Working Out the Kinks

I can't say that it was wholly unexpected, but I also can't say that I imagined it would be this extreme. Saturday afternoon, 2 full days after our planned departure (which was, in itself, delayed by 4 days) we've made it as far as....Centralia! There wasn't one thing that caused the delays but a bunch of little things. First, the veggie oil system took longer to install than we thought (more on the veggie system later). Then a bunch of air got in the diesel system (that's bad). Then we had to shuttle everyone around to leave their cars here and there. Then we had to get veggie oil, which is quite difficult to pump when it is 34 degrees out*. Then, 10 miles out of Bellingham (at 4 am), we break 3(!) alternator belts, and have to stop at a rest stop until the auto repair shops open in the morning. Then some switches are hooked up wrong and something shorts out so we aren't pulling veggie oil but regular diesel. Now there is some filter issue that is slowing the flow of the veggie oil to the system.

Yep, lots of little things. But the moral of the story is we are making progress. Plus, I'm learning little bits about diesel engines. We're hoping to pull through the night and be to Arizona by nightfall tomorrow. Yeah, I know that is ambitious, but it's a goal.

As for the cooking, I've done one cooked meal on the road (let them eat cereal for breakfast), and I've realized that cooking on a moving bus isn't the best idea. I narrowly avoided a few big spills (as the driver avoided a few big accidents). Yeah, I'm thinking sandwiches for dinner.

Anyway, I hope to get a better post up when I'm not cooped up in a bus with 12 people all playing their own music and discussing what is going to go wrong with the bus next*.
Saturday December 22 2007File under: travel, Mexico

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Running Away with the Circus

One year ago today, I was just getting back from a grand adventure in SE Asia*. It just so happens that today, I am headed out of the country again. This time, as you might have guessed, to Mexico. To put it concisely, I'm running away with the circus. No, I won't be performing with them*. I'll be more of a roadie, a circus roadie. I've signed on to be the head chef for U&I Production's road trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

What makes me qualified to be a head chef for 12 people?, you ask. Well, nothing really, but don't tell them that. I wanted an adventure. They wanted a chef. I like food, so that can't be a bad qualification. In all honesty, though, I'm pretty nervous about it. Hippies are notoriously picky about their food*. But that's okay. I have faith that it will all turn out. And if it doesn't, I will just jump out of the bus somewhere on the side of the road.

Oh, speaking of the bus, it is to be powered by post-consumer vegetable oil. Take that Al Gore. I love the idea of it and I look forward to ninja-like missions to grease traps behind Chinese restaurants in some little burg along the way. I made such a run with the juggling contingent of the circus last summer and I'm still telling the story to this day. The bus interior is fitted out with bunks, a kitchen, and a yoga space. It will be a little cramped and uncomfortable, no doubt, at least until we get there and can escape each other for periods of time. But that just adds to the adventure, right?

Anyhoo, stay tuned to BdW for all the latest.
Thursday December 20 2007File under: travel, Mexico

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The Next Adventure

I've had some wonderful adventures over the past few years; deserted islands, ridiculous road trips, countries and cultures far far away, etc. I really like the little routine I've sort of fallen into, with not much time passing before I get to embark on one adventure or another. I love where they take me and the feeling of freedom they instill. I also love sharing my experiences, both through this blog, and just in talking to be people when I return. The question I get asked most, though, is "what is the next adventure?"

It is a hard one to answer. For one, I never know what opportunities fate will throw my way. Usually, it seems, the time between learning of those opportunities and taking advantage of them is very short, so when faced with the question, I generally have to honestly answer that I don't know. It is fun to discuss the possibilities. The way the question is usually framed reinforces in my mind that anything is possible. If I wanted, I could decide to ride a camel across the Sahara or maybe deliver solar panels to remote jungle villages*. Having that sense of freedom reinforced is a good thing. On the flip side, however, the question usually feels like it is laced with a bit of expectation. What can I say that won't let people down? Perhaps it is all in my head, but it is something I've noticed more and more.

Anyway, an opportunity for my next adventure has presented itself and I've decided to grab on. Since I don't have all the details yet (and I love adding a sense of suspense), I've created this little teaser to give a clue to my what my next adventure will be. What fun would it be if I just came out and told you?

So stay tuned to BdW for what should prove to be another wacky adventure.
Saturday December 15 2007File under: travel

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Choose Your Post

We all know you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose (whether you can pick your friend's nose is completely up to them), but I am now giving you the opportunity to pick your blog post. I have 3 blog posts here, none of which are fit for a post of their own (we do have some standards here at BdW). To a certain people, any of the three items could be of interest. Chances are, all of them won't be of interest to everyone. With that in mind, I allow you to choose one of the follow posts to read and enjoy.

Referrer URLs: A study in how people find BdW
A Year of Underemployment
Lost Images Found: Underwater pictures from la isla bonita

Choose wisely, my friends.

Wednesday September 12 2007File under: work, travel

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Where Neon Goes to Die

The most exciting [blogable*] activity from my latest trip to Las Vegas was a visit to the neon museum, a non-profit whose mission it is to collect, restore, and display signs from Las Vegas's past. The museum is still in its beginning stages, so the tour was less of a museum and more of a tour of a fenced-in gravel lot. But that doesn't mean it was any less cool*.

So besides "museum" being somewhat of a misnomer, at least currently, the focus on "neon" also doesn't necessarily stand true. Many, if not most, of the signs in the boneyard are pre-neon, or at least pre-neon-overload. In my book, that makes it all the better, as it is reminiscent of the old timey Vegas before its over-the-top consumerism* as seen here.

Putting these two denotive-nitpickyisms aside, I can't recommend the boneyard highly enough. The place seems to come alive with the stories from the tour guide of the history of a certain casino chain's font choice and the pre-WWII rivetless construction style. And while they have kind of a discouraging photo policy, I managed to snap a few good shots. Read on for more reactions and photos.

More...
Sunday September 9 2007File under: travel, pics

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Laughlin Nevada


In hopes of avoiding the crazy crowds (and prices) of Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas, I thought it might be fun to check out Laughlin, Nevada. Afterall, when all you are looking for is air-conditioned large spaces with flashy lights and all-you-can-eat buffets, one Nevada "resort" town is as good as any other, right?

As it turns out, Laughlin was a great place to pass a day (although any more than that and you would be pushing it). There was a pleasant path along the river that passed in and out of the casinos (which is a good thing because if you tried to walk the whole thing (a whopping half mile), you would prolly die of heat stroke). The highlight for us was probably the Colorado Belle (pictured above). It was a river boat themed casino that did a great job of giving you the impression of being on a river boat. I even felt on the edge of seasickness a few times.

To complete our tour of Laughlin, we did a few geocaches on both sides of river*. We also had lunch in a great little riverside park while watching the scads of ski-dooers ski-doo (on their ski-doos).

Yep, if you are looking for a cheap relaxing mini-vacation, give Laughlin a try. If you have any class or are looking for something fancy where your stories will hold your friends' and family's attention, you might want to keep looking. Case in point.
Wednesday September 5 2007File under: travel

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Cheeseburger in Paradise

I've been a Jimmy Buffett fan of varying degrees for the past 10 years or so. His music has saved me from completely losing my sanity one summer when I was stuck behind a copy machine 40 hours a week, transported me away from my gloomy cubicle in the middle of a Washington winter (via radio margaritaville), and inspired real life travels to tropical places. So when it came to looking for a place to eat on the Las Vegas strip recently, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to check out the Margaritaville Cafe.

At the outset, I was somewhat skeptical of it being overly cliche and having the marketing shoved down our throats, but in the end, I was pleasantly surprised. While the music was a little loud, it was good*. There were guys on stilts walking around making balloon hats, which gave everything a kind of party atmosphere. Then, once an hour, a bikini clad lady emerged from a volcano, slid down a water slide, and ended in an extremely oversized margarita glass. It was quite a spectacle.

Besides the carnival atmosphere, the food was really good. I couldn't pass up ordering the cheeseburger in paradise. While it wasn't the best cheeseburger I've ever had, it was pretty dang good. Emily had a salad with onion and cucumber relish, bbq sauce, candied pecans, and fried chicken. While it sounded a little out there, it was actually really good.

Yep, good music, good food, and good atmosphere = a dang good evening.
Monday September 3 2007File under: travel, food

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Travel Essentials


1. A pen: This is the single most indispensable thing for me when I travel. You never know when you'll need to fill out border declaration forms, copy down phone numbers, schedules, or addresses, or give your number to a sexy flight attendant*.

2. A crossword puzzle: Not only does a crossword work great for killing those minutes spent waiting for your bus to come, your food to come, or a late friend to arrive, but it also functions as a great notepad for phone numbers, addresses, schedules, todos, travel observations, and more. I always try to carry single sided crosswords when I travel just for this reason. Looking over the notes taken on the back of them when you return from your trip is always a hoot. (Oh, and I guess Sudorkus could work in a pinch.)

3. Reading material: For the waits that are longer than a few minutes, having a book/magazine/travel guide handy can greatly help pass the time. The one thing that is guaranteed* in travel is that you will always have down time. Paperbacks works great and can often be exchanged with other travelers you meet along the way.

4. Camera: I try to keep my camera handy while traveling, but not to the point of being one of those guys*. You never know when a good shot will present itself. I take pictures not only to remember my trip later, but also to share my travels with my friends and family (via this blog of course. Who actually looks at printed pictures anymore?).

5. Ear plugs: Those $.50 yellow thingies you squish up and jam in your ears can be a lifesaver for flights with crying babies, shared hostel rooms with snorers, or time when you just want to block everything out. I rarely go anywhere with a pair of these handy.

6. Spare change: Having a dollar or two of spare change can save lots of headaches when traveling. Many public transportation systems require exact change (or at least don't give change), vending machines are often the only choice for a quick meal before hopping on a bus, some fountains simply require having a wishing penny thrown in, and for the 11 people left in the world without a cell phone*, public pay phones rarely accept dollar bills.

7. Fork and spoon: While these don't lend themselves well to air travel*, they are great to have around when exploring new places. Often times when you are trying to travel on the cheap, the grocery store provides meals. Eating yogurt with a spoon is much easier than eating it with an expired driver's license. (Using your own utensils is also a great way to avoid sending more plastic to the land fill.)
Wednesday August 29 2007File under: travel, misc

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Kwik-E-Mart

As most of you already know, the Simpsons Movie opened this past weekend. And as most of you might suspect, I went and saw it on opening night. I'm giving it a thumbs up! Good plot, good inclusion of the characters we have come to know and love*, and lots of good jokes. All in all, it was just like paying $10 to watch a good, long episode without commercials. Anyway, I enjoyed it muchly.

Since the Simpsons Movie is kind of a big deal to me, I tried to think of ways to make it special. I immediately* discounted the idea of dressing up like Prof. Frink. Camping out for tickets was also out of the question due to the 105 degree heat. Luckily, one of the 12 or so 7-11s that have been converted to a Kwik-E-Marts is in the Las Vegas area. (I've heard confirmed reports of others in Seattle (thanks, Siri) and Washington D.C. (thanks, Izak) Bingo.

Most notable at this particular Kwik-E-Mart was the number of other slack-jawed gawkers roaming around with cameras. Good thing there was lots to take pictures of. Life-sized replicas of many characters were placed around the store, although the Jasper from the freezer had been stolen. There were Simpsons-themed foods and drink available as well. The Buzz Cola was sold out, but there were Squishees a-plenty. I enjoyed a nice sprinkled donut. There were also little subtleties around that made it quite fun, like dashing uniforms for the employees and other quirks.

On my way out, I struck up a conversation with the cashier* who told me how well the promotion is working for 7-11. He said that in the Las Vegas area alone, they made over $30,000 in two weeks off the sprinkled donuts alone. Not bad at all.
Thursday August 2 2007File under: travel, movies

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110 in the Shade


A few nights ago, Emily and I went up Red Rocks Canyon to the Super Summer Theatre. The venue is gorgeous with the red rock cliffs surrounding a grassy lawn and professional stage. Everyone brings their blankets and chairs, along with picnic dinners, and enjoys an evening outdoors watching legitimate theater. Because it is a couple thousand feet higher than Vegas, the temperature is bearable, some might even say pleasant*.

110 in the Shade was the name of the play we saw, not a description of the weather where we were seeing it. And I guess I should call it a musical instead of a play. There was lots of singing. It immediately brought to mind that Simpsons episode about painting the wagon red. Hilarious. It also struck me as completely the opposite of what kind of experience one might expect to have in Vegas. Rather than high gloss, air-conditioned casino entertainment, it was more old-timey community-oriented fun.

While the atmosphere was spectacular, the temperature was bearable, and Pei Wei hit the spot, we opted to beat the crowds and head out early before we found out if Lizzie hooked up with Sheriff File and if Starbuck made the rains come. I imagine it all worked out. All in all, it was an awesome evening.
Monday July 30 2007File under: travel, misc

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