French Canadians Really Know How To Have A Good Time In The Carribean

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.

Photo by Thilde Jensen
Photo by Thilde Jensen

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.

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If Only You Knew How Good The Wild Blueberries Were On Top Of Acadia National Park In Maine

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On the way UP

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.

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Wintertime Got You Down? Drive As Far South As You Can Before You Hit The Ocean.

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.

Continue reading “Wintertime Got You Down? Drive As Far South As You Can Before You Hit The Ocean.”

If My Sister Really Loved Me, She Would Have Never Tickle Tortured Me As A Child…

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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.

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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.

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Pickpocketed By Bald Weightlifters And Attacked By Subway Doors In Russia

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My trip to Russia in 2007 was the hardest trip I’ve taken in my life. Between dealing with pickpocketers and the guillotine doors of death on the Moscow subway I also got to bribe train conductors and get harassed by police. I spent most of my time lost, waiting or confused. Most days I was able to walk 20 or 30 km but most of what I saw was more of the same crumbing infrastucture and a total lack or respect for nature. In some ways it seemed almost like there was just downright contempt for anything involving the environment. For most Russians drinking seems to be the national pastime. Everywhere you look people were drinking, on the trains, in the streets, in line at the grocery store. Since cigarettes were less than a buck a pack almost everyone everywhere seemed to smoke. You begin to realize how far the US has come with advancement in non-smoker rights. In Russia the nonsmoker has no rights and people seem to smoke most everywhere.

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Am I in an Oven? Nope Just at Burning Man Yet Again

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I got back for a week then turned around and flew out to Nevada to camp in the desert for a week with my son and my good friend Eric Skawold in 2007. The Burning man trip was even more intense than Russia had been. The first day the thermometer said 100 degrees in the shade. I was totally overheated and could barely function. The first day I thought I was going to die right there in the desert. Once I stopped moving and just laid and sweat in the shade I started to feel better again. Orion had a fantastic time and most of my energy was spent trying to help facilitate him having a good time. Someone set the man on fire early, which to my great surprise actually made national news. The art installations were amazing and intense as always. The heat and dust storms were pretty intense, and trying to camp in a tent didn’t help.

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Took Child to Iceland, Drove Hours from Anyone, Drove Across River, Rental Car Almost Floated Away. Don’t Tell his Mom.

The trip to Iceland in 2007 was really something special. In 10 days Orion and I managed to work our way all the way around the Ring Road and back to Reykjavik. The biggest thrill of the trip was driving the jeep across a glacially fed stream and having the river so deep that there was water coming up onto the windshield. Considering that we had just driven about 4 hours without seeing another car it could have been very bad if the car had just floated away down the river. We also got to hike around on magnificent glaciers and ride really cool amphibious cars into big bays full of icebergs. There were countless hot springs, cauldrons and even a geyser or two. When we went whale watching on an old Oak ship we got within 50 feet of several Humpback and Blue Whales. The amazing natural beauty of the island was supplemented with frequent stops at geothermally heated swimming pools, which seemed to be located everywhere in Iceland.

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Lifelong Dream To Visit Chernobyl Reactor Fulfilled, And A Near-Deadly Encounter With Ukrainian Ranger

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Reading through my travel diary the most striking statement I found was the following,

“I don’t travel to see things, I travel because of how it changes me.”

For me traveling is more of a process of self-realization and actualization than it is a tour. Sometimes I need to remind myself of this fact when I get tired or sick or I am lost and confused. For me traveling is frequently all four of these things, as soon as I get comfortable in one place I want to move on to see more.

Started the trip flying into Kiev, that evening I could not find accommodation. This was especially bizarre because for the rest of the trip it seemed like I was the only resident in the huge 200+ room life-sucking soviet hotels. I ended up sleeping in Kiev proper behind an abandoned building. As I was trying to sleep I smelled something that smelled suspiciously like human crap. Turns out there are basically no public toilets in the Ukraine and I put my tarp and slept in the local crapper. That morning I washed off the bottom of my tent and went on the Chernobyl tour with about 80 other Scotsman who were here to see some big Football (soccer) game.

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Did The Homeless Theme-Park Circuit With Small Child In Tow, slept in Rental Van.

My favorite part of the trip
My favorite part of the trip

It amazes me how I can go out and kiteboard for 10 hours on the lake and feel totally energized, yet every day after theme parking with Orion in 2006 I was always totally exhausted. It must take a lot of energy to ride that many roller coasters. How can a 6 year old out-endurance me is a complete mystery.

The first night we got in and drove to LA to hit Disney and stayed in a nice hotel, which cost a bizillion dollars. I decided to go to Target and buy a couple of pillows and an air-mattress and Orion and I spent the rest of the vacation sleeping in the back of the minivan. He loved it and it was way cheaper than spending $100-200 a night for just a bed to sleep in. Disney was great, so we spent 2 days there instead of one. There were actually two separate theme parks. You could easily do both in one day and see pretty much everything. Orion was very brave and went some pretty crazy rides, included the Twilight Zone tower of terror which flew pretty fast up 200 feet then opened up the elevator doors and dropped you really quick. Orion really liked the moderate roller coasters that didn’t have loops in them. He was a real sport and we rode many ride again and again and again until I felt like I had been run through a blender. The high point of the trip was getting stuck in it’s a small world after all for about an hour. Most of the parks we hit on the weekdays, which meant no lines, the zoos, and water parks we hit on the weekends.

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Snowkiting In Switzerland. A Chilling Tale Of High Mountain Adventures

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My trip to Switzerland in 2006 was amazing. It was interesting to see the vast startling contrast between America and the Swiss, which was exaggerated by my choice for departure from JFK. JFK is in a serious state of disrepair, it always feels like a war zone down there. The people who work there have seriously negative attitudes and I can only imagine what most of the airlines that fly through there think. Case in point our departing plane had been at the gate all day, but no one had some to clean it so we were 30 minutes late in boarding. Once we boarded there was no ground crew to see us off, so there was another hour we had to wait. This was a huge international flight as well with maybe 200 people on it, not just a puddle jumper. Everything in Switzerland was very nice and new and clean. The public transportation was amazing, I never found myself waiting more than 10 minutes for a train or a bus and the buses were all free. When I got back to NYC and had to get in my car and drive through rush hour NYC traffic you really start to appreciate how different America is from other countries in the world.

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