Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy 3rd Re-Birthday to Me!

Happy 3rd Re-Birthday to Me!

It's cupcake time, my friends! It's time to celebrate!

It has been three years since I quit the rat race. It has been three years of semi-retirement bliss. It has been three years of waking up on Monday mornings, endlessly grateful that I don't have to drag my butt into the office after a nice weekend. Nope, siree -- my life now consists of perpetual weekends!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

We're Film Stars!

Brian and I were part of a video shoot -- we're film stars!

Bikers riding at Cape Blanco State Park.
Look closely -- those riders are me & Brian!
(Photo: From The Path Less Pedaled.)

Russ and Laura, of The Path Less Pedaled, have been working with TravelOregon to help create promotional videos for the state's Scenic Bikeways. Russ and Laura were looking for talent to help shoot their video of the Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway. Having just wrapped up My Mostest Favoritest Bike Trip, Brian and I were available to help with the video shoot.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My Mostest Favoritest Bike Trip: Central Oregon

My most favorite bicycle trip is no longer. No worries, though, it's been replaced by an even more favoriter trip.

Had you asked me two weeks ago to tell you my favorite bicycle trip, I would have answered that my favorite trip was my ride down the Pacific Coast in 2012. The trip had been at the top of my list for a number of reasons: the route included stunning views of the ocean, the ride was jam-packed full of fantastic people and places, and the trip signified a big step for me -- my first, long-distance, solo tour.

But my favorite trip has now been outdone by an even more favoriter trip. The honors now go to a recent ride through Central Oregon. The trip jockeyed its way to the top for a number of reasons: the ride included continuous, spectacular views of forests and mountains, the route consisted primarily of traffic-free roads through the wilderness, and I had an awesome riding buddy with whom I got along super-duper well. Similar to the Pacific Coast ride, this trip also signified a big step for me -- my first foray into off-road touring.

Plus, how could a trip not be the mostest favoritest when the final sunrise looked like this?

The sunrise on the final morning of my mostest favoritest bike trip.
Note that this is an unedited photo --
no colors have been prettified in this photo.

You may recall from my last post, Sampling the Sierra with Adventure Cycling, the mention of a guy named Brian. He was the mechanic on the trip. And, yup, he was the guy who spent a good deal of the trip being sandwich-kissed. Well, Brian asked if I might be interested in joining him on a bicycle ride through Central Oregon in October.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sampling the Sierras with Adventure Cycling

As I wrote in my post Sometimes Good Things Fall Apart, I anticipated that my "failure" earlier this summer would lead to better places. At the time I wrote the post, I wasn't sure what those "better places" would be. But the passage of time has started to reveal some of the better places. And those better places have been opening doors to even better'n'better places. Excitement abounds, friends!

One of the "better places" was the opportunity to staff another trip with Adventure Cycling Association this summer. And so it was that I participated in last month's Sierra Sampler, an eight-day, fully-supported ride that started in Lake Tahoe and ended 350 miles to the south. There were 54 awesome riders and 8 awesome staff on the trip, which meant many opportunities for creating infinitely awesome networks and friendships. Plus, as the majority of the ride overlapped the same route that I biked during last year's 2,300 mile tour through the Sierra-Cascade mountains, I had great fun reliving memories from the prior summer. Suffice it to say that I had an absolute blast!

Here are a few photos from the trip:

Me, not too terribly excited to be at Luther Pass. (JK)
(Photo: Brian)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pavlovian Conditioning at Pratt Lake

The Pavlovian conditioning was cemented after my last backpacking trip (see Backpacking, Hunkering Down, & Bookreading).

The stimulus: the desire to read a book.
The response: the need to head to the mountains for a solo backpacking trip.

Backpacking, hunkering down, & book reading...again.

My desire to head to the mountains coincided with the long Labor Day weekend. Knowing that holiday weekends are synonymous with an exodus to the mountains, I decided it best to begin my trip early Friday morning and to return to Seattle Saturday afternoon.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ingredients for a Tenday

Recently, I've been noticing myself thinking: "Today is a tenday."

"What is a tenday?," you ask.

Well, for starters, I should clarify that the term is my own device. I never intended to create the word; I just started using it.

Now, imagine a scale that ranges from 1 to 10. At the far left of the scale is the 1, which represents "not-so-hot." At the far right of the scale is the 10, which represents "flippin' fantastic." Given that scale, a "tenday" is used to describe a day that is a 10.

"Today is a tenday."
Coming across the words of Mary Oliver, chalked on the front steps of a home.

For the record, I experience sevendays. And fivedays. And occasionally, though rare, onedays as well. After all, it's very much part of the human experience to have ups and downs in life.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Fuck-You Money vs. Fuck-You Time

A few days ago, I got together with a good friend of mine, Justin. We met at Caffe Ladro in Fremont, bright'n'early at 7am. We talked virtually non-stop for two and a half hours, pausing briefly only to breathe and to sip our drinks.

As we hadn't seen each other in two months, we had lots to share -- new favorite podcasts, interesting developments in the world of technology, and profound insights about early retirement. Justin also filled me in on his recent bike trip to Cuba, and I apprised Justin of my recent bike guiding experiences.

I had really been looking forward to guiding bicycle trips for a local company this summer. However, after guiding the first two trips, I realized that the company wasn't a good fit for me. The company had some business practices that I wasn't comfortable with. And so being the principled person that I am, I decided I would no longer work for the company.

"It must be nice to have fuck-you money," Justin said, with a covetous smile.

I tilted my head and raised my eyebrows: "Fuck-you money?"

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sometimes Good Things Fall Apart

As you may recall from I'm Officially Homeless, I had been waiting since October of last year to guide tours with Bicycle Adventures. My first two tours, which occurred in July, took me Bicycle Adventuring through Glacier, Banff, & Jasper National Parks.

Sadly, after leading my first two trips, I came to the conclusion that guiding for Bicycle Adventures was not a good fit for me. With all due respect to Bicycle Adventures and the guests on my trips, I'll simply say that the company had some business practices that I wasn't comfortable with. And so after returning from the trips to Glacier, Banff, & Jasper National Parks, I informed Bicycle Adventures that I would no longer guide for them.

As you can imagine, coming to this realization was quite a disappointment. After all, I had waited nine months to lead my first tours with Bicycle Adventures. Furthermore, I had made a handful of sacrifices during this time, keeping my calendar open so that I could lead as many trips as possible with Bicycle Adventures. The most notable of these sacrifices include:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bicycle Adventuring in Glacier, Banff, & Jasper National Parks

Immediately after returning from A Roadtrip Through California and Oregon in mid-July, I guided two trips for Bicycle Adventures.

The first trip was an 8-day ride from Glacier National Park (in Montana) to Banff and Jasper National Parks (in Alberta). The second trip was a 6-day ride through just Banff and Jasper National Parks. Both trips rode along The Icefields Parkway, a route I have wanted to bike for a number of years. There were two guides on the trips -- me and Laura (the head guide). We took turns every other day driving the van and riding alongside the guests.

Below are some photos from the trip:

Binoculars at Lake Louise.
This was my favorite photo from the trip.
I later saw this same image hanging in a hotel room where we stayed.
I guess I have an eye for a good photo!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Backpacking, Hunkering Down, & Bookreading

I've always wanted to backpack somewhere beautiful to hunker down and read a book.

Backpacking to somewhere beautiful and hunkering down... read a book.

That's what I've wanted to do, and so that's what I did.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mechanic Dan's Bike Race

When I visited Portland for the second time on my Roadtrip Through California and Oregon, I had the opportunity to attend one of Mechanic Dan's bike races. I had never watched a bike race before. I was excited to see Mechanic Dan strut his stuff!

Dear readers, meet Team Gentle Lovers.

Team Gentle Lovers consists of Mechanic Dan and Andrew the Utzmeister.

These two guys radiate hotness: beards, tats, the ability to rock the pink, and oh my god, look at the cute little bunnies on these punks' jerseys!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Roadtrip Through California and Oregon

As you may recall, I became homeless starting in early June (see I'm Officially Homeless). My calendar had been booked back-to-back with busyness: a three-day guide training tour on the San Juan Islands for Bicycle Adventures, a tour around the Olympic Peninsula with Craig, and the Adventure Cycling tour along the Columbia River Gorge. I now had two and a half weeks to fill before my first guiding gig started with Bicycle Adventures.

There are many parts of Oregon that I have yet to explore by bicycle. As such, I had brought my bike to Oregon with me, fully anticipating that I would tour around the state during the two and a half weeks. However, by the time the Columbia River Gorge trip had ended, the Pacific Northwest had been overcome by an unusually wicked outbreak of record heat. Portland's forecast, for example, was seeing multiple days of 100+ temperatures. Yuck! Touring didn't exactly seem so appealing anymore.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Adventure Cycling Along the Columbia Gorge

In mid-June, after the 10-day bicycle ride around the Olympic Peninsula with Craig, I headed down to Oregon to assist with Adventure Cycling's Columbia River Gorge tour.

The evening before the tour began, I stayed with my friend, Robin, who lives in Portland. To keep with the Adventure Cycling theme of today's post, I should mention that I met Robin at my Adventure Cycling Leadership Training Class in Missoula in June 2013. As it turned out, Robin lived on a floating house on Hayden Island -- just across the street from the marina where Jake and I lived! What a small world!

Robin and I spent a few hours in the early evening sailing Robin's boat, Vela. The weather was splendid, and the company was grand. I really enjoyed sailing along the Columbia River, where I had spent so much time a few summers prior.

Vela's sails, against a perfect sky.


I loved sailing Vela, a Ranger 20. She was easy to rig, easy to launch, and easy to single-hand. I could totally see myself owning this boat. I just wish she were a bit more accommodating for a liveaboard arrangement. Although I consider myself to be a minimalist, a Ranger 20 would be extremely tight quarters for more than a night or two on the water.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Blonde Builds a Wheel

I had a "blonde moment." Yeah, I know, it's hard to believe. But it happened.

Let me back-up a bit, so as to provide context... A few years ago, I wore through my first bike part. It was a chain. I had no idea you could wear through bike parts. After all, bike parts are made of metal! They are strong! They will last forever! My bad; I was wrong. Metal eventually breaks down. Especially after miles of Sarah-abuse.

Over the last few years, as I've added more-and-more miles to my bike, I've worn through more-and-more bike parts. Case in point: the rim on my back wheel is starting to dish, fairly significantly. Rather than suffer a blow-out, I wanted to replace the rim. Entirely focused on replacing the rim, I recently placed an order for a new rim. This was, unbeknownst-to-me-at-the-time, a blonde moment.

This is what a rim looks like...

I didn't realize my blonde-ism until earlier today, when I went to pick up the rim. My plan was to pick up the rim, quickly swap over the cassette from the old wheel to the new, and then throw the new wheel on my bicycle. Ta da! I'd be able to cross "replace rim" off my to-do list. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Few More Thoughts About Craig

The reporting on the test ride around the Olympic Peninsula with Craig is now complete. I hope you enjoyed reading Craig's guest posts about the trip.

"So," you ask, "what did ya' think about this Craig guy as a compatible riding companion?"

Before I answer, you should know, if you don't already, that I am one helluva picky person. I'm picky when it comes to food. I'm picky when it comes to how I spend my time. And I'm particularly picky when it comes to relationships. Although some have suggested that life might be a little easier if I were to be a little less picky, I'm unwilling to compromise. I'm a firm believer that my unwavering steadfastness is vital at holding me true to my principles and enabling me to live the life I want to live.

Days 11-13: Manchester State Park to Seattle

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Posts 12-14 of 14)
Originally posted here, here, and here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Day 11: Manchester State Park to Seattle
Wednesday June 17, 2015, 32 miles (51 km) - Total so far: 582 miles (937 km)

Another beautiful morning in a beautiful city. Just a dream-like ride along the water.

[Sarah: And with that, we are back in Seattle!]

Sarah is an amazing woman. When she has made up her mind to do something, there is no stopping her. I mentioned that I might like to ship my bike home instead of checking it as luggage. She immediately started calling bike shops and found a shop just a few blocks from our Warmshowers host that would pack and ship my bike for $45 plus the Fedex shipping of $70. Deal!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Days 9-10: Humptulips to Manchester State Park

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Posts 10-11 of 14)
Originally posted here and here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Day 9: Humptulips to Schafer State Park
Monday June 15, 2015, 61 miles (98 km) - Total so far: 478 miles (769 km)

We escaped our mosquito infested camp at about 7AM. Another nice cool morning and the miles flew by. We turned off of Hwy 101 south of Humptulips and turned on to Youmans Road.

We're leaving Highway 101.
Though the highway treated us well, we're anxious to ride on quieter roads.

Getting off of 101 was a genius idea. Thank you, Sarah, for being prepared to get us off the big road south of the Olympic Mountains.

Day 8: Bogaschiel State Park to Humptulips

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 9 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Sunday June 14, 2015, 68 miles (109 km) - Total so far: 417 miles (671 km)

Once again, we had a beautifully clear and cool morning of riding. However, we did actually see some of the famous Pacific Sea fog as we approached Ruby beach.

Our view at Ruby Beach.

[Sarah: Craig and I experienced unseasonably perfect weather on our trip down the Pacific Coast. The photo above is far more representative of a typical June morning along the coast of the Olympic Peninsula. We only experienced thick fog for a few short miles on our ride. Not once did we need to don our raingear.]

Day 7: Lake Ozette to Bogaschiel State Park

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 8 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Saturday June 13, 2015, 77 miles (124 km) - Total so far: 349 miles (562 km)

We started on time today (6:30) because I am now aware of Sarah's little trick of popping out of her tent fully ready to ride. I seem to muck around with coffee and breakfast and toilet duties for an hour, all while clanging pots and crinkling plastic wrappers. Sarah just silently pops out fully formed and ready to ride.

Today we are going to camp at Bogachiel State Park. But first we must backtrack the 25 miles to Clallam Bay and then head towards the city of Forks on Hwy 101.

Riding the Ozette-Hoko road during the cool of the morning was a delight. We even had a chance to see a herd of Elk peacefully grazing in a clear cut.

Although it's sad to see clear-cutting,
it's helpful to know that there's a plan for reharvesting.

Once in Clallam Bay we again stopped at the Sunsets West Co-op store, where I had to buy more sunglasses to replace the ones lost at Lake Ozette. Amazingly they had a serviceable pair for the incredible price of $2.50 (Chinese imports at their best).

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day 6: Hiking the Ozette Loop

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 7 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Friday June 12, 2015

We took a leisurely morning and slowly got ready to go hike the Lake Ozette Loop hiking trail. This trail is about nine miles long -- three miles to Cape Alava on a trail made of cedar planks, three miles on the beach to Sand Point, then another three miles of cedar from Sand Point back to the Lake Ozette Campground.

When I volunteered here so many years ago, I had hiked this loop dozens of times and was surprised to see that the trail had changed but little. Some of the planks looked to be old enough to have been installed by me in the 1980s.

Sarah hikes through the dry rain forest.

Day 5: Port Angeles to Ozette

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 6 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Thursday June 11, 2015, 81 miles (130 km) - Total so far: 272 miles (438 km)

I'm used to being the first person up and ready to ride. But Sarah would consistently be ready before me. I'm not sure how she was doing it because I wouldn't hear any movement in her tent. She would just pop out with her panniers packed, hook them to the bike, take down her tent, and wonder why I wasn't ready at the agreed upon time.

Craig has a stressful morning routine,
drugging up on coffee and PopTarts.

But I eventually did get ready, and we headed off to cross the northern leg of our Olympic Peninsula Loop.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Day 4: Hurricane Ridge

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 5 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Tuesday June 10, 2015, 41 miles (66 km) - Total so far: 191 miles (307 km)

Today's plan was to ride the Hurricane Ridge road. Hurricane Ridge road is eighteen miles of paved road with a steady 6-7% grade that shows off some of the best Olympic National Park vistas. The elevation change is 5300 feet, but when spread out over the eighteen miles, the climbing wasn't too bad. Most tourists drive up to the Visitors Center at the top of the ridge to take in the scenery and day hike.

Since we planned to stay with the same Warmshowers host tonight, we left our bags with them and climbed Hurricane Ridge with just a picnic lunch and some warm clothes.

Craig, Sheikh of Hurricane Ridge.

Sarah kept up a steady climbing pace, and I did my best to stay with her.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 3: Port Townsend to Port Angeles

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 4 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Monday June 9, 2015, 58 miles (93 km) - Total so far: 150 miles (241 km)

Fortunately, the other bike shop in Port Townsend opened at 9AM in the morning so the plan was to be waiting on their doorstep when they unlocked the door. The Broken Spoke, the other bike shop, was truly amazing. Pete let me into his store ten minutes before he opened, had a heli-coil to insert into the old crank arm, straightened my disc rotors, tightened my hubs, and adjusted my derailleurs. Fair prices and great service. I was back on the road in less than an hour. If in Port Townsend, don't hesitate to visit The Broken Spoke.

Sarah and I had found a helmet earlier in the morning at Fort Warden State Park and wondered if it was Gabbi's or maybe just one that was dropped by a kid at the park. We decided to bring it with us, and after finding Gabbi having a snack at a local coffee shop, we were able to reunite her with it.

Celebrating the recovery of Gabbi's helmet.

Day 2: Seattle to Port Townsend

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 3 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Monday June 8, 2015, 61 miles (98 km) - Total so far: 92 miles (148 km)

We left our host's house later than planned (9AM) and headed for the closest Trader Joe's and Safeway to do our shopping for the food needed for the next few days. Sarah and I have similar eating habits. She calls it "The 4Ps": Pringles, Poptarts, Peanut Butter, and Pancakes. So shopping was an easy task. The only difference in our diets is that I make coffee each morning and eat my tortilla and beans with sandwich meat added. Sarah is a vegetarian.

[Sarah: Though a few blocks out of the way, our stop at Trader Joe's was a necessity. It was imperative that Craig be initiated into the world of Cookie Butter, first introduced here. While it seemed that Craig enjoyed the Cookie Butter, he wasn't crazy about it. That was fine by me, as that meant more for me!]

Sarah is crazy about this stuff!

We wiggled and wagged our way north via the Interurban Trail, all the way up to Mukilteo, where we bought tickets for the ferry to Whidbey Island. While waiting for the ferry, we visited the Mukilteo Lighthouse Park. This is a nice place to eat lunch and explore the old lighthouse and surrounding buildings.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 1: Travel to Seattle

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 2 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

Sunday June 7, 2015, 31 miles (50 km) - Total so far: 31 miles (50 km)

I unpacked and assembled my bike in the bicycle assembly area that can be found in SeaTac's baggage claim area. This area has a bike rack to which you can lock completed bikes, a tool rack, a bike assembly rack, and a floor pump. The tools provided are minimal and in most cases not useful since the thick stiff cables to which each tool is attached prevents you from being able to turn the tool during use. Make sure you have your own tools available. But having the designated area makes for a relaxing time during assembly.

Craig's bike box in SeaTac Airport's bike assembly area.

Once complete, I rolled the bike and my bags to the light rail station at the airport and took the train to the stadium stop.

Introduction and Finding a Young Single Female

Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 1 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.

I usually lurk on the CrazyGuy forums at least a couple days per week.

[Sarah: As you may have noticed, Craig is masterfully setting the tone here, as the word "lurk" is reserved exclusively for creeps.]

I even read all the companion ads, hoping to find someone who might be planning the same trip as mine in about the same time frame. It has been a couple years since my last tour, and I'm getting a bit antsy. So with this mood in mind, I read a Companion Ad from Sarah (aka "Young Single Female"). [Sarah: See The Happily Married Man Rides the Olympic Peninsula for the ad.] Her ad was for a 3+ month trip to Argentina and Chile to ride the Atlantic coast of Argentina to Ushuaia and then back up north via the Carretera Austral. I had planned to do a similar trip in 2016, but she was looking to do it in 2015. Oh well, one year early isn't too bad, so I responded to her ad in a fashion such as this:

I saw your ad looking for partners for a bike tour in Argentina and Chile. I've started planning a similar trip but wasn't expecting to execute it until 2016 or 2017. But you seem to be a very organised and driven person and that entices me to maybe up my schedule and try to ride with you. 

The Happily Married Man Rides the Olympic Peninsula

You may have recently heard me mention some..."going ons"...with a married man.

<Raise eyebrows, hold hands to mouth in surprise, and insert gasp here.>

Well, my friends, I owe you the story.

The story begins with an advertisement I recently placed in the "Companions Wanted" section of three online touring websites, including Adventure Cycling, Warm Showers, and Crazy Guy on A Bike.

The ad looked like this:
Argentina & Chile: Fall 2015 - Spring 2016
I would like to explore Argentina and Chile by bicycle, and I'm interested in seeing if there are any compatible companions who are interested in joining me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An Overnighter on Whidbey Island

Whidbey is a magical island, suspended in the far north end of Puget Sound. Located partially within the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, the island is known for its rolling hills and its classic northwest landscapes.

Shirley, Solitude, and I enjoyed an overnighter on Whidbey a few weeks ago. Shirley and I had a marvelous time filling our lungs with hill climbs, while Solitude and I wore ear-to-ear smiles and expressed gratitude for the wonderful lives we live. The three of us were overcome with giddiness as we laid our tired bodies down for the night, under the comforting blanket of the trees and the stars.

How delightful it is when an overnight adventure feels as though it is a week in length!

Here are some photos from the overnighter:

I love red buildings set against green fields and trees.
I could stare at this view all day long...

Friday, June 5, 2015

I'm Officially Homeless

Someone once said that the days are long, and the years are short. I'm reminded of this today.

I've had so many wonderful, long days over the last few months since I returned from my visit overseas. I crossed two items off my bucket list -- including getting a tattoo (see Sailors, Whores, & Ink) and taking a sailing course. I've spent lazy afternoons enjoying Seattle's unseasonably mild weather. I've spent hours relearning the Spanish language that I haven't spoken since the last millennium. I've started to plan a big bike trip for this upcoming fall and winter. Oh, and I finally met my financial target for early retirement (even though I left my job two and a half years ago, only 75% of the way to my target).

Suffice it to say, it's been a great few months of back-to-back long days. But it's already June 4th, and I am officially homeless!

Let me back up a October of last year...

Sunday, May 3, 2015

My Interview for "The Voluntary Life" Podcast

Over the years, I've consulted a number of resources about voluntary simplicity, financial independence, and early retirement. One of my most favorite resources has been The Voluntary Life podcast.

The podcast, hosted by Jake Desyllas, covers a number of topics related to entrepreneurship, financial independence, and freedom. Jake's podcast has been immensely helpful at providing inspiration and encouragement in pursuing my early retirement lifestyle.

I have spent literally hundreds of hours listening to The Voluntary Life. So, you can imagine my thrill in having the tables turned; Jake wanted to interview me about my early retirement story and how housesitting fits into my early retirement lifestyle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sailors, Whores, & Ink

As I entered the shop, my eyes were drawn to a large sign hanging above the rows and rows of sample artwork. The sign read: "Tattoos -- not just for sailors and whores." A smile spread across my face. And so it was, with that affirmation, that I got inked.

The Before & The After.

People have just as many opinions about tattoos as they do about religion and politics. There's a saying that the difference between people with tattoos and people without tattoos is that the people with tattoos don't care whether or not you've got one.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Backpacking in Hell's Canyon

This, my friends, is Hell...

(Photo courtesy of Paul's camera.)

Well, to be more exact, this is technically "Hell's Canyon." Maybe you're thinking what I'm thinking. "If this is Hell, I wonder what Heaven looks like!"

We'll come back to Hell in a second. For now, let's rewind a few months...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reflections on My Turkey Trip - Part 3: What I Learned About Myself

What did I think of Turkey? My answer is threefold. 

In my prior two posts, I addressed Part 1: What I Like About Turkey and Part 2: What I Like About the United States. In today's post I cover Part 3: What I Learned About Myself.

Let's start off with an analogy...

Imagine a mosaic. The more tiles that compose the mosaic, the clearer the image. ¿Comprende? Bueno.

As you've likely heard before, we are a sum of all our experiences. These experiences combine to create a mosaic of our unique selves. As is true for the tiles in a mosaic, the more experiences we add to our lives, the clearer the image of our true selves.

A mosaic of me, with all the Turkey photos as individual tiles.
Enlarge the image to fully appreciate the mosaic.

The Turkey trip served to add more and more tiles to the mosaic of my life. Though some of these experiences confirmed what I already knew about myself, others revealed something new. Regardless, all of the experiences helped me to get a clearer image of myself. All of the experiences helped me to learn more about myself and to asymptotically hone in on my true nature.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Reflections on My Turkey Trip - Part 2: What I Like About the United States

If you recall from yesterday's post, I have been asked numerous times: "So, what did you think of Turkey?" I had been hemming and hawing at my response, but I am now ready to share my answer, via three separate posts.

In yesterday's post, I covered Part 1: What I Like About Turkey. In today's post, I cover Part 2: What I Like About the United States.

Yes, smarty pants, "what I like about the United States" is a nice way of saying "what I don't like about Turkey." My trip to Turkey made me appreciate a lot of the things that I take for granted living in the United States.

Let's get this show on the road, folks...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reflections on My Turkey Trip - Part 1: What I Like About Turkey

My trip to Turkey ended a little over a month ago. Since my return, one task has remained on my to-do list.

While I'm typically not one to procrastinate, the distance in time, as it turns out, has been valuable at enabling me to thoroughly reflect on my trip.