My workbench

My workbench

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Transitioning to Normal

I have not posted in a while, as has become a common occurance recently, for a very new reason.  No longer can I claim that nothing much has happened and there is nothing interesting to write- now, instead, I have much to write about, but little time to write.

Over the past few months, I have traveled a grand total of approximately three hundred miles, from Boston down to Greenwich, CT.  From spending time taking care of someone I loved, to working on the waffle truck, to changing all of my future plans for the forseeable future, I have hit the one snag in my travels which I cannot work my way around.


I found Katherine.

Being with this incredible woman makes me desire nothing more than to spend more time with her, an addiction unlike anything I have ever felt.  I have made clear my intentions to stay put, for the forseeable future, in the interests of being with her.

With that in mind, my life is changing.  I work on a regular schedule, sleep indoors, and am reachable by mobile phone. I just paid my car insurance, have bought new "street" clothes, and am beginning to look at event more than a few days into the future.

I haven't done this for a few years, and it is a bit of a shock to realize how easy it was to transition one way, but how difficult it can be to transition the other direction.

i have some really cool projects to work on while I stay in place, along with one which I have struggled with since my travels began- how to write about my experiences.

Last night, I had an idea, which I will pursue in the coming days.  To fill in the gaps left in my blog, as well as to reveal a fair bit of the information which I had intentionally censored, I am going to attempt to write a journal-style recount of my travels, day by day.  Some days will have only one word, while others will have pictures and extended paragraphs.  Naturally, this will be a biased recount, with the gift of hindsight aiding and changing the actual content.  Nonetheless, I feel that it will also allow me a bit of creative licesse in editing my work, without the need to wake at 2AM to catch a train or the in-situ complications with long blog entries.  It is, as is everything in my life, forthcoming...


To my friends out there on the road, be safe, joyous and creative.  The world is full of possibilities, and remember: the choice you make is the only one you could have- embrace it, and roam free.


With love to all,

Matt "Stove" Lipschutz.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First day of work

My first day of work went well, aside from some confusion early in the morning.  Waffles were sold, toppings were added, and jokes were cracked.  Really nothing that complicated.

Not too much to say, it was fun, and it is certainly interesting to see what goes on in New York....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy wall street and my impression

I went down to the protest yesterday on the wall street and had a look around.  it was nothing like the protest in boston because it was very disorganized and nobody seems to have any information.  that being said it was still great to see so many people from so many different backgrounds coming together in one place.

While I am not planning on staying there now, I imagine I will return and help out in the future.  Many of the planned protest marches and actions I believe strongly in and will participate in as my time allows.

At the moment I am staying back with my parents in connecticut, and will likely remain here until january while I work in the city.

I had a wonderful time this weekend in rochester, attending my good friend val's wedding.

This coming weekend will see me up in new hampshire spending time with a friend and enjoying the mountains.

side note I'm using google voice to text translation.  I've tried to proofread everything but it seems that a little bit may slip by... it happens.  More or less the system works really well.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tough Love

So I've spent the last month or so trying ot take care of a very beloved family member, a task much maligned by a number of my friends for the toll it has taken on my health (more mental than physical).  That is a tradeoff I have been willing to make, because I can always recover, whereas the woman I am helping to take care of is at the end of her live.  That being said...

I believe in Tough Love.  I have tried, for nearly a month, to be as helpful and assisting as I possibly can.  Unfortunately, as I have known for a good many years, giving someone something is not the same as teaching them to do it on their own.  I have only ever been able to teach this lesson through...difficulty.  Threats, usually in the form of leaving someone somewhere, have worked wonders for me in my attempts to teach people a bit about their inner strengths (for those of you who are familiar with what happened with my Anu, or my mom, you know what i am talking about).  I have had to teach that same lesson to the person I am helping now, in the form of a very basic threat: 

Get yourself healthy, or die.

This is a lesson which I wish I were able to teach a great many more people, but I quite simply do not know how.  Also, while I am able to teach in a one-on-one setting,, I cannot think of any easy way to teach what I know in any setting other than one-on-one, and, well, that's a ton of time spent with individuals.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Disgrace

http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrismenning/nypd-makes-arrests-at-occupy-wall-street-protest

Half of me wants to wander the world searching for a better place, while the other half wonders how to stand and make a difference.  A rapidly shrinking part refers to what I am doing now.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You're doing it wrong.

"What you are doing is simply incredible.  Most people would never do something like that."

I have heard a dozen variations of these two phrases from just as many people over the past two weeks.  I think it is supposed to be encouraging and supportive.

It's not.

What it is, however, is fucking depressing.  Stop and think for a moment: does telling someone that helping out an elderly family member, who is in need of care, sound good?  Of course it does.

Does mentioning that NOBODY ELSE WOULD DO THAT sound encouraging?  No.  It sounds like we live in a world where people wouldn't stop to help a dying man on the street.

Oh.  Wait.

Yes,  I am taking time out of my life to help someone.  It is great that I am able to do this.  It's HORRIFYING to me that nobody else seems to be willing. 

MY friends, those whom I consider close enough to be family, would do this in a heartbeat.  We are not always in communication, but when someone needs help, and it is possible to give it, everything else goes out the window.  Money is raised, borders are crossed, laws and rules are broken, all for the love of a friend.


Is this really such a strange concept?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Love

Every day, every experience, I feel blessed to have the opportunities to experience life in the ways I do.


Why I deleted my CS account

When I first started my travels, CouchSurfing was an incredible resource.  I met awesome people, stayed in private homes and accommodations, and generally was well taken care of.  I've made friends through the couchsurfing community whom I am still in contact with today, and been exposed to places and people I could have never imagined.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

I need to post this

 Here is the story of how corrupt, crooked, and disgustingly twisted our "justice" system is.  I would urge everyone to watch this trailer, and the full length documentary linked at the bottom of this post.  I cannot stress this strongly enough.



Watch the full video on the link below, if you cannot see it on PBS

http://video.pbs.org/video/2112607897

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back in the 'Well

As has been the trend of late, it has been a while since my last update.  Surprisingly, this time there is a reason.  I have moved back to Norwell.  That's right, the quaint little town on the South Shore which I swore I would never return to...well, I've returned.  At least there is a good reason.

Mo got released from the hospital, and I am helping to get her back up and on her feet.  I am living at her house, helping with basic around-the-house chores, and trying to help establish some sort of a routine for her care.  On the side, I am also going to be doing my usual research, creating a database of problems, prescriptions, complaints etc.  It's just like any other research project, only I have a significant emotional investment this time.  Stressful as it is, I am thoroughly enjoying the tasks I have set upon myself, and I am proceeding with a determination not seen since...Well, to be honest, I'm not sure that I have ever really dedicated myself to a project like this.  All of my engineering training is coming out, with written notebooks and date-marked pages to noting exactly whom I speak to and what they say.  I will be collecting, collating, and sorting records, and likely doing an incredible amount of data sorting to understand everything which has happened.  Once processed, I will be more than eager to give feedback to the necessary authorities, both praise for things well done, as well as criticism for that which has been sub-par.

Aside from a friend's wedding in mid-october, I don't have anything to do until November.  That gives me two and a half months to complete what basically amounts to a mid-scale records project.  I'm stoked.


At the same time, I have the chance to reconnect with friends all the way back from highschool, as well as some friends-of-friends in the nearby city of Boston whom I have known from my travels.  There are some incredible resources in the area, many of which I was either ignorant of or simply did not avail myself of back in highschool. 


Though I am off the road for a few months, I am overjoyed to be able to put my skills and knowledge to use.  In November, I head down to New York to work a waffle stand in the cold, and afterward (my plan so far is to) head back out to Montana, to enjoy a winter ski season.

Those are my plans, at least for now.  As we all know, they are subject to change without notice at the drop of a hat, and most likely will in ways which I cannot possibly forsee.  Naturally, that neither bothers me nor really has me concerned.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Observations

Every so often, a beam of light sweeps past.  A row of apartments and condos is lit up, as red-white objects float gently past.  The sound of their enginges fades as they come past a hill, their lights a faint glow in the distance, dissapearing in the midst of a darkening sky.  The apartment lights return to lifelesssness, the only indication of passing time the low humming noise in te background, along with the occasional engine off in the distance.  The mountain is a black shadow against a dark blue sky, a high condo stands soley illuminated, surrounded by a black outline to the single light atop the peak.  Almost a star, it shows the joining of the mountain to the night, a sole survivor amongst an onslight of bright sparkling stars.
The gentle flow of a stream off in the distance helps me ot keep track of time, a constant and continuous reminder amidst random vehicle noise and the odd sounds off in the distance.  My body, at least from the thigh up, seems to spring from nowhere, my fingers and the sounds of clicking keys a constant reminder to me that I am, in fact, here.  The flexing of te laptop and te bouncing of te screen create a cinematic quality, worthy of an early 20th century silent film, with sound reel.
Laughter in the distance.  A challenge.  Silence.
A vehicle approaches.  Will it turn or will it pass.  Grass illuminated.  A van drivespast, the beam cast of headlights and a flowing set of taillights the only thing marking it's presence.  Soon it dissapears leaving only the sound of an overworked engine in it's wake.  It fades into the distance slowly, repeatedly ressureced in both sound and  sight.
A truck appears from nowhere and drives across the plain.  I close my laptop as my heart jumps into overdrive.  Sitting by silently, I watch them drive to a barrier with a chain strung across.  Dismounting and disengaging the chain, they roll right past.  The frenzied storm of activity dissapears just as quickly as it has come, lights returning to normal, the landscape painted amidst a backlight of slowly cooling night.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fall/Winter plans.

Alright so I've done a bit of thinking, and worked a few things out.

I am not going to live up at Big Sky unless something significant changes; as of right now, Bozeman is looking most appealing.

Important dates:

Lily's commitment cerimony
Val&Brian's wedding
Thanksgiving.

That's about all. So with that in mind, here are my thoughts....

Work in NYC from mid-NOV to January
Move back up to BOZ and spend the rest of the winter living in Bozeman.
-Midweek Season Pass to Bridger Bowl is around $350, full week is $575.
-Co-op is $35 to join, one-time.
-A room looks to be $350/month+, full apartment as little as $600. I'd prefer to get a one-bedroom apartment or double and share.
-Jobs I'm not too concerned about, something will come around.


I'll hang out in Rochester on both sides of the wedding, to see friends etc. Afterwards I should have a month, and I'll either head up to New England to hitch, hike, swim, relax, and enjoy myself until I head down to the NYC area for some work and Family time.

I've got nine weeks or so free between late Aug and being in Rochester. I'll base out of Bozeman, but want to visit friends in SoCal. I'll kick it in Portland for a bit, and then mosey around.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Update on life

So rainbow was fun, though not necessarily in the ways which I thought it would be. Afterwards I ended up hanging out for a week with a new friend, talking and learning a bit about myself.  I am now in Portland, heading to a park where I will theoretically meet up with some other hitch-hikers for a small gathering.  I don't know what to expect, nor how many folks will show up, but I will go anyways.

I will post more after setting up my camp. Both phones are on and should be working, and I am trying to response to all of the messages I received while in the wilderness.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Still kickin

Made it to rainbow, relaxing, and hooked up with the medical crew. Spent the day picking up a glucometer and other supplies, heading back to the gathering. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pre rainbow dump

So I am in a beat up Dodge with a group of homeless kids from the east coast, two fresh out of jail. They have made it cross country by hugging, or asking for gas money, for both fuel and cigarettes.  I have hitched over 3000 miles in the past week, am traveling with criminals, and headed to a hippy festival in the forest.

How did this happen?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hitch-hikers

This is how you fit five hitch-hikers in the back of my van:

An amalgamation of updates

The past week or so has been phenomenal.  Starting all the way back on my birthday, I spent a few days relaxing and, well, just relaxing at Tokatee Hot Springs near Crater Lake, OR.  I managed to pull myself away from the hot springs last Tuesday (the 23rd) and drive up to Eugene, where I promptly arrived too late to visit in with my friend whom was leaving for training early in the morning.  I slept at a rest stop just north of Eugene, planning on visiting another friend in the morning and then making the drive to Seattle.
Managing to get myself out of bed and walking by 11 or so, I headed out.  No sooner had I gotten up to speed did I see two dudes standing at the bottom of the ramp near Corvalis on the 5 (legal in Oregon) with their thumbs out.  I pulled over, and promptly saw the first two *clean* hitch-hikers I have ever met inside the US.  They were also headed to Folk Life, and were willing to visit my friend and chill for a bit for a lift all the way.  They, also, were fresh out of some hot springs, Cougar near Eugene.
As plan changes go, this was one of the best.  While visiting with my friend, we decided that, with no real schedule to keep, a side trip to Bagby hot springs was in order.  "Only about 45 minutes away," I was told.  Though I knew the route, distance, and time it would take before we departed, it still seemed to take a incredibly long time to get to the hot springs.  We camped in the parking lot, starting the evening with a hike to the springs and a hot soak.
The next morning (the 25th?), I woke and made some coffee, watching

It was raining when I woke up this morning, with a bit of mist making it past the netting on my hammock to settle on my face.  I walked over to the van to set up a tarp and begin some coffee, watching campers emerge in pairs and trios from the "No Camping" hot springs trail.  I smiled at a trio who walked over, toting a decidedly damp dog, and we struck up a conversation.  I noticed that there did not appear to be any other vehicles in the parking lot right about the time they asked for a lift to Estacada.  I smiled, thinking of my two other riders, and invited the trio to stay, figuring I could clear some space.  While the coffee was sub-par, the company was great, amidst the constant Oregon rain.  Eventually everyone roused, space was cleared, coffee was consumed, and another hot soak was in order.  While all of the tubs we had used the prior evening were in use, we were directed to the old tub, a bit further down the trail.  This thing was awesome!  Hot springs are really something special, I wish there were some in the Northeast.  The five of us, plus dog, drove to Estacada, where we parted ways.  The two original guys and I headed north, destination Seattle.  Or a rest stop a few dozen miles south of the city, as we were to later discover.

We made it!  A slack-line was set up, along with some juggling instruction (both of which I have VERY slowly picked up, and need to pick up some line for myself), at the rest stop in the morning, after which we drove to Seattle...directly to REI.  An hour or more was spent browsing this store, which has a wrap shack on the second floor, a full rock climbing area, as well as hiking and biking test tracks outside.  Oh, and there was a lot of gear, too.  I managed to walk out without purchasing anything, though I thought long and hard about it.
This evening we camped out at Gas Works Park in Seattle.  Well, they camped, I slept in my van.  The park has a stunning view of the Seattle night skyline, incredibly illuminated, along with the remains of an old gas works plant (hence the name) sticking out from their original locations from the grass.  Hopefully I won't get interrupted crashing out here, across from the park.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New device

I finally broke down nd bought a new phone e.  It is a fancy smartphone, so I can keep up with the rest of the world.  This also means a lot less to carry in my pack.  If only this allowed USB hosting.

Amywho, my new limited-access number is 7752508344.  Service is unlimited, but the reception will suck.  Old phone works, except for June in AK.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Revelations

So I spent a good few days camped out near Mono Lake in Lee Vining, CA, and had the opportunity to sit around and thing.  I've realized a few things.

First and foremost, I am not sure that I am capable of sitting around and thinking.  I need to pace, or even better yet, walk.  I was hiking short ten mile stints a few times, just to clear my head.  I really need to be pushing my body to be able to clear my head like that, and it looks like it worked.

Before I even settled down into that routine, inspiration had struck and I had the first inklings of what was bothering me, thanks to my brother Dan.  I was feeling trapped by my van, with things quite simply too easy and settled.

I need to get back out on the road, me and a pack, my thumb and not much else.


To that end, my next adventure: Alaska!


I am going up to Seattle for the Northwest Folk Life festival over Memorial day weekend, and from there, I'll walk across the border to Vancouver and hitch to, well, Alaska.  I don't really know exactly *where*, which suits me just fine, but I want to GO. 

I plan to return in time for the Rainbow Gathering in Washington, but... well, honestly, who knows what will happen.  That's just the way I like it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Meditation break

So this has been a long time in the making...nearly a year, since I voiced my wishes last July.  Anyway, I'm leaving.  I've spent the past two days driving all over California, getting into and then immediately leaving Yosemite.    I am driving myself insane.


I've got a lot to think about, and I cannot seem to really THINK in civilization.  I'm headed out to the Mono Lake area, on the edges of Death Valley and Yosemite.  I will hike, climb, meditate, swim, and just BE.  I'll post the updates that I meant to write a week ago regarding my time in reno and some hot springs I've been hanging out at, but generally I'm just...going to think.

Next up-comming anything is the BBCRC, which I am not fully comitted to, and then the Kinetic Sculpture race in Humboldt. 

I'm thinking...leave my van at mono lake, hitch back that way, and go for it.  As much as I love the availability to HAVE my van, I don't like being in it all the time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Headed west

I had a wonderful time back east, visiting family and friend.  The seder was a raucus afair, where a good time was had by all.  Some relaxation at my parents' home, a day trip to walk around Boston, and apartment-sitting for my friend Leigh round out the summary of my time. 

On my way back to Reno, I got the change to stay overnight in Chicago with the Gorski's.  Rose is shooting straight verticle while I thuoght about Drew's bar-mitzvah in 2012.  Mom's merieung cookies were a hit (though a bit crashed from the journey), while we broke Pesach with pizza, some pie, some cake, cookies, and Drew enjoyed an anything bagel.  There was much bounching on the trampoline out back, which seems to have embued both Rose and Drew with nearly limitless amounts of energy, while I felt old.  Michele and I had an excellent lunch at a sandwich shop in Chicago, and then I parted her company to board a train in the rain.  Naturally, it was stopped as I got inside.  Presently I am speeding across the plains of Iowa.  You can understand why I'm on my laptop...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Over-extended

So I think I went overboard with my plans, not quite realizing what I would be undertaking.  I am going to go ahead and make my way back to Reno, and MAY try to hitch from there to the Kick-off.  I realized that, aside from meeting some friends, there is no reason for me to go there, so I may delay that by a bit, and simply meet up with friends later.

That being said, I am currently hanging out in the Garage.  I probably won't spend the night in Mass, instead taking a cheap bus or hitching back to NYC.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I meet awesome people every day

Sadly, that doesn't mean that everyone I meet is awesome.  Take this message, from a girl I met in Portland...

"

he world never fails to be a fascinating place, full of marvels.

My attention, however, does waver.

I wonder how you've been. (The previous sentences were little more than a tangential philosophical preamble.) I think of you, living free, immensely capable, and opinionated. It makes me smile, this thought: jumble, that it is, of semi-formed logical threads parsed with moving pictures. Always your smile--such a nice smile. You smile when you're happy, of course, but also after you've said something (I typically deem) dumb, and you seemingly believe or hope clever--or, at least, entertaining. The last is a sudden smile, like shining it on. This trait endears you to me, though I hope saying so has not hurt your pride.

When asked, by Jordan, (innocently enough), why I'd taken a liking to you, I mentioned your smile and its complexities. I think on what you've said to me--perhaps I am naive to trust--and wonder at the mystery of the machine propelling the smile. Perhaps, as Yeats wrote,

She is playing like a child
And penance is the play,
Fantastical and wild
Because the end of day
Shows her that some one soon
Will come from the house, and say
Though play is but half done
"Come in and leave the play.'

So I mentioned this smile of yours, blindingly bright but occasionally dumb; a smile to make me smile, and wonder. And, I thought, and spoke, just as strongly, that I liked you being a person I can and wish to support and enjoy with my entire being.

I like almost every way in which you oppose me, every way but one. The oppositions push me to new planes, stimulate me to shed the old dead layers of a self no longer lived or useful or desired. The one way I do not like, the place where your life's logic has taken you, the place where your only compass in the waste is your will, and your defiance, where you have these destructive tendencies and they bend inward.

I cannot help this: I am a meddling healer. I see a man-made wasteland, and I wanna help plant a damn garden there. Not just a meager plot: I want to see terraced hills, olive groves, wildflower meadows, Italian vineyards, the hanging goddamn gardens of Babylon.

And though I see and hear you drive to grasp and make much of your life--such a precious, wonderful drive--I see still a need for the art I know, and I see a challenge.

A challenge to help you, I suppose, remember the many faces of eternity, of immortality, of your connection to love and community that span beyond the scope of your vision now. I've always liked these lyrics from a Cocorosie song, hokey as they are:

"In the these times of evil spirits
Of material thugs and mischief
Fearing Saint Noni's wisdom
And his love for rainbow spirits
Jealous of their faithful heart-bond
And their dancing and their laughing
Made at last a league against them
To molest them and destroy them
Saint Noni wise and heart-strong
Often said to Rainbowarrior
"O my brother do not leave me!
Lest the evil spirits harm you!"
Rainbowarrior of two spirits
Gentle hand and lion hearted
He laughed and then he answered
Like a child he softy whispered
We are rainbowarriors
Evil come not near
Rainbow path awaits us
With hearts of love and tears

He's dead our sweetest mother
Loving father and our teacher
He's gone from us forever
He has moved a little nearer
To the master of all laughter
To the master of all song
O my brother, O my brother
Crystal brother of two spirits
Then we gathered in a circle
Stood around the rainbow fire
Burning embers hearts united
We remembered mystical beauty
If you look hard you can find a
Rainbow trail its deep inside ya
Fear not you're a rainbow warrior
Golden light on every thing gleaming"

So, this is how I think of you, and wonder how you are. And I miss you, and wonder if you think of me--and, if so, whether with fondness, and curiosity.

"

I might have created the title with a hint of sarcasm.

Audacious plans

I just posted something on Facebook, and due to the inherent nature of the Internet, it shall now come true.

I am heading to Boston on Thursday/Friday to meet up with some friends.  From there, I'll take the train BACK to New York, where I will round out my gear and then head to Chicago.  From the Windy City, (after taking a break, if family is available) I head to Tucson, AZ to visit Jim.  From there, I head West, to the PCT kick-off.  I'm not hiking this year, I just want to see some friends and possibly reconnect with a few fellow adventurers.

From the kick-off, i will hitch BACK to Reno, pick up my van, and continue my travels where they left off last Thursday.  This should bring me to ~May 4th or so, at which time I will begin hiking.  Serious Hiking.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reno and the ride home

So for those whom don't know already, I am with my family.  Yes, my real Family.  I left Reno on Thursday, arriving in New York Sunday evening and surprising everyone on Monday.  I will hang out for a few days, hopefully heading up to Boston to visit friends for a day or two, and then back here to ship out.  An overnight (maybe on the weekend?) in Chicago to see some other cousins, and I'll be headed back west.

Reno itself was pretty cool...Instead of hiking, as I had planned, I spent prettymuch the entire time hanging out with random folks I met in the park or at a coffee shop.  By the end of the month I'll be returnin there, to base out of the area until BBCRC but intending to hike around the area.


Well that's all for now.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Travel and Friendship

I've been fortunate enough to have this conversation twice recently, with one of my best friends, and a nearly complete stranger (another traveler); it has gotten me thinking.

When you travel, living on the road for a protracted period, the 'traditional' idea of friendship becomes blurred.  Friendships are made in the blink of an eye, significant bonds created over similar experiences and perhaps a beer or two.  A day later, communication ceases, as people go their separate ways, only to reconvene months or years later.  At that time, as if none had passed, the friendship is picked up and resumed, sharing stories, experiences, and knowledge openly.

It is not uncommon for me to make a friend, perhaps in the hills of northern Thailand, sharing beers, gear, stories and advice, only to see him depart later for destinations unknown.  Months later, as I travel through southern Australia, I put in a call to that very same friend, hoping to meet up, if for nothing else than to reminisce on the good days in Thailand.  It may be years until we see eachother again, but at that time, as if no time has changed at all, I would welcome him into my house (or camp, van, squat, motel room, whatever) as my friend, and we would begin again sharing, reminiscing, and planning.

I don't get the chance to see many of my "old" friends nearly as much as I would like to, as my travels take me to far-off destinations, and rarely land me in, say, Rochester.  At the same time, when I do, I feel like no time has passed.  It's a bit different for them, especially given how I have changed over the past few years...I wonder what it must be like from their POV?

I'd like to write more, but I've got SERIOUS writers block.  I've written this post four times, in different ways, and it still doesn't look correct.  I'm just finished writing for now...  Holed up in Reno, recovering from a small cold, then headed out to the great beyond!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Birthday to Polona.  Welcome to getting old.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Arcata

So I've spent the past few days in Arcata, CA, staying on the couch of Hilary and Katie.  These lovely couchsurfers welcomed me into their home, and have entertained me in ways which I was sorely missing in my travels.  It's nice to just sit and talk...travel, the world, philosophy, whatever.  Sometimes it is the little thing that really make big impressions.

I'll be headed out towards Reno in a day or two, to hike around the Tahoe area.  From there I head to Yosemite, to chill in the valley and enjoy a well-needed break from humanity for a short while.

Life is, as always, pretty incredible.  I've met some really super cool people, had some good times, and so far the biggest problems I've had involved a dead battery or a frozen water bottle.  Here's to hoping my luck holds out...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

So today started with an usual application of chap-stick: my keys.  For some strange reason the key did not awnt to turn inside of the ignition lock, so I took it out, coated it in chap-stick, and reinserted.  still nothing.  I removed the key, heated it with a lighter, and re-inserted.  This melted the chap-stick, causing the petroleum it is comprised of to lubricate the lock.  The key turned smoothly.

Later on, I took a nap near Teton pass, as it is 'too' warm out and the snow is crap quality.  Well, I managed to leave my overpowered headlights on, and now have a dead battery.  I stood out by the road for about five minutes, with a sign reading "Jumper Cables?"  A kind Idahoan stopped by and gave me a jump.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Test Post

I just want to see how my facebook integration worked with my blog.  Hopefully this will appear on Facebook as my latest note...

Living Well...Breakfast



Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I spent the morning cleaning up my van a bit. Putting away clothes, cleaning dishes, toys, arranging things, discovering missing gear, re-discovering formerly missing gear, etc.

The folks behind the european hitchgaherings are again putting forth an idea for a North American hitch-gathering. Now that I'm in-country, I am joining in the effort, along with my friends, to see if we can get something together. August of this year...somewhere.

I'll ride with Kris and co tomorrow, and then head down towards Teton Pass again. The riding was just...epic. From there, I'll head to the Bird.

Post-Bird, I've got a few options/decisions. My priorities currently look something like this...(No offense)
Melt in Yosemite
Parents for Pesach
Visiting Leigh
Visiting Jim
Getting outdoors


Something like that. In addition, I've got events all over the west coast from late March clear to the summer. I need to figure out a rough track, and head in that direction.


Otherwise, things are going well. This is an attempt to show the "cleaning" effect on my van...

Before:


After:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spoiled

I've been hanging out up here at Big Sky for a few days now. I had dinner with my friend Ali, rode a full day today, and went for a short eight mile hike in Ousel Falls the other day. Time has been moving quickly, while I am taking a very relaxed approach to life, and simply enjoying everything around me. I am planning on heading down to Victor again, on my way to SLC, but I am not so keen on leaving Bozeman just yet. There are a few things yet to do...

Boiling River (down in Yellowstone park)- Natural springs in a river.
Norris Hot springs (more built up, but close to Bozeman. They serve beer at the waters edge)
Hike Beehive Basin- This may be in the next day or two.
I need to continue work on my van, and make a decision. I added the sleeping platform and edge, but it now interferes with my hammock. I don't want to remove the platform...I just need to remember that I won't always have to stay INSIDE of my van. Need to add a bunch of shelving, etc. Thinking...I might acquire a cordless jig saw to make work easier.

Anywho that's all for now. Life is good...I have some photos which I need to post, if my lazy butt gets in gear. For now, praying for snow, enjoying life.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

WFR and post-WFR celebrations.

I am sitting using internet in my van in a shopping plaza behind McDonalds. It's sunny 28(F) out, and I'm relaxing.

Wednesday saw the practical exam for the Wilderness First Responder course. We all passed, though I did get a bit concerned (unnecessarily) at one point. I feel like the info I learned in the course can be, well, useful if needed. That's not to say that I hope to be involved in more accidents, but I'm glad to be able to help a bit more.

After we cleaned up the ranch where the WFR course had taken place, a few gentle locals were taking a victory lap on Glory. I'd heard of this, one of the shorter hikes from the top of Teton Pass, and I was quickly invited. After fumbling with resetting my bindings after "loaning" them, we packed seven people plus gear into a Toyota pickup and drove to the top of the pass. An hour-long hike laker, with myself and another the last two of seven, we settled into a small tarp and snow shelter on the peak to escape the blowing wind. An absolutely incredible thigh-deep-powder hour took us to the bottom. I can't get into that now, or I'll get distracted.

That night I borrowed a pass from Derek to Grand Targhee, for riding on Thursday. Crashed back at the ranch...

Thursday I woke up, warmed my van, didn't really look too closely behind, and began backing up. I backed right into a snowbank. I then proceeded to take close to an hour attempting to shovel myself out before a guy came to walk his dog. He quickly pulled me out using his truck, and I began backing in to the ranch driveway so that I might drive straight. I promptly backed into another snowbank. The same guy pulled me out, again, and was really chill. He showed me a few campsites I can use (with running water/toilet) for my return in the summer, as well as a spot i could always park in his driveway for a night.

I drove Derek to Idaho Falls that night, let him crash in my bed, and slept the morning of Friday in Idaho Falls.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

WFR and leadup

So I've been taking the Wilderness First responder (WFR) for the past four days...it has been incredible. Throughout my travels, growing up with Spike, interacting with various medical professionals and backcountry enthusiasts, I have gained quite the understanding of injuries of treatments. For the first time, I am able to collate everything into one single system, gaining the ability to discern what may actually be wrong, and, as the course continues, how to treat the various injuries and ailments. This is invaluable, both for my backcountry experience, and more importantly to the "alternative" culture to which I belong.

There are a limited number of so-called "street medics," people with varying levels of medical training, whom offer to assist those "on the street." I was fortunate in April of 2009 to meet Finn, one such individual. He was the true inspiration for me to take this course, giving me the realization that it is possible to really help those around me (in this case, homeless/vagabonds/nomads/etc) without "formal" medical training. While I am by no means a qualified instructor, by the end of the course I will, at the very least, be able to pass on the information that I have attained (at a cost of nearly $800, and two weeks) to those unable to afford what I can. This makes me smile greatly.

In addition to the course, I have had a lot of fun over the past week or two. In Eugene, OR I got to hang out with my friends Fiona and EV, whom I originally know from Mount Holyoke College/IOCA. I was actually threatened with trampling with crampons if I did *NOT* sleep on their floor, which made sleeping outside of the van an easy decision. I love friends whom threaten violence unless I do something which will, ultimately, result in more comfort for me. I've got incredible friends.
After Eugene, I was supposed to head to Portland for a day, followed by a road trip to Eugene. Portland was just a short stop, meeting a relatively random indivudual thanks to the wonders of social networking and the internet. We ended up meeting at a bar in South Portland around 7PM, and I didn't hit the road until 3PM the next day. My new friend Meghan is absolutely awesome, and I haven't met someone with a mind like that since...well, a certain friend whom keeps running away from me in Europe.

So, now I am in Victor, Idaho. It's cold, like Big sky. 9 degress F at night, etc, lots of snow, the works. It is a town of nearly 900 people, but it seems rather incredible. I have most certainly added Victor to my list of places to chill this summer, judging only from the number of climbers, mountaineers, snowboarders, and other back-country enthusiassts i have met over the past few days.

Speaking of which, I got invited to a party tonight by one of the locals...


I might blog the results, we'll see. Love y'all, and Happy Birthday (belated) to Lisa, my beautiful and wonderful mother. Gifts are on the way!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Made It

Fiona and Eevy did a great job of making me forget about Colleen, and then Meghan did her damndest to make me forget about prettymuch everything else. I'm now in Victor, Idaho at my WFR course. The drive was grueling, I was two hours late, but I didn't really miss anything significant and can't wait to finish up this program. Colorado Springs is likely after this, and hence afterwards a Return Trip to Big Sky to see friends before their season ends. The Melt in Yosemite and beyond; all on the horizon.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

WWOOFing in Lancom, OR

This woman did not understand the concept of speaking civilly to another human being, nor did she seem to understand my level of intelligence is higher than a fence post. To top it off, she actually made me lose my temper! That hasn't happened since I last saw Sara...


"I've been hauling a trailer for seventeen years" (And you still haven't figured out how to back one up?!)
"I was riding bikes before you were born" (yet you don't believe that they can hold over two hundred pounds?)
"I know that you've never been around horses before, so don't be nervous" (after I explained growing up down the street from the Murhpy's horse place)
"I believe in doing the minimal effort" (while owning/operating a ranch...)
"I recycle!" (After I throw the third 30 gallon sack full of nylon hay ties into the garbage dump)
"I've been hosting WWOOFers for twenty years" (And yet only had a ranch for seventeen...And in all those years, never learned to talk to someone in a civil tone)
"I've owned golf carts for years, I know what I'm talking about." My response: "Colleen, I've been tinkering with electronics before you owned a golf cart"
"I've got a degree in Enviornmental Science"..."I've got a degree in Landscape Architecture" ... "I've got a degree in Landscape management" ... "I've got a degree in Ecological studies" (And sadly, after all that college, couldn't even figure out what you studied.
"Safety is very important to me, that's why I don't let anyone use power tools on my ranch" (After I ask if she wants me to use MY DRILL to put in a SCREW)
"WOW it's cold today" (40F...)
"I hope it doesn't rain like it did last winter" (in central Oregon)

Suffice it to say, I won't be back, nor will I leave a flattering reference.

This has seriously soured my opinion of WWOOFing in the US. I shall now proceed to Eugene, OR, where Fiona, DirtyFeet, and Ninkasi (A brewery) await me. This unwinding may be turbulent.

SPCC

Acts change facts - Ten days at SPCC from Brussels_commons on Vimeo.



SPCC is the squat I hung out at least year before and after the Hitchgathering in Portugal. I've mentioned it in posts back in mid-August (we were building a swimming pool), but I found this video explaining a bit more about it, and figured I'd share.


P.S. mom, I was planning a personal post, but I'll hold off for a few days. The "I told you so" from you relates to how I've been talked down to for nearly a week.

Monday, January 31, 2011

WWOOFing in the USA

So I'm not the kind of person to whom you say "I'm older, I've done this for years, and therefore I know best." Not do I believe that "these yokels" who have been up here for multiple generations are absolutely barn-bread idiots- they must know a thing or two about farming in the area, they've been doing it for two hundred years. Along the same lines, accepting homosexuality, recreational drug use and having a "green" look on life does not make you open-minded, especially if you are unwilling to even consider outside points of view. A university degree, even a few of them, is no substitute for experience, nor common sense.

**EDIT** No amount of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, or experience as a vet tech qualifies HER to tell ME about structural/mechanical engineering, or how to build something from scrap metal.

Oh, and 40 degrees? That's not freezing cold, you're just a SoCal wimp.

I'm giving another chance to this woman, but so far, a combination of rudeness, insolence, ignorance, narrowmindedness and downright foolishness have really turned me off.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Orange Acres

Orange Acres- A NomadBase, American Style.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Helena

Yesteday started like many others. Brushed my teeth, checked my Email thanks to free wifi at the Bozeman rest area, and set out. I was heading to Helena, to visit a cafe owned by a highschool friend's cousins, and I had offered up my spare seat on Craigslist rideshares. A quick detour on my way to pick up Ali, my passenger, netted me four books and a few kitchen items for $4 from a thrift shop. I swung by the mall to pick up Ali, and we headed off.
Ali is a pretty cool chick, not least by the fact that she normally hitch-hikes her way around the state in lieu of driving her car. She was, in fact, headed to Helena to retrieve her (hopefully repaired) car from her father. We spent the nearly two hour drive chatting about everything from travel to sustainable technology. I should point out that Ali is/was/will be an architect.
We parted ways in downtown Helena, and I found a place to park. Unfortunately, the No Sweat cafe was closed...go figure, not open on Mondays. As I turned around, however, I ran across Glymm parallel parking the LARGEST PICKUP I HAVE EVER SEEN.Photobucket Covered in awesome stickers, I helped him avoid squashing the surrounding cars, and we struck up a convesation. This eventually lead to him calling a friend, wherein I was provided a place to park for the night in a residential neighborhood (at Kathleen's).
Returning to my van, I retrieved my phone and noticed that I had missed a text message. Ali had noticed that the No Sweat was closed, and invited me to have a drink with her at a nearby saloon (bar/pub/watering hole, for those not used to the vernacular). Glymm directed me, and after exchanging contact details we parted ways. I spent the next hour or three having a most pleasant conversation with Ali, continuing our discussion on environmental policies, sustainability, architecture, travel, etc. She is lovely (but married). At some point, she admitted to recognizing me from a dating site I have a profile on (OKC)...she uses it to pick up snowboarding partners. As it was getting dark, she had to leave, and I returned to my van. No sooner had I pulled out one of my new-found paperbacks, Glymm called and asked where I was. He showed up a few minutes later and we headed off to Kathleen's. Oh, I should mention that, in addition to giving me $20 for gas for the trip, Ali also paid for both of my beers, against my weak protest. Glymm, I should point out, looks remarkably like a heavily ink'd version of my friend Reese.

We headed to Kathleen's house, though she was out at the grocery store at the moment. She called my phone and asked if I needed anything from the store, either to eat or drink. I graciously declined, though fifteen minutes later when she did return home, I was graced with a large package of seeds and trail mix. The three of us drove to drop Glymm off at the library, and after a short sight-seeing tour of downtown Helena, Kathleen and I returned home.

This is a compliment I have never used, but I cannot think of a better description: Kathleen is Moey-like. If you don't understand what that means, ask. Kathleen cooked an excellent chili, which she, Lynn (her husband) and I scared down heartily. We then spent the next few hours chatting, again bridging topics from travel to sustainability, engineering to the sociopolitical climate of the nation. I did the dishes despite protest, and around 11PM retired to my van to enjoy a good night's rest.

This morning I woke, went inside, saw Glymm, hugged Kathleen, and was prepared to depart. Before I was able to get away, however, $20 was pressed upon me. This, on top of all other hospitality, and a request to return. "It's nice to know that there are wonderful Americans like you traveling around the world." I was nearly floored.

Departing, I made my way to the No Sweat cafe, owned by Meg's aunt and cousins. One of the most attractive redheads I've met (a cousin) served me a scramble of egg and veggies, and upon identifying myself as Matt, friend of Meg, both cousins (server and cook) came out and chatted for a while. Again, I was treated to food, despite weak protests, and in turn bought a post card, which I need *someone's* address in Quincy to mail.

And now I will head to the library to post this, wash my face, and head for Missoula, where a couchsurfing community awaits. These are the kind of adventures I knew I would find, if only I stopped looking.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Calendar added!

So I've added a few things to my blog. Links to my various online/social networking profiles, ads on the bottom (Hey, a lil cash wouldn't hurt), and most importantly, a link to my google calendar to notify y'all of my various destinations.

I don't know when the Snowbird trip is, so I posted it as March 8th. I'll correct that eventually.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dark

Blackness envelops me as I turn off the main highway, heading up to the mountain resort I temporarily call home. Vast open plains stretch before me, the faint glow of my headlights illuminating the snow-covered moonscape ahead of me. In the distance, only visible as low, darker black shapes loom the mountains, their contours and ridges indistinguishable in the inky dark. The low growl of the engine is the only way I can be sure that I am truly moving, advancing towards the forboding behemoths. Fast-paced rock music pulses from the stereo, mingling with the sounds of the engine and the wind outside, creating a morbid symphony I advance on my way.
The entrance to the canyon looms ahead, hiding in the darkness, it's prescence only revealed by the occasional sign warning of danger. At 55 miles per hour I cross the bridge, the unofficial start of the canyon. I let off the gas, knowing only too well what reckless driving can cost here. White crosses somehow stand out against the backdrop of snow, a warning to those whom would ignore other signage in the area. Groups of twos, threes, and fours go by, more than I care to count. I slow just a bit more, never in a hurry, not wanting my legacy to live on in a cross on the side of the road.

Plans!

Location: Teton Valley, ID
Dates: Mon, 14 Feb 2011 thru Wed, 23 Feb 2011

Wilderness First Responder course. After that I'll probably poach Jackson for a bit, then head to Colorado Springs to visit Leigh. After Colorado Springs, I'll head to Snowbird to meet up with the fam.


Looks like plans settling in place.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Van Name

In the spirit of the nomadbases and other such places in which I have had fun, I want to name my van.

So far the most prominent suggestion has been Casa Blanca. Casa Dilligaf is my personal favorite, but it doesn't quite roll...And only Aussies get the joke. So I'm taking suggestions. They don't need to begin with Casa, that was just my thought.

So, suggestions? Leave comments pls!

It all started back in '08

August 8, 2008. My Canadian partner had ditched me, once again, in search of...well, who knows what. I don't really care. I remember sitting in my cube, no views of the beautiful Green Mountains which surrounded this office. A post on a website, one small link in my unending research, mentioning some European hitch-hiking gathering...

My attention snaps back to the present. Daydreaming is both a blessing and a curse, a way to escape the realities of life, whilst being a distraction blending reality from fantasy. I've got the date and location, with the Eiffel tower standing before me. Now where are the hitch-hikers? Sure, there are backpackers. Some have signs, asking for money, promoting social issues, while others simply sit around in groups drinking and smoking cigarettes. How am I supposed to figure out who is the hitch and who is the backpacker here? For that matter, how might anyone recognize me.

At some point I worked up the courage to simply start walking up to people. I've never liked cold calls, a throwback to my childhood. I never found it polite to intrude, to ask for something which was not already offered. Walking over to a group sitting at the edge of some trees, I quietly inquired about hitch-hiking. Receiving no response, I almost walked away. A nagging suspicion pulled me back, and I met my first European hitch-hikers.

From that day forth, I saw that I was not alone.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Remembering a near miss

As the lights faded into the distance, the reality of my situation fully sank in. It was only 9PM, and yet temperatures had dropped into the mid-teens. Inside the canyon, there are only a few places to hitch, or even stand, and that is at the best of times. At night it would be suicide. Camping was my only option; I knew this going in, but somehow it had never fully registered. A gust of wind picked up, breaking me out of my reverie. I broke trail into the snow, my low-cut sneakers not doing enough to keep snow away from my feet. I made my way over to the river, fortunate to have a running source of water, despire the temperatures. I turned on my headlamp, searching for a suitable place to make camp.

The snow was shallow, an unfortunate and unforseen problem for me. The trees in this part of the canyon were scrub, no taller than I, and yet spindly and not prone to breaking easily. Once again my survival instinct kicked in, and I began searching for a place without any snow on bottom. After choosing a suitable location, I laid down my tarp, in the hopes of at least keeping dry. I knew that if I failed to do so, an unpleasant evening could quickly turn into a fight to stay warm. At fifteen degrees, with winds picking up, that would be a losing battle for sure.

I surveyed my gear. A 45 degree jungle sleeping bag, the 6'x8' nylon tarp keeping me try, a lightweight frameless backpack and clothes suited for a trip to Thailand. Just 30 miles away, up at the base of the mountain, all of my winter gear was waiting: a down sleeping bag, gloves, hat, snowpants, thermals, the works. I kicked myself for getting in to this situation, but quickly chastized myself for even thinking in that direction. Hindsight is for the review, after I survive. For now, it was just a matter of making it through the night.

I took all of the clothes out and laid them in an approximate profile where I would sleep. I changed wet for dry socks, and put my feet into the now-empty backpack. Aftewards the pack and feet went into the sleeping bag. I had on a pair of jeans, the heaviest pants I was carrying, along with a pair of cotton pajama pants underneath. Two T-shirts, plus a windbreaker adorned my torso. I wrapped a Tshirt around my head for warmth, and settled in for a cold night.

Every half hour or so I would wake, feeling a cold spot somewhere on my back or my side. Shifting brought temporary relief, though I knew that I would wake again soon. Thoughts of other poor decisions, bad situations and similar troubles went through my mind, as I kept telling myself that I could survive. I knew that I was tougher than this, even if I was foolish enough to wander into a survival situation again. As with other trying times in my travels, I swore to myself that I would not die that day.

Morning sun never felt so good.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Travelers guide to poaching a ski resort

The cafe has free condiments, water, and microwaves. Also Wifi, power, and, well, it's warm, indoors, and unlocked 24h (or at least until 1AM).

The pool/hot tub areas are unmonitored, and courtesy negates the need to actually HAVE an entry key on the one gate requiring it- others will have one.

The bell men and their unfailing 24h transportation service is reserved for guests staying at the hotel. As long as you are not an actual employee, 'misleading' them into believing you are a guest is fairly easy. Oh, and tips (cash or beer) go a long way.

Only the base lifts check tickets.

Friends whom work in the kitchen are incredible.

Any party is a good party, so long as there isn't a cover, and it someone else is driving.

I ahbor stealing, but the housekeeping carts are a goldmine.


If ever question about ACTUALLY staying at the resort, indignation goes a long way. As does speaking to a manager. Unless, of course, said manager happens to recognize you from working at the resort two years ago.

Facial hair makes such an identification (see above) less likely.

Pick up hitch-hikers. You never know.

Stories about the crazy times traveling around the world can be useful currency for things like drinks, coffee, or snacks.

The one-dollar hot dogs are GREAT when combined with the two-dollar bowls of chili. Ignore the $2.50 Chili-dog.

Rotating impersonations seem to work the best. Rotate between Tourist, Rich prick, employee, and wandering traveler on a frequent, but not necessarily regular, basis.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ski resorts without skis

Are like hitching without cars. I've found other ways to entertain myself, however, mostly involving socializing with friends from prior visits and van projects. I had, in fact, taken pictures earlier today of my van to post online. Unfortunately, I am a crap photographer, so I deleted them and will take better photos tomorrow. Otherwise, things are going well...The cold spell is ending, with the next seven days bringing mid-20s weather and light snow, perfect for both riding and van-dwelling (the past two evenings have clocked in around -10F). My buddy Kris's birthday is in a few days, as well as the Sno Bar event on Friday...this is the same event I stuck around for last year, and things may be going the same way.

From Bozeman I will make my way to Oregon, to visit some old friends and maybe ride a few trains/explore a bit. From there, uncertain, but probably down towards Lake Tahoe, CA, to either ride or continue south to Bishop, where I'll begin some serious outdoor explorations.

Things are going well, aside from my water supply freezing. I have numerous ideas on how to solve the problems, but KISS stepped in: Go somewhere warmer. Oh right, my house has wheels...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cold

I haven't felt cold like this morning since, well, the last time I came up to Big Sky. I survived it, with only minimal chilling of the toes and fingers. Tonight I shall be better prepared.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Scenery

After my short indulgence Wyoming, I had to be on my way. As the sun began it's long, slow descent into the night, a range of mountains, freshly illuminated, shone to the west. I felt alive. For the next hour, as I drove parallel to an ever-deepening fireball sunset, I was given a delicious treat in the mountainous ridges rising out of the white snowfields. The ground was laced with gullies, snaking their way across the land like fine blonde hair. Now the cold settles in, bringing with it the midwest night sky. Tiny pinpricks of light can be seen, as if painted on, piercing the curtain of blackness. Winter's cold soon has its toll on me, and I retreat to my cot, snuggling up in two sleepings bags to face the 15 degree temperatures. Goodnight.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Casper, WY

Wow it's beautiful out here. Clear blue sky, warm (40s) day on the plains, with the backdrop of the Tetons to the west. Still no word from Jess, which has me getting impatient. The driving is easy, very relaxed and slow. Well, as slow as 55 in a 75 can be. That's all for now...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chilling

It's 2AM, EST. I'm chilling in the back of my van, listening to some tunes parked at a rest stop on I-80. I took a bunch of state highways though Indiana avoided the tolls. It was also nice to see a little bit more than freeway...I think I'll be staying off the interstates for the most part.
Pending a response from Leigh, I'm either headed to Bozeman or Colorado Springs. If I head for Boz, I'll probably shoot over to OR before heading back by Boz to Co. Springs and then down towards Tucson/Austin. At least, that's what is going through my head right now. Tomorrow things could be completely different.



Oh it's 11F out.