed down to Salem tomorrow, and from there to Eugene (Staying at Arrows sat. night). Ducky is looking for a hitch partner up to Seattle, and as I've never been there, I offered to go for some escort duty..waiting to hear back from her.

What've i been up to?

I hitched up to Government camp, was unable to make contact with Nikki, so I drank some beer, camped out, turned around, and left! So far, the Big Horse Brewpub in Hood River has had the best beer around, although there are plenty more places to check out. I especially loved the Belgian, though the Scotch ale and IPA were both worth writing about. The food was bomb aswell, especially since i was there during happy hour, and it was dirt cheap.

The gentleman (Jeff) whom gave me a lift from Government Camp all the way to Hood River had only been planning on driving 5 miles, but instead changed his mind and drove me the 40 to Hood River. As it turns out, he used to do what I am doing now, namely traveling around aimlessly. He now has two children and a wife, but continues to travel with the family on a less-than-wandering basis.

Bill gave me a lift from Hood River to The Dalles, and actually ended up giving me a lift across the bridge to Rt 14. He's been driving trucks for 35 years, starting out when he was younger and was discharged from the Army. At one point a few years ago he owned 112 trucks rented to various drivers, but as time progressed, he sold the trucks to the drivers in an effort to simplify his life. Despite his cheap car, he owned a SWEET Subaru NX (turbo), and was considering purchasing outright a pub in his area. He gave me $20 despite my protests, and in return I helped him hook up a printer in his office and showed him a few simple computer tricks which should make his life a bit easier.

Last night, after hitching in to Stevenson and enjoying some ice cream, I walked across Bridge of the G-ds and checked out the Pacific Crest Pub. Dale, a local from Washington, bought me four beers between he and his sister entertained me for the better part of three hours. Dale gave me a sweet bottle opener (in the shape of a credit card), which while excess weight, will stay with me. Kinda reminds me of Vanja's foot-bottle opener, which I gave to another traveler (probably at Big Sky? I can't quite recall...).

Today I walked back across the Bridge of the G-ds and hitched down to Vancouver, WA, where I am currently typing. This involved three rides, one in the back of a pickup truck. I spent a half hour staring at clouds while roaring down the highway (Don't tell mom!), but it was beautiful. Now I'm going to check out another brewpub in Vancouver, and walk back into Portland.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eastbound plans

So, I spoke to Mom, and will be doing so again later (mom or dad), but either way, I've worked out a pretty inexpensive eastbound trip via plane to get back from Lone Pine (where I will be hiking with dad) to JFK airport.

Here goes:

Bus leaves Lone Pine 10:10AM, arrives Lancaster Greyhound 1:15 (MWF only!)
Train leaves 1:40PM from Lancaster, Arrives 3:33PM Union Station
Walk to Alameda St/Los Angeles St (NW corner)
(4PM)take bus to LAX City Bus CTR (1 hour)
Arrive LAX 6PM

Flight leaves at 915AM on 7/24
1.25
11
20.5
$34 from Lone Pine to LAX
$160 from LAX to JFK

NOTE: Dad, if you fly into LAX, you can do MOST of this in reverse, just change some of the times.


now THIS is how you PLAN. And travel inexpensively. Also, there are delays built in to each stop, to account for orienting myself, bathroom breaks, delays, etc.

There are just theoretical, nothing has been planned YET.

Brilliant new hitch-hiking sign

This is my new hitching sign. I'm honestly not sure how well it will work, but hey, I AM in Oregon. What's the worst that could happen?

brewpub tour?

So I had the brilliant idea to try a brewpub tour around the pacific northwest region. Sounds pretty cool eh? Well unfortunately i stumbled across a website...
Brewery and Brewpub map

Check it out. I'm actually hella intimidated, there must be 200 brewpubs in this area! I couldn't hit every one in a MONTH, much less a week or two. Especially not hitching around...

So I'm at something of a loss as what to do. I am completely overwhelmed by...Beer? I'm going to attempt to hit two more brewpubs today, ending up near Mt. Hood, and hitting up Nikki and Rick to hang out for a bit. After that, I'm thinking of heading south to Bend, and from there to Salem, which puts me back on the road to...Portland! After that, really, this time I'm heading east. Probably. I think.

Skype!

So, for those unaware, I picked up a new Netbook (Acer Aspire One 10.1), and it's great. 6-cell battery, wifi, and a webcam! With that in mind, WHO HAS SKYPE? I have a decent amoutn of time on the net, adn I can Skype people while I'm working etc. Almost every town has somewhere to pick up wireless internet (library, cafe, college, etc), and so I can actually stay in contact with people! So, if you've got skype, my e-mail address (as everyone knows) is llipschutz@gmail.com, look me up, add me, and we can talk. Mom, I'll set up your videocam when I get back there and we can vchat even.

Still in Hood River, I'm planning on doing a bit of beer touring today (3 breweries!), and then I'm probably headed back towards Portland (just got word that Nick might be headed into town).

So that's about it, had a good chat with Mecha yesterday, and outlined some possibilities of plans with Anu for touring a bit of the North. I still need to find a flight over, as well as figure out what i'm doing with Dad, etc. No real idea yet, aside from some concrete locations, so we'll see... (There is still a possibility I won't make it to 7/8/9).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Portland Pride

So I am back in the Portland library, after spending a day attending the Portland Pride parade with Elise and some of her friends. It was awesome to see her and chat, and to know that not everything has changed. It was interesting to see, and quite a bit different, but a lot of fun.

Otherwise, enjoying my new netbook! It was a HUGE impulse purchase, but it's nice to get connected now and catch up on a lot of the stuff I've missed (or haven't really MISSED, in the emotional sense). Also this allows me todo a lot of my precious research, which is always helpful.

So, current-ish plans:
I want to see NickC when he and his bro roll into Portland, so I'm sticking around this area for a week (sorry mom and dad. i SWEAR I'm headed ebd [Eastbound] soon!). I'm going to visit Arrow down in Salem, and try to connect with Nikki and Rick in Hood River. I may be skipping Big Sky, but I happened to notice the UP might stop in Pocatello, which gets me in range of Big Sky via idaho falls (Idaho...:shudder:) and West Yellowstone. It's a risk, but it might be worth it just to swing by and visit Kris.

That's about it. SHOULD take 4 days to get to Chicago, and another 2 to get from there to NYC. I told Val that I would visit her, so I will either in-between or afterwards (I'll even take Amtrak if I have to. HAH!)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Portland!

Alright, so I made it back to Portland! Good times, happy things, etc etc. I don't have too long on the net, so I am not going to spend a lot of time updating everyone right now, but suffice it to say I'm safe, feeling well, a little dirty, and having fun as always.

I'm considering a few different paths, but all of them will be leading back east! I'm returning home! I might go via Canada, I-90, Train, or some combination therein. Don't really know yet, don't really care right now.

Oh, and I just found out that Elise is in Portland right now! I have absolutely NO way to contact her, and only have one shot at the Net, but it's worth it on chance to hang out in the city for at least a day wandering around Downtown on the off chance that I might run into her. That would be AWESOME! Well, one can hope...

More later, including a song/poem I'm writing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Echo Lake to Tahoe City

McDonalds coffee is damn good, I don't care what anyone says. Also, it was a good place to wait out the rain. I grabbed a bus down to the Rt 50/89 intersection, where I began hiking in mild misty rain towards Echo Lake Resort, 2.3 miles away. Quickly, the edges of the road dissolved, and I imaginged myself clipped by a car in one of the rock passes, dead. So, naturally, I bushwhacked my way OVER the rock areas, for a mile or so, until I found a large metal pipe, perhaps 3 feet in diameter. I figured this had to come from the lake, and sure enough, following it back, I found Echo Lake, and HURRAH! The Pacific Crest Trail resumes. I camped a few miles in, at a very slight angle. This is becomming a common theme, and I do not like it one bit.

The next morning, I ascended to a small meadow, occasionally following tracks in snow. Naturally, the tracks lead me wayyy off trail, to a lake (I figured out which one later). Again, intuition took over, and I ascended a small ridge to see the layout. I didn't bother looking at my compass, which, if I had, would have told me that what I THOUGHT was north was actually east, throwing off my directions considerably. Two hours, and three free-climbing descents, two glissades with a PVC pipe (I loaned my axe to Slim), and a fair amount of bushwhacking later, and I was back on a trail! Well, *A* trail. From there it was a mile ascent back to the PCT, and from there, a few miles of climbing up to the top of Dicks Pass. More snow, VERY wet feet (my goretex socks are now useless...As are my Thorlos, after over 1000 miles on them!), and a LOT of standing glissades, and I was down from the pass, skipping most of the switchbacks, and back on trail-ish (well, occasionally).

So, I made it down from Middle Velma lake, got a chance to hang out and dry my stuff while reading some more (I picked up a 1000 page paperback 4 days ago, and finished it this morning. Good book!). Proceeding down to Phillips Creek, the trail dissapeared again amongst a thousand tiny streams. Pulling out the "guide book", I checked my estimated position relative to the map, and approximated my distance from the trail. I climbed the ridge where the trail was supposed to be, assuming I would find what the guidebook SAID was a 50-yard pond (not on map), where the contours COULD have placed it...but did not. I bushwhacked for an hour in the direction of the trail, and FINALLY found it. Man was I glad to be out of the wet! I kept my dry socks in my pack, as I only had an hour of light left, and wanted to use them for sleeping. I did cook dinner, easy-mac type stuff with some added tuna (DAMN good!), and dropped into the valley to find a spot to camp. Once again, I was on a sliiiight incline, but enough that I did not sleep very well.

The next morning, waking up late (I should have camped on the EAST side instead of the WEST on the hill, oops), I started off. A few rousing hours of postholing, along with a cheery game of hide-and-seek with the trail lead me in an ascent to Barker Pass. Finally, without snow! Eating lunch, I started to ascent nad quickly...found myself lost. A trail intersection. Checking my "guidebook," i saw no such intersection. At this point, I considered dropping the book in the privvy at Barker Pass. I continued for a few minutes before deciding to drop down and head into Tahoe City. I road-walked for 7 miles, making camp less than a mile from Lake Tahoe, near a river in a mosquito-ish area. My bug net is useless, but my DEET is not! More reading, journaling, thinking, and sleeping, and by next morning I was ready for a little hike. A mile down the road, and then four or so into Tahoe City, and, well, here I am!

I stink, I'm dirty, and I'm a little bit tired. I've come to a few realizations (some very old):
I need a better set of maps. I would give away the guidebook, but for fear that someone else might actually use it! SO very glad I had my compass with me.
I am going to buy a GPS, if for nothing more than travel and luxury.
I am going to buy a Neoair thermarest, they are hella comfy and light/small.
I'm considering a small-ish solo mountaineering tent.

I don't enjoy hiking simply to hike. It's as simple as that. I love hiking with other folks, and that's very different than what I've been doing. To that effect, I'm seriously considering taking a bit of time off-trail, to hitch around and enjoy other aspects of travel for a while. When finished, I will SoBo sonora pass to Mammoth, meet Dad in Bishop/Lone Pine, hike with him, and then, who knows? That will put me near the Horde, which I may actually enjoy a bit. Anything is possible.

Oh, and yes, I am most excited about hiking with Spike. If for nothing else, than the fact that the JMT through the Sierras is BEAUTIFUL, and I haven't really had a ton of time to spend with Dad.


All is still well,

-Stove