Thursday, December 21, 2006

A New Website

See photos from my U.S. road trip and more at my brand new site -

I've finally returned home after 4 months and more than 14,000 miles driven. I ended up with two speeding tickets, but no wrecks and no break downs. I ought to do an ad for Saturn, huh?

Since I last wrote, we drove along the Gulf Coast, while stopping for extended stays in Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. Let me tell you that the Big Easy ain't lookin too good.

It's overwhelming and depressing to see post-Katrina New Orleans, and to learn about the failures in relief efforts. I was there 15 months after the storm hit, and it really seemed like it had hit just the day before. The Ninth Ward was desolate and void of human life. I have a selection of photos from New Orleans that I felt were particularly moving, available here.

We drove through Texas, which is just way too big, and made our way to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Weird name, I know. But great hot springs there, and cheap - the town's name actually used to be Hot Springs.

After that was the world's second largest hot air balloon festival in Gallup, NM, followed by a couple days in Vegas. After that we pretty much high-tailed it home because it was so damn cold (6 degrees Farenheit in Gallup); plus, we kinda did miss home.

So here I am, home in Kirkland, WA.
Go look at my new site! Again, it's It's great!


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sunny (Thunderstormy) Florida


Old pics --

"Flaahda" That's where I actually am. Though it doesn't feel like it right now. Sometimes I hear an accent like that, and I also feel the humid, hot weather. Then I know I'm here. Then (right now) it's gloomy, rainy, and just like home. Where people talk normal, recycle, and eat granola.

It's very off and on, that whole recycling thing. But I did finally see someone else in Winn Dixie with granola in their shopping cart.

We're camping right by the Everlglades, about 30 min from Miami, in a town I embarassingly don't know what to call. And I've been here for like 4 nights. It's funny too because I've been talking constantly of finding work, or a campground where I could work to pay for my site, and the opportunity just arose. I just didn't feel like doing any roofing yesterday. It was hot, I was tired, and so I swam and lay by the pool instead.

Then I did some more lounging, just to keep it consistent, you know. You can't just lounge for two-and-a-half days, then just start roofing all of a sudden. Better just keep it simple, 'stay the course' if you will - as Dubya would tell me. Then again appartently we've "never been 'stay the course,'" as he declared on national TV a couple of days ago. Well, then I have never been lounging this much ever before, either.

Whether or not our president is a liar, or we're fighting an illegal war that costs tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars...I can at least admit I have lied before, too. I really have been this lazy and comfortable, and will 'stay the course' by the pool this afternoon. If the sun will ever come back. I do admit, also, to being constantly irritated in this state that's governed by Jeb Bush.

You may know my background, and yes I'm liberal. That might be an understatement to some of you, to whom liberal just means radical and argumentative. So I'll continue to write with a smile, knowing that you disagree about my opinions on Cuba. But hey, I lived there, so whadda you got?

But seriously, The Miami Herald is like a White House propaganda organ spewing out garbage in its seemingly daily anti-Cuba articles. They might as well just change the international section to the 'Today's Reasons Why Castro Should Burn in Hell (As soon as that old bastard will finally just die!) section.' I'm serious, though, and Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales (leaders of Venezuela and Bolivia, respectively) have been in that same 'Burn in Hell' section every day so far.

I'll tell you right now that I did come to the South to get a taste of some culture that's foreign to me. You're right if you tell me I shouldn't expect anything else - 'cause yeah, I guess I came here for this. I guess I'm just lucky I'm a white man who's looking to see why folks can be so ignorant down here. It could be much more uncomfortable; I ain't denying my privilege.

The radio stations are just as bad, and it makes me wonder how amazingly powerful anti-Castro Cubans are around here. And you can exchange the word 'Cubans' with 'money' in that last sentence. That lobby is so very strong in Washington, D.C., too; you can bet on that. Jeb's yapping in George's ear, because Jeb's hearing it in his ear every day (and feeling it in his campaign contributions) . It's not like it's top secret or anything.

Last night on 98.3 FM (a popular Spanish language channel) an artist made the official announcement that, due to overwhelming pressure, he is willing to destroy one of his masterpieces on the behalf of the exile community. He's gonna incinerate his sculpture of Castro's head. Pretty ridiculous in my opinion.

It's not like he's erecting a Saddam Hussein statue on 1600 Pennsylvania, D.C. It's Castro, people, come on.

Let me try to clarify something. Rich folks own mass media outlets, which greatly inform public opinion. With the case of Cuba, the news media have always told us one certain thing. After a while, like my whole lifetime, I took that thing for granted to be fact. Truth is, I did't really know at all. Republican or Democrat, or whoever you are, you can't really disagree. But I do now understand both sides of this argument.

So, examine the case of a country which we are not allowed to enter. They welcome us, but the State Department says it's a big No-No. Why is it illegal? It must be for our own safety, right? After all, Mr. Bush tells me that Cuba is in the (cue scary music) *Axis of Evil*

That's not a joke, Bush honestly grouped Cuba in with Kim Jong-il's North Korea and Hussein's Iraq.

Well I went to Cuba and, oh Jesus, I came back alive! Truth is, there's just got to be some things that those folks in Washington just don't want us to understand. Come on, am I just crazy?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Savannah, GA

New pics:

Old pics:

Here I sit, under the stars and gazing at the river in Savannah, Georgia. And I'm checking my email. I'll make this a quick blurb so I don't miss anything cool. You see, I usually update from a boring library or the passenger seat of my Saturn. This place is different.

Georgia is my favorite state so far. We kind of blew through Atlanta and found ourselves in Savannah last night (coming from Nashville). I love everything about Georgia, and especially Savannah, and I haven't even sampled any of their famous peaches.

It reaaaally feels like the South now. There's Spanish Moss hanging from so many trees, and leaving the state park today (our home for the next week or so) felt like a tour through an old horror movie. Imagine a dark road lined with scraggly gray trees dripping sea-green moss from every branch.

More to come later...just look at this week's pictures. Most are from Kentucky, where we checked out a lot of horse stuff. Very cool horse stuff - just look at the pictures and you'll see!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I am a monk now. Well, for 10 days at least.

Photos, new and old:

A few doubts crossed my mind, but then I jumped in headfirst. I lived on the donations of others, did not eat any meals after midday, and meditated for over 100 hours. On September 13 I started a 10-day meditation course at the Illinois Vipassana Meditation Center in Pecatonica, near Rockford, Illinois. I think the course was the most influential part of my road trip so far.

There were about 30 of us meditating, some new students and some old, and we didn’t talk, touch, or so much as look at each other the entire time. We arose at four a.m. every morning to meditate before breakfast, and continued to meditate for at least eight more hours. If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, then you know how I feel right now after finishing. I’m exhausted, proud, happy, confident, and somehow both irritable and very calm. I gained some wisdom and some strength, and yet I feel like never meditating again.

Of course I already meditated this morning, the day after leaving the course. Like my attitude toward mountaineering, I just need a little less intensity after finishing, because the course was so challenging. Sometime in the future I will probably sit another course, but that won’t be any time soon. As for now, I really do want to incorporate meditation into my everyday life.

I won’t spend much time here preaching or anything like that. I’ll just say that it was a great experience for me and if you want to know more, just let me know. Everybody should definitely give it a try. You can go to to check it out.

I’m writing from Mukwonago, Wisconsin, where we’ll be for a couple days, just relaxing at a campground in farm country. On our way to Milwaukee I’m getting excited to eat some cheese and visit that old beer brewin’ town. Afterwards we’ll drive along Lake Michigan to Chicago, and hopefully snag to a ticket the see the Seahawks beat the Bears on Sunday.

I last wrote from Dodge City I believe, and I don’t have too many pictures of our trip since then. We kinda blew through Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois because we had to be at the meditation course so soon. After Dodge City we stayed in Abilene, Kansas where we bought a new car battery and stopped worrying about getting stranded. We also caught the opening day of the Kansas State Fair, which was pretty awesome. It wasn’t too different from the fairs back home, so after a deep-fried Snickers bar and some examination of the plethora of Confederate Flag paraphernalia for sale, we continued on our journey.

Next was St. Louis, where we took some pictures at their giant arch and drank some coffee in the university district. Hoping for some Seattle-like comfort, I ended up finding the city a little lame. It seemed pretty segregated as well, and some parts were really ghetto. We slept in a nice little spot north of town, which was relaxing.

Of course, we found that place after first leaving the world’s creepiest RV park in the outskirts of St. Louis. We left the first place pretty late, after setting up camp and soon taking it right back down. That meant we had to wind through some eerie forn fields, trying to follow signs in a very dark night. Fierce lightning and thunder made it more of an adventure, and upon arriving we had to sleep on a popped air mattress - an unfortunate by-product of leaving the world’s creepiest RV park in such a hurry.

The next night was spent at a nice KOA campground around LaSalle, Illinois. We washed some clothes and watched the Simpsons in the lounge for a nice change. Then we had our last night of freedom before taking a nervous gulp and heading to the meditation center.

Look out for many more new pictures to come, as I need to play a little catch up. And if you're enjoying the blog, or at least just made it to the bottom of this page (!) let me know...

The Trip by the Numbers:
4,512 – miles driven so far
11 - states covered
2 - nights spent sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots
107 - hours spent meditating
15 – average dollars spent per day (with gas, camping, beer and all!)
2.24 – (dollars per gallon) the cheapest gas price we’ve seen, which was in Kansas
1 - Speeding ticket (so far...)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Get the heck outta Dodge

All of the photos will be hosted by now, so just click this link for a few of this week's pics: The thumbnails might be all black but just click em and you'll see some sweet pics, guaranteed.

I like Dodge City, Kansas, but there's a hell of a lot of flies. That's why I want to get the heck out, but it is a great place to relax and poke around. We had to eat lunch in the tent today, which was like sitting in a sauna, because there were so many flies swarming our picnic table. Tonight will be our second night staying here at the Watersports Campground, which is located right on a big, calm pond in Dodge City.

Kanna and I enjoyed Antelope Island, Utah, before heading to some unnamed spot a couple hours east of Salt Lake City, near Provo. We saw a sign for camping, continued past the campground, and made our own little space near a creek where cattle roam. It was pretty calm, and free, yet still smelled a bit like cattle. The next night was spent in a very nice campground in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado. It was luxurious but a little boring for our tastes. Naturally, we graduated to the parking lot of Wal Mart for the next night's accomodation.

I know it sounds weird, but it was free, and surprisingly more adventurous. The plan was to set up camp just like normal, and we got the 'ok' from asst. manager Joe inside Canyon City's Wal Mart (still in Colorado). However, as we watched a large brawl take place outside the store's main entrance, we decided to find another location. The wild goose chase that ensued only led us back to Wal Mart, two hours later, with our own fear restraining us to the inside of my Saturn. We drove all over trying to find the state park, and just ended up sleeping in the car back where we had began.

Things took a turn for the better, as we encountered enchanting Fowler, Colorado. By enchanting, of course, I mean small and weird, and kind of uncomfortable. But it was a nice two nights of 'catching our breath' from too much driving and not enough relaxing. Fowler is just a pit stop, if you will, for travelers of highway 50. Our neighbor in the permanent trailer next to us at the RV park enchanted us with tails of the town's mysterious cat murderers. And vicios dogs chased me as I took a jog by the cemetery.

As we follow highway 50, which brought us to Dodge City, Kansas, I am truly glad we chose to avoid major interstate highways. Blue highways are the way to go (the ones that look blue on the map--not the big freeways). The scenery is great, the pace is more manageable, and the towns are very unique.

Tomorrow we'll continue on our way, not before sampling the town's Mexican food, of course. There seems to be a large Latino population here, something I'm seeing a lot of on this trip, and I'm dying to get some food that rivals the taquerias that I came to love while living in Baja.

Like I said last week, that wallet ain't getting any fatter, but we're doing alright. And that beard is kind of big; you should see it. Maybe I'll add a pic next week. And the car is, well, workin' real hard. The brakes started smoking in the Black Canyon, which forced us to pull over and let them cool (and let our nerves cool, which was probably more important--it's a damn steep road!). The battery was completely shot yesterday, and the trunk popped open while we were driving. Sadly, we lost my beloved American flag folding chair. It fell straight out onto the highway, never to be seen again. Se la vi.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Update from SLC

Due to technical difficulties, please visit for this week's photos.

Last night I camped solo, after sending off Cat at the airport. It was sad to see her go because we had a lot of fun . Last night was also the first time I paid for a campsite, and it wasn't much better than what I had earlier in the week. Just the usual large wild animal in my backyard. And expansive views of water, mountains, and the setting sun. It was a bummer to pay, but Antelope Island is worth it, and I'll probably go back tonight.

I had to pack everything up at 6:30 this morning, before the sun rose, to make the 1 hour+ commute into Salt Lake City to have my car worked on. $500 later it's supposedly ready to go now, which is a secure feeling.

Antelope Island is located in the Great Salt Lake, and is home to, curiously no antelope, but rather thousands of buffalo that roam free. Hence, the animal in my backyard this morning was a big ol bison. A few days ago that backyard visitor was a moose that accompanied Cat and I during dinner. That was outside of Red Lodge, Montana.

The night following Red Lodge was spent just outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming in a beautiful (free) location; however, it was also spent in a lightning storm. The ensuing puddles inside the tent led me to donate that aging piece of nylon to charity. I sprang for a 4-person Kelty at REI of Salt Lake's Labor Day Sale. I can barely squeeze the queen sized air mattress in there, but it's a great set-up that I have now.

The beard is growing and the wallet is emptying, but I've only just begun. Kanna flies in tonight, and I'm looking forward to that. My one-night of solo travel has been nice, and now I'm ready to continue on again. Check back again soon, and don't forget to look at this week's photos.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What's seems to be the officer, problem?

Destinatoin: Washingtonn Wien counttry

Good times. My first wine tour in Washington state's Yakima Valley was definitely a success. I only made a few quick snapshots, so raise your expectations later...

Tonight's resting spot is the one and only Grandview, WA, which truly is grand in its own way. The camping trip now begins with two nights of comfort under the roofs of family and friends. That seems like a nice way to start.

(above) My sister, pictured at Zillah's own teapot gas station. As you may guess, Zillah is home to a plethora of vineyards.

( right) Wine country begins outside of Zillah, WA

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Here we go

Tomorrow begins my exploration of the USA, a journey without a set destination nor an ending time. I'll be making pictures along the way, while exploring 'blue highways' in my 1999 green Saturn. Check back often for a glimpse of Americana, shown through my camera's lens.