Posts Tagged ‘travel’

I learned that you may need outside help to distinguish good pain from bad pain.

I found a blood-stirring, no-holds-barred page that says, essentially, “do it, motherfucker.”

I read about a blind man who taught himself to see by echolocation. Oh my god.

I read about the care and feeding of a novelist – oh, man, so true.

And since I’m writing this on Thursday and missing all of Friday’s great links (because, as you read this, I have been on the road for four hours with another four to go!), I am giving you the rest of our best Six Flags photos!

Walking The Porcupine

Loose Tiger!

My First Rollercoaster



Shake It Off

I wanted to share some of the animal highlights of last Sunday at Six Flags; there will be more photos coming up, especially since our holiday weekend will be spent camping on the coast with the redwoods.

Gator Girl

Cougar Mirror

Curiouser and Curiouser


Shark Attack!

Dolphin Luv

Why Hello There

A Very Colorful Critter

Day 17 is my favorite memory.

I don’t do singular best-ever favorites. Really. I am not that linear. So I’ll pick one of my favorites, and perhaps share others later on.

When I was seventeen, in late spring, my sister‘s parents invited me along on their family vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. Having not seen the ocean since Myrtle Beach in South Carolina when I was itty, I eagerly agreed. They were incredibly generous and insisted on paying my way, for which I am forever grateful, as I couldn’t have gone otherwise.

It was unspeakably odd watching the land flatten slowly as we left my beloved mountains behind, but the bridges once we got near Chesapeake Bay were amazing. We stopped at Fisherman’s Inn on the bay, where I had my first taste of cream of crab soup, which became one of my favorite foods that I can get nowhere else. We also saw a few wild ponies on Assateague Island in passing, and I put my toes into the surf for the first time in years.

I was struck then, well and truly, with the ocean’s magnificence. It attracted me like a magnet. My sister showed me how to move with the waves, not stand against them, and I spent the next hour doing the exact opposite of what she’d said, lunging at each wave as it rolled to meet me. I was sent tumbling a few times and surfaced with wild laughter, while my sister shook her head and her parents eyeballed us from the shoreline.

We stayed in the Carousel, an amazing hotel right on the waterfront, which enabled us to have convenient night-time beach walks. We strolled the boardwalk and found dozens of hole-in-the-wall shops, bought little trinkets and toys, and generally cavorted around.

It was easily one of the most formative experiences in my life, and certainly the highlight of that year.

Day 12 is a photo post!

(Day 12 was actually not included in this meme. So I made this part up.)


The following are recent photos from our August trip up to Seattle, Washington to see J’s brother take (and pass!) his blackbelt test in southern-style kung fu. The first three are from coastal Oregon, which is a place where we would very much like to live someday. The fourth photo is from Discovery Park in Seattle, and the last is from I-5 N going through inland Oregon towards Seattle.

Day 11 is my siblings.

This is where it gets somewhat entertaining:

  • I was born and raised an only child.
  • I constantly refer to my sister, a young woman named Kaitlyn. But we aren’t biologically or marriage-logically related.
  • I have an older sister that I’ve never met, who was given up for adoption when my parents were 18. Her name is Bobbie Sue. No one knows where she is now or how she turned out.

Since I know nothing about Bobbie, I’ll talk about my heart-sister, Kaitlyn. I called her my sister because ‘friend’ seems far too shallow to encompass the depth of our relationship, and since we were both only children, it was rather nice to have an extra family member close to our own ages. We met when I was 14 and she was 11, and though we came from vastly different households, we were so similar in interests and hobbies that we may as well be literal siblings. We also look alike, amusingly enough – we have similar eyes and hair.

Kaitlyn has been my confidante for as long as I’ve known her, the unwavering partner-in-crime to all my hijinks and success and bad days. She and my partner, J, are the two most important people in the world to me.

Kaitlyn is currently living in DC, quite far from my corner of the desert in Nevada, but we still make all efforts to see each other a few times a year. We keep in touch via online journals, instant messaging, Twitter, and cell phones. Though we’ve both changed immensely since we met – hard not to, given that neither of us are kids anymore – we’ve stayed close and comfortable with each other. I don’t think either of us have friends who haven’t heard of the other; we are a constant part of each other’s lives.

Instead of trying to describe my sister, I’ll tell you a story instead:

One Saturday night, back when I was living in Colorado and she was at college in Ohio, Kaitlyn was not happy. It had been a bad day. She wanted a hug, and her local friends were all preoccupied or absent. She and I were talking on IM, and much like xkcd once pointed out, sometimes typing *hugs* is not enough.

So, we each got in our cars and drove twelve hours to meet in a random town in Missouri. We had breakfast at IHOP, completely delirious from sleep deprivation at this point since we’d started out late at night, caught a few hours of sleep in a hotel, had another meal at TGIFriday’s, and then drove back home. We got a few hours sleep before she had class and I had work on Monday morning.

And it was totally worth it.

Day 7 is my best friend.

I don’t really use the term ‘best friend’ – I don’t rank my friends in single file. I have a handful of very close friends, and a lot of very good friends, and I know a lot of other cool people. So, I’ll pick one of my close friends: Pat, the guy who runs All Things From My Brain and who writes Evermist.

Unfortunately, he reads my blog, so I’ll have to make this post as embarrassing as possible. HI PAT!

I met Pat when I was still living in West Virginia in 2004, I think it was. He was and still is in Colorado – we first encountered each other on a roleplay server in World of Warcraft. One day, after a year or so of playing together and becoming friends, he was regaling me with tales of woe. He and a friend of his had started a web company, and they were finally ready to hire their first real employee… but this person had to have a collection of various skills that, so far, no one they interviewed seemed to have. He rattled off the list of qualifications to me over IM.

I paused, then asked, “You know I can do all of that, right?”

There was a long silence. “…do you have a resume?” he finally replied.

Little under a week later, I loaded myself and my dog into my car and set off on a cross-country roadtrip. It was the first time I’d driven more than three hours at a time: the trip was 25 hours of driving and 1500 miles one way. I napped in rest areas and arrived on Pat’s doorstep a day and a half later. I slept on his couch, had an interview with him and Q (the owner of the startup), briefly checked out apartments in the area, and drove back home a few days later.

Two weeks later – before I knew I got the job – I packed the most important stuff into my car, the SUV my dad loaned me, and the Uhaul trailer it was towing. I left my job, my significant other, my apartment, my family, and the only land I’d ever known. My mom, her sister, and I drove across the country again and plopped my boxed-up life into an apartment I hadn’t even seen. Pat even warned me against the place, having lived there in the past, but it was cheap and available, so I took it.

I did get the job. The apartment was not great, but I was out of there in 7 months and in a much better place, closer to work. Pat was my boss; I made great friends with the only other person in my department, a graphic artist named Sharra who was hired some months after I was.

Thirteen months after I started working, the company closed its doors. Internal sabotage and bad choices had killed an incredibly promising group of people and ideas. We had poured everything we had into that company, sweat and soul, and it was devastating to see it fail. But, slowly, we picked up and moved on in our own directions.

Through all of this – through the crazy move, the stress of so much work, the breakdown of our hopes and dreams – Pat and I remained good friends. I was lounging on his couch most days of the week; we did dinner, movies, video games. He introduced me to a lot of TV shows and films, being the media buff that he is. He made me laugh and took care of me when I needed it. Even after I left Colorado and came to Nevada, he and I have remained close (though I sure do miss his chili spaghetti).

He’s just a great guy, and I’m incredibly glad to have him as a friend.

(…wait, I think I left out all the embarrassing stuff. Damn. Well, maybe next time, eh?)

It was 2 AM on a Saturday night (although some would consider it Sunday morning at that point) in early September in Nevada. I was in a bad spot and really needed some company, so I tossed myself into my car and started up the highway towards J’s work, thirty minutes away. He works in a 24/7 animal hospital as an emergency tech, and it was a quiet night – no emergencies and no coworkers. I would be safe to hang out with him a while and lend a hand where it was needed.

There’s a ten-mile stretch of empty highway between one town and the next. Just as I started down the lonely pass, I spotted a hitchhiker thumbing at the few passing cars. Like everyone else, I drove on, shivering as the night breeze seeped into my bones. Bloody desert – it can pass 90*F in the day and drop below 50*F at night. I don’t like the cold.

The next thing I passed was the sign that said I still had nine miles to go before even glimpsing civilization again. I frowned and thought of the hitchhiker. Nine miles is a long way to walk in the dead of night. I passed a few branching dirt roads where I could have turned around. My thoughts continued to dance around with stress and emotional upset from earlier that evening.

After about three left turn lanes had come and gone, I swung into the next one and rode the brakes to a smooth, swift stop. (Let it be known I love my car for her ability to not send me through the windshield.) I headed back the way I’d come, trying to remember which stretch of highway the guy had been on so I didn’t U-turn too soon. I wound up going back to the north end of town to turn around, just to be sure I didn’t miss him.

As I drove north again, I wondered if I’d find him at all. Maybe he’d gotten picked up already. Not two minutes passed before I spotted him in my headlights, empty hand jutting out.

I pulled over and rolled the passenger’s window down, watching him half-jog, half-run up to my car. He stooped down to peek in the window, and I took a glance and a breath to inspect him. He smelled like cigarettes but not alcohol, seemed to be a clean middle-aged man, and had a look of immense relief and gratitude on his face. I invited him in.

He collapsed into the seat, thanking me profusely, and I pulled back onto the highway. “Where ya headed?” I asked.

“Oh, I dunno. Utah. Maybe Colorado,” he replied.

I blinked. “Uh. I’m headed into south Carson, but I could get you as far as the north end… Probably not farther than that, though.” A pause. “What takes you out there?”

He asked to be dropped off in the middle of town, where this road intersects with an east-west highway. It would take me a little ways past my destination, but I didn’t care. Helping someone who seemed like he needed it was easing my internal turmoil, and I had no regrets about lost time.

The hitchhiker introduced himself, interspersing his sentences with continued thank-yous, and said he was leaving everything behind him. Twenty years at the same job and in the same marriage, a house in a nice suburb (ironically, where J and I live) and a couple of cars. He brought nothing with him – no phone, no cards, no cash, no supplies. He’d left just a few hours ago and had been walking ever since.

He was done, he said, just done with it all. “I’m not afraid,” he told me. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going to start a new life from scratch. And I know I can do it.” He spoke with intelligence and clarity, and agreed with my observation that he probably should have gotten some cash from the ATM on his way out, but he had no regrets. I advised him to avoid trying to walk across Utah – that state is even more dry and barren than Nevada. He mentioned going to Canada as a possibility, and we talked about roadtrips (of which I’ve done many) and the crazy turns that life sometimes takes.

When we got to the intersection of highways, I pulled over at a gas station. “Hang on, bud, I have somethin’ for you,” I told him, parking and popping my trunk. I handed him the sleeping bag I kept in there – only used once – and a nice brown jacket that my dad had given me not a month earlier. It fit him much better than it did me.

He was surprised, and grateful, and told me that karma would repay me for this. I smiled and said I knew it would.

“Can I hug you?” he asked, and I nodded. We hugged and I wished him the best of luck, and I watched him walk east as I got back into my car.

Life as adventure. You always have a choice to change what you don’t like – and a choice to do some good.