There was no piss on any toiletseat I used in my entire 2.5 weeks in Japan. Of all the things that struck me as odd in Japan, that one was the most unusual. After spending time in Japan you really begin to realize how rude and obnoxious people everywhere else really are. Folks are so polite in Japan that they will not even smoke and walk at the same time, no one uses their cell phones in public spaces, and when crammed into the subways together somehow people manage to not bump or touch their neighbors. Everywhere we went people would stare at Orion and I but would not say anything unless we spoke to them first. Everyone wanted to talk to us, but were too shy and polite. I remember on one train that was full of school kids in uniforms pretending to ignore us, I took the ketchup container out of my backpack and said ‘ketchup’ in a loud voice and the entire train car was in an uproar with everyone yelling ‘ketchup’. Within 2 minutes there were 20 cellphones snapping pictures of Orion and I with our arms around the local school kids.
Whenever I go on long trips I have so much time to THINK while driving. It’s amazing how words wind themselves around my mind and I think and think and think about what to write, how to make my adventures interesting, worth reading, engaging for others. I love that feeling of thinking about what I want to say before I say it, and the act of creation, when I write or draw it is the closest thing to sheer bliss I think I will find on this crazy planet.
The overwhelming feeling I had on this latest 2 week-long road trip adventure with Orion was one of Joy. I spent a lot of time remembering when I was young, going to school, keeping my head down, burying myself into books. Most of the time I spent intimidated, afraid, mostly of my peers, my teachers, my principle or my parents. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine that I would grow up and would be able to find and hold onto happiness. Through a brutal exercise regime and by avoiding sugars, meat, drugs and alcohol I have been able to find a lot of joy in this life. When I am on these trips with Orion we both spend most of the trip totally giddy. Orion is the best travel partner I have ever found. Although at night in bed he is all-elbows and knees every other aspect of my traveling experiences with him is just amazing.
Skyline is the quintessential West coast snow kiting destination that deserves every ounce of its reputation. The scenery was amazing and the terrain was varied and extensive. Almost every day we wanted to ride there we were able to ride, except for when the storms were rolling through. Traveling with Zeb for 10 days was fantastic, he had already been to skyline countless times and he was pretty good at predicting the winds and the conditions at the top of the mountain. Zebulon is the only kiter I’ve ever met that is actually weirder than I am so it gives me immense satisfaction traveling with him. Whenever people are like ‘dude you are so weird’ I can always be like ‘Yes but my buddy Zebulon is even weirder, why he’s from the Crabnebula galaxy’.
The trip started off pretty insanely when Zeb texted me that a woman had given birth on the flight he was on and he had gotten re-rerouted to Denver. Apparently this is a pretty uncommon occurrence as it ended up making the national news. The last time he had flown in an airplane the person in the seat behind him had stopped breathing so he had to give him CPR, that’s some bad flying karma. When I met Zeb in Salt Lake City my bags hadn’t made it there yet, so we had to wait a couple of hours till the next flight brought them in. We ended up getting a humongous Chevy Malibu rental car and Zeb had acquired conjunctivitis (pink eye) on the plane so we had a prescription for antibiotic eye drops called into the nearest pharmacy. Zeb had gotten one of the new Android phones and it ended up being a real boon to have with us on the trip, the phone impressed me so much that I can’t wait to get a google phone of my very own. It did voice activated navigation with real-time traffic updates so you can see how slow the Freeways are moving. I’ve been waiting a long time to get that functionality out of my phone, and it’s all free.
Continue reading “Flew To SLC To Snowkite, Ended Up Sleeping Outside On Top Of Skyline Drive In -20F. Cold. Fun.”
I met Norm at one of my many trips to Hatteras that I take whenever I just can’t get my kite fix in Ithaca. I was down in NC for a couple of days riding by myself and I pulled into kite point and saw their larger than life camper retrofitted greyhound bus and the Flysurfer kite and I immediately struck up a conversation with Norm. I knew from my paddling experiences that French Canadians in general are some of the friendliest people you will meet in all of North America. Norm and his crew did not disappoint. He invited me to sleep in the driveway of their overpriced rental home which I gladly took them up on. It is quite fatiguing when you poach a sleeping spot under these million dollar homes thinking you’ll get woken up by the cops at any minute, but I could not afford one of those nice $150 tickets for sleeping in my van and being a world-class kite bum.
After a while my buddy Gregg showed up and he camped in their driveway with his minivan too. It was heaven, kiting all day then warm showers and our own toilet by the pool. We made all the Canadian’s dinner one night to show our gratitude and they were incredibly hospitable for the entire week. Norm even let me fly his Speed 3 15 demo he had borrowed from Ted. That demo kite inspired me to buy 2 new Speed 3’s for my quiver. After I returned, Norm invited me to tag along with them to the Caribbean for a week so I bought a ticket to fly out of Montreal and join them for a week of kiting madness.
Orion and I had been planning on going to Acadia for the last 2 years and the time was finally right to take a week off and go. It was a fantastic trip filled with epic bike journeys to the top of mountains as well as several very difficult non-technical climbs that Orion did amazingly well on. The food in Maine was fantastic and we managed to have a great time despite the intense level of overcrowding that traveling to Maine in the peak of tourist season can bring.
The first day we spent 7 hours in the Boston Museum of science. There were some fantastic exhibits on Critter cams and Black holes as well as lots of other exhibits that Orion loved checking out. There was a robotic dog called Ibo and a touchscreen whiteboard where Orion showed off his Scratch programming skills by making an Octopus which consumed everyone else’s fish when it touched them then grew to take over the screen.
Coming home from a great trip always makes me feel more than just a little bipolar. While traveling I am so incredibly happy and centered and when I return back home to my comfortable house with the nice heat and fuzzy bed I am so completely and utterly miserable. Looking over the photos from this 2 week trip in the winter of 2008 with Orion filled me with memories of excitement and wonder, he travels so much better than any child I have ever met. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to spend this time with him as he grows up.
The first day we went to Smithsonian Museum of American History in DC. There was a hands-on exhibit with Elie Whitney’s cotton gin, and another really great exhibit on inventions that I really enjoyed. The next day we drove to Charleston, SC which had an excellent aquarium there. We went on a behind the scenes to see the Sea Turtle hospital. Had a couple of giant
300lb Loggerheads and some smaller green turtles. We also took a trip to historic Fort Sumter which was a National Monument. It was insanely windy, on the boat on the 2nd story it was hard to stand up. Orion got a Jr. Ranger program completed, I made him do all of it for his homeschooling. It was pretty cool being at the place where the civil war started.
After 3 weeks on the road my return home is hard. Everything has its place, everything is organized and there is stress around that need for organization. I was so much happier sleeping in my van on the side of the road near abandoned diners and in rest areas along the freeway. I forgot how hard it was to live in one place … everything is like a dream. I know what I’m doing and what I’m supposed to be doing but so much of it feels like I’m sleepwalking.
Traveling across America in 2008 was amazing, I remembered why I’ve done it so many times in the past. With Orion in tow it was even more fun. We surfed down sanddunes on our bellies under a full moon, we rafted down raging rivers in Colorado and climbed the huge alien like rock formations at Joshua tree for hours on end, even at night. I saw a lot of beauty that I didn’t know existed in the US. Huge windfarms with the dancing blades of 200 foot high towers as far as the eye could see. The hoodoos of Bryce were the most amazing and beautiful rock formations I had ever seen in my life. It was fantastic wandering into Bryce canyon with no idea what to expect only to be amazed beyond belief. The hike up to Angel’s Landing at Zion was breathtaking and frightening at the same time. It was amazing to watch Orion carefully and successfully navigate it with me nervously holding onto a rope tied around his waist. I knew if I fell I’d have to let go quickly and if Orion fell I’d have to hold on for dear life. Orion was amazing and added so much to the adventure for me. To watch him grow and learn was the greatest reward of all. He was very interested in the Jr. Ranger programs, which added so much to the trip for him he achieved at least 8 Jr. Ranger badges! I flew my sister in from Oregon to Las Vegas to camp with us for a week of our journey and it was so special to be with her. I can’t imagine the trip without her, she was so amazing with Orion and they have such a nice relationship even though she lives thousands of miles away.