Friday, December 27, 2013

I’m On A Boat

Current conditions: Bustin’ five knots, wind whippin’ out my coat.

As the Carnival Exculpation begins winding its way up the Mississippi River, this strange odyssey is nearly at an end. All that remains is getting off the boat (which apparently is quite the production), a morning in New Orleans (which must include the requisite vat of seafood, still), and a flight back to Newark before returning home, hopefully to a new salt-free pump waiting for me. Today, though, was my second and final “fun day at sea.”

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Darling It’s Better Down Where It’s Wetter

Under water, things are peaceful. All it takes to escape the noise and chaos of a community swimming pool during, say, a kid’s birthday party is a brief submersion. Under the water, we’re in our own private worlds into which it’s almost impossible for others to trespass. Sound fades away, while everything moves slower and seems more graceful. At least most of the time. There are some occasions when being under water is far from this kind of peaceful experience. Today’s activities straddled both sides of that line. Well, sort of.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Never Really Been So I Don’t Really Know

A surprisingly peaceful day, considering the main attraction was one of the Seven (Existing) Wonders of the Ancient World.

Today, I went to Mexico.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Life Aquatic

I may have been a little hard on ol’ Steve yesterday. This cruise thing may be growing on me. A little. Maybe.

Monday, December 23, 2013

People In Every Direction

“Welcome to your new home.” 

Ominous words spoken over a loudspeaker by a faceless creature known only as “Steve.” I have a home, Steve. It’s in Boston, among my people. My home has culture and variety and authenticity. Your boat seems to have none of these. It is certainly not my home. Five days from now, I don’t envisioning this iron leviathan becoming my home, either.. And honestly, Steve, your little “welcome” sounded awfully cultish.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Moments of Gold and Flashes of Light

What is time, anyway? It can give order and regularity to the workings of nature, but it can be arbitrary and artificial. Perhaps its most important quality is that it can be (and is) relative. However, as Lost taught us, we need a constant frame of reference in order for our minds to make sense of this strangest aspect of time.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Come Sail Away

And now for something completely different.

Things have changed since our last encounter. The ominous specter of law school became the best decision I’d ever made, as I spent the semester doing intense, yet intensely enjoyable learning and having all manner of new experience. And, in the process, I made what are sure to be lifelong friends. In short, I loved every minute of the past four months.

That said, it’s time for a break. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

He Liked to Drink a Lot of Juice

After yesterday’s crazy hiking shenanigans, this morning came as a warning from each of our bodies that we daren’t try that again lest the bodily rebellion we were feeling today return even more forcefully tomorrow. It turns out that when I call hiking down 3,200 feet a knee breaker, that’s pretty accurate. This morning my knee (only one though… weird) was so sore from turning through all the switchbacks yesterday that I was often reduced to going on stairs using my blown-out-kneed-mother’s mantra of “up with the good, down with the bad.”

For sure, we were all in need of a quieter itinerary today. Tioga Road was more than ready to answer the call. It was a peaceful drive with occasional stops, like the obligatory one at Olmstead Point and a less-obligatory but felt-essential one at the Tuolumne Meadows Grill and Store for lunch and junk food (all of which disappeared within 4 hours). 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

And When You’re Up You’re Up

Finally, a day free of drama. A day when we were finally free to do what we wanted, without constantly looking over our shoulders. In short, a vacation from what our vacation had become.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

Last night’s saga continued into this morning, although the worst was behind me. I woke up less angry – as tends to happen – and by the end of this morning’s trials, I was past it. I was too busy getting excited about what would be revealed the moment we emerged from the Wawona Tunnel. We had planned Tunnel View as the very first perspective on Yosemite Valley my mother would see, and it did not disappoint: 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Modern Family

After taking enough of these trips, some patterns begin to emerge. The one that shows itself first is that Day One is all about feeling out how things are going to work for the rest of the trip. That’s when decisions are made, consciously or not, about things like how to organize bags and vehicles, how much travel companions will indulge each others’ special interests, and probably most importantly – what will be the tone for the rest of the trip. As far as Day Ones go, today fit the bill.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sagers in the Sky

Remember a few posts back, at Mt. Mitchell, when I said that would be the highest point I’d be standing on for the foreseeable future? Well, that turns out not to be quite true.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Highway Sets the Traveler's Stage

So here we are. My journey has all but come to an end as I pause in New Jersey before completing the last leg back to New England (and before soon embarking on a new long-term journey to Boston). After a mundane driving day (I thought about waking up early to give Shenandoah one more shot at a sunrise but chose instead to sleep until a normal hour), I thought this space would be better spent reflecting on the tumultuous experience that was the past week.

Friday, April 19, 2013

We Have Come This Far, Always Believing

What a strange day. It didn’t really have a beginning, since I went right from writing last night’s post into watching breaking news coverage of what at the time looked like a random crime spree around Boston but that was getting national coverage because all the media in the country was already there. When I decided to go to bed around 2:30 that was still all it was.

From there, things got weird. The first important piece of information is that the Motel 6 sheets were made of some strange material that got much warmer than most sheets. The other key piece of information is that the TV in the room had no sleep timer. Combined, these factors led me to wake up several times during the night to adjust the heat, while also hearing a version of the story that was slightly different from the last one. It wasn’t until 8:00 when the alarm went off that Morning Joe proclaimed “it’s all connected, folks.”

Thursday, April 18, 2013

On Top of Old Smoky

While it wasn’t covered in cheese, it was still the main event on today’s schedule. But before I get to that, there is much scenic driving to report:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chasing Waterfalls


I laid out a rather ambitious plan for today – carefully navigate to 4 waterfalls in a precise order and then wind up a dirt road to set up camp and climb a mountain. All this needed to happen within 12 hours.

With so many places where parts of today’s plan could have gone awry, I’m pleased to report that I reached each of those destinations and did everything I wanted to do at all of them. The only low points of the day, and to call them low points is a stretch – were that I didn’t get as good of a picture of Looking Glass Falls as I had hoped and I wasn’t so happy with the Max Patch Road. But more on those momentarily. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

After the Morning After

 North Carolina comes through again. Having trudged through 200 miles of fog yesterday all through Virginia – your remember Virginia: my least-favorite state due to its questionable politics, overeager state troopers, those ugly-named suburbs of DC, and Shenandoah National Fog Park – I awoke today to a Virginia invasion across its southern border. In other words, Wildcat Rock was still enveloped quite thickly in fog. In fact, after turning out all the car lights last night the fog still seemed to glow even though there weren't any signs of civilization for miles. Spooky.

With no Plan B, I just kept on going down the Blue Ridge Parkway, knowing that the forecast called for “AM clouds / PM sun” and that the road would be rising higher than in Virginia, which might put me above the fog. Apparently I also had the sun on my side, as it burned off all of the fog by the time I stopped in Boone (yes, a real place name – as is “Gooch Gap”) at 9:00. Of course, by that point I had reached the one stretch of the Parkway that I was able to drive last year so there was nothing new to see. I was even there at the same time of day.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fire & Rain

We awoke this morning in a fog. It was a fog so thick that the outside world seemed almost to fade away, leaving only Latke and me as survivors within our front-seat universe. Nevertheless we set out, treading slowly and carefully through a world indifferent to our plans and itinerary.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Dog & Her Boy

Unfortunately, nothing particularly interesting happened today (Note to self: Do not start posts with "nothing interesting happened today" if you want people to read it). Which is not to say it was a wasted day. It got me in position to begin my assault on the Blue Ridge parkway in the morning, but more importantly it gave me some valuable information about my travel companion and gave me a general idea of what it will be like to drive another 1,800 miles with her.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Everything Old Is New Again

So here we are again, on the eve of another road trip adventure. Having procrastinated all day, my bags are finally packed, my itinerary set, and my dog sufficiently confused. In the morning the two of us will head out once again towards the Blue Ridge Mountains. This time, the goal was initially to go back and see the places on the Blue Ridge Parkway that were closed when I was there last February. But then when I found out that the governor of North Carolina will personally send you some pretty good swag for driving the entire 469 miles and becoming an “end-to-ender” I decided to try that. Throw in a little bit of Great Smoky Mountains National Park that I missed last time (namely Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the park), some waterfalls in nearby Transylvania County, and a couple of strategic stops along Skyline Drive at Shenandoah, and my week was pretty much filled out. As usual, here’s the plan, courtesy of Google Maps: