"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."

"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."- Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Unfurling sails to some stellar winds.

Living on the road for about a month now, I've noticed all of the time I've been devoting to reading while listening to some chill "international" music. Thanks to one of the most talented DJ's I've ever met, sometimes the music becomes less gentle ambient breeze and more raging tornado that completely drowns out the hippy musings I'm reading.

Part funky, part groovy, and a dash of gnarly - click on link for eargasm:

Monday, August 23, 2010

I am surrounded by incredible people.

Video Credit: JL

For a few weeks now, I've been living off of the kindness of others. Being that I am now homeless, I am touched at how people are so willing to help me out on this incredibly insane adventure I've so stubbornly decided to embark upon. I will travel the fuck out of this world, thanks to my friends and family.

Anywho, here's a brief list of highlights, continuing from where I left off in London, Canada:

- Finally got to New York State. Dug Syracuse for a few days. Went antiquing, got lost at a Wegmans, built a futon, explained the Buddhist origins of swastikas to a grown man who doesn't know how to scramble an egg.

- Drove down to Jersey City, NJ to meet up with a friend I haven't seen since a mini-quarrel over Quaker ideals in Istanbul almost a year ago. Gave said friend a huge hug and proceeded to drink copious amounts of beer. Nothing sm ells like Jersey after some summer rain.

- Got a few bikes and rode all around lower Manhattan, then over the Brooklyn Bridge, detoured into Williamsburg to gawk at all the hipsters. We eventually made it to the Brooklyn Brewery where we took a tour, drank even more beer, met a bunch of random people, played drinking games, got reprimanded for playing drinking games, and ate quite possibly the most delicious pizza margherita in the world. In the world.

- Went to a strange art-show-slash-concert thing in Red Hook, drank the free wine and ate the free cheese. Holy balls was it hot in that warehouse. Wandered to a nearby dive where I met a woman who swore she was 40, but didn't look a day over 24. There was a cigarette vending machine selling packs for $12.

- Went to St. Mark's Place. Shared a bull penis braised in peanut sauce with some friends, some old and some new. Yum. Woke up in a beautifully furnished Manhattan apartment in Greenwich Village. God do I love quarter sawn solid oak.

- Got a part time job at the coffee shop I used to work, way back when I still didn't know how to draft in CAD. Caught up with my Korean family and ate way too much spicy stuff.

- Met a writer who let me read his working manuscript. I felt like I was part of some secret society. I think I need one of those sweet rings with a matching medallion. The cape is a given.

- Made some new friends, (one guy had a propensity to "lose" his personal affects in blow-up dolls) at this heavenly place in Brooklyn where you order meat by the pounds and beer by the gallons.

- Layed under the FDR highway on the eastern edge of Manhattan listening to South Asian bands playing music from a whole different world. Ate food I can't pronounce while my legs fell asleep from sitting cross-legged for too long.

- Thanks to smartphones and Google Maps, we somehow ended up at a floating cabaret. Yes, it was floating. Yes, it was awesome.

- Did laundry for the first time since hitting the road.

By the way, I apologize for the lack of photos, but I keep forgetting to bring my camera. I try to use the camera on my mobile phone, but the quality usually is just un-postable. This post's visual is brought to you by JL via my pestering him. Everyone please thank JL for the great video. Thanks, JL.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why fly when I can walk?

Image: Cell phone shot of Chicago skyline from the city's famed "EL"

I have finally made it to the other side of the country. From California to the New York Islands, just like the song. It's been a whirlwind two weeks. I have driven cross-country before, but boy was this trip different. Now that I've made it back to New York, I hope it will begin slowing down a bit so I can finally get some serious writing in (this blog and a few other projects I'm working on).

To me, road trips are at the very heart of traveling. To get up and move yourself from one physical location to another, not to see the sights, but to meet people and to experience things other than those which have become routine. Sure, I could have flown to New York and it would have taken five hours instead of two weeks. But where's the adventure in that? Road trips allow you the experience of space, of the largeness of the world, of the smallness of your existence. Road tripping is traveling is learning of the awe that fills our surroundings.

It is so easy to get caught up in ourselves and our daily lives, to forget to look up and around. It is so incredibly easy to lose perspective. Travel resets our perspective and reminds us what awe feels like.

Taking a plane would have robbed me of feeling the gradual changes between state lines, of the rhythm of roads zooming underneath the gas pedal. I would not have met the wild, mad people that span the entire length of America, filling the air with their heavy, humid breaths - each one full of ideas to reinvigorate the spirit.

Before I left San Francisco, seeing the wanderlust in my eyes, a friend shared with me the words of French explorer Alexandra David-Neel. No doubt, it would be appropriate to use her words for the closing of this post.

"Travel not only stirs the blood — it also gives birth to the spirit."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mosquito bites on my face - my FACE.

No, the above photo is not of Mars, but lately I have been feeling like I am suddenly on another planet. It's a shot I took while still at Yellowstone. This great American wilderness is absolutely wild.

As with the previous post, too much is happening for my feeble little mind to process. Thus, I am throwing another little list of highlights at you, my little handful of readers.

- Met the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota. Looked up his skirt/toga thing. It was very awkward.

- Skipped rocks along the great Mississippi River, then laid on a dock once I had exhausted the river bank of its primo flat skipping rocks. The sky seemed extra blue.

- Spent a few days on a Wisconsin Dairy Farm. Learned the delicate chemistry behind creating cow feed, rode on a tractor, harvested honey from a few bee hives, saw a cow giving birth. Making tunnels in cottonseed should be a game all American children play while growing up.

- Attended a traditional Wisconsin Friday Night Fish Fry where I was reprimanded by Grandma Brown, "Don't get any more tattoos because tattoos are ugly!" The next day she gave me a bag of her homemade cookies and I hugged her more times than I can count.

- Drank Spotted Cow on the back of a pick-up parked on the highest point of Observatory Road while staring up at the stars. Talked about life while living it.

- Finally made it to Chicago. Did a whirlwind walking tour of downtown and somehow ended up at the rooftop party of a friend of a friend of a friend's awesome Lincoln Park condo. Sometimes I feel like my life is a movie, this night was one of those nights. The people were awesome and the Chicago skyline from the roof deck was breathtaking.

- At the aforementioned rooftop party, Road Trip Buddy Jeff filled up too much with 312s and caipirinhas and started telling everyone that I spiked his drinks so we had to leave. The cab driver was from Somalia and we talked about Ohio.

- Met up with another friend of a friend in another part of Chicago and decided it would be a great idea to sneak into Lollapalooza. Successfuly got in once, but had to leave to see why Road Trip Buddy Jeff didn't get in. Tried to get in again, but failed miserably.

- Found two ladies who were also trying to get into Lollapalooza and together we cooked up an elaborate scheme to get all four of us in. As we walked to another gate to set our plan into motion, they suddenly disappeared. My pal and I ended up going to REI because I still have a hefty Member Dividend to use up.

- Reconnected with the friend of a friend who did successfully get into Lollapalooza. Had some tapas and sangria, played some pool, and ended up at Kingston Mines, the coolest blues bar in the world. One of the bands played a bluesified Santana song so we just had to dance. Met a few random people and taught a Chicago chef the spirit of omakase.

- Sweet Home Chicago is an actual song and is in fact my new favorite song.

- Drove into and through Ontario, Canada where we were quarantined and questioned twice. Apparently people take legal documents very seriously in the great land of maple leaves.

I am excited to ruminate on these past adventures. Thanks for reading all of this nonsense. Tchau!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We brave bear attacks and all.

Image: Badlands National Park, South Dakota - literally minutes before a raging thunder storm.

Currently typing up this post in a coffee shop in Spearfish, South Dakota. Literally, the most civilization I've had since my last post in Idaho (what day was that and what day is it now? I've lost track of time).

It's only been a few days but so much has happened and I have not yet fully digested and distilled these past events, so I think I will simply list a few highlights:

- Finally made it to Yellowstone. Explored every geyser, hot spring, and valley. Absolutely the most breathtaking park I have ever been to. I wish I had more photos of the place, but my skills with a camera are far too inadequate to justly capture the sheer awe that is Yellowstone. Camping in Yellowstone is cold.

- Met a 67 year old motorcycle nomad named Rutt Stunns. He outlined how one could conceivably get two baths out of one water bottle. His logic was sound.

- Camped in South Dakota. Found that Lysol is a good alternative to lighter fluid. Gin is not.

- Met a diner waitress named Memory who told me to follow my dreams as she gave me a big hug. She also seemed to have an unnatural affinity for reptiles and a visceral hate for "getting stuck."

- Discovered how fun writing/sending postcards can be (send me your complete address if you want to get some of the most random postcards, ever).

- Went to Mount Rushmore. Got reprimanded by a Park Ranger and was asked to turn my track jacket inside-out. Apparently, middle-America found the acronym FCUK to be incredibly offensive. I made little children cry.

- Went to the Badlands and got caught in a thunder storm. I'm pretty sure I developed carpal tunnel syndrome from holding up my camera for so long trying to capture a shot of lightning. Lightning in the plains is quite a sight.

- While driving, birds would kamikazee themselves into the windshield. Pretty countryside birds like in the Disney movies, not ugly pigeons like the ones we have in cities. I'm worried about how this will negatively affect my karma.

- Went to a bar in the middle of the biggest biker rally in the world in Sturgis. So much leather and denim cut-off vests. I want a motorcycle.

That's about it for now. Off to the next adventure. I'm thinking Minnesota or maybe Iowa? I promise I will come up with something profound and meaningful to say. Soon. Maybe. Mahalo.