|explained and posted about before, I keep a calendar of where I lay my head every night of the year and categorize it in different ways. It is my way to see my year, where I've been and what I've been doing, in numbers. I find a ridiculous amount of interest in it and it helps me answer the question "where do you live?" much more easily.
It's that time of year again, one of my most looked forward to blog posts of the whole year: my recap of the year of sleeping around! As I've |
Now that this is my 3rd year of keeping stats, I have some interest data for comparison. For example, I realize that this past year, my housesitting numbers are lower than the last 2 years (by over a month(!)), but my international travel nights are almost triple last year.
I plan on (and am downright giddy about) keeping this borderline-OCD record keeping going for as long as the data stays interesting enough to warrant it. And I've already started looking forward to next August when I get to run the numbers again.
|Wednesday August 24 2011||File under: stats, travel|
|The Al-Can highway has much myth and lore associated with it, at least in my mind, Being that far away from services with wilderness that close at hand could lead to all sorts of fiascos. For the 2011 Chautauqua tour, all of the fiascos occured before leaving the inhabited land near the border.|
Fiasco #1: I've now run away with the circus 4 times. A solid 3 of those have come complete with bus fiascos*. The bus fiasco this time went like this: our bus was supposed to leave Eugene Oregon Thursday morning to meet many of us in Bellingham on Thursday evening. About 5 hours after they were supposed to leave, I got a call saying "once they install the driver's seat and find some side mirrors to install, they'll be on the road". This means the bus hasn't been actually driven in a while which can't be a good sign at all. It turns out it wasn't. On attempting to pull out of the garage, the brakes locked up and wouldn't let go. It took 2 days and lots of hand wringing before things were fixed and on the road north. So while the tour was only 24 hours behind schedule (before even starting), we also lost a valuable day of work on the bus (installing bunks, properly packing, etc.)
Fiasco #2: I cross in and out of Canada frequently enough to forget that it can be an issue for some people. In our case, the "some people" happened to be one of our drivers who had a minor infraction 30 years previous regarding an anti-war protest. In Canada, however, it wasn't so minor, I guess. So at 3 in the morning, we were told that while the bus, truck, and 38 of our 39 members could pass, one of the only totally integral people for the drive to Alasqua couldn't. A switch of border crossings and a little sweet talking later, we averted that potential deal breaker.
Fiasco #3:The majority of the Al-Can highway doesn't really have cellphone reception. That doesn't sound like a big thing but when it has becoming so completely ingrained in our culture's planning, it can be an issue. In this particular case, our caravan got slightly separated due to an unscheduled pee break. The drivers of the uHaul didn't know of the upcoming only turn of the whole trip, so they missed it. We were on the edge of cell phone range and thought that, if they didn't get the messages we left, while we might end up in Alaska, our stuff might end up in Quebec. Again, after much roadside conference, hand wringing, plan B-ing, and more, the issue was resolved when someone came running out of the bathroom (with pants still mostly down) announcing excitedly that contact had been made. Two hours later, the caravan was reunited and back on the road.
While perhaps "fiasco" is a strong word for these events, it sure felt pretty extreme, although it was probably compounded by the lack of sleep*. And, aside from a few close calls with hitting moose or bears in the road and almost running out of gas 14,239 miles from the nearest gas station, the rest of the trip was fiasco-free! With the trip behind us, now we have the rest of tour to look forward to! Stay tuned!
|Wednesday July 27 2011||File under: circus, travel|
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|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: |
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.
|Wednesday June 15 2011||File under: travel|
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|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 2011||File under: travel|
|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 2011||File under: travel|
|Thursday June 2 2011||File under: travel, France|
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|One of the many fun things about traveling is learning, esp. learning about things you knew of before, but not so much about. So in the spirit of sharing, here are a few things I found interesting in my time in Paris. (To just tell you the trivia tidbits would be way too easy, so instead, I present it in quiz form.)|
1. What is the river that bisects Paris, and how is it properly pronounced?*
2. The popular Paris attraction, which, in French is known as La Joconde, is known as what in English? hint*
3. There is a smaller (but still largish) Statue of Liberty on an island near the base of the Eiffel tower. Was it made before or after New York City's statue of the same name?*
4. Moulin Rouge translates to what in English? hint: it's not "skimpily clad dancing girls"*
5. Who designed the famous pyramid at the Louvre (and, for bonus points, what other famous monuments has he/she designed)?*
6.For how many years was the Eiffel Tower the tallest building in the world: 0 years, 21 years, 41 years, 61 years?*
|Tuesday May 31 2011||File under: travel, France|
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|Friday May 27 2011||File under: travel, France|
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|Bosnia and Herzegovina is the official name for this country that I've been hanging out in the last couple weeks, although it seems that most people call it plain old Bosnia. But the duality implied in the name is well placed, as I have learned. Politics, geography, language, and more all seem to come in sets of two.
The country is divided into two states, the Federation* and Republic of Srpska*, each with its own territory, its own political system, and even its own alphabet. Republic of Srpska generally uses the Cyrillic alphabet on street signs, etc. while the Federation uses Latin characters. They both spell out the same words, mind you, but in different alphabets.
The whole alphabet thing is pretty intriguing, but the thing that really gets me, that really makes this duality thing so hard to ignore is that they have two different versions of each denomination of paper money, one with a representative of the RS and one from the Federation. They have the same value, and can be spent exactly the same, but it is just that the country couldn't agree on who to put on their money.
I try hard not to judge this duality that is rather impossible to ignore. I know there are years of history behind it, and it is much more complex than I can imagine. But I can't help but wonder if this duality is sustainable. If I return to this area in 10 years, will I have to pass through passport control in going from Banja Luka to Sarajevo? Or maybe it will get all worked out through a charismatic leader that everyone can get behind.
However it pans out, for this trip, it has made for an eye opening experience.
|Tuesday May 24 2011||File under: travel, Balkans|
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|I'm here in Vela Luka, Croatia, another sister city to my home town of Anacortes. (Previous coverage on sister cities here.) I thought what better way to find out about the town than to take to the streets. Special thanks to Horge for acting as translator, photographer, and motivator!
|Wednesday May 11 2011||File under: travel, Balkans|
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