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August 31, 2004

New York City - Protest Pictures

I was walking around today and accidentally stumbled upon another protest. This one was in front of the Fox News headquarters protesting Fox. The police quickly began to take control and move people around. They never got violent, but I felt strange about it nonetheless. The protest was peaceful, but without people even knowing it, the cops dwindled the protest until it was gone. It still went on for 3 hours or so.

NYC cops are amazing and have amazing restraint. They are only doing what they are told. I do not believe they have any love lost for the republicans either as they too are protesting and without contract. However, it felt wrong to me that this peaceful protest was disbanded so quickly by the cops. The police were so organized, there protesters didn't have a chance, but it seemed a step in the wrong direction to me when people can't protest peacefully as allowed in the 1st amendment.

I've posted pictures and movies from yesterday's protest as well as todays. The movies are a little larger, so sorry for those with slow connections.
August 31, 2004
August 30, 2004

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New York (Long Island)

As requested, here is a picture of the house in Long Island I lived in before I moved to AZ.

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New York City (Too much to say)

I'm still in New York, but I've finally got my travel issues squared. I'm using a service called Airtec and will hopefully be flying to Glasgow tomorrow evening.

I have a tremendous amount I want to write about. Sunday my Uncle and I went to Long Island, where I was born and I got to see the house I once lived in. There we met relatives I haven't seen since I was 9.

Yesterday, I went downtown to see what the RNC madness was all about. I must have walked around mid-town 4 times by the end of the day. I saw them close 7th Ave from 30? st. to somewhere near 48st. I was standing in the middle of 7th looking at nothing in both directions. Later I walked to the U.N. where a rally was just about to turn into a march. I joined the march as it went S. on 2nd Ave to 28st. Then W. on 28st to 6th Ave and N. on 6th Ave. to 38st where we were penned in by the cops. Here's an article about the march. After that I walked around the city and ended up going to see Garden State, which I highly recommend. Still later I was walking down Broadway towards the subway when I saw they were filming for MSNBC on 35th st. It was midnight so there were only a couple people there. We were only 10ft or so from the stage. I saw the end of Hardball and watched half of Scarborough Country, co hosted by Ron Reagan. Orin Hatch showed up as did Stephen Baldwin, plus other guests.

I have lots of thoughts about the protest itself as it was the first large protest I've ever attended. I also have thoughts on what I heard on MSNBC, specifically Baldwin's remarks on politics and religion. For now, I want to head back in to the city and take advantage of what time I have left.

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August 28, 2004

New York City

It was a hot one today. Humid too. I hate humidity. I have a preponderance for sweat even in the best of conditions. In humid conditions I seem to melt. I had no idea I had that much water in me. I found my way to China Town in Boston and after a false start I was on the bus to China town in New York. Shortly after getting on the bus I started thinking about the problem of obesity in this country. This is a topic I'd given some thought to before, but never so much as when I was sitting on this bus. Its all well and good to talk about the obesity epidemic and how much it costs us in tax payer dollars. The problem comes into clearer focus when you are sitting next to someone who has claimed at least $7.50, of the $15 you paid to get from Boston to New York, in sheer girth. I pondered this social issue as I craned my body towards the seat in front of me and towards the window of the bus to allow the man next to me to sit comfortably. Luckily, I was able to move to another seat later on.

It is easy to assume the world is just like the place you grew up in. Growing up in Phoenix I always assumed the young people were liberal and the old people were conservative, just as Churchill had said. Increasingly, this is proven not to be the case. Today was a good example. I ended up sitting next to a gramuncular, (ok i made that word up, but avuncular IS a real word, there is just no word for someone who is like a grandma) woman who was probably in her late 60s at the youngest. We began talking and she explained she lived in Maine and was going to New York to participate in the RNC protests. I am sure she was conservative in some ways, but she cared deeply about many of the issues I care about, such as social issues, environmental issues and anti-consumer sentiments. I've given this more weight given my experience with the dairy farmer in Vermont and the people in Waldport, OR we stayed with who were also older and socially minded. I was thinking all this as we went over the Williamsburg Bridge "screamen' hey man, well this is babylon."

Once in China town I walked around and got some dinner at a small noodle bowl place. I then walked through Little Italy which was crowded with people. A band was playing 'satchmo' sounding music as I looked up to see the Empire State Building all lit up. Just then it began to rain and the road shimmered, reflecting the lights of the city. People ran for cover, but they didn't seem to mind that it was raining. Nor did I.

Tomorrow my uncle and I will take the Long Island Railroad to the island where I'll see where both my parents grew up and where I lived until I was 4. I'm looking forward to it.

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Boston, MA

This is the longest I've been in one place since I left a month ago. Last night there were 8 people staying in this 2 bedroom apartment. There were 5 of us sleeping in the living room. I don't want to give you the impression this is how it normally is. Most of these people are in transition between moving from once place to another and this apartment has served as a way station for us lost souls. Its been an enjoyable stay with these people, all of whom are Wheaton MASS graduates. Except me of course.

Today I'll be leaving my 'extended' stuff behind, taking only what will fit in my one backpack and heading for the China Town bus. The China Town bus goes between the New York and Boston China Towns. I hear its a bit harrowing, but its only $10 and will get me where I'm going.

The 'travel service' I chose to use is turning out to be problematic. My basic plan was to find a cheap, one-way ticket to Europe. This is done by purchasing stand-bye tickets through agencies that specialize in them. I found one that was a non-profit and seemed to work, albeit in a quirky way. Now I am wondering whether it will work in the capacity I desire. It is run by a bohemian group that wanted to encourage travel via a hitch-hikers approach. They equate this type of air travel as air hitching. The only way you interact with these people is via an AOL Chat Room. The problem I'm finding is that these people are both militant and mean. I had an exchange with one of them last night where he refused to tell me where a flight was heading insisting I should accept the adventure and just go to get on it. Only to have him apologize after 30 minutes because he thought I was someone else. Seemingly, the only rule in this chat room is that you are not aloud to ask questions. Most questions just invite insults and indignant queries as to whether you've read the chat room protocol thoroughly enough. Other, legitimate questions, are answered with non-sequiturs or riddles. Such as the simple question of, "when should I check back in?" or "where does that flight go to?" Even these are inappropriate questions. Unless it appears I'll be able to get information about a flight anytime soon, I'm going to give up on this particular organization and go to another, more commercial, organization. The result of this is likely to mean my staying in NYC longer then I'd hoped. I might not be able to leave until later in the week, or possibly next weekend. This might change things dramatically if it doesn't look like I can get there early enough to meet Greg in Ireland. This is still my goal though and I'm going to do everything possible to make that happen.

It may work out better that I'm in the US a couple more days. I have been growing increasingly nervous about the things I need to take care of in the states before leaving. Now I'll have a little more time to tie up lose ends. Of course, I wish I did not have ends to be lose or required tightening and maybe at some point along my trip, I won't.

I have decided to take my laptop to Europe. I am not sure if this is a good idea or not. If I get there and it turns out to be more of a hassle than a blessing, I'll send it back. I do see lots of reasons to bring it though and as long as I take care of it, it will probably allow me to write and communicate more easily.

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August 25, 2004

Boston, MA (WE MADE IT!)

3.5 weeks and over 6500 miles later, we finally made it. We're in Boston. If you've been following the story you may wonder why we're not in RI. Greg's friend's he is moving in with are moving from Boston to RI, but have not physically moved yet. So we'll be staying in a small apt here in Boston with a bunch of people instead.

I had hoped I would have a few days before the madness began again, but I may be wrong. I am beginning to make my flight arrangements to Europe and I may end up flying sooner than I thought. Plus, it doesn't look like I will be able to fly out of BOS. I will likely fly out of JFK, so I need to account for the time it will take to get there. There is a cheap Bus that runs a couple times a day between the two cities though, so that shouldn't be a problem. All of this means I need to hurry and get my act together and prepare to leave the country. I have a number of lose ends to tie up and I'm sure it would have been smarter to tie them up before leaving, but there's no use fretting over what's past. Well, at least in this case.

I do not yet know what country I will be flying in to. I had thought it would definitely be London, but now I am unsure of that. There is a flight on Friday to Madrid I can take, but I am going to try for a later flight so I have more time to take care of business.

The American leg of my journey is over and it has been quite a trip. I've been to so many great cities and seen so many small towns. I've been able to compare city life with rural life on a day by day basis. I've met those on the right and those on the left. I've found myself frantically wondering where I want to end up when I settle down next. Do I want to be in a city and if so, which one? Do I want to be in the mountains or somewhere more rural? I am beginning to realize that this line of worrying is not constructive at this time. I have no basis for thinking one place is better than another at this time and I have no idea how the coming months will change my plans and/or opinions, so I might as well leave it open.

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Maine Turnpike

We've just spent some time in Maine and are on our way to Boston right now. I'll update more when we get there and I have time. Gotta keep moving!

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August 23, 2004

Augusta, Maine

We're in Augusta, Maine, just passing through. We're parked outside of someone's house, wardriver for access. This morning, we drove up to a small town in Canada called Manson where we ate at a small Boulangerie, before heading out for Maine, where we'll be tonight and maybe tomorrow night. No other news for now.

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VT - On an organic dairy, somewhere near the Canadian Border.

Its Sunday night. Somewhere, my friends are watching Adult Swim. Its been a crazy couple days. I haven't had net access for 2 days and likely won't for another 2, so this probably won't get posted anytime soon. After NYC we rolled into Burlington, VT and met Greg's cousin and her family (husband and 2 children, 8 and 4). They took us out to dinner on Church street, Burlington's version of Santa Monica's 3rd St. Prominade, or Boulder's Pearl St, only nicer than both. Greg's family was really nice. They were also extremely environmentally conscious. Everything in their house was organic or environmentally friendly in one way or another. I can think of a time in my past when I would have thought this behavior was extremest and unfounded. Now I commend it. I can especially see people going this way who have kids. We want the best for our kids and if we knew there was even a chance of hurting them by buying 'conventional' products, we would hopefully decide not to. When I was growing up, we did not know as much as we do today, of course. Their kids seemed happy, well adjusted and very well behaved. They seemed like very good parents.

The above makes me think of a political debate I've been having with myself, or rather a political justification. I don't want to go into great detail on it now, but I'll just put it out there for later discussion. There are those that believe they should vote republican because the republican's talk more about family values. The republicans are also pro-life, which is an important issue to many religious people in our country. On that issue alone, they may hang their hat as far as determining who they will vote for. I am pro-choice, but I very much respect the pro-life position, but the above debate, like so many others, is not as clearly delineated as people want to believe. While our current president is pro-life, he is not pro-environment. His opponent is pro-choice, but also pro-environment. Why does this matter? Because the environment affects the lives of our children as much as the abortion issue does. The fact that, besides a few third world countries, we are the only nation that allows bovine growth hormones in our milk is just one of many important factors to consider when using the well-being of our children as a political wedge issue. What good is it to say one is pro-life, but then show so little concern for the well being of those children once they are alive. I imagine there are those of you who disagree with my reasoning and I'd certainly like to hear from you.

Back to our story. It got REALLY cold that night and I only had a sheet, so I did not sleep well. The next morning Greg and I got up and went back to Church St. to look around and see the Lake Champlain, which borders NY and VT. There is a ferry in Burlington that goes between the two. Later, we followed Greg's relatives on small state roads for about 2.5 hours to get to where the 'event' we were going was. It was called the Insurrection Circus put on by Bread and Poets, a performing arts group. The story, as I later learned, is that this festival has been going on for decades. It had grown larger and larger each year until finally someone had died or something when it had grown to over 30,000 people. They then took a couple years off and decided to bring it back as a series of smaller events. There were a couple hundred people there, most from Vermont. I really have no way of explaining what it was like. It was really great, but I can see how most people would not have liked it. Most of the skits were humorous, and most were political and or social in nature. I agreed with most of what I saw. It had a great vibe though. People there were really friendly and many seemed to know each other. The location was beautiful and the various events were spread out among trees and natural amphitheaters. There were was no electricity and no seats, so it was just sitting on grass listening to the performers as their predecessors performed centuries ago.

After playing some mock base ball with their kids, we followed them as they showed us to where Greg and I would be staying that night, which is where I am writing this. The person we are staying with, Spud, is somehow related to Greg's cousin. He runs a small independent, organic dairy/farm close to the Canadian border. I got to drink so cold, fresh milk that had just been milked tonight. It was delicious. He has chickens for fresh eggs, pigs for pork, a garden for veggies, and more. Greg's other family left for the 60 mile drive home and we stayed up talking to Spud for a while. He is an exceptionally nice and educated farmer.

Its funny how our situation determines our politics. I am not sure if Spud was ever interested in politics, but he is now, for obvious reasons. For a long time it got harder and harder to run an independent farm. As he put it, there used to be dozens of companies that bought milk in VT, but there is only 1 now. They pushed him so hard he had to declared bankruptcy at one point. Now he is part of an organic co-op that pays good set prices for his milk and he can again sustain himself. It isn't that he doesn't work hard, or didn't try hard enough, or didn't have the business savvy, that led him to file for bankruptcy, like they want us to believe. He has always been hard working. The cows must be milked twice a day, 7 days a week, even on holidays. He has gone years without a single day off he recalls. Going back to my last post on our American experiment... is this what we wanted? To protect these large conglomerates at the expense of a single hard working farmer just trying to pursue a meager version of the American dream?

Tomorrow we leave for the East Coast of Main. The town we'll be staying in is so small, it does not appear on any map we have. We will be meeting Greg's friend in Belfast where she works because even she is sure we'd never find where she lives. It will be a long drive on almost all state roads. The last couple days have been emotionally difficult, something I have not let known to those around me. I seem to have less and less control of where my mind wanders. Of course, it always wanders to the same place, a place I still have found no easy way of visiting. I wrote a while ago that I felt I had found balance with my past, that I could visit it without feeling depressed about better times. I could see the past for having been good and still feel good about where I am. These current trips into the past do not reflect this revelation. I get stuck there sometimes, unable to get out for more than the moment it takes to regain cognition of where I am at that moment. It is most difficult during the silence, when nothing is going on and no words are being spoken. It is during these times I lose all consciousness of my surroundings, unable to truly appreciate the magnificence of lush green New England. I have been moved to write more in my personal journal, sometimes on paper, sometimes electronically. I'm not sure if it helps or not. They tell me it isn't healthy to keep things in and not deal with them. They also tell me it isn't healthy to dwell on things and that it is important to move on. I'm not sure where to draw that line.

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August 21, 2004

Leaving NYC

Not wanting to break our trend of cutting and running, we're leaving NYC in a couple hours after only a day and a half here. My first impression of NYC is that it is a great city. It is by far less dirty, or unsafe feeling than I had thought. The subways are confusing, but work, given enough time. There are endless food and fun options that run the gamut. Last night, Greg and I met up with my cousin, Paul, who might as well be my twin brother. I doubt I will ever meet someone who looks more like me. Somehow, we neglected to get his picture, so I can't show you at this time. However, I just found out I will likely be flying out of JFK and not Boston on my way to Europe, so I'll probably be back later this month and I won't forget to take his picture. Paul took us out to an amazing Italian dinner and later we went to the roof of his building and had a long talk about life. From his Brooklyn rooftop we had a perfect view of the Verrazano Bridge. In the distance we could just see Lady Liberty and the Empire State Building. I had hoped to see the Statue of Liberty personally, but this will have to do for now. There's just not enough time. After an hour and a half subway odyssey we made it back at 2:30 to turn in.

Yesterday, we walked through Times Square. We also walked through Central Park on our way to the MET. The MET far exceeded my expectations. It dwarfed any of the Smithsonian's. We were there for hours and still did not enter every WING! We went through Ancient Egyptian, Medieval Art, Arms and Armor, contemporary photography, Greek and Roman Statues, and others I can't even remember. The exhibit we saw called Indexing the World, which was the photography exhibit was the most personally engaging. Specifically a subset of that exhibit where there would be a plaque denoting who the next few pictures were of, but they were descriptions like, Aristocrat, Farmer, Professional, Worker. The photographer would then try and picture the various 'types' of people in each group. I have no idea how he got these people so intimately, and so honestly, but it was an incredible spectacle.

Before meeting Paul we went to Williamsberg where we walked around and went to the Brooklyn Brewery, which I highly recommend. Its a big warehouse where the brewery is set up with picnic benches and large round tables. They do not have food, but allow you to bring in food. While we were there a number of parties had ordered pizza to be delivered from nearby pizzerias. It has a great atmosphere and good micro-brews.

Now we're off to Vermont, another state I've never been. Today's drive shouldn't be too bad and we'll be meeting Greg's cousin who he holds in high regard. Tomorrow we'll go with them to that political, satirical, puppet show/performance thing somewhere in VT. Should be interesting.

I have thoughts from my time in NY, but not enough time to write them down. All I can say is that it is good to know one has good family.

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August 20, 2004


I was born in NY, a fact I have made a big deal out of over my life. Though I was born here, I've never really been to NYC. What an amazing place. Of all the cities I've been to NYC by far exceeded my expectations as far as size. It is so dense and yet so large. Other cities have pockets of density, or a small dense center, but NYC is miles of denseness. The NYC subway is by far the worst I've seen, but it was also fun to finally be on it. Its certainly not beyond comprehension. Greg and I met a friend of his at some bar in the east village. We then walked some distance to near where Gary lives and ate Felafel at 2am. We then took the A train back to 42st and walked around times square for a little. We finally made it back uptown by 3am and crashed out.

Last night we had dinner with my Aunt, Uncle and cousin. They are great people. We had an enjoyable discussion over delicious meatballs and spaghetti. Today we'll check out more of the city by day. I'm hoping to see the Statue of Liberty as I have never seen it. Gotta see the obligatory sights before its too late.

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August 18, 2004

Baltimore, MD

We're at Eric's house now. He was my roommate in Mammoth for a year. Today we'll go in to the inner harbor and eat crab cakes.

We spent yesterday walking around DC. You could easily spend days in DC, but we didn't have days, so we saw as much as we could. We went to 2 of the Smithsonian's, Aerospace and American History. We also saw the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and other documents at the National Archives. We saw the WWII memorial and the Vietnam memorial. So much to see. I found it interesting how frequently, in our old documents, we refer to America as he great experiment. All of our founding fathers wrote about the success or failure of 'the experiment'. Opponents argued that by doing X or Y our experiment would fail. People thought the Louisiana Purchase would destroy the experiment by giving us too much land and people to govern, that our experiment wouldn't work over such a large area.

It is disconcerting to me that today we believe the experiment has been concluded and that all that is left is protecting the conclusion. By definition, conservatism is the attempt to 'preserve' what we have, with the thought that what we have is so good, it would be detrimental to change it. I do not believe, however, that this narrow mindedness is limited to conservatives. Both sides lack the desire to rock the boat too much, a validation that they believe the experiment is over, or at least slowed. AndrewSW would argue that change should happen slowly, and I agree on some level, but I also believe it is important to know whether that change is in the right direction. But who determines what is right? Once we accept that the experiment is ongoing we need to define what the experiment was and is. Was our experiment to see how much money a country can make, or how much resources we could consume? Or was it an experiment on equality? Was it an experiment to allow each individual to pursue life, liberty and happiness for him/her and their family? Or was it the latter, but with the idea being that individuals should be more than just 'allowed' to pursue these inalienable rights, but were encouraged and given all available tools to pursue them. In my mind, a lot of this comes to whether the experiment was focused on the individual vs. the government vs. corporations. Of course, corporations didn't exist and likely could not have been imagined at the scale they are today. Other questions also arise on whether the experiment was to ensure we had a Christian nation or whether it was to allow or even foster religious freedom.

How can we argue about our direction without defining the experiment? I believe the experiment is not over and it would be a travesty to try and protect what we have under the assumption that it is. The fellow from China we talked to in NE told us how good we have it, with our ability to travel, vote, make money, own land, and many other things. One could argue that we are so lucky, we should not complain. I mean, isn't that kinda looking a gift horse in the mouth? I argue that as the beacon of democracy for the world, as the most powerful nation in the world (economically and militarily), and as the most scrutinized nation in the world, we have a higher obligation. As we push the American Way on the rest of the world and claim we have discovered a more right way of governance, we have an obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Yes, we have it lucky, but is that an excuse to not try harder, as a nation?

I am reminded of a quote I recently read in an article.
"The rich have the right to buy more homes than anyone else. They have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more gizmos than anyone else, more clothes and vacations than anyone else. But they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else."

The first step, thought, is to try and define the experiment. As citizens and thus owners of this experiment, it is your right and obligation to weigh in on this. So what do you think?

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August 17, 2004

Washington, DC

Chicago to Ann Arbor where I had the opportunity to meet AndrewSW for dinner. We had some fascination discussions mostly on religion and politics. While the content of these discussions was thought provoking, perhaps the most thought provoking was how our opinions differed. I view us both as critical thinkers and find it fascination how two people arrive at different conclusions. Actually, in this case, we both had arrived at many of the same conclusions, but our prescriptions for how to achieve our desired ends and how we got to where we are differed quite a bit. If I had more time. I would write more about our discussion, but its all a race at this point.

We stayed with a friend Mark, a friend of Greg's in Ann Arbor. He fed us some high class beer before bed and even cooked a pancake breakfast in the morning. After breakfast we had another long drive straight to DC. Yesterday we were in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and DC. We were only a hundred feet or so from W. Virginia as well. We are staying at a relatives of Greg who was gracious enough to give us a night tour of some of DC's largest monuments last night. The grandeur of these buildings and that they were built to honor a single person is astounding. It is hard to imagine us building these types of things today. For one, we just would not spend that much money on a memorial and secondly, there do not seem to be the same type of iconoclastic figures today to deserve such a large memorial. I just can't imagine a Ronald Reagan memorial that was 4 stories high and half a city block in size.

Today we will do the tourist thing in DC. We'll stop at the Smithsonian, the Capital, many other memorials, perhaps the Spy Museum; you know, all the touristy things. Its still fascinating though. It gives us some perspective on where we came from and how we got here. America is still so young I was amazed to learn the Lincoln memorial was only built in 1928. I'll have more to say after we're back.

I also have more thoughts on the issue of travel and 'fun' and how it relates to intellectualism and class. This is based on peoples reactions to the notion of our trip and the notion of other recreational activities I value, but alas, there's just not enough time.

Tonight we're off to Baltimore to see Eric, Bryce and Trigga. We'll spend all of tomorrow in Baltimore and even stay one more night. That will be the first time we've spent two nights in the same place. I am looking to sleeping in tomorrow.

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Cat Dream

I had this dream a couple days ago, I really don't remember where we were at the time. This dream is fuzzy as most dreams are, but I believe I had a cat. Or at least a cat decided I would be its owner. The problem with this cat was that it was evil. It would look exceptionally cute and cuddly and would beg for attention. When you approached it to close, its face would contort into an extremely evil grimace and would try and attack you. The problem was I couldn't get away from it. Its not that it chased me. Its more that, as cats do, it wanted attention and would follow me and beg for attention. Of course, giving it attention seemed detrimental to my health. At one point I took it somewhere far away where I thought it couldn't get out and I left. Not long had passed before I saw the cat had somehow escaped and made it to where I had gone.

That was basically the dream. I can only speculate about what it meant.

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August 14, 2004

Chicago, IL

Its late. Greg and I are staying at "Woji's" apt in downtown Chicago. Woji is another ex Cnation employee. Woji, his girlfriend, Greg and I met up with Ray, another ex Cnation employee, and went out for Thai food. It was strange to see them all again after so long, but good to see them doing so well. Woji is doing freelance computer work now and Ray is teaching design at a local University.

We still have not had much sleep, but press on. Tomorrow we'll tour Chicago for a couple hours before driving to Ann Arbor, which shouldn't be too long a drive. The day after that we'll be driving straight to DC, which IS a long drive.

Last night Greg and I stayed in a small hostel in Lincoln, NE. It was an inexpensive hostel with free laundry, which we took full advantage of. We also had a fascinating discussion with a student from Beijing. We talked about how our countries differ and what issues both American and China face in the future. If I wasn't so tired, I would write more about this discussion. If only to remind myself I will post this one question he asked me. "Why do the American people allow corporations to have so much control over their government?"

Why indeed.

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August 13, 2004

Boulder, CO

We made good time to Boulder and went right to the Mountain Sun Bar where Brandon works and Katie was waiting. There we tried some of the local brews and talked for a little before heading back to their apt. Katie and Brandon are good people and we had some good discussions. We ended up going to bed pretty late and as such waking up really late. Brandon had to work the next day, but Katie didn't so she showed us around. We walked down Pearl Street, which is like the 3rd St. Promenade, only larger. It was very nice and had a great independent bookstore with shelves of current political books. Seeing all of the political books published in the last 3 years is astounding. It is obvious that a lot of people think a lot of bad things are happening to inspire them to write so many books on the topic. She took us up Flagstaff Mtn and up Canyon Rd. to show us some of the natural beauty of Boulder as well.

Brandon got off at 4 and after some debate we decided to go camping up in the Rockies (outside Nederland), to check out the meteor shower that peaked the night before. We drove to Nederland and asked some random drunk locals where we should camp. After a memorable exchange, they told us where to go and after some sketchy offroading in Brandon's Subi, we found a secluded camp spot.

We talked for a while about Boulder and life in general. They've only been away from Mammoth a couple months and are already ready to move. Its not that Boulder is a bad place, but its not a mountain town. Its more of a climber town I guess. It seemed like a great town to me, but I was only there for a day. They are going to try and look for another mountain town like Jackson Hole or Telluride and see how that goes. They will probably move in November in time for the snow season.

So many people I know are having such a difficult time being satisfied. So many jobs seem so meaningless. So many locations seem so far from the ideal. I wonder about this general dissatisfaction from so many people I know. Is it just our age range? I don't think so as I know people of various ages. I think a lot of it has to do with a sense of insecurity as it relates to our future. So many things seem so messed up with so many people getting screwed so often, its just as likely you could slave away your life and not even reap the security benefits you expected from sacrificing your ideals. I do not believe there is a way to secure ones future at this point. We just don't know what the future holds, but it is obvious things are changing quickly and I would contend, changing for the worse.

Partly because I've been writing quickly from the car and partly because of how little time I've had to think, I do not believe I've been able to intimate my thoughts cohesively recently, but its probably better for me to just be open with my insane rants than to let it all slide. Maybe I'll be able to put some of my thoughts together in a more complete fashion at some point. Until then, thank you for bearing with me.

Posted by wonko at 04:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2004

On the way to Boulder

We arrived yesterday in Yellowstone in a haze of insomnia. The thermal flows and the vibrant colors they produced were other worldly and I would probably agree with myself on this even if I had been awake at the time. We saw numerous geysers of various sizes and had some nice walks to see these and other attractions. We even waited 45 minutes to see Old Faithful, an obligatory stop. I fell asleep numerous times during the 14 minute presentation at the Old Faithful visitors center entitled, "Yellowstone: Water and Fire." I didn't miss much.

Yellowstone was beautiful, but different from Glacier. It was much more wide open. The high percentage of burnt wilderness surprised me. Also, it was flatter than I had imagined, which isn't a bad thing. There were a LOT of tourists there. Too many. Too many SUVs driven by people who did not need an SUV that large. It makes me sad when I remember seeing how many trees in Yosemite are dying, most likely from air pollution. I'm sure the same is happening in Yellowstone. Glacier is far less popular, which is nice.

We finally made it to our campsite where I wrote some glum poetry and some postcards before turning in. Except for the horribly loud car horn alarm that kept going off and the ear bursting garbage truck racket (yes this was camping in Yellowstone), I slept well.

We hit the road around 10am and decided to detour through Jackson Hole, WY just to see what all the hype was about. We just drove through it, but it looked interesting. We ate in Cheyenne,, the capitol and are now just a little out of Boulder where we'll stay with my old roommates Brandon and Katie. I am looking forward to seeing them again.

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August 10, 2004

Butte, MT

Its almost 9am and besides a 2 hr nap in a giant parking lot in Helena, MT we've been going nonstop for 24hrs. The days have begun to run together, but not in an altogether unpleasant way. Roads are the same wherever you go. A million white stripes serving as beacons pointing in the right direction, whichever direction we're going.

We drove non-stop to Glacier National Park and got in around 6am. The beauty of Glacier is beyond words. I am constantly amazed at how nature can surprise me with its varied wonder. Ancient granite peaks shoot thousands of feet straight into the sky with carpets of greenery struggling to stick to their 70 degree slopes. Even though we arrived later than we had hoped, we managed to have decent light for a couple hours as we wound our way up the road towards Logan Pass, the continental divide. That 25 or so mile drive was hampered by our inability to drive more than a couple hundred feet without needing to stop to capture what we were seeing on film. Hundreds of pictures and 4 hours later we found ourselves at the Logan Pass visitors center with completely darkness nearly upon us and no where to camp. At the visitors center a large Buck had been trapped up a stairwell and just stood there eating something. Behind the center a herd of bighorn cheep grazed. As I was walking back from using the bathroom past where I had seen the Buck, I heard a noise close-by in the darkness. There, less than 10 feet apart, the Buck and I started each other. Certainly he could have easily turned on me and turned me into road kill. He slowly walked towards the stairs that served as my only exit and stood just off to one side. I slowly, step by step, I crept towards and down the stairs with the grazing Buck only a couple feet away. Every couple steps he would look up at me and I would stop. Even though it seemed I was in a tenuous position, I wasn't that nervous. I felt the Buck most likely wouldn't feel the need to attack unless provoked and must be used to humans by now.

As we stared at the stars in total darkness near the car trying to decide whether to just sleep in the parking lot, a park policeman came up to tell us all the camp sites were full and we would probably need to drive out of the park to find camping. After he left, we decided to risk it and camp in the parking lot anyway thinking it unlikely he would come by to patrol again in the middle of the night. We got out our sleeping bags and after an hour of watching shooting stars and dozens of satellites careen across the sky, we turned in. Not a moment later we realized the patrolman was coming back. We quickly stashed our sleeping bags in the car and stood casually by the car. Obviously we were wrong about how late they do their rounds. So we left and decided to just keep driving. Greg drove for a couple hours and I continued for a couple more until we got to Helena, the capital of Montana. It was there, in a large strip mall parking lot, near a dumpster, I took a nap in my bag. That was until the garbage man came and shook the ground with his racket.

Now we're at Denny's in Butte, Montana on our way to Yellowstone where we have camping reservations.

Posted by wonko at 09:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Time and distance.

This trip has been physically trying, but mentally, I love every minute of it. My thoughts continually stray from good thoughts and memories to bad realities and implications. I am worried this trip will leave me unable to maintain a job that doesn't allow for a significant amount of vacation time per year. I love to explore, but you can't explore in a weekend. Just being in Glacier National Park for 6 hours made me want to come back for weeks on end and really get to know the place. At the moment, I have little in the way of future plans. Yet I find myself still dwelling on the necessity to have plans. How can I make plans? I am beginning to let go and figure what happens, happens. The only reason to make plans at this point would be to try and create a false sense of security for myself. False, because I really don't know where I'll end up or what I SHOULD be doing. I emphasize SHOULD because I could make safe plans based on options which are most likely, but that would be the only reason I would choose those options, because they are easy and safe. I am not sure what's the point of easy and safe in the void of some larger goal or purpose.

Now, I just hope I get to Europe and hope, once there, I can stay long enough to enjoy it. I feel the critical stares of those who would label my travels as an unwarranted vacation. I don't know how to justify this, but I don't see it as a vacation. To me, its no more a vacation than going to school. Part of this is our cultures broken notions on the importance of travel. I've talked about this before, but one week of vacation isn't enough to have a diverse life. Most other industrialized countries know this. In a world where the only work time is real time, traveling is excess. But work for the sake of work gives security at the expense of diversity and possibly happiness. I am realizing that uncertainty needs to be embraced and not feared at every turn.

Many people have asked whether I am running away. My answer is to ask them what I might be running away from. I don't know where I'm going, but I don't feel like I have a place to call home either. It is a strange feeling to not have a place. We traditionally think of traveling is getting away from ones place. Without a place traveling becomes less defined. Its more like moving ones place, continuously, at a rapid pace. Even the notion of needing to quickly 'end up' somewhere seems like a cultural construction. Maybe I'll keep moving for a while. Though, I have to admit, I do not feel free from place or past. I wish I understood what happened. Then again, if I understood it might not have happened. I see these questions written on the miles of asphalt passing under me. I've mostly given up trying to find answers to these questions I've dissected over any over looking for something I may have missed, yet I can't seem to stop dwelling on the questions themselves. After 2500 miles I do not seem any further from them. Time and distance are not the same.

Posted by wonko at 09:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 09, 2004

Idaho Sustainable Living

Last night we were treated to dinner and stayed with an older couple that were good friends of Greg's parents. They took us to a very nice seafood restaurant and talked about banal topics I pretended to be interested in. Not that it wasn't interesting. As a student of human nature, these well-to-do people represented a wholly different world view than the green-minded people we had been mostly staying with. While I disagree with and would criticize a lot of their world view, it is difficult to turn that into a judgment of these people. They were very nice people who grew up in a different time. They, no doubt, placed a high priority on being good people based on the only definition of that they've ever known.

The next morning we saw the 3500 sq ft. house they are building on a sizable lake. Ken, the man of the house, had done the architecture himself and was personally overseeing the construction on a daily basis. While they were building the house, they were living in a large motor home nearby.

Motor homes are often poked fun at for their apparent excesses. They do, after all, get less than 10 mpg. In another demonstration of how we can be shown a different way of looking at something that changes our opinions, I was shown a way of seeing motor homes that makes them seem extremely green. Basically, every aspect of a motor homes engineering is about conservation, be it water, power, space, you get the picture. So, while it may only get 8mpg, overall, it conserves more energy than most houses. Plus, its small footprint and mobile nature means one can move with the weather to further reduce heating and cooling costs. The toilet uses so little water. The kitchen table becomes a bed. Everything has a double purpose. No space is left unused. It is a miracle of modern efficiency. It makes me want a motor home :) Plus, just living in one encourages you to minimize the amount of stuff you accumulate and the quantity you waste. Definitely something to think about.

Posted by wonko at 04:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Idaho Dream

Have you ever had a realistic dream that something really bad happened. At the time it seems so real. As you regain consciousness you slowly come to the realization that it was only a dream, which is usually accompanied by waves of relief. Last night I had a dream that something terrible happened and woke up to the realization that it was true.

I have had long debates about the word regret. Some people believe you should never regret under the assumption that regretting invalidates whatever good came of it. I believe we can and should regret, but can simultaneously figure out what good came of it. I also 80% do not believe that everything happens for a reason, but rather we find and give reasons to what happens. At the same time I find myself trusting things will work out and trusting that when something happens it was for a reason. I am not sure whether this is just a reactionary way to define that which we do not understand, or whether it is a innate understanding of something we can not see.

I regret a lot.

Posted by wonko at 04:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 08, 2004


We're staying at a pretty sweet hostel in Seattle. Just a block from Pike Street Market. We've walked around a bit, and ended up at some microbrew where we met two guys from Denmark and Norway respectively. We've decided to see Glacier National Park and then Yellowstone. It puts us behind a little, but we'll make it work.

Seattle is an amazing place. Mind you, we're only seeing this one area, but this one area is like a giant 3rd street promenade for many blocks. Pike's market was mostly closed by the time we got there, so we'll check that out tomorrow before heading out for Idaho where we hopefully have a place to stay.

This was my first night in a hostel, which given my age, is a sad thought. I'd definitely say its the way to go as much as possible. Its such a great opportunity to meet other people and see so many different people interacting. Its like a college dorm on the first day of school where everyone is new. The only downside is getting to sleep with all the noise. Fortunately, I've been getting good at sleeping under adverse conditions.

Posted by wonko at 08:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2004


We're in portland! This picture was taken outside some aeronautics museum in Mcminville where the Spruce Goose was. YAY WAR! *cough*

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August 06, 2004

Day 5: On the way to Portland.

After an interesting political discussion with our hosts this morning, we left heading north on the 101. It was raining on and off all day, which only added to the beauty. The sky was moody all day making the ocean appear that much darker and more ominous. Most of the road winds atop cliffs many hundreds of feet above the ocean. We stopped a number of times just to gaze at its majesty.

We made a slight detour a little further north to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook. Got some free cheese, ate grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese biscuits and toped it off with some fresh Tillamook ice cream. We are both now full of cheese. I'd also say we were skirting the fine line before you hit too much of a good thing.

We swung South next and visited the Spruce Goose. The museum was closed, but we got to walk around and look in all the many windows. There really is no way to describe how large it is, nor the disbelief in trying to imagine how it ever did fly. Under one of the wings of the Spruce Goose was a tiny little plane called the SR 71 Blackbird. Holy crap! Standing next to the SR71, which was far smaller than I imagined, was a surreal experience. I can still remember being young before it hadn't been officially declassified. A friend of mine had a blurry picture of one. His dad was in the USAF and had taken the picture from a refueling plane he was manning. You could just see a man with an all black opaque helmut. It was so exciting, yet there I was looking at one in a museum, next to WWII prop planes.

We'll be in Portland before long and meeting up with Anders, who I've never met in person. Should be fun.

Posted by wonko at 06:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Day 4: Waldport

Haven't had phone or internet in 2 days, so I have been unable to update. Since we are taking all our pictures with Kasei's new camera, I am leaving up to him to post pictures for now. I encourage you to keep checking his blog here for his updates.

We rolled into Arcata around midnight. Greg was really tired and went to bed, while Zack, Brian (zack's roommate) and I walked into town for some drinks. Zack and I had a long talk about life and finally retired at around 3am. The next morning we walked around the town and checked out the organic co-op grocer where Zack works.

We left Arcata at around 1pm and kept heading along the coast, now on the 101. The coast of Oregon is even more beautiful than the California coast. We had some good discussions on some things I just wrote about yesterday, but will wait to post til tomorrow. We're still taking an insane amount of pictures. At one point we saw a Tsunami Zone Warning sign.

We arrived in Waldport where we are staying with a friend of Greg's family, Doug. He took us and his friend Bob out for Fish and Chips at this tiny restaurant that was literally floating on the Alsea River on wooden docks. We had some really great discussions about traveling abroad. Out of the blue, they recommended to me I move to Europe and try and get a job there. It had crossed my mind, but I still feel like thats not likely to happen, but I'll play it by ear. Both of them had traveled around the world a number of times, living abroad more than once. Later we got into a long historical technology discussion. These two had been involved in computers since the early sixty's and had stories that would probably only be interesting to geeks like us. It was still fascinating. Now it is late and I must retired.

The plan tomorrow is to get up at a reasonable our and continue north on the 101. We might go a little out of our way to check out Tillamook, but we're definitely headed to Mcminville to see the Spruce Goose. Then its off to Portland to meet with Anders. I am very excited to meet this fabled Anders who I only know from our exchanged online. Obigabu introduced us though I don't remember how Obigabu met him in the first place. Maybe he can shed some light on the matter.

Posted by wonko at 12:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Day 3: Towards Arcata - Struggling for Joy

We left Mammoth yesterday in the afternoon and drove through Tahoe to San Francisco. In SF we met up with a friend of mine from Mammoth that had moved back to the city. He hadn't settled into his new place yet, so we were staying at his friends' house south of town. We wet out for some good indian, some drinks at Zeitgeist, and visited various friends of his. I love visiting San Francisco, it has so much character. The people seem to feed off the character of the city and develop their own 'characters'. That is to say, there are a lot of unique people in San Francisco. It is a town where some degree of individuality is actually encouraged. Everyone is an artist and sees the world through different eyes. I can see how living in a city like SF would give you artists eyes. Adam (my friend) called it Visually Interesting.

We left SF around noon and started driving up the 1. The California coast, north of SF, is simply breathtaking. The one is an endless windy 2 lane road traversing the tops of stark cliffs which drop straight into the Pacific. We visited a beautiful beachfront plot that Greg's parents own, with the intention of building a house there. It is above a beach they call Bowling Ball Beach. Its hard to explain what makes it so unique, so I'll have to post pictures. We are taking an insane amount of pictures. I can already see the monolithic, daunting task of going through them to create an interesting abbreviated set. We also had a close encounter with a pair of friendly raccoons which we have good pictures of. We're headed the final leg of our today's drive to Arcata. The decision to take the 1 most likely added many hours to today's drive, but I'd say it was worth it. We should get to Zack in Arcata by midnight.

I drove most of the day and was lost in thought for most of it. I am struggling for joy. I am treading water and struggling to stay above. Already I have seen new places, met new people, but I don't have the same excitement I would have had a year ago. It's not that I don't desire it. I feel it still there, but everything that has happened recently weighs heavily on my spirit. Even the beauty of the coast and the ocean, which has always provided me with solace, seems muted. I begin every day feeling a little better, like I'm getting further from the pain, but at some point something happens that brings it all back. More bad news. I want nothing more than to have a simple life. Yet I feel I am putting almost as much energy into simplifying things, and keeping things simple, as I would be putting into a less simple life if I just gave up trying. If I just gave up trying... At every turn life throws complications. Most of which are not necessary. All of these games being played and no way to just opt out and assert to the world that you don't think the games are fair, necessary, or in any way constructive and as such refuse to play. You have to play. So I am seeking the joy I once found from within. I know its still there, its just buried under the rubble of a life which turned into confusion and regret.

Posted by wonko at 12:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 02, 2004

It begins.

There was a slight change of plans and after many false starts we're on the road. We're somewhere between Lone Pine and Independence on our way to Mammoth. We'll leave from Mammoth tomorrow for San Francisco via Yosemite. We're taking lots of pictures, which will get posted someday.

I'm almost embarrassed at the level of geekiness our car exudes. Thanks to the space age miracle of velcro, or some cheap knock off of velcro called "snaps and hooks", we've got all sorts of devices attached to the car's dash: iPod, TuneCast, GPS, XM Remote. Its almost silly. Just the fact that I can post this blog and be logged on to AIM from the road blows my mind.

Don't worry, we won't let the technology distract us from all the wondrous sites. Its dark outside.

Posted by wonko at 09:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack