My workbench

My workbench

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On the road

My first real night on the road...I am back up on the South Shore, visiting an old friend tomorrow for lunch, after which I head back to my folks' house, pick up a few lingering toys, and head west. First Stop: Rochester. After that, it's a prettymuch straight shot to Montana. I'm still working out some basic issues, but things are going well.

That was, until I got locked out of my bank account. This seems to be happening all too often. Unfortunately, I do business with a bank who's first priority is SECURITY. This means that I cannot talk my way into my account without tons of verifiable info, in this case some stuff which I don't know. So, gotta wait till they mail something to Jess in Burlington, she opens it and relays it to me. This means that I'm gonna be out of some $ for a few days, which will bite...But such is life.

I will post pictures of the van (inside and out) in a few days.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Van update

After speaking to some long-lost friends, collecting even MORE research, attempting to contact dozens of people (with a handful ever responding), I've reached a point:


The dodge 318 V8 engine.

So, with that in mind, I get to RE-RE-RE-resume my search. At least, after all of this, I have some positive feedback regarding the reliability of the engine I am choosing, as well as a baseline from the vannie community (those whom live in vans). So, after many false starts, assumptions, mistakes, and a few hundred miles of travel, I've got a decision.

In other news, coming up here may have cost me a hundred+ dollars, but I've saved easily that much by visiting the Gear Exchange. I picked up a $200 jacket for $60 (I've been looking for a good softshell), as well as a pair of 4-point instep crampons (IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND IN NEW ENGLAND!!!) for half off ($30).

I considered hitch-hiking back, and would really love to...but time is a factor. So, maybe next time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving humor (Non-vegan!)

So I just wanted to post this because, well, it's funny. And a good excuse to update. It's also easier than sending out forwarded emails, which I hate to do.

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.

Every word out of the bird's' mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.

As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly, "May I ask what the turkey did?"


If you're not laughing, leave.

I'm doing pretty well, still bumming around Mom and Dad's place in Greenwich. My plans for a motorized exploration around the US are still solid, or at least as solid as always. I've has some trouble finding my ideal vehicle, but am determined to make it to Montana for New years.

Thanksgiving is in a few days, and I can't wait to see family again. It's also nice to be back in my favorite season, taking walks out to the leaf-less trees, enjoying the smells of autumn, especially the wood-burning fires.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Home?

I've been at my parents house for a month. So far, I have made very little progress, though I've done an incredible amount of research, as usual. It's scary what I know about used vans currently available for sail in the US. And Hypnosis, as well as preserving and fermenting foods, baking home-made bread, and various passive-solar evaporative refrigeration techniques (REALLY simple). In short, while not making much forward 'progress,' I have kept fairly busy. Oh, I also discovered that the park three miles (five KMs) away has both extensive mountainbiking AND various bouldering spots. I am currently sore from the ears down, due also in part to my Sunday Night BJJ lessons...Damn I'm out of shape.

Hope you all are well-

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ramblings from Cologne

As I sit below a magnificent church, surely a something regarded as a wonder here in Cologne, Germany, I realize the truth in something which I have been saying for a while now:

I am tired.

Lest anyone worry themselves, I am getting plenty of sleep. My body, and to some extent, mind, are in perfect (well, normal) physical health. It is, in fact, my soul which has become weary. My passions, dreams, and challenges have all become, well, commonplace; I do what I want, when I want, how I want. Travel has lost its excitement, and in many ways has become as mundane as the daily communte to work. Find a new place, meet new people have a lot of fun, get to know the local surroundings...Move on. While exciting, engaging, and incredibly encouraging, this style of life does not allow for certain things to develop fully.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rain

So I'm not going to Amsterdam...At least, not today. It is pouring rain outside in Zagreb, and I am warm and dry in Katarina's apartment. Tomorrow will hopefully be mildly better, and aside from some friends whom I should visit, I don't have any pressing hurry to make it to Holland.

Besides, it's cozy here. Well, aside from the rain.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Zagreb!

Why Croatia you might ask? Good question. There is this little issue of Visas...and, well, I don't want to risk anything. Croatia has a separate visa system, so I skipped down here for a few days to relax, chill, and let my visa carry over enough that I have time to enjoy without having to worry about breaking any laws. I will be here for two or three days, and then heading back up to Amsterdam to hang out with Casa folks. After that, Frankfurt, and back with family! YAY!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Final day

This is the final day of racing. There is currently a four-way tie for first place, so whomever takes it today takes the entire regatta. Regardless of the outcome, I have had a lot of fun, and wouldn't have changed most anything. It is also Yom Kippur, and while I am not heading to temple, I am fasting. Last night, when I mentioned this at the team dinner, my team was absolutely incredulous- I have developed quite the reputation as the garbage disposal at the end of the table, scoffing down twice as much food as anyone.

After this, I head back to Slovenia. A train to Venitmiglia, then from there to Milan, to Mestre, to Trieste. A tram, to a walk, to Sezana, a train to Ljubljana, to be picked up by Polona.

I'll spend a few days in Slovenia with my friends, and then head back towards A'dam. A few days at Casa (not the week+ I had planned), and I will quick-hitch down to Frankfurt. An overnight in Frankfurt-am-Main, and on the 4th of October I will board a flight back to NYC. It all seems so close now...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

we won

the title prettymuch says it all. By 1 minute 48 seconds...damn close!

Tomorrow off to see Polona. Happy Bday to Steve, I'll call later I promise!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Regatta 2: Race one

Well we pulled third. Personally, I think that is great, considering the bad luck (wind shifts) and monumental screw-ups which occured. The stern (my section) was far from perfect, but we did well- today was mostly a case of the brain not connecting with the heart, or in this case, the skipper trying to micromanage everything without focusing on driving.

Well, aside from the finish, I had a blast. I don't really care about the outcome, I am having fun either way.

Oh, and I had to turn down the Kelpie for a transit race to Cannes. As soon as we finish the prize ceremony, I am heading back to Slovenia, to hang out with Polona.

and I need to fix my backspace key, which is a pain in the butt.

Monday, September 13, 2010

We win!

We won our first regatta in Imperia. Today we sailed through a storm to reach Nice, where we met up with the new crew (the Dix family) and are preparing to begin practicing. We will be racing again on Thursday, ending on the 19th. After that...I am supposed to head to A'dam, via Lyon. I've received word that I am welcome back in Ljubljana, a very tempting offer...Right now I am undecided. It violates a major rule of travel, but I've never really been a stickler for rules. We shall see...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Second Race

We came in second. A lot of mistakes were made, some serious, others insignificant. More importantly, we all had a lot of fun. I lost my balance and fell, slamming my back on the tiller- that hurt, but it was high enough up on my back not to be trouble. Nearly got brained by the boom, but ducked at the last minute. I love my job, running the stern team; I'm not so sure that my stern team enjoys it quite as much. It's great to be doing something physical and have a sure place to sleep at the same time, so I am able to really push myself hard. Still, I don't want to go too far- there is no point in my busting my ass when others seem to be dragging their feet. I have been receiving compliments from my teammates on how hard I am working, which is really great. Although they cannot hear the skipper from the tiller to the bow, my grunts, shouts, and curses can be heard clear from the fantail to the bowsprit.

It's a good time to be me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First Race

So, it got canned. The weather was too rough, some boats claimed to get damaged, whatever happened nobody knows. The point is, the fact that we WON because we had the BALLS to sail through a STORM and persevere was lost due to some wimpy locals crying. But we played hard, and it paid off. I'm sored, tired, worn out, but happy. This has been an incredible experience. I lead the Aft crew, which means I get to yell at two, sometimes three people. But the good thing is I have a lot of fun. It's an incredible experience.

Also, I was given an offer to come sail on a boat based in Erie, PA. it's something which I could consider, if only to get a bit more experience. I really do dig sailing, though it is just another ting to get in the way of my travels. Who knows, it could be a cool way to travel, and with a bit of experience I could hop around different boats and really get somewhere.

...Just another feather in my cap...

On a separate note, I got to see everyone at the Kastin's for Rosh Hashanah Dinner! That was pretty awesome, and sweet timing. I was planning on being asleep by now, but I am very glad that i was not. I think Mom was crying. it is great to be able to communicate, if even only by webcam adn whatnot. I love my family so very much.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

still alive

this post is just a placeholder for the time being. I made it to Paris, am staying with Nessa and Jerome, visiting friends and unwinding after a LOT of adventure. I'll write more later, but for now, I'm alive, well, and in good company. Things are good.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Out of Lisboa

I stayed at the squat in Lisbon for nearly a week, hanging out with friends, experimenting with various devices, and helping out around the area to further the development of the pool. Too soon, I felt the call of the road, a call which I had to answer. I packed my bag, walked into the common room, and said my goodbye. I got a few hugs, some smiles, and at least one angry glare, and I was off.

I returned two minutes later in search of my towel.

It took me nearly an hour to catch a ride out of Lisbon, and not necessarily in the direction I wanted to go. The two Portugese guys were really cool, sharing their food and giving me a lift to a spot near the Spanish border. Still buzzing about the hitchgathering, I mentioned it to the two guys up front. The driver had actually heard of the event, telling me his sister had picked up a crazy hitch-hiker a week or so ago, on his way to the very same event. Apparently this poor guy had gotten a late start, and to compound matters, ended up going in the wrong direction with the sister. I laughed, knowing what that feels like all too well. As our conversation progressed, the driver mentioned that he would, in fact, be going to the US in November, to go to pilot school down in Miami. My mind clicked over, putting all the pieces together. "Does your sister drive a dark-colored Skoda...?" I asked. We immediately began laughing, realizing that *I* was the crazy hitch-hiker his sister had picked up, on my way to the hitchgathering. We attempted to call and set up a meeting, but the sister was out of contact. What a small world!

After some food, it was back to the road. A great spot on the outskirts of town had me convinced that I would be in Spain in no time. Well, perhaps nintey minutes later, a small RV with Polish plates pulls up, with a small French-labeled Renault behind it. I would make it to Spain alright...but getting out was another matter.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

still alive

the hitchgathering turned out to be more of a party than gathering...not quite my thing, but I met some cool folks. Oh, and I got attacked by a drunken Wolf...pictures of that to come, Iºm totally fine. currently in Lisbon, but my next stop is Paris!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

France at last

I'm in Chamonix. Yes, I was headed for Lyon. Yes, I do know that one is east, and one is west when leaving Geneva. But...Chamonix! Mont Blanc! It is absolutely incredible here. I'm going to spend the rest of the day relaxing by a raging river, camped out illegally in the woods listening to music and writing in my journal. There is no better way to unwind (at least, in France...Legally...Safely...At this time of year). So, tomorrow Lyon, but today, pristine wilderness. With a motorway a few hundred meters below me...

This is the route *normal* people take:
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And this was my route...

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And I'm still not to Lyon

Monday, July 26, 2010



From Budapest to Ljubljana was rather uneventful- A single overnight spent just south of Balaton, sleeping in my brand new $10 tent from Tesco. I love these cheap little things, I can abuse the hell out of them, expect about three months of wear and tear, and then give them to someone unwilling to spend even that much on a piece of gear. I can't wait to hit an REI and pick up a decent tent for a reasonable price...

Ljubljana...Well, I succeeded in meeting up with Shaun, as well as his friend Martin. While we were only intending on meeting up and hanging out for a little while, I ended up staying with their couchsurfing hosts for the night...And the next one. The four girls were university students, two of them sisters, and were on summer break. We all cut loose a bit, had a lot of fun, and I will hopefully see Polona and her friend Ziva in Barcelona or Portugal. I really love Slovenia, and think that it may be the most beautiful country I have visited yet...Ljubljana is like Burlington, but bigger, with much prettier architecture.

This continued for four nights, after which time, despite protest (my own), I hit the road. My first lift came almost too easily, a quick hundred kms to the border with Austria. A brief wait later, and I caught a lift with a Slovenian truck driver up to the Rasthalle in Salzsburg, just west of the city. Discrete camping, an underpass to the other side of the road, a McDonalds with free Wifi, and LOTS of vehicular traffic...I like this one! I camped in the mild rain, throwing my tarp over my tent (1500mm hydrostatic head is 'water resistant' in my mind) to block both the rain and the light from the trucks coming and going. The next morning, still damp, I hitched out.

A german gentleman gave me a ride from Salzburg to a tankelle (petrol [gas] station) south of Munich, where I looked sorry enough that a Belgian couple decided to take pity on me and give me a lift. They were headed all the way up to Gent, just in time for the end of the Gent Festival. I considered going with them, and then hitting the festival for a day, then hitching back to A'dam, but in the end decided against it. Patryk, I learned last night, is at Casa right now...Shame, but I'll see him in Portugal. Well, these Belgians were freaking awesome! They had a cute golden retriever in the back of their series-3 Westphalia, and they were both pretty well linked up with the squat/alt scene in Gent. This gave hours of talking material, which helped us overcome 500kms and hours of stopped German traffic (ON THE AUTOBAHN!!!).

In the end, they set me down near Heilbonn at another tankelle. I walked over to the other side of the autobahn and walked into the small shop, searching for a better atlas of Europe to hitch with. Unfortunately, after comparing my own map to the atlas (same company) and placing my atlas back in my bag, the shopkeeper thought I was trying to steal it and shouted at me. I smiled, showed how worn my atlas was, and she understood. Back out to the road, I caught a lift with a German kid going to Offensburg. He worked for the state government (bundestadt?) and wanted to travel after he finished his university (apparently he won't have any trouble getting a job after taking a year or two off in his line of work...I want that!) As enthusiastic as he was, he nonetheless dropped me at the wrong service station (my fault for not paying attention), which was off the highway a km or so. I ended up camping on a nearby canal path, not bothering to set up my tent.

The dew in the morning was everywhere, and took a while to dry off. Due to the construction at the ramp, and my inability to properly find my location on a map, I boneheadedly decided to hitch to France. Not only do I fail to realize that I am NORTH of Strasbourg, but I smile and begin to walk, also failing to realize that it is 25 kms to the French motorway. I finally manage to get a few short lifts there, and wait for nearly an hour. At some point, I checked my map, looked at the branching roadsigns in front of me, and realized that I was in the wrong place, and would have to hitch straight through Strasbourg to get south. Naturally, I turned around and hitched back towards Germany. My first ride was going all the way to Freiburg. I got dropped at the last service station in Germany, and was not the only hitcher there. Apparently the pair of guys whom had sat down and set up a sign in front of me (quite rude, as I was there first) also trying to get to Lyon. I almost changed my direction when a beautiful blonde in a hot white Porsche smiled and gestured that she was going in the direction of Basel. Before I could change my mind, she was gone...Ironic, considering my next ride took me to Basel, and then ended up taking me all the way to Geneva.

I arrived here yesterday afternoon, no idea where I was sleeping, and no idea how to hitch out. I found some wifi and posted an emergency couch request, and began to explore. Daniel, a like-minded hitch-hiking, mountain climbing, adventure-seeking Brazilian dude is now hosting me, while he studies for his PhD in neuroscience. I will leave tomorrow for Lyon, crossing back into France and embarking on my last 150kms before hanging out for a few days with Sitrane. Sma, Patryk (with his Russian hitchpartner), and a number of other hitch-hikers will be meeting in Lyon on the 30th, on our way to Barcelona and then Sines, Portugal for the 6/8/10 hitch-hiking gathering.

I wonder what they're going to put 11 with next year?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

laptop dead

back to somewhat infrequent posting, as my laptop has crapped the bed, so to speak. the hard drive is screwy, and while i do know how to fix it, i am not currently feeling like traveling back to Amsterdam to fix it. So, for the time being, i will be connectionless...at least it means 3lb more off my back.

plans...heading south for a bit, with a nice stopover in the mountains to clear my head in the swiss air. i will head to lyon, then to barcelona and portugal for the hitch gathering. i might meet up with leigh and travel around for a bit, but in all honesty my current desire is to travel solo for a bit, visit friends up north, and then head over to iceland for a spell. not sure yet what will happen, but this is the most recent update-development.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Amsterdam-Pecs


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We took the loooong way. but still made it in 48h, with two (short) nights of (wet) camping.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

THE EARTH

As I've been tallying up all of the hitch-hiking I've done over the past few years, I've discovered something...


I've got a REV. That means I've hitched 40,000kms, or the circumference of the earth. I'll post maps of some of my other fun trips, such as around the west coast and my first European trip from Cork to Belfast.

This is kinda cool...I've hitched approximately 41,200kms in total, or over 25,000 miles.

August 2009 hitching trip


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Friday, July 2, 2010

Insight

From my discussions with Mom and Dad, it seems that some folks have a misconception about my travels. Yes, this most recent hitch-hiking jaunt threw me into a roller coaster of emotions, from self-doubt and depression to companionship, joy, and celebration. However, this is my life. I don't usually post about when I feel any sort of significant self-doubt, that all goes into a private log somewhere else (no, you can't see it). I simply felt that it would have been incomplete to tell the story about this particular trip without mentioning the emotions which were attached to it, so that folks understand what it is like. Just like anyone else's life, I have good days and bad. The difference is, I don't always have a place to hide when I'm having a bad day like most home-bound folks; I grit my teeth, screw on a smile, and keep going.

Dan asked me an interesting question: Why? He was asking why I camp in the bush, turn in after dark, and wake up before daybreak. The answer is that I enjoy pushing myself, and getting the most out of every single day. I love the freedom I have when I'm living out of a rucksack, knowing that I don't have anywhere to be, anywhere to go, and nobody depending on me- I'm the master of my own world. It's a feeling which most folks cannot really relate, always having to work on someone else's schedule or pace. This is why folks enjoy going into the wilderness- suddenly, the only thing which matters is you.

I hope this gives a bit of insight into Me.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Trip!


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15,314 kms in three months!
(9515 miles)

Possible change in plans

...I might enter Tramprennen 2010.

http://tramprennen.org/rennen2010/

Which would mean ONCE AGAIN that I skip going up to Nordkapp, visit my friends in July and early August, and then enter the Viva con agua hitch-hiking race from Hamburg to southern Romania. 

..And miss out most of the time in Iceland, and instead fly from Munich to Iceland, spend a few days there, and then head home.

I don't know, but a hitch-hiking race sounds like SO MUCH FUN.

And I'm competitive when it comes to hitch-hiking. 

Did I mention that I just finished a 4500km hitch?  Or caught a single 2400km ride a month ago.  I'm a bit proud of my thumb at the moment.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Big Hitch

Leaving Perth early in the morning, I caught a train to Midland station, where I had a short wait to catch a bus up to the start of the Great Northern Highway, my road to Darwin. It was the 21st of June, and I had exactly ten days to make just over 4000km across vast stretches of scrub bush and desert. Insecurity and apprehension gripped me as I stood at the petrol station, thumb out, smiling at passing drivers. Am I a fool for attempting this? Will I fail? Thoughts, both doubts and hope, flashed through my head at blinding speed, shaking my confidence to the core. I thought back to times before, to the improbable tasks and impossible goals I have always set for myself, and yet usually attain. Finally my mind settled on one thought: Failure is not an option. My first lift was going to Jurien Bay, some 250 kms up the coast. He dropped me on the side of the road, albeit a fairly crowded highway- I was 10ks from the nearest anything, with a moderate sun shining down on me. I started to walk up the road backwards, thumb in the air, smiling. The second car to pass pulled over, with a pair of Aboriginal guys sitting up front. They were headed to Geraldton, a five hour drive from Perth, and the first real town on the route. They were brothers, one looking for work in the labor/construction industry, the other a hip-hop artist trying to break into the North American market. We discussed everything from drugs and alcohol to poverty, crime, and the current state of hip-hop music. He had decided years ago to turn away from drugs and booze and focus on music and family; it was the most significant decision he'd made, and he never looked back. I admire determination like that, having felt something similar, yet constantly looking back to what I could have 'if only.' From Gerarldton, one short lift with a surf junkie turned commercial fisherman, and I was at the 440 truck stop, just north of the town. An older gentleman picked me up and drove me to Northampton, where he and his wife and dog, Boston, lived. I hiked up the hill at the north end of town, watching the shadows growing long and the sun dwindling. Night would come soon, and I needed somewhere quiet and out of the way to camp. Just as I had picked out a suitable spot to bed down for the night, a station wagon slowed and stopped for me. Bevon, a South African student/surfer was headed to Canavorn, but would stop for the night in Kalbarri to catch some waves in the morning. It was nearly 400kms, and so I agreed to accompany him for the evening and the next day. We grabbed some wine, watched a world cup match (I don't recall who was playing), and headed off to sleep- Bevon in the back of his wagon, while I walked a few yards off to the beach to settle down to the sound of crashing waves amidst a beautiful star-lit sky.

I woke at daybreak, watching a group of anxious fisherman preparing a boat for a day on the water. My South African friend was also awake, and we stretched and laid out the basic plans for the day. As we were preparing to depart, a local ranger drove up, asking if we had spent the night in the car park. It is illegal, he told us, to sleep in a parking area in Western Australia, as well as illegal due to a town law. We would later learn that the reason it is illegal in the town is that the local caravan park is owned by the council, and they want the money. Naturally, we were creative with the truth, and received a warning. The surf turned out to be crap, or so I was told, and after a lukewarm cup of coffee, we headed north. I got dropped off 7km outside of Canavron, on the road heading north to Exmouth and Karratha, unfortunately leaving my good silnylon tarp in the back of Bevon's car. I hope he has some sort of use for it, or passes it on to someone whom might use it; I'll have to get another one when I get back to the US. An hour or so wait later, and a large SUV pulling a caravan stopped for me. A 60-something hippy smiled out at me, offering a lift to the Minilya roadhouse, as he was heading to Exmouth, which was a turn-off an nearly 100kms out of my way. We discussed travel, both his and my plans, life, and everything else which popped into mind. I mentioned my unfortunate mishap with the tarp, and we he dropped me off at the roadhouse, he walked back to his caravan. A brand new 6x9 tarp came flying out at me, still packaged in plastic. "I can always buy another one," he told me. I've often used this thinking, and it was incredible to be on the receiving end for a change. I also received a beer, an orange, and some snacks. Again the light was failing, but I still tried to hitch for an hour or so until dark, at which point I walked over to a nearby parking area and camped out, chatting with a few other campers. I had hoped to ingratiate myself to the point of catching a lift, but it seemed that all of the nice folks had full cars, and those with space had no interest in talking to me. C'est la vie.

The next morning I woke just before sunrise, thankful for my Nunatak down blanket, as a slight chill had set during the night. I walked up to the roadhouse and began hitching. I saw plenty of cars, with plenty of seats, but none considered stopping. Two vehicles did stop during that time, unfortunately they were both headed south, the direction I had come. Self-doubt and thoughts of failure began creeping into my mind slowly, occasionally bolstered by the truckers whom I spoke to, some of whom were quite discouraging. A procession of antique Bentley's drove past, some with space in their back seats. Sadly, it was only the ones which were full whom stopped to chat, all apologizing for not having space, some offering kind words of reinforcement and admiration at my courage to hitch-hike. Plenty with empty space drove past, but again none stopped. I had woken around 6AM, and by 1PM I was beginning to become despondent. Perhaps a hundred vehicles had passed going my way, yet none had even slowed. I saw a tradesman pull in, his passenger seat empty, and I decided to go against my normal routine and ask. When I saw him returning to his vehicle after a break, I walked up and asked if he might be headed north. He smiled and said yes, offering me a lift as far as the next roadhouse. My heart jumped, and I immediately hopped in. He was from Queensland, thousands of miles from home, but had to work out in Western Australia to make money to support his family. I cannot quite commiserate, but I can imagine how difficult that must be. When we pulled up to the next roadhouse, I thanked him, walking over and immediately buying a cold drink and an ice cream cone- some things are just worth boosting morale. I spotted a young guy lingering by a new cement mixer, and again decided to ask. What's the worst that could happen, I thought to myself. Again he was headed north, and smiled when I asked for a ride, "Yeah Mate, hop up." I caught a lift past one road house, to Fortescue River roadhouse, where numerous trucks were parked. I tried to hitch for a little while, but again it was getting dark. After a bathroom break, and a water refill, I wandered off into the bush to make my camp for the night. The nights were beginning to get warmer, though midnight chills significantly dropped the temperature and early morning winds kept my sweater on for the first hour or so of daylight.

Daybreak brought a sad surprise- almost all of the trucks were headed south! I asked a few truck drivers whom appeared to be heading north, unfortunately they were all either unwilling or did not have space to take me. A large rock sat by the entrance to the truck stop, with significant visibility down the road. I sat there, listening to music, writing, thinking, thumb out, for most of the morning into the afternoon. Again cars passed, from trade workers and miners to pensioning nomads towing caravans and backpackers in every conceivable vehicle. A few gave apologetic shrugs from over-full vehicles, while most simply ignore me and went about their business. Around 2PM I was sitting on my rock, again wondering if THIS was the place I would be stuck, when a man walked up from behind me. I pulled out my headphones to the greatest phrase,"Hiya there, you needing a lift?" I smiled, asking where he was headed. Karratha, the nearest thing to a town within a hundred KMs, was his destination. Pat and his co-driver Jonsey were exploration drillers, living for weeks at a time out in remote areas of the bush, drilling to explore the possible mineral content in the area, and then selling the rights to larger mining companies. They dropped me at McDonalds, where I planned to hop online and update my blog. Unfortunately, while they had free wireless, it failed to work, and I quickly gave up and hit the road. It was 7KMs back to the main highway, though I assumed it would be easy to hitch a lift. A half hour later, in frustration, I decided to walk. By that point, perhaps 200 vehicles had passed, most not paying me the slightest glance, nearly all with at least one empty seat. Walking perhaps two kilometers, a guy pulled off and offered me a lift to the hightway and then north to Roeburn, some 35kms away. He had just sold a caravan up there and needed to do some work on it. I got a quick tour around the town, which was mostly an Aboriginal community, and then was off to the road. I received dirty looks from most of the white Australians whom passed me, while the Aboriginals mainly ignored me or looked confused. I managed to walk through the center of town and out the other side (maybe one kilometer, if that) and decided to keep going on the road, in the assumption that I would need somewhere to camp. By this time I was running calculations in my head, knowing that I would need to start making more significant distances if I wanted to make my goal. I had just reached the caravan park on the outskirts of town when a van pulled over, and two young French girls smiled at me. They were heading 200kms to Port Hedland, and would be delighted if I went with them. Melanie was from Picard, while the other girl was from Brittany, though I don't recall her name. These girls were meeting up with some friends, and while initially I was planning to sleep outside of town at the truck stop and make an early start, real human contact and the desire for friendship overrode this decision. I got along great with the three French guys, to the point that I was invited to dinner (Fajitas) and beer, and was told I could sleep in their van for the evening.

The cost of companionship was evident the next morning, when I faced a 15km walk back out to the highway. Again setting off at daybreak, I began walking along the main road out of town, thumb out, head held high. I had made maybe one mile, a kilometer and a half, when a work truck pulled up next to me. An Indonesian guy offered me a lift out of town, dropping me at the north-bound truck stop. Here I would way again until early afternoon, my longest wait yet in Australia. During this time, I asked multiple truck drivers, always being rejected, and occasionally ridiculed. One particularly fat and idiotic trucker took offense to my having asked him twice (fat hairy truckers all look the same to me), and insisted I pick up a pushbike and start pedaling towards Darwin. Every time I walked up to ask a trucker, this fat idiot would yell something about biking at me. Eventually a trucker admitted to having just come south, and offered to announce me to other truckers on the wideband radio. I thanked him profusely, hoping that it would help my chances. After another few hours, Alession, an Italian traveler in a somewhat malfunctioning 4WD Mitsubishi van stopped and offered me a lift to Broome. He could only go 80KM/hr, but that was still faster than i was making, and it was 600kms to Broome. Alession and I had some similar passions, especially snowsports and the mountains, and he ate up my stories of Montana and California, vowing to come and work in the states. I gave tricks on travel, from tips of survival to language shortcuts and comprehension issues. We got along great, and he must have apologized a dozen times for not driving further than Broome, but he was in need of work and would be staying there to try and find a job.

I thanked Alession for the lift as far as Broome, my longest on this part of my trip, and with renewed confidence knew that I would make it. From the truck stop outside of Broome the next day, I caught a quick 100km lift with a pair of French guys, whom dropped me 45km outside of Derby, on the highway but in the middle of nowhere. They were concerned for my survival, and decided to have lunch right there, telling me that they could give me a lift into town if I failed to catch a lift before they lift. I was grateful, and soon an Aboriginal couple pulled up and gave me a lift to Fitzroy Crossing. I got into town around 2PM, and would not get out until 9Am the next day. I was in desperate need of a shower, and saw the sign at a truck stop, 'Showers $4.' I walked up to the counter to pay, and was told by the young man behind the counter not to worry about it, and simply to hop in. I felt like I had been on the trail for weeks, trekking through hot desert. Clean and refreshed, I headed into the bush to camp out under a partial lunar eclipse showing millions of start in the sky overhead.

Once again, I awoke before sunrise, marveling at the beautiful gradient created as night gradually turned to day. I walked back out to the road, determined to catch a lift this time. By this far north, the heat during the day was becoming a bit difficult to take in direct sunlight, and so I sought shelter under a small tree, shaded from the harsh sun but still only a foot or so from the road. Lazily I wrote in my notebook, listened to music, and held out my thumb. I did not have a care in the world, sure by now that I would eventually get a lift, only waiting until it would eventually reveal itself. Today I was in luck, and a car stopped after only three hours of waiting. The driver, an older gentleman, seemed to be a bit hard of hearing; when I asked how far he was heading, he replied rather brusquely, "Further than you." He, as it turns out, was headed all the way to Katherine, some 1000kms away. I happily jumped in this car, and away we went. The ride was rather uneventful, although he turned out to be one of the most racist people I have ever met- that's something, coming from experience hitching around the US. We did not speak much, though occasionally I mumbled incoherent agreement when he would spout out something about the blackfella ruining the country, stealing the land, fleecing the government, etc. The ride was worth a bit of intolerance, and I chose not to speak up for my true beliefs in the interest of getting where I was going.

Which brings me to Katherine, where I spent last night and again will spend tonight. Sitting by a pool, relaxing, not a care in the world. I'm 300kms from Darwin, and my flight leaves the day after tomorrow. I'll hit the road in the mid morning tomorrow, stay a night in Darwin, and by the following evening I should be in Singapore. I've already lined up a couchsurfing host there for a few days, and then it's off back to Amsterdam and the Casa. I can't wait.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Made it to Katherine

I've hitched 4200 of the 4500 kms to Darwin- it is the 28th, and my flight leaves on the 1st.  That means I've still got two days to hitch the remaining 300kms.  There are also trains and busses, if I somehow manage to fail at this.  Just wanted to let everyone know, I am alive, well (mostly, a lil dehydrated) and totally out of my mind.

Love and miss ya!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I'm back in Perth- I've spent the past few nights in Fremantle at Eva, John, and Bruno's house couchsurfing along with Helene. I met Helene in Denmark, Western Australia while I was couchsurfing and she WWOOFing. We came up here together thanks to a lift from the owner of the farm, Helene intending to stick around for a while, my plans being to leave immediately and head north. That was Wednesday. Everyone in the house was wonderful, as were the many friends I met (Father Dominic and Martina, especially). I could have stayed longer, was certainly given the option to, but with just over a week to go, and nearly 4000km to hitch, I must get going. I will head out at 6AM to a truck stop north of the city, and begin asking truck drivers, car drivers, and generally anyone whom might be headed north if I can possibly catch a lift. I'm not really concerned that I won't make it (my flight out of Darwin leaves the evening of the 1st of July), just that I could get stuck and have to push my thumb further than I really want to (hitching at night, for instance). The danger comes from the long distance between everything, I could get stuck catching only one or two lifts a day (at five hours/ride), which means I won't be covering much ground daily. That being said, there are only a dozen or so significant stops between Perth and Darwin via the Great Northern Highway. If I don't make it...I've got a flight from Singapore to Amsterdam on the 5th of July, which I really do not want to miss. Also, my Australian visa expires on the 9th of July, if everything else falls through.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A new Blog Editor

Let's see if this one works better than the last few...

Friday, June 11, 2010

A day in the life of a WWOOFer...

I woke up around 7:30- work wouldn't start until half past eight.  With some premade batter from the prior evening, I cooked up pancakes for myself, the Belgian, Japanese, and three French WWOOFers who's 'house' I was staying in.  We walked up the hill together, reaching the worksite and breaking into pairs to get to work.  This particular site is building a house out of mud bricks- nothing fancy, really just home-made bricks.  I spent the day (5 hours of work) moving 20lb bricks around, laying them down with mortar, leveling them, and moving on. 


After five hours, we (my partner and I) had placed 15 bricks.

Seriously.

A bit of pre-planning would have gone a long way with this sort of project- for example, using a level on an uneven brick is like trying to nail in a piece of cooked spaghetti.  The bricks DID have one flat side, which I was promptly told was the bottom... Being new to the project, and seeing as my partner was the owner of the estate, I chose not to discuss the merit of leveling out an object with a top profile similar to a gravel road.

Otherwise, a great day.  I realized about halfway through that in my past two years of travel I have...

Laid brick (Australia), built a house with rebar-reinforced cinderblock (poland), done  remodeling and furniture construction (California), and performed emergency plumbing repair (Scotland).  My skillset is becoming quite varied.   I can't wait to build my own house (on wheels!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Denmark...Wait, what?

I made it!  Denmark, WA that is. I'm going to be meeting my host in a few minutes, but I wanted to shoot a quick update- I'm still alive!  I'm going to be working out how many KMs I've hitched (and then convert to Miles) soon.  Other than that...life is great, things are good, I'm healthy, (somewhat) wealthy, and...

Two outta three ain't bad, right?

That's all for now, hope everyone is doing well and enjoying life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tony's

I walked a few Kms out of Mandurah- all the way to Miami, in fact.  Apparently the developers around here are so lacking in creativity they need to 'borrow' US cities for new names, go figure.  After two DELICIOUS pies (Cajun Chicken and 'huntsman'- emu, kangaroo, and buffalo), I headed out to the road.  My first lift was only going a few KMs down the road, but would get me over the bridge (wherever that was).  As it was late in the day, I mentioned camping, and he dropped me at the entrance to a national park, on the way to his destination.  As I got out, shouldering my pack, he shouted out the car window, "Hey, do you like bourbon?"  I smiled, confirmed my interest, and proceeded to walk into the bush.  "If you hear some hollering later, you're more than welcome to stop by," he says, "assuming my mate is up to it."  I thank him and walk off into the bush, ditching my pack and climbing a dune to watch the fading sun and enjoy the freedom after being in Perth for nearly a week with the dreaded (and RIDICULOUSLY racist) Brits.

No sooner had I settled in, a shrill whistle pierced the calm air.  I looked over, and there was Sean, my lift, with his friend, whom would soon be introduced to me as Tony.  I scampered down the dune, grabbed my pack, and walked over to where the two were teeing off from Tony's front yard.  Along the way (100 yards or so), I passed a few wild roos (kangaroos) whom simply stared at me.  After a quick introduction, they asked if I had seen any roos out in the bush, and were apparently trying out some target practice with a sand wedge.  Personally, I would have preferred a 3 wood for a straighter ballistic profile, but I'm no golfer.

Darts, Pool, homemade bourbon, and lively intelligent conversation set the tone for the next four days.  Sean departed on the third, but I stuck around for an extra, getting the opportunity to meet Ronnie, Tony's wife.  Amidst all of the festivities and fun, we had conversations ranging from hunting to survival, dirtbikes, computers, politics, religion (and the problems it's caused), to politics (and the problems it's caused).  In many ways, Tony reminded me of Steve, minus the engineering background and machine shop.  I had a true blast, and have been invited back anytime.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Perth- Brit expat central

A few I don't mind.  The Irish are great.  But for the love of all, why are there so many Brits in Perth?  I couldn't take it anymore, after getting my package (THANKS MOM!), sending my stuff home (it'll take a while- $60 for a 7lb package the SLOW WAY?!), I bailed.  I'm currently enjoying the hospitality of Tony...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Paul

As the driver passed, he gestured apothetically- there is simply no room.  I've seen it a hundred times, and totally understand the sentiment.  I smiled and waved in appreciation of the acknowledgement, glad that he at least made eye contact and WOULD have picked me up if not for the full car.  As I turned back to face the empty road, I heard the squeal of tires sliding over loose gravel behind me; he had stopped.  I gathered my things, quickly stuffing my still-damp sandals into the side of my bag and rushing towards the car; I never expected a lift to actually happen.  I saw him arranging and stuffing bags, trying to make room for me and my cargo.  As I approached, I thanked him and asked where he was headed.  Perth!  I haven't grinned so widely in a while, as I confessed that I was also headed in that direction.  With my ruck on my lap, my legs splayed over my duffel, we pulled away from the gravel, embarking on a three day, 2000km drive from Port Augusta to Perth.  This will turn out to be the greatest lift I've ever had, to date.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A drifting mind.

Every so often, someone asks me when my 'trip' is going to 'end.'  I chuckle, and explain my thoughts on the inevitability of settling down (which I occasionally consider a possibility) along with the spontaneity of it's occurance.  "I'll travel until I don't, and then I won't travel," I say, smiling, "well, mostly." 

I turned 26 a few days ago, marking two full years on the road (I recall landing in Ireland on the 23rd of May, 2008).  People keep reminding me of my age, and how much time I have to explore everything.  Age itself no longer truly matters; The experience of an 18 year old may prove to be just as wise as the sagely advice of a 70 year old grandfather.
I feel old.  Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes, and it was a super treat to be able to conference-call and get the whole family on Skype- I'll add some credit so we can do that again.

In travel news, I'm still in Adelaide, extending my stay due to weather (that's my current excuse).  Really I just couldn't be bothered to pack my bag today.  From here, I'll be hitching to Port Augusta, where I hope to catch a ride all the way to Perth, thousands of kms away.  I'll try to catch a lift with a trucker ('truckie' in Aussie), as they're usually pretty bored and will apreciate having someone to talk to.  That's the theory, anyway.  Anything can happen on the road.

Oh, and should I spend July 4th in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or fly to Frankfurt ( and possibly hitch to friends)?  Life's full of tough choices...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Am I in California?

A train, tram, regional train, and a 4km walk later, and I'm back on the road!  I headed towards Torquay and the great ocean road, planning to make my way to Adelaide.  The first guy who picked me up, Rob, ended up bringing me to a winery where he worked.  I spent the night at the winery, partying with the german and french guys working there.  I got a lift with Stefan, from East Germany, to Torquay and the start of the great ocean road, the next day.

My first lift up the Great Ocean Road (easily the most beautiful) was a group of Indians whom did not speak much English.  They gave me a lift to Apollo Bay, where I cooked some lunch (Quinoa), and hiked out.  A few short lifts found me at a caravan park approaching sunset, and I camped for the night.  At the roadhouse (caravan park/pub/hotel/bistro/cafe/gasstop) I discovered Carlton Dark, a pretty good (on tap) local dark.
Progress became slow as I made my way towards the end of the Great Ocean Road, gaining little over a hundred kms and camping in the small farming village of Yumbak.

I had promised mom that I would contact her for my birthday, so I needed to be somewhere internet-enabled to make contact.  I figured the 500kms to Adelaide would be reachable in a day, if I started off early.  By 8AM, I was on the road. Donny gave me a lift to Portland, during which I learned that South Africa really can be as dangerous as I've been lead to believe.  A little while waiting on the side of the highway and I caught a lift in to Heywood, waiting again an hour or more before catching a horse-trainer transporting one of his horses to a race in Mt Gambier.  He actually offered me a lift to Adelaide, as one of the guys who worked for him was driving up in the morning.  We swapped numbers, and I promised I would call if I found myself in need.  By then I had begun to realize that unless I caught a lucky long-distance lift, I was not going to have a chance to make it to Adelaide.  I started walking uphill from the race course, a 7km hike out of town.  Two kms down the road, A contractor picked me up, offering a lift into town.  Along the way, we did a bit of sightseeing.

[Insert Pictures]

I was dropped at the outer edge of Mt. Gambiers, having passed a McDonalds not far away.  I considered walking back that way, as most of the McDs here offer free WiFi- A flushing toilet was a brief second in the back of my mind somewhere.  I decided to risk it, pushing ahead.  Heath gave me a lift to his hometown 30kms down the line, and then decided to give me an extra 100km.  He had, years ago, picked up a Dutch hitch-hiker traveling the same route I was on.  They became friends, and the Dutch guy lived with him for a few months.  Ever since, Heath's been pretty good about giving hospitality towards travelers.  You really never know who you might meet.  A final lift a few kms out to the countryside saw me settle in for a long haul.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne

I grabbed a standby car from Brisbane to Sydney, camping out along the way and taking a paying passenger (cute Taiwanese girl).  I couchsurfed with an aussie naval officer in sydney for a few days before heading south yet again.  She was unfortunately on-duty, so she couldn't drink- instead I was fed food and beer, given lifts, and watched some footie (TV).
Getting out of Sydney, I took a suburban train, stuck out my thumb, and away I went!  A quick lift from two Maori boys who were pretty chill, then a guy whom had seen me at the first spot but couldn't get over.  A 28 year old gave me a lift from the edge of town to a little village 20kms away, where I camped for the night by a creek (FAR too close to houses).  Waking, I hit the road with an older woman a hundred or so KMs down the road, after being offered some hospitality- she'd been hitch-hiking all around Australia since she was 14, and is mid-50s now.  The 32yrld couple were pretty awesome, again offering hospitality.  A hunter just returning from a few weeks in the bush gave me a lift over the border with Victoria, and dropped me in Genoa...Australia.  A sweet grandmother gave me a lift to Mallacoota, stopping at a beautiful lakeside town beforehand to show me around a bit.  I camped on the beach in mallacoota for two days- it was rainy and fairly miserable, but I had fun nonetheless.  Lots of thinking and stretching.  Oh, and I ate prawns (shrimp) by accident in some fried rice.  I was kinda disturbed when I realized that, but they didn't taste bad.  I wonder what my revulsion with seafood is all about?
Getting a quick lift (after walking 2km down the road) back to Genoa, I got a convoy pull over!  Larry (fr) and Marie (de) in Larry's car, where my bag went.  Alex (de) and laura (de) were in the big SUV loaded down, and in I hopped.  We drove aaaall the way to Wilson's prom, and camped in a caravan park for two nights.  The camping was fun, albeit wet, and I hit it off with Larry pretty well.  On our way out, I paid my share of the caravan camping fees, and was politely put off.  I was initially peeved, but realized that I was getting nowhere trying to engage any of the germans in conversation.  Three highschool students gave me a lift to Inverloch, where I caught another a few moments later.  My final lift drove me 134ks to a surburb of Melbourne, where I caught a suburban train in.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Unbooked flights

$560 Singapore to Frankfurt on July 5th


$255 Amsterdam to Iceland Sept 12th

$307 Iceland to JFK Oct 5th.
I might chop a month off mainland Europe to head back to the US early...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Flight to europe

$550 Singapore to Frankfurt.  Schweet.  Need to book...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hey, do you need a lift...

is what they said.  I was walking down the street, pack on my back, waiting to find the bus which would take me to Palmerston, the spot wher I was to begin my hitch-hiking trip to Brisbane.  These two women (one Italian, one Belgian) are doing a road trip to Cairns, eventually to Byron Bay, and were wondering if I wanted to come along.  Without any real hesitation, I agreed, and as of tomorrow I'm joining the roadtrip, along with a Danish guy, to the East Coast.  We're sharing fuel, food, and driving costs, but it will end up costing not a whole lot, and it'll be a heck of an adventure.  Afterwards, I'll kick it with SJ for a while in Brisbane (The friend I met in Bangkok), and head out towards either Melbourne or Western Australia.  Apparently it's fairly inexpensive (~3k) to pick up a van, and it can be re-sold for near the same price (more if you know how to ::cough:: massage a vehicle).  I think that might be a good idea, for as I do enjoy hitch-hiking and the random adventures, it will also be a good intro to van dwelling, which I am so set on when I return to the states.

Of course, just as quickly as today changed, everything else can change just as quickly.  Who knows what tomorrow may hold?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Singapore

12 hours of beer.  That's about the best way to describe yesterday, leading in to last night, and early-ish this morning.  I started around 1:30 in the afternoon, ironically at the very same cafe which I am currently at, meeting up with a couchsurfer and his friend for some beer tasting.  A few good pints later (Irish red, oatmeal stout, pils, Bock, and a few ales between the three of us), we headed to another brewery for a less-than-great pint of local pils.  Between beers and chatting, we somehow managed to use six hours relaxing and enjoying eachothers' company.  While the other two went to work and study, I met up with another group of slightly more party-inclined CSers and ended up wandering for a WHILE to find an appropriate bar.  We did, eventually, and I managed to mildly embarass myself with some inebriated karaoke.  No harm, no foul.

All in all, Singapore has been an expensive, but fun, stopover.  I'll be passing back through on my way out of Australia in June/July, and will definitely stick around for a few days to have some more fun.

Tomorrow, Darwin!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Political Rant

So I was looking back over my old Email, at some I've received from a certain close ultra-conservative...

Do people really think that political party/association matters for crap in the US?

I mean, honestly, both 'sides of the aisle' have been screwing the American People for so long they don't seem to know anything but arguing.  When was the last time we a unified government attempting to do 'good' things for the people?  Instead of just fighting the other side, how about some constructive criticism and maybe a suggestion or two?  "Obama is a socialism" and "Bush is destroying our country" are great slogans and all, but they really REALLY aren't getting anything done.

The next time I see a comparison between ANYONE and Hitler, be it Bush, Obama, or Lincoln, I'm going to rip them to pieces (verbally).

I believe in small government.  So do the Republicans.  So why do they keep increasing everything?  Same for the democrats- What good do free handouts do to people whom already aren't working?  It encourages people to learn about...how to game the system.  And trust me, it's REALLY REALLY easy.



And the people...You want someone to blame, forget the government.  If you want change, take it in your hands.  Sitting behind your computer screens, blogging away about this and that really isn't going to get things done.  Know how they did it in the 60s?  A little bit of suffering, some discomfort.  Take to the streets, show exactly what you want to change.  When some of this happens, you get the right to complain.

That being said, I'm not doing much better.  I take as much blame as I give.

Okay, that's all.  Time to go outside and enjoy the fruits of my labors.  Yes, that's right, I was fortunate enough to have parents whom were my financial assistance for university.  I do what I do now on money I made working my butt off as a highly trained engineer.  That's fairness.  You want something?  You've got to work for it.

Ice cream

I'm sitting in a little Thai cafe eating some delicious ice cream and listening to an acoustic version of 'summer of 69'. This is what I mean about the vibe- it's addictively relaxing and low key. I've found people to climb with, check out hot springs, go hiking, and even go touring with. The only thing lacking is a craft brewery. Hmmm...Now that wouldn't be a terrible idea, I wonder how hard ingredients are to get around here.
Also, for lunch I had aome exquisite vegetarian khoh soi, which is apprently the traditional dish of chiang mai. Well, I'd love to write more, but the ice cream is going to melt. Till next time!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Freeloading: What does it really cost?

 **WORK IN PROGRESS**

I am working on an essay on freeloading, and I will be saving it here to get feedback from friends/family/etc.  So please, do comment!

Stealing is a great way to get something for nothing, but what does it cost?  For one, the financial loss from whomever you stole from.  The loss of trust in others, and the new burden to secure your goods against further loss, compounds both the social and financial implications.  If successful, you may also have learned an important lesson: you don't need to work to get what you need, you can just steal it.  Suddenly society has lost whatever benefits you may have been able to bestow with your productivity.  Stealing is a severe example of freeloading, but what about, perhaps, couchsurfing?  Staying at another's home for free, without contributing anything to the homeowner.  Dumpster diving is great in terms of reducing the amount of waste generated, but when taken to the extreme can be nearly the same as stealing, in the affect it has on the producer of whatever it is you are diving.  The mother of all, of course, is welfare: necessary for those whom truly cannot work and/or provide for themselves, but disastrous for those whom are intelligent enough to find a way to exploit the system, and yet realize that there is more personal gain to NOT working than to actually pull their own weight.  Through these examples, the negative impact of freeloading can be shown to be downright disastrous when embraced by the masses.
    Couch-surfing is an amazing way to travel to a foreign land.  The ability to stay with locals and attain quick local knowledge of an area is priceless.  This comes as a second concern to many, whom see this as simply a free way to stay.  What about the hosts, however?  Not only do they pay rent, utilities, food and whatnot, but in hosting a surfer, they are eating in to their own time.  This loss of time, privacy, and financial burden to support people becomes significant, especially in highly traveled areas.  Many initially love the ability to host travelers of afar, but become jaded when the see surfer after surfer pass through, eat their food, stay for a night or two, smile, and leave.  This type of behavior, in addition to be an exploitation of a host's hospitality, can be damaging to the reputation of others, especially those legitimately interested in a hospitality and/or cultural exchange.  Perhaps bringing a gift, even an insignificant token, or helping out with chores could mitigate this downward trend.
    Dumpster diving, a cornerstone of non-consumerism, is an amazing way to re-use waste.  However, the choice between dumpster diving and supporting local merchants, farmers, and everyone along that chain can become somewhat less clear when indirect financial matters are taken into account.  For example, quality.  When you dumpster dive, you have no choice in what you get.  However, as a paying customer, you are able to dictate your terms and speak with your actions.  Additionally, in financially supporting a farmer or market, you give them feedback as to what you would like to have.  The farmer is then able to use your financial contribution to better their products, which will ultimately benefit you.  This cooperative cycle is called COMMERCE, and it has allowed for everything from rice in Alaska to cell phones in Sudan.  Without this exchange of goods, cultures would be restricted to their own natural resources- all fine and dandy, if you have everything you need with you.  By the way, where is the majority of oil coming from nowadays?
    Food stamps are insulting to the vast majority of Americans whom are able to, and do, work for what they have, and are more damaging than many people can imagine.  The very act of training a population that they can HAVE, without any sort of reciprocal contribution, removes the incentive to work in the future.  While we may all enjoy taking a day off once in a while, it is through the hard work of everyone from engineers to light duty specialists that the level of comfort in the society we live is maintained.  Imagine if Bill Gates never had felt the need to work very hard and pursue his goal of financial freedom.  Would you like to be sitting in front of a computer typing everything in to a blinking cursor on a black-and-green console screen?  I think not.
   The up-front costs of freeloading, to the individual doing it, are obvious- something for nothing.  The background costs, and the cascading effect which is has on society, are catastrophic when viewed in the long term.



It's incredibly rough, but begins to get the idea across.  I've got more examples, etc I'm working on.  So, feedback?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chiang Mai

"your previous short texts in blog - people have invented twitter for that"- Agnese

So I had some plans, and then they changed, and then they changed again...Guess what's new...

I think I'm going to stick around here for a while.  As a number of folks I've met over the past few days have put it, there's a good vibe around here.  I'm going to a party tonight, went to someone's birthday last night, and have just been really hanging out.  It's hot during the day (30s) and cool at night (16ish), which is perfect for me.  I also connected with some older couchsurfers yesterday over coffee and snacks and have gotten some great info on hiking in the area, as well as one guy whom is keen to do some motorcycle touring.  Yeah, I'm learning to ride a motorcycle.  It's fun.

Also, I got an invite to go stay w/a woman from Seattle living here for the past few months- she's got a spare room, and is looking for a rock climbing partner.  SCORE.  So, I'll connect with her in a non-bar setting (it was a double birthday party) and see how that runs.

Other than that, things are going well.  Still healthy and all that.  On a positive note, I can get medical/dental work done here SUPER cheap.  Y'know, if I needed any (fortunately, i don't).

I'm still planning on heading over to Manila at the end of March, and somehow making my way to Australia afterwards...Timetables and what are fluid, as usual.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thailand

So, I said I'd stick around Ton Sai for a few days, maybe a week...12 days later, I'm back in Bangkok.  I had a LOT of fun down in Ton Sai/Railay/deserted island in the middle of the ocean.  Lots of funny stories....

The Island
Train down
Bungalows
Water
LIZARD
The German, Austrians, Mexicans, and all the rest.
Climbing, of course.


I'll type up these stories as I get to them, but for now, I've got to go enjoy Bangkok for it's being...well, bangkok.  I'm healthy, wealthy (well, relatively), and...uhh, Thom, the dutch guy, thinks I'm smart.  So all things considered, I'm doing pretty well.

Tentative outline of possible future plans:

Bum around northern Thailand
[maybe] make my way to Laos
[hopefully] hitch around Cambodia
Pass back through Bangkok
Head south, check out Koh Lipe
More climbing at Ton Sai
Head for Malaysia->Kuala Lumpur
Flight to Manila ~march 23ish
See Steph
Explore Philippines, Indonesia,
Head for Oz
Flight back to KL or BKK
Flight to wherever I can get to cheaply in Europe

Attend 6/8/10 hitch-hiking conference
hitch around Scandinavia
Return home ~September


At least, that's the theory.  Save this one, we'll see how far I deviate.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alive

Despite completely losing my voice during my first full day in Ton Sai, it's back, and along with it, I got in some climbing today!  I didn't lead, but pumped my way through a 6a and all but the last ~4 feet of a 6a+ (French grading).  So, happy, need to stretch and slackline etc and I'll be back on it.  Thinking of staying here for a week or so, and then heading out...Not sure if I'll go north, hit Islands, or go south to Malaysia and Indonesia...From speaking to lots of people, Indonesia sounds killer!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Motorbike Taxi

For a single individual, there is no better way to get around.  Yeah, they're dangerous as hell...the drivers are suicidal...the other drivers consider them expendable...But DAMN is it fun zipping across town.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bangkok

2 beers, 20 minutes, and I've made friends.  I made it, I'm safe, have a place to crash

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Birthday Party

I went with my cousin's children and caretaker down to their friend's birthday party (1st year party).  It was...interesting.  The kids were all behaved and whatnot, and I got the chance to meet a fair number of expats, mostly Aussie.  Not surprisingly, nearly everyone worked in the financial sector.  Certainly, not my cup of tea.  But, as always, good to meet folks.  I'll be heading out with some folks on CS to go hiking on Lantau Island tomorrow (later today).  For now, to sleep!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Success!

Dude I'm in Hong Kong

Taipei

I have a few minutes until my flight for hong kong boards, but I am in Taiwan.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Colorado Springs

I made it!  After some fun in Denver with Liz, whom I met randomly on the street and ended up hanging out with for a while, I'm down with friends in Colorado Springs. Life is good.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

An interesting day on Lone Peak...

So I went out today for a fast tram run up to lone peak, hoping to catch some fresh powder before it all got blown off. It was windy, probably 60MPH winds or better, snow blowing like needles, but it looked clear from the top and was a gorgeous day. I wasn't sure that the back bowl lift was running (it wasn't, and would have meant a loooong hike out) so I traversed around with everyone else to the front gully (might have been Lenin, I need to check the map). Some 14 year old rider (somehow?) unbuckled his board, and proceeded to lose it. The traverse was windblown and the section he stopped at was completely ice. I was having trouble getting over on my own, this kid (assisted by his friend) was screwed. I stayed with the two of them while a ski patroler came by, dropped down, picked up the kids board (managed to stop barely 50 feet away, apparently), and assisted the kid to the snowier portion of the traverse.

I had a solid sheet of ice on my face from buildup while waiting. But it was worth it. Aside from some wind-blown ice chunks, the powder was crisp and soft. That didn't stop me from wrecking on a few submerged ice bumps, but it was an insane run. I heard they wind-checked (halted) the tram for a while today, and they even wind-checked some of the regular chairs (Challenged, Peak Triple).

I know that nobody here understands a word of this, as nobody knows the mountain, but you all will understand WHEN YOU COME VISIT. I have been told early March is a good time...

Happy New Years.