In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bald is Beautiful

I knew at a young age that I wouldn't be growing old with my hair. I believe the realization came in 10th grade biology class when we learned that the 'baldness' gene was passed down from your mothers father. I pictured my grandfathers shiny head and remembered hearing that he got that way at a young age. I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I'd be bald by the time I hit 30 and there was nothing I could do about it.

I've never had all that great of hair so it wasn't like I had a lot to lose out on. It's very fine fair and pretty thin to start with, tough to do anything with. It was a slow progression and I didn't really notice at first. My first signs were the shower drain seeming to plug up with hair after just a few days. I didn't notice anything in the mirror and after a month or so my drain wouldn't be plugging up anymore; allowing me to forget all about it and convince myself that I wasn't quite losing my hair yet. Only to have the same thing happen again in 6 months. I really noticed something was going on when I'd look at pictures just a few years old where it was plain to see I once had a lot more hair then I currently had on top of my head. Thankfully I'd been preparing for this so it was no great shock, though still a little disheartening.

Over the next few years I slowly noticed my hair getting thinner and thinner as my hair line went farther and farther back. A single drop of water falling on my head would go straight through to the scalp and then run down my forehead instead of being soaked up by hair. When I got out of the shower I could really see how little hair I actually had when it was plastered to my head. I found that keeping it cut short not only made it easier to take care of but actually seemed to make it look better. The longer it got the stringier it would get, which just made me look like I was trying to cover something up.

A couple days before I left on my trip I had my hair cut nice and short; short hair is a must have when you sleep in your car and don't shower for days on end. It's now been over 2 months and it was getting longer then I liked. I asked around for places to get a hair cut but an idea kept lingering in the back of my head, haircuts cost money and I was just fighting the inevitable; so I decided to just give into mother nature. I grabbed my clippers and commandeered Tim to shave me as close as he could get; of course we had to have a little fun with it in the process.

I was kinda worried about how I'd look when it was all said and done. Sometimes honkies look pretty good with shaved heads and other times it's a disaster; I didn't know what to expect. Turns out I was pleasantly surprised when it was all over with; I don't think I look half bad with a shaved head. We'll see how the unsuspecting public reacts tomorrow when I show myself in broad daylight.

Click on one of the pictures in this post to be taken to a Flickr photo set showing the whole process beginning to end.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Corn, Sushi, Ice Cream, and Hookers

Since we're all mid-westerners Tim, Katherine, and I had an authentic meal of hamburgers and corn on the cob Tuesday night. The corn wasn't as good as you get back home in Iowa but it was still pretty good; it was the first time I'd had a chance to eat sweet corn this year. After our traditional midwestern meal they decided that on Wednesday night they'd show me a good sushi joint. Since trying Sushi a few years back I discovered that it's actually pretty good stuff and not as scary as most people think. Growing up in a rural midwestern town there aren't a whole lot of opportunities to eat sushi so I was happy to go.

We met a couple friends of theirs at the restaurant and the food was fantastic. Since I didn't know what I wanted I ended up getting a sampler plate with a little bit of everything on it; I think my favorite was the eel. They even taught me how to use chop sticks in a semi-functional way! Unfortunately by the time I remembered to take a picture of my meal I was already half way finished with it; which I guess speaks well for the food. It's really nice being someplace where you can get fresh seafood and it's fun to eat different stuff.

After having our sushi we all piled into Katherine's Volvo wagon and headed to Baskin Robin's for some ice cream. We were all just finishing up when Katherine leaned over the table and in a hushed whisper said, “let's go find some hookers”. It seems that the ladies of the night are no stranger to Des Moines, WA and since they were showing me the sites they wanted to show me all of the sites. So we all piled back into the station wagon and started cruising up and down Pacific Highway looking for hookers. Thankfully Tim and Katherine both knew where we were most likely to find them congregating and I wasn't disappointed. I normally wouldn't have thought anything of the ladies we saw out walking around, me being so pure of mind and soul and all. But my eyes were opened as they pointed out hooker after hooker strutting the strip.

I was reminded of the story my dad told about the 1st time he went to Vegas for some convention years ago. He'd went out walking around the strip and when he came back to the hotel one of his friends asked him “what did you think of all the hookers”? My dad said he hadn't seen any hookers while he was out to which his friend replied, “what did you think they were, school teachers”?

Ahhh, fresh seafood and hookers. You just can't beat the big city.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thanks Dad

Some people just can't handle the jealousy and turn to pettiness to bring others down. This is the e-mail I received from my dad this morning-

Audrey and I are thinking of things to mention to you which will make you realize what you are missing being out on the road.

My favorite, "I woke up this morning with
diarrhea so I went into MY bathroom for 1/2 an hour and turned on MY fan".

Love Dad.

Then there was this suggestion from Audrey last month after I mentioned that I was bummed out after injuring my knee and feeling alone in Portland.

It's always nice to know people are thinking of you.

New Photo Blog

Just wanted to let everyone know that I've started a new blog that will be centered around photography, so check it out if you're interested. You can find it at

I just started it so there's not much info, but now that I've let everyone know I started it I'll have some incentive to add content.

NOTE: Fixed bad link

Monday, July 23, 2007

Olympic Wrap-Up

It's finally time to sit down and write my overdue wrap up of my time in the Olympic Peninsula. After leaving Albin's place and spending a few days at Harv's in Vancouver, BC I had a little over a week until I had to be in Tacoma to work for a couple weeks. I figured I'd spend a few days in Olympic National Park but it ended up turning into the whole week and I still would have liked to stay longer. I didn't write many updates of my adventures while I was their because I decided I'd wait until I'd left and then write about it as a whole instead of bits and pieces. For anyone not familiar with the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park it's a nearly 1 million acre National Park which encompasses a temperate rain forest. There are no roads through the park and most don't get more then a few miles into it before you have to get out and hike to see more.

I arrived to the park on a Monday afternoon and started by driving up the western edge of the park, figuring over the course of the week I'd just make the large circle around the peninsula which would get me back in the Tacoma area. It wasn't until early evening that I got to the Hoh rain forest and hit a hiking trail. It was a great start to the trip. A nice, flat, easy trail that followed the Hoh river through the park and led all the way to Mount Olympus. That was about a 20 mile hike though and I didn't figure my knee had quite that much in me. I settled for an easy 6 mile round trip hike.

I didn't really know what to expect from the rain forest; but I was impressed. It's not like there are monkeys swinging around in the trees or anything but it's incredibly lush with moss and large ferns growing everywhere. Some of the trees in the old growth sections are enormous and when I counted the rings on a section of trunk that was cut from a dead tree that fell over the trail I found it was over 300 years old; and this was far from the largest tree I saw in the park.

One of the neat things about the Olympic Peninsula in general is a the variety of things to do. There aren't any really large towns but Forks on the west side offers something to do and Port Angeles on the north side is bigger yet and offers a good variety in restaurants and more to do. Since it's a peninsula that obviously means there's water near by. There are many different beaches scattered all around the peninsula that vary from sand to pebbles to jagged rocks. The second morning that I was there I drove up to Tongue point on the north side of the island and woke up early to catch the low tide so I could go exploring the tide pools. This is something I'd always thought would be really fun to do but I never have before.

It was so cool to see crabs scurrying everywhere over the rocks, to see urchins, anonemes, and starfish hiding in the deeper pools, and to watch the hermit crabs of all sizes crawling around the shallower pools. There was an amazing amount of life in these little pools and it was fun just to sit next to a small one and watch for about 15 minutes as they came to life before your eyes.

Although the water in the PNW is much too cold for swimming the beach is still an excellent place to cool down on hot days. Some really hot weather came through while I was there for the week with temps get into the upper 90's. After an early morning hike in the rain forest before it got too hot I headed to the beach I the middle of the day. It was magical just to stand on the beach letting the occasional wave rush around your ankles while watching and listening to the waves crash on the shore. There were a few other people enjoying the cool breeze coming off the water and I could see a bald eagle fishing just a little ways off shore as well as a few seals floating in the water just beyond the breakers. My favorite part of that beach was the noise. The beach was made up of tiny, round pebbles so when a large wave would come up it would wash these pebbles up on the beach and then they'd all roll back as the wave retreated. You would initially hear the rumbling crash of the wave hitting the beach followed by an even louder raspy noise as the pebbles washed over each other chasing the retreating wave back into the ocean.

My knee had improved a lot over the previous few days and it had got a lot of it's mobility back. It was a hot day so I decided that for the first time in about a month I'd give kayaking a try. Knowing that with my injured knee getting in and out of the kayak would be extremely difficult and unsafe I thought about leaving it behind in Portland where I'd pick it up when I was back there in August, but I'm glad I decided against that because on a very hot day I found Mills lake a perfect place to get back into it.

The lake was created by damming up a glacier fed river and even in middle of July after some very hot weather the water temperature was still under 50 degrees. The lake was peaceful and calm and it felt great to be back in the kayak again. I paddled to the end of the lake and then paddled as far up the river as I could get until it got too shallow for me to pass. I got out on a gravel bar and just enjoyed the scenery for a while before heading back.

One morning I woke up early and hiked up Hurricane Hill. It was pretty steep but it's a short and easy hike. I've been lucky that mosquitoes haven't been bad at all so far on this trip, but that all changed in the Olympics. The mosquitoes seem to thrive in the rain forest (imagine that) and even though I was at fairly high altitudes they were out in force. Thankfully I had bug spray with me but even then there was a constant swarm around me every time I stopped. My camera must have smelled good because if I had it sitting on the tripod it was always crawling with mosquitoes. They were as bad as I've ever seen them in Iowa or Minnesota.

A little farther up the hill I ran into a guy sitting in a meadow with an antenna and swatting mosquitoes like crazy. I offered him my bug spray and he was very relieved. Turns out he's paid by a University in Montana to track Marmots. Turns out the Olympic Marmot that lives in Olympic National Park is a totally different species then all the other Marmots in the area. It's not found anywhere else in the world and its numbers are in sharp decline. He said that about 12 years ago there were about 12-15,000 of them in the Olympics, now they think that number is down to about 2000. He said that just last year in the meadows that we were currently in that they had tags in about 14 marmots, this year only 4 of them are left.

I asked if it was people coming in that were driving him out but he said it wasn't, that most of the decline seemed to be coming from increased predation, mainly from the coyotes. They're really not sure why this is happening all of a sudden and that's what they're trying to figure out. They're afraid if it doesn't turn around that in another 10 years there may not be any left. Who knew!? Now I wish I would have taken a picture of that marmot that had just been sitting about 20 feet in front of me a little while earlier.

By the middle of the week I found myself on the East side of the Peninsula where I took an evening hike. The east side of the park is more mountainess and the vegetation was quite different then the rain forests on the west side. The trees were smaller and my hike was pretty uneventful. I basically followed along the side of a mountain so there was a very steep slope directly above and below me that was thickly covered in trees. There never seemed to be a break in the trees so there wasn't really anyplace to get a good look at the surroundings. It was pretty boring and being on a west facing slope towards the end of a hot day didn't make it any more pleasurable; so I cut the hike short and after having a little camp fire that night decided that I'd drive back to the west side of the park the next day. After all, I'd come to the Olympic Peninsula to see the rain forests so that's what I was going to do.

As I was driving back west I pulled out a business card I'd gotten from Chip Keen when I was at Albin's place. I'd never met Chip before but knew him a little bit from iATN. He turned out to be a great guy and gave me a business card for a resort that he and his wife owned saying that if I was in the area to stop by. He'd told me at the time where it was but being unfamiliar with the area it didn't mean much to me where he said it was. But when I looked at the card now I saw that the resort was in Forks, the very area I was driving too, perfect!

I found their place late in the morning and found it to be a beautiful little resort tucked back just off the road right next to the river. Chip and his wife Linda were both greeted me with open arms and offered my lunch, which I couldn't possibly turn down. They cooked up some steak and salmon and we had a fantastic little meal. Just as we were finishing the meal a friend of theirs pulled up in his truck and gave them a large steelhead trout he'd just caught that morning in the river. I didn't know it at the time but this was to be my dinner that night.

Chip said that if I wanted to go kayaking that the river right in front of the resort was a great one to paddle and that it was about 6 miles downstream to the ocean. It sounded like too much fun to pass up so Chip helped my drop my car off at the coast so I'd have a way to get back and after driving back to the resort in his car I slipped the kayak in the water and headed downstream.

The current was pretty swift and it would have been an easy float but it felt good to be back in the boat again and I was looking for a workout so I paddled pretty hard the whole way. Still, it was a very enjoyable trip and I took plenty of time to rest and enjoy the scenery. There were a lot of Mergansers around with al their babies and I got to see my first river otter too. The neatest things that I got to see though was just before I reached the ocean I saw a bald eagle take down a sea gull. The gull saw the eagle coming and managed to avoid the initial attack. After that I thought for sure the gull would be able to out maneuver the eagle just above the water and that it would get away. Unfortunately for the gull it zigged when it should of zagged and the eagle nailed it; carrying it to a piling where it began to prepare its meal by pulling out all the feathers. It was quite a site and one that I'd never seen before.

After reaching the ocean and loading my kayak up I headed back to the resort to see if I could talk Chip into letting me use his shower before I mosied along. He said I was welcome to take a shower and that they'd also had a last minute cancellation and that I was welcome to stay in the room that night if I wanted and to eat the fresh steelhead with them for dinner. Needless to say I was really happy I'd decided to come back to the west side of the park that day.

A couple more of Chip and Linda's friends showed up that night and we had a wonderful evening talking, eating, and drinking a few bottles of wine. One of the bottles was the ugliest bottle of wine any of us had seen, which was the reason it was purchased. We were all a little disappointed when the wine turned out to be not too bad. Then again, it was the 3rd bottle so anything probably would have tasted good by then.

After a lovely evening I retired to my room and instantly it made me want to build a small little cabin by a river. It was small but seemed to be laid out perfectly and had everything I needed. The living room, kitchen, and dining rooms were all combined with a nice little corner sofa and original miniature stove and refrigerator. Off that was the bedroom and bathroom. I think I could be really happy living in a place that size. In fact, I think I need to live in a place that size to keep myself from acquiring too much junk that I don't need. I honestly don't know where all that junk came from when I cleaned out my house!

I woke up refreshed the next morning and found Chip was already gone but I was able to say goodbye to Linda before heading out for one last hike that Chip had recommended for me. I'd be hitting the Bogachiel trail and it would be my last hike before I had to start heading towards Tacoma. The trail was a great recommendation! It was a pretty easy hike, which my knee needed, but offered some great scenery right through the heart of the rain forest. The day started out hot and sunny but it stayed pretty cool I the woods. One of my favorite things that I've found hiking around the mountains is all the streams that tumble down them from melt water and runoff. The streams area always clear, cold, and lush; making for an even greener belt it what already seemed an impossibly green landscape. I don't know if there's anything much more welcoming on a hot day hiking through the woods then coming upon one of these streams; because not only does the cold water come flowing down the mountain, it also brings with it cold air currents. The wind can be dead calm but if you find one of these streams you'll find a refreshing breeze constantly flowing with it that cools you down in a heartbeat. It makes it tough to leave the area and head back into the woods again!

I was lucky enough to find some ripe berries to eat along my hike which made for a great snack. I'm not sure what kind they were but I'm still alive so I guess they weren't poisonous. The really good berries were out in the sun. I found more berries in the shade of the woods which I thought looked like the same plant by the leaves but the berries were mostly orange with some red and purple ones. All of them seemed ripe but they were all pretty disgusting. They looked so good though that I must have tried half a dozen different plants along the way thinking maybe they'd be good on this one...they never were though.

After I reached mile 6 on my hike I was getting really tired. Not worn out and sore tired, but like “I want to go to sleep” tired. So I found a little side trail that led over to the Bogachiel river and I laid down next to the clear water, used my pack as a pillow, and took a 45 minute nap. It was just what I needed, I woke up refreshed and turned around to start heading back to the car. Just after I started back it started to rain, which I guess I should expect when I'm in the rain forest. I hadn't thought ahead to bring my rain jacket though because all week it had been brutally sunny and hot. The large woods provided good cover though and kept me pretty dry overall. There were quite a few banana slugs out before but now that it started raining they came out in force. I couldn't believe how many there were. At times there would be so many in one spot I really had to choose my steps to keep from squishing some of them. I'm still amazed at how big they are. I'm used to seeing slugs from back home in Iowa that are only about an inch long and pretty unimpressive. I'm sure that a couple of the Banana slugs that I saw fully stretched out though reached close to 10 inches long, 8 inches easily.

By the time I got back to the car it was pretty late in the day and I'd hiked 12 miles. It feels great to be getting some mobility back after injuring my knee and being able to get out on these longer hikes again. I'm really looking forward to it improving to the point where I can do some more strenuous hiking instead of mainly sticking to flat land stuff.

All in all I had a fantastic time on the Olympic Peninsula and I could have easily spent another few days there. From the beach, to the forests, to the mountains there are just tons of different things to do in the area and there's enough civilization to keep you from going crazy should the weather turn bad and keep you from getting out it the woods. Many thanks to Chip and Linda for making my last couple days in the area extra special. If you're going to be in the area and are looking for a place to stay then look no further. Their website cane be found here

Click here if you want to see more pictures of my time in the Olympic Peninsula

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Well, I managed to keep myself from going out to eat last night and instead stayed in and cooked up some onion and zucchini that I'd gotten at the farmers market; which I mixed with some tuna, pasta, and olive oil. I realized this morning that I'd totally forgotten I'd bought a big bunch of basil to use too! Oh well, next time.

If felt good to do some actual cooking again instead of just making stuff like sandwiches or eating what other people feed me (not that I have a problem with other people cooking for me).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy anniversary!!

I can't believe I missed my anniversary! As of July 16th I've been on the road and traveling for 2 months now and I'm still loving it!

When I started I was unsure of how I'd feel at the 2 month mark. Didn't know if I'd be sick and tired of bouncing from town to town and mainly sleeping in my car or a tent. I didn't know if I'd be bored with traveling and would want to settle back down or if I'd want to continue. I've actually been amazed at how fast the time has flown by, it definitely doesn't feel like two months have passed since I left Estherville. I kind of thought that my plan on staying in the PNW until labor day weekend, when I'll meet up with Sarah in Colorado, was probably going to give myself too much time and that I'd be bored with the area. In fact the opposite is true, I feel like I've only scratched the surface out here, there is still tons of stuff I want to see and do and people that I want to meet. I see now that there's no way I'm going to get everything done that I wanted to while I was out here. Barring any unforeseen circumstances in the next month I've got a pretty good idea that this fall will still find me out on the road seeing new things.

Hmmm, maybe I should go out to eat tonight to celebrate my 2 month anniversary....

Bad Habits

I've been a baaaad boy the last couple days. I rarely go out to eat but I have the last 2 days in a row...and it was worth it both times! Last night I walked back down to Wally's again to try their clam chowder....I wasn't disappointed! I finally feel vindicated after my trip to Maine a couple years back where I went out to eat seafood twice and it wasn't very good either time. Even though I was only about 5 miles from the coast at that time I don't think any of it was fresh. The stuff at Wally's though is fantastic and it's easy to see why people get so worked up about seafood.

This morning I got up and walked to the local farmers market to pick up some vegetables. Now if I can just keep myself out of Wally's for a few days I'll get back to saving money and making my own food.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Yesterday morning I got a call from Edith saying the financing had come through on the person who made an offer on my house so unless sometime unexpected happens my house will be sold and closed on in about a week. Yippee!! It feels great not to have to worry about it anymore. The extra money from the sale will be welcome too but pretty much all of it will probably be going into a CD so I won't get to enjoy it all that much (at least not now anyway). Many thanks to Mike, Edith and Lyle for showing the house and getting it sold. I also owe my mom a huge thank you for getting the house cleaned up and ready to sell after I left. I was just going to leave it as is and sell it really cheap because I didn't have the time but she got it all prettied up for me. I know it was a lot of work and took a lot of time.

To celebrate last night I decided to go out to eat. Tim and Katherine (the people I'm staying with) are out of town on a mini vacation for a few days so I was on my own. When I got to the house I found a half bottle of wine on the counter so I sat down to relax and finished that off before walking down to Wally's for what I was told was the best fish and chips around. Growing up in the midwest I'd never had fish and chips before so I was pretty excited. I got a mix of cod and halibut so I could try them both along with another glass of wine. Now, I don't have anything to use as a comparison but I can't imagine fish and chips getting much better then this. Oh, the things I've missed in my sheltered existence! I've heard great things about their clam chowder too so I'll have to go back and see if it's all its cracked up to be as well.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

That blows

Things are going well here in Tacoma. After sleeping in the Nature Center parking lot for a couple nights I met up with friends of Sarah's last night, Katherine and Tim, who will be giving me a place to live for the next couple weeks. So far we're getting along just dandy and I think it's going to be a fun time. Work is going well too and I had most of the day off today to explore downtown Tacoma a little.

It was raining and dreary when I woke up this morning and it continued as such until a little after lunch. But hey, this is the PNW so I just went with the flow. I put on my hat and rain jacket and took a stroll. I found an old camera shop downtown to poke around in for a while but managed not to spend any money there. I continued walking and checked out the Museum of Washington History as well as the Glass Museum. The Glass Museum was mostly dedicated to blown glass and it was an impressive site. They have a working shop in the museum that apparently goes about non stop. They have seating set up around it and have turned it into a spectator sport of sorts. It's amazing how easy they make it all look, though I'm sure it's incredibly difficult. I got to watch for about 20 minutes or so until they took their lunch break. Their was also a “Bridge of Glass” that had tons of blown glass art placed it in, both over head and set up on “shelves” behind glass. All arranged to they would be backlit by the sun (clouds in my case). I'll have to make it back there on a sunny day.

After succumbing to hunger I made my way back to the shop to make myself a turkey sandwich. I thought of eating out but I've already done that a little too much recently, but it's been good stuff so that makes it worth it. Next stop was the post office to send some stuff back home and now I'm sitting in a library catching up on some things. Sitting here in the library I don't know what's more annoying; hearing little kids who can't talk without yelling or the parents constantly 'Shhhing' them. I think it's the parents.

I've heard from back home that it's been a very hot and dry summer and that everyone was hoping for some rain. Well, the other day they got it with a strong thunderstorm that came through with 60-80 mph winds that flattened some of the surrounding corn fields. I don't think that's quite what everyone was hoping for. My mom sent me a picture she took as she walked out of work that evening just as the storm was approaching. I do love a good thunderstorm and that's one thing I'm missing about the midwest.

I've started a separate photo set on Flickr for my pictures from Tacoma. You can see them here. I'll be adding to it during my visit here.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Today was my first day at work in Tacoma and I think the best part about it was that the shop has a fridge and is right next to a grocery store. On my lunch break and I walked over and bought some groceries so I could make myself turkey sandwiches for lunch. Mmmmm, I love turkey sandwiches and it's been a few weeks since I've had one. It really hit the spot!

Belated 4th

I've been meaning to get this posted for a while but haven't taken the time to sit down and organize the pictures and video.

A few days before the 4th of July I found myself in Plain, Washington for a 4th of July iATN camp out at Albin's place. Every year a bunch of iATN members from around the world gather at Albin's place for some fun, learning, and relaxation.

I had a absolutely fantastic time at Albin's and am very happy I happened to be traveling through the area this summer. It was a great time, with great people, and great food!!

I can't thank everyone enough for making it happen. Not only to Alice and Albin for hosting this great event but to everyone else who chipped in to organize, cook, clean, and make everyone feel welcome. Thank you all.

Also thanks to Pat and Harvey Chan who invited everyone up to their house in Vancouver, BC for a few days after the celebration was over at Albin's. They were great hosts and showed us some great sites. Also big ups to Steve Brotherton's sister Leslie and her husband Trace for inviting all of us out for a day cruise aboard their yacht; it was a truly amazing experience.

I'd highly encourage any iATN members reading this to take the time and head out to Albin's place next year, I don't think you'll regret it. I'd write more about it but they're almost ready to kick me out of the cafe that I'm in at which point I won't have an internet connection.

For some more to the story and to view some pictures here's a link to a Flickr set from Albin's place. There is more information about the pictures in the description of each one. Below are a couple videos from launching Donald (you'll know what I'm talking about after looked at the pictures I linked to).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What's your Fantasy?

I've been a little behind in updating my travels but it will be coming soon. Internet connections and lots of free time to organize photos and write have been few and far between lately so I've just been doing small quick ones. A recap of my time on the Olympic Peninsula will be coming in a day or two as well as recapping the 4th of July festivities. But for today I have another short one.

A recent post on a forum I frequent got me thinking. The poster asked a simple question, “What's your fantasy job”. And not just a way out there fantasy (insert ridiculous fantasy here), but a realistic one that could actually be achieved.

My first thought after reading the question was that I already had it, but after thinking about it a little I realized that wasn't true. This is hardly a job and while it's currently what I want to be doing more then anything else I realize the desire to do this won't last forever. I actually don't have a fantasy job, something I came to understand a few years ago. It used to be that fixing cars was what I wanted to do more then anything, or at least something in the industry. I lived and breathed the electronics and computer systems in todays cars; spending almost all my spare time teaching myself, learning from others, and attending training classes around the country. In the end I spent too much of my spare time doing those things and I ended up being very burned out and started devoting my free time to other things that gave me pleasure. I thought after a little break my enthusiasm would be renewed, but it wasn't.

I thought of getting a new job in some other field and moving away from Estherville but when I thought about it I realized there wasn't anything else that I really had a burning desire to do either. I was reluctant to move somewhere just for the sake of moving so instead I decided to stay where I was and to prepare for something that might come along later. I should say now that it's not like I hated my job, just that I didn't have much enthusiasm for it anymore and I kind of missed that.

I started by taking much better care of my finances. I began saving money and not wasting it on needless things (this still didn't stop me from buying 3 kayaks last year) and I used any extra money I received to pay towards the principle on my house loan. I decided that when that “something” came along that I really wanted to do that I was going to be able to do it and not have anything holding me back. After taking a 2 week vacation to Arizona this spring in which I either camped, slept in the car, or stayed with friends I couldn't stop thinking of how much I'd like to do a lot more of that. I was back home for about 4 days when I decided that within a month I wanted to hit the road for an indefinite amount of time; and that's just what I did.

There were multiple reasons for the trip; the main one being purely for pleasure. I also thought that working at new shops and with new people along the way might re-spark my passion in the automotive field; and if that didn't happen I might stumble across some other field I wanted to get into. So far nothing concrete has turned up but there are a couple opportunities that have come up which could take me in a totally new direction and I'm giving them a very serious look. So far this little adventure of mine has been a lot easier then I expected and I really feel that my options are limitless. It's like looking out at a totally blank horizon and I can choose whatever path I want to get there. It's too soon to know what the conclusion will be or if I'll wind up even more lost then when I began, but I'm hopeful. I'm keeping my options open for anything that might come up and that's about all I can do for now.

So, are you currently living your fantasy life and working at your fantasy job? If you are then congratulations! If not then what are you doing to make that fantasy a reality? I'm starting to to think it's not as hard as everyone wants you to think it is.

NOTE: Here's another thought I had after posting this. Maybe we should be striving for a fantasy life rather then just a fantasy job. What's better, a fantasy job or just a regular job that allows you the freedom to live your life's fantasy? Maybe that's the real definition of a fantasy job?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Greatest hits

For anyone who's been faithfully following the blog you can skip over this post. It will be linked to on the right side of the page for people new to the blog who want to catch up on what's been happening without reading every single entry.

Listed below are links to some strategical postings which should get you up to speed in a hurry:


Close Encounters of the Buffalo Kind

The High Hard One


Cane you dig it?

Big City Blues

Back in the Groove

Partially Torn Acronyms

Of course there are many more things that have happened besides what is listed here but they should hit the high points good enough to catch you up. Please check out the archive list on the right hand side of the page to see all the posts listed by month (posts pertaining to my current trip start in May. February posts are previous little adventures that didn't actually happen in that month.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Partially Torn Acronyms

A week after getting my MRI I was finally able to get ahold of the doctor today to get the results. Between being out of the country for a few days and constantly going in and out of cell service I've been a tough guy to get ahold of. The results show nothing serious that requires immediate action but there are some issues that will need to be watched.

#1 is a partial tear of the ACL. It's still intact and functional but there is a partial tear in it. It sounds like repairing the ACL (replacing actually) is a pretty big deal.

#2 is a small tear in the Medial Meniscus. Again, it's still intact put there is a tear in it. This and the ACL problem could cause the knee to be unstable.

#3 A diffuse tear in the rear MCL which should heal on its own.

#4 A diffuse tear on some big complicated word that I didn't write down in time that should also heal on its own.

He said none of these things need to be taken care of right now and that they might not need to have anything done at all.

My knee has been making big improvements as far as mobility goes the last 4 or 5 days and is feeling much better. I'm walking normally and have been getting out on easy hikes once or twice I day. I even went kayaking yesterday without too much trouble getting in or out of the kayak. My knee does feel like it wants to go out again at times when I try to pivot on my left foot but I don't know if it's just the tenderness from the injury or if it really does want to pop out again.

This is what the doctor is somewhat concerned about and what he said the symptoms would be if there were to be continuing issues with the knee as a result of these injuries. He recommended taking it a little easy and leaving it be for the rest of the summer to let the knee heal some more from the injury. Then we'll better be able to tell if anything I'm feeling now is just soreness from the injury or a sign of problems that will need to be fixed.

That sounds good to me but I have some tentative plans for this fall/winter that would require a stable knee and I might be someplace that I really don't want it to give me any problems (more about that another time if it comes through). He said in that case he'd recommend repairing the Medial Meniscus, which doesn't sound like too serious of an operation or recovery, and then bracing the knee for the ACL to give it a little more support and to actually replace the ACL at a later date.

I've got a lot to think about now. It's complicated even more by the fact that I got a letter from my insurance company saying they weren't going to cover my knee injury. This after they received the first bill from the hospital in Baker City, Oregon where I first hurt my knee. I'm assuming that means they're going to deny the claims for seeing a joint specialist and getting an MRI too. They said I have 180 days to send in a written appeal to try and get it covered so I put my grandmother on the case since she's really good at stuff like that. If anyone can get it covered she can.

I'm an active guy and I don't like the thought of my knee just giving out on me again in the mountains so chances are I'll be getting some surgery sometime in the not too distant future. At least I can do it on my own time when it works out best for me. I need to get it straightened out with the insurance company first though because I don't really want to pay for it out of pocket.

Wish me luck on both counts!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Big Spenda'!

Today I splurged. It's hot out here so I headed to Port Angeles to chill out in the library and beat the heat until later in the day. They didn't open until noon and I was getting hungry so I drove downtown looking for food. I've been in the PNW for a few weeks now and I haven't gone out for seafood yet, though I have eaten some excellent home cooked seafood. I decided to treat myself today so I stopped into a restaurant and on the recommendation of the waitress ordered a crab sandwich and fries.

The fries could have been a little crisper but it was a good meal and quite enjoyable. I'm not used to spending $18 on a sandwich (after tax and tip) but it was worth it. It was nice to sit in a restaurant and be served instead of cooking over my little camp stove and eating in the front seat of my car. Still, I think that's more then I've spent on food in the whole last week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Flickr Overview

For anyone not familiar with using Flickr here's a quick rundown-

Flickr is a photo storage/sharing site and it's where I upload my photos that I use on my blog. I also have many shots there that aren't used in my blog posted there that you may be interested in checking out.

This link will take you to my main Flickr page where you see all the photos I've uploaded listed one page at a time. On the right hand side you'll see my "collections". They let me group large sets of pictures together. For example you'll see one collection is called "My Big Trip" and inside that collection are smaller "sets" that contain pictures from specific portions of my current trip. It's all pretty self explanatory and I don't think you'll have a problem navigating it.

Directly under my name on the main page you'll also see links that let you view all my sets, some of which aren't in any collections. These are much easier ways to view my photos rather then just going through one at a time.

There are also multiple ways to view the pictures. When you open up a set you'll see it laid out like this with one larger picture and clickable thumbnails. If you click the "details" link towards the top of the page you'll get this view; which lets you view them a little larger without opening individual pictures (note that there might me too many images to show on just one page in this view). You can also choose to view all the pictures in a set as a slide show.

Once you open an individual picture by clicking on it you still have many options, all listed directly above the picture itself. The most used will probably be "all sizes" which allows you to see smaller or larger versions of the same picture (who would have guessed!).

The easiest way to learn to use Flickr is to just start messing around with it. It's a fantastic site and is very user friendly while still being very powerful. I'd recommend Flickr to anyone that wants to share some of their photos online.

I like to stop at the Duty Free Shop

Saturday was to be my last full day in Canada and to fill it we hopped a Ferry out to Vancouver Island to go see the Butchart Gardens. The island is quite large so most people ferry over their vehicles so the ferries are huge and carry hundreds of vehicles on each trip. It took about 1 1/2 hours to cross to the island and loading and unloading the vehicles went extremely smooth.

We all took a leisurely stroll through the gardens and it was very relaxing; the weather was perfect for a stroll. Steve and Lyn had to take off early to fly back to Florida so we wrapped up our walk and piled back in the cars to go south to the one large town on the island, Victoria.We were all getting real hungry so we decided we'd just stop at a fast food joint to tide us over until we got back home. The first joint happened to be a McDonald's, which I hadn't been to about 4 years or so. It didn't take long to remember why I don't eat their anymore. Although it was nearly empty a couple of the tables right by the door were covered with trash from people that hadn't thrown any of their stuff away and it was falling all over the ground. They screwed up my order by giving me the wrong sandwich, the bread was stale, and the tomatoes were small, wrinkled, and tasteless. Ahh, another typical McDonald's visit. At least the fries were good and I wasn't hungry anymore!

We only had about an hour in Victoria because we had to get back in time to catch the last ferry to the main land. We walked along the waterfront and checked out the parliament buildings for a while. It was a fun area and there were plenty of vendors setup selling food and trinkets along the side walks. We stopped to watch a juggler do some performances for a while before heading back to the ferry. It was another late night by the time we all got to bed but it was a fun day.

The next morning everyone started preparing for departure and I got out of town about 3pm. As I was heading for the border I realized that I still had about $5 of Canadian money in my cup holder that I hadn't spent yet. It's been there for about 2 years from when I drove to Maine and back. I was close to the border and figured I'd stop at the Duty Free Shop to spend my money, I'd never been to one before.

I was trying to think of what I'd buy and couldn't think of anything I really wanted for $5. Then it hit me, deodorant! I'd been out for about a week and I kept forgetting to buy more. The only time I remembered was when I was out hiking or something and caught a wiff of myself. By the time I got back to civilization I'd forget all about it. I was super excited to finally get some but once I walked in the door my hopes of finding any deodorant dwindled. There were big fancy displays for expensive perfumes, booze, and maple syrup. You know, stuff you'd normally just smuggle across the border anyway. Nowhere did I find any normal stuff like deodorant. I looked and looked and was finally able to find something to spend my $5 on. I felt kind of out of place standing in the checkout line full of people with bags of booze. But I got something I wanted and I got rid of my Canadian $. Thankfully the next morning I found a Safeway, remembered my dilemma, and bought a stick of deodorant.

Monday I drove to Olympic National Park and I plan to spend most of the week here. My knee is improving day by day and while I was at Albin's in Washington I took some small hikes to test it out, which went fine. Last night after I got to Olympic I found a nice flat trail following a river and took a 6 mile hike. It felt great to do something other then sit on my ass and shove my face full of food like I'd been doing the last couple weeks (though that was really fun too!) This morning I got up and took a quick 3 mile hike and now I'm sitting in a public library in Forks to rest for the rest of the day. My knee did good on the hikes but it still hurts and I should rest it. My feet aren't used to be up and walking around and they started to get some blisters; so they'll appreciate having the rest of the day off.

The forests around here are amazing! They're amazingly green, lush, and huge! I was surprised at the size of many of the trees, and everything is covered in moss. As I reached the turn around point on my hike I stopped to rest on a large section of tree trunk that had been cut off a dead fall. I started counting the growth rings and found it was over 300 years old; and as I was sitting on that piece I was staring at an even larger tree straight ahead of me that was even larger. It was a pretty awe inspiring experience, thinking about how much had happened sine that tree first sprouted. I felt very small in that forest.

Follow the links if you want to see a few more pictures from the Vancouver area or from Olympic National Park. More to follow

If you're wondering who these "we" people are I keep referring to you'll find out in a couple days when I finally get around to summarizing the 4th of July festivities.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The good life

Yesterday we met up with Steve's sister and her husband who have a 50ft. yacht in Vancouver, BC for a day out on the water. The sun was shining, the wind was calm, and the temperature was warm; a perfect day to be out on the water. We boated around some inlets that made you feel like you were in the middle of nowhere and we also boated right down to the waterfront in Vancouver where we anchored to eat a nice dinner before pulling up anchor and motoring back to the boat house into a beautiful sunset.

The shoreline around the city is gorgeous and even the high rise apartment buildings look particularly nice along the waterfront. We saw our fill of lighthouses and even got to see some seals out swimming around in the water. All in all it was just a perfect day and I couldn't have been happier out there. I don't ever want to have a real job again, I'm having too much fun doing this!

Many thanks to Trace and Leslie for giving me one of the best experiences I've had since I left on my trip.

I edited some of the pictures from the day real quick and you can see them in this Flickr set

Friday, July 6, 2007

Jumpin' the Border

Last night was the last night spent at Albin's place. I figured I'd drive in to Leavenworth to check out the fireworks that evening but after doing some checking around I found that no towns in the area set off fireworks for fear of forest fires. What a bunch of weinies! And they call themselves Americans!?! Instead I ran through the sprinklers (it was real hot) and shot everyone with a squirt gun to make up for not having fireworks. It cooled off nicely after the sun went down and we spent one more night hanging around the fire before going to bed. After getting everything packed up this morning I headed for my MRI appointment in Bellevue; planning to meet up with some of the guys later in the day at Harvey's house in Canada to see some of the sites and to go on a Yacht ride tomorrow.

I got to Bellevue just fine for my knee appointment and I should find out the results on Monday. I got pretty comfy just sitting there for 40 minutes during the MRI and was a little dozy when I left. I headed north from there on my way up I-5 and got about 40 miles outside Bellevue when I had to stop and take a nap. I slept for about 45 minutes, waking refreshed and ready to take on the Canadian border gaurds. Things were going along just fine until I neared the border. Traffic was backed up for over 1/2 mile and I waited in line for a little over an hour before actually reaching the border. At least it was nice weather outside with a view of the ocean. Once I reached the border I was asked a few questions and told to “park to the left, go inside, and give them your ID”. Apparently having a car converted to an apartment and not really knowing where your 'friend' in Canada lives raises a couple red flags. So I got to go into the nice little immigration office to try and convince them that I wasn't attempting to defect to Canada. I guess my story was good enough because after a couple background checks, answering the same questions 3 times, and showing them the printed directions to Harv's house they let me through. I had no intention of defecting to Canada but after being accused of it the degenerate in my wants to just for spite. If there's one thing I'm good at it's doing things for spite. I'll save those stories for another time though.

Anyway, I'm now firmly entrenched in Canada for the next few days and I don't really know what it will hold in store for me. I know we get to go out on a big boat tomorrow but I'm not sure where at. I'm sure I'll have a great time and can't wait to finally spend the $6 in Canadian money that's been in my ash tray for the last 2 years. Pat and Harvey cooked us a great meal tonight and we spent the evening just sitting on the porch and chatting. I've been getting pretty spoiled on my trip so far and I don't know if I'll ever be able to get a real job again.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Getting behind

Boy, I've really been slacking off the last few days; this is the longest I've gone without an update since I started this blog. I've pretty much just been being a bum since last Friday hanging out at Albin's place in Washington, I'll post a separate update on those festivities in a day or two.

I swung by the big fish hatchery when I got to Leavenworth and got to feed the rainbow trout in their outdoor aquarium as well as getting to see tons of big old Chinook Salmon that had come up river to spawn in large tanks. I have gotten out for a couple easy hikes though and the knee has been holding up well. It's still swollen but the swelling is going down. It's still stiff and sore but I'll be heading back to the doctor tomorrow for an MRI, he'll have the results back on Friday. At least then I'll know for sure what's going on, one way or the other.

Being used to living in Iowa my whole life it's strange to me how varied the climate is out here. When I left Bellevue the other day heading towards Levinworth I was in very lush and dense forest with tons of ferns and fungus. I climbed up and over Steven's pass and as soon as I got over the pass the forests opened up and weren't anywhere as dense. Just an the other side of the pass it's a much warmer and drier climate. If I'd traveled the same distance to the west from Bellevue I would have been in another totally different climate because I would have been standing on the beach.

I don't know how the winters would be out in this neck of the woods but the summers are tough to beat. It's over 90 degrees today which is on the hot side for the area but there is very little humidity which doesn't make it seem very bad at all. The summer weather out here seems just about perfect.

You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.