Bridgetown USA

A poster of the image seen to the left* hangs on many a Portlander's wall. And I can see why. It's an awesome poster of an awesome concept. The bridges that span the Willamette and Columbia Rivers are varied and interesting, a deserving point of pride for a city with many things going for it.

This weekend, I got to see some of the bridges from a new angle, on the water. A friend scored us some tickets to a Blues Cruise (part of the Portland Blues Festival) aboard the Portland Spirit. While we had to escape to the deck to avoid boozy blusies, we were treated to a spectacular view of some of the city's great bridges*. We also got to see them raise various bridges for us drawbridge-style, which was also exciting.

Yep, on every visit, Portland unveils a new, fun side of itself. I can't wait to see what it is next time!
Tuesday July 5 2011File under: Portland

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FC 140 - Blood Drool

There's a funny cycle to the ideas for my comics. When I come up with one, I usually think it is incredible funny. And down the road, when I look back on them, I feel a sense of pride in having done it and usually chuckle a bit as well. But in the middle, when I'm actually making and posting the comic, I'm not so sure. Perhaps that is the way it is meant to be.

Anyway, that's my story for this comic. "Dude mistaken for vampire because he has gingivitis" seemed hilarious at the get-go. Now that it's all framed up, it just doesn't make me giggle the same way. Alas. Hopefully it is just me, and you will find it hilarious. Or at least mildly amusing.

Anyway, happy Friday and happy July!
Friday July 1 2011File under: comic

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Start of Something

After thinking, dreaming, scheming, and telling people about it for well over a year, I've finally started building my cabin at the quarry. Last fall I got a spot tucked down in a little valley cleared and leveled and started thinking of how a little one-room cabin might fit in. This past weekend, I laid the first stones!

Basically, I'm looking at something that will end up more or less rectangular about 12x7. The walls will be mostly stone except for a few windows* here and there and some wood as well. (I see it all quite clearly in my head, but I know the details don't translate so well through brief prose.)

Anyway, I'm super excited. To have a living space that I built from the ground up will be amazing, not to mention in a place as beautiful and vibrant as the quarry. Hopefully, before the end of the year, I will be able to post pictures that actually show you what I am seeing in my head and send out an invite for all to come and check it out!!
Sunday June 26 2011File under: quarry

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FC 139 - One Pun Too Far

Friday Comics are back!! It feels like it has been a really really long time since I have drawn a comic. Over three months. Wow. Anyway, on the road, I came up with a couple ideas that I liked, so I'm excited to get back to one of my favorite weekly traditions.

This comic idea, however, came from my dad. Kind of. I don't want to put all the blame there. In fact, the part that I did (besides the drawing (which I forgot how time consuming it is)), the bottom blurb, didn't turn out as well as I hoped. I had an inspiration to change it at the last minute, and, well, we'll see. *.

Anyhoo, happy Friday! I hope you find the return of Friday Comics at least partly as exciting as I do.
Thursday June 23 2011File under: comic

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Quote For Monday - Nonsense



"A little nonsense now and then
is relished by the wisest men!"

-Willy Wonka


Anytime I come across a quote that extols the virtue in silliness, nonsense, or anything that is slightly less than serious, I can't help but feel an affinity towards it. That was the case with this quote I ran across this week.

The question it brought to mind, however, was: if nonsense is relished more than a little or more than now and then, does that make the relisher all the more wise? I like to think so.
Monday June 20 2011File under: quote

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Bobland

Most of us go to museums to see art. Sculptures are usually enjoyed in public squares or parks. For my dad, however, art is right outside his back door.

Bobland*, located across the water from Seattle, isn't your everyday suburban home. Giant bones, faces, and balls mostly made of concrete and rebar turn the backyard of this outskirts property into a place where you can roam around and always see something new. And it's not as though if it is just art on display. The art integrates with normal backyard things too!

Each time I visit Bobland, I find it an inspirational reminder that wondrous things exist in the most unexpected places, all it takes to make art is action, and art is not only something that hangs on a wall in a museum. Someday, maybe, these reminders will help me craft my own space into something more than just utilitarian. Until then, I'll always look forward to the experience at Bobland.
Friday June 17 2011File under: misc

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Financial Breakdown of Turkey-Greece-ExYu-Paris Trip

If frank talk of money feels a bit taboo to you, you might want to skip this post. In it, I break down the costs of my most recent trip to Turkey, Greece, the Western Balkans, and Paris. The reasons for this are two-fold:
  • Using a similar format/criteria as my last financial breakdown post, I am able to quantitative compare travel costs
  • For perspective travelers to these areas, I thought it could be helpful to have some real-life numbers to help in your planning (keeping in mind that I'm a budget travel so your numbers might differ.)
Overall, I'm really pleased with the way the numbers turned out. I was shooting for $50/day not including plane tickets, and came out at $55/day with plane tickets. In fact, interesting to note, on a cost/day basis, a trip to the much more expensive Europe* was cheaper per day than my trip to Mexico/Belize/Guatemala last year. I attribute this to duration of stay, having a few friends to stay with along the way, and finding a food-and-lodging-included volunteer opportunity.

Like it or not, money is a big part of travel. And while I try not to think about it too much while on the road in order to not take myself away from being in the moment or enjoying once in a lifetime experiences, I think it is important to check in with the numbers. And with numbers like these that could conceivably be similar to what it costs to live here in the U.S., it is nice to know that at least financially, my next epic trip doesn't need to be that far away.

All costs excluding international travel
Place# of daysMoney spentCost/dayNotes
Turkey24$840$35Just right! Cost per day helped by staying with a friend in Istanbul for 4 days.
Greece12$650$55Cost per day somewhat elevated due to costly ferry trips. If # of days per island was increased, overall cost per day would go down.
Albania2$110$55Prime example of short stay in a country leading to really high cost per day. Albania is actually really cheap and had I could have probably stayed double the time for only another $20 or so.
Montenegro3$150$50Actually slightly more costly than Albania generally.
Bosnia16$300$19These costs aren't representative of regular budget travel in Bosnia. I spent no money* for 8 days while volunteering at Most Mira Festival. Then for a few days before and after, I stayed with a buddy in Banja Luka who was an excellent host. Cost of regular budget travel in Bosnia would be similar to other ex-Yu countries, maybe $40-$50 a day
Croatia7$406$58Perhaps the most expensive of the ex-yu countries I visited, but not by much. Costs were also upped a little due to not traveling solo (therefore not eating PB&J 3 times a day.) But traveling non-solo is worth the slight up-bump in cost.
Paris6$545$90I'm pretty proud of these figures for my time in Paris. Having been warned it is crazy expensive, I was able to have an amazing time and still keep costs under double my daily average. Lodging accounted for half of per day cost.
London2$105$52London is a truly expensive city. I got away so cheaply because I was so generously offered a place to crash at a friend's house. Most of the budget went to either the tube or food. (I skipped all attractions that cost (Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, etc.)
New York City6$200$33Due to having a wealth of awesome friends there, my time in NYC is always not only wonderful but also relatively cheap, having to pay for only food and the subway, more or less.

International travel
LeavingArrivingCostNotes
Seattle, USIstanbul, Turkey$485Includes a 2 day layover in NYC which not only saved cost but allowed me to visit friends there(!)
Marmaris, TurkeyRhodes, Greece$66Inordinately expensive ferry trip. Less than 2 hours compared to 12 hour ride for half that on Rhodes to Crete.
Athens, GreeceTirana, Albania$36Not the most direct bus, but the cheapest I found
Banja Luka, BosniaParis, France$100Train to Zagreb, EasyJet to Paris
Paris, FranceLondon, England$578 hour bus/ferry ride. Other option was $125 2 hour train ride via the chunnel.
London, EnglandSeattle, US$531Again a layover in NYC (via Boston to NYC by Chinatown bus)

Overall
Total cost# of daysTotal cost/day
$458183$55


Wednesday June 15 2011File under: travel

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Passport Laundering

Here's a hint for anyone looking to travel internationally: don't put your passport through the washing machine the day before you plan on crossing 2 international borders. I know what you're thinking. "Any idiot knows that." Well, not this idiot so it would seem.

For a budget traveler like myself, having free reign on a washing machine while on the road ranks up there with getting a dorm room at a hostel all to yourself or a currency's exchange rate going in your favor the day before you change lots of money. In other words, it is an exciting event. So it can kind of be understood how checking one's pockets could be overlooked. Nevertheless, it is not something I intend to do again.

Luckily, passports are pretty hardy little documents. With the exception of a significantly curled and frayed cover and a washed out stamp or two, everything seemed in pretty good working order. I put a few soup cans on top to flatten it out while it dried, and it turned out looking almost passable. The RFID chip* was probably toast, but I counted that as a fringe benefit.

All my worries regarding crossing borders with a laundered passport proved to be unfounded. While I got a few strange looks (esp. from the U.S. officials), the majority of people couldn't have cared less. One guard even make some joke to the effect of "forgot it in your pants pocket on laundry day, eh?"*.

The worn and torn look actually lends a little exotic traveler credibility. So while still not advisable, it is nice to know that passports don't need to be perfect to be functional.
Sunday June 12 2011File under: travel

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The Monkey Tail

No doubt because of my [strictly documentary] habit of making and posting ridiculous beard pictures, a couple of astute readers pointed me to The Monkey Tail. And hey, a good idea is a good idea.

It turns out it is really hard to get a good picture of the monkey tail. Hopefully from these pictures, you get the idea. I submitted my photo to the website, but it got shot down. Snap! Oh well, at least it can be added to my ever increasing beard portfolio.
Wednesday June 8 2011File under: beard

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Out of Steam in London

London is a great city, I'm sure. It can't have been such a business, cultural, and historical center for all these years without having its charms. But for me, I just wasn't feeling it. After being on the road for over 2 and a half months, my travel tanks were running low on the fuel needed to get out and "do" a city, so I just couldn't give it the fair chance it needs.

I did a very brief taste of most of the required sights and enjoyed them. I loved that the museums (Tate Modern and National Gallery) were free without long lines, metal detectors, etc. And all the buildings (Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, Parliament) were spectacular*. I rode a double decker bus and took the tube*. But my heart wasn't in it. I did, however, have a great time seeing some old (and new) chums who were kind enough to put me up, talk circus, and send me away with a wonderful new bananagram-esque word game.

This abbreviated visit to London, however, was planned this way. I fully intend on doing the city up properly someday, when I have the time and focus required, and I didn't want to lessen my motivation by seeing too much. Just a taste to get me excited to come back. And it did just that. See you later, Britain Greater.
Sunday June 5 2011File under: travel

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