Didn’t take long.

I’ve been home for a total of 3 days and I am ready to get out there again.  This has become a problematic trend.

Go out, see something staggering, return home, be underwhelmed, begin plans for the next staggering thing.  I am not saying this will be something incredible in the next few days, but it does have me eyeing 2019 pretty hard as a banner year for international travel.  It is time to collect more flags…

Between now and then, though, I plan to hit the left coast again.  Perhaps within a month on a weekend bender.

Time will soon tell, but this particular bite from the travel bug sunk deep.

The Pacific & Portland.

The week has almost come to a close and I finally feel like I am 100% out of steam.  Yesterday I dropped my buddy off at the rental car place so he could go visit his family in southern-ish Washington and I headed south and west out the coast.  It was around a 3 hour drive to get from our BnB to the beach but it was worth every minute of driving.

I got to the beach around an hour before dusk and walked about a half mile from where I parked and set up to witness the glory that is yet another west coast sunset.  It was an absolutely perfect evening, with a breeze and the temperature steady in the 60s.  Since I had brought my light jacket I was all set.  The surroundings were something out of a book.  Miles of off-white sand beaches flanked by hundreds of yards of shore grasses before the homes of those fortunate enough to live near by.  The town was called Ocean Shores and it was charming though relatively small.  As the sun began it’s descent I felt the way I always do when I am so lucky to witness it:  completely at peace.  I take these opportunities to remember how truly fortunate I am to be able to live the life that I do.  Gratitude doesn’t even begin to describe it!

After the sun dipped in the water the temperature dropped off quickly so I hopped back in the car and headed back toward “home” for the evening.  As I rounded Olympia to head north toward Seattle, the 95% full moon began to rise over the mountains to the north and east.  Add that to another essentially perfect day.  Life is good.

Today I woke up and headed to Portland with absolutely zero plans other than to see St. John’s bridge and visit Voodoo Doughnuts.  Since I accomplished both of those things and checked a state off the list I will put it in the win category, but I do feel as though I need to see more of Portland before I make a decision how I feel about it.  If it were based solely on today I’d probably say I do not care for it but I didn’t see much except a heap of construction downtown and nightmarish traffic congestion.

Now I am back in our home away from home, planning to begin packing for the flight tomorrow so I have it out of the way.  We don’t have much on the agenda for tomorrow and will need to check out by 11:00 AM so I am not 100% sure what we will get up to until our flight in the afternoon but I do plan to pick us up a couple day passes to the Alaska Airlines lounge so we can chill for a couple hours prior to the flight.

It has been a great week and my feet hurt as much as they ever have but I have added so much experience to my memory that I will gladly endure the healing.

Insomnia in Seattle.

The past few days have been an absolute blur of activity.

During the first day of this visit to Seattle/etc., I saw Pike Place and began to piece together the madness that is downtown Seattle.  Through a maze of homeless people and more Starbucks locations than I can count, I started to acclimate.  This was after almost 36 hours on zero sleep.  Oh, did I forget to mention that we attended a Flogging Molly / Dropkick Murphy show on the first day?  Yeah.  I was barely even conscious during this.  Great show but I was in no way ready to enjoy it.

On day two we ended up visiting a Nordic heritage museum and ate at a place which shared the name of a town my mother used to haunt:  Portage.  You can figure it out with that much information.

On day three it was time to hop the border and see Vancouver for the first time.  I must say that I am absolutely impressed by the city of Vancouver.  It is such a clean, beautiful place, and the Canadian people are an uncannily friendly bunch.  Our agenda was non-existent but we walked along a bay, visited Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium, and topped it off with a visit to Granville Island Market.  We watched the sun drop over the bay and I sat in astonishment at what I was fortunate to witness.

Today is day four and it was an absolute legend of a day.  We decided early on that the first order of business was to visit the Woodland Park Zoo and we were not disappointed.  They had some of the finest and immersive wildlife experiences I have seen to date.  I have always been a sucker for wildlife parks of all kinds and this was no exception.  Top notch stuff.  Zoo knocked off the list, we decided to visit Puget Sound and walked the beaches.  We stuck around for a sunset that rivals anything I have ever witnessed before.  The sun disappeared behind the Olympic range and cast colors that are too many to name.  It was amazing and the day was only just ending.  Up next was the Space Needle.  We arrived approx. an hour and a half prior to closing time and as we approached I could feel a sense of the staggering size of the structure.  Once we hopped on the express elevator and walked out onto the catwalk, it was strikingly apparent how far away the ground was.  The vertigo faded quickly and I was standing in stupid amazement looking at the city from 500+ feet.  If this weren’t enough, the full moon (99%+) rose as the sun dropped, casting a pale blue hue over the entire cityscape.  As I was making a lap around the rotating glass deck, I happened to glance the direction of SEA-TAC and saw 4 planes all in their final approach for landing.  This continued the entire time we were at the Space Needle, almost an hour and a half.

This is single-handedly one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever had the privilege of experiencing.  I am truly fortunate.

More to follow as the week moves on.

Sleepless for Seattle.

About 4 hours from now I will hit the road to go to a 6:00 AM flight from ORD > SEA.  Naturally I can’t even consider sleeping because the squirrels are running a rampage now.

It has been entirely too long since I was kept awake with anticipation.  Travel does that to me though.  This may end up being one of the longest days of my life but it is in the spirit of adventure so I will make due.  As long as I stay awake long enough to get to the terminal and shuffle my way on board, I can at rest easy, even if metaphorically.

Thankfully I have a co-pilot on the drive up and a travel companion in a long time friend who was able to take the whole week off and go with me.  What’s more, he is going to be able to visit family in the area that he hasn’t been able to see for a few years.  It’s always nice to have the opportunity to catch up with family while on an adventure.

I’ve all but given up on the idea that I will sleep tonight.  I will just bide my time.

Bag is packed, thumbs are sufficiently twiddled, time to go!

Vicarious travels.

A friend has spent the last week in Los Angeles and got me stoked to get out on the road again.

It is now less than a month from my next excursion and my first time visiting the Northwest.  One better, a different friend is taking the entire time off and heading out with me.  It will be an entire week to witness what another part of the country has to offer.  I’ve heard plenty of great things about the area but now I’ll be able to see first hand.

Fall will be starting the week we go so the weather should be fantastic.

This won’t be some crazy trip to around the world but it is one of only a few I was able to take this year.  Since I tackled all my debt, next year will involve more travel.  I won’t have any literal or figurative baggage this time, so it will be done the right way.

More to follow soon enough!

Even small journeys.

After a super productive weekend of painting my room and placing a second coat of epoxy flooring on, I decided I would make the most of a beautiful afternoon and drive about an hour and a half to a natural treat, the Indiana Dunes State Park.  This served as a brief getaway from my all-too-familiar surroundings and as an opportunity to see something bewildering while I wait for further destinations.  I walked for several hours taking time to clear my mind and contemplate the vast nature of the world.  As the sun made its descent over Chicago, the world took on a perfect balance of light, minimal but effective cloud cover, and a dazzling display of what one might call “neon pastel” colors in the sky and in the waves.  To do anything less than stand still with a wide open smile would have been an insult to nature in one of her finer moments.

I’ve seen what nature can do when you don’t respect her, but you couldn’t have paid me to wipe the grin from my stupid face.  All this and I was a proverbial stone’s throw from home.  It wasn’t some great vagabonding mission but it stoked a fire I have had for a year and a half.  A reminder of what happiness feels like, and I must listen when it calls.

Back to San Francisco

The plans are beginning to take shape along with reservations that have already been made.  The flight itinerary is paid for and is fast approaching.  Not fast enough but I must accept the passage of time as it constant save for perception.

4 weeks from tomorrow and I will once again embrace the west coast, though a good deal further north.  San Francisco calls me back for more than a cursory glance.  4 days are better than the one I had the first time.

Excitement is building along with anticipation.  Life is out there, and I’m going to go and find it again.

A permanent reminder of Mexico.

Yesterday I headed to my tattoo artist (if I could be so bold as to title him in such a way…) and got Mexico crossed off the list of flags I adorn.  It occurs to me that this particular place is one I will need to visit again.  I had no plans when visiting aside from setting foot and seeing what it really looked like on the other side of the “wall” which was just a crazy sturdy fence where I was.

Obviously where I arrived was not a true picture of the country or the people, it was a sample that was clearly geared for selling stuff.  (We are just as guilty of it here, though.)  I strolled a few blocks, taking in the scenery, then made my way back to the border.  I made the mistake of trying to just walk through the vehicle entry and two armed border patrol guys approached me to stop me and let me know to hit the pedestrian entrance instead.  They were on edge but I get it.  I still think it’s hilarious that the control has to be such that a citizen can’t walk in however he pleases with the proper documentation.  They didn’t even care to look at it, but again, just two guys doing their job and wondering what the hell this random dude was trying to pull.

So I made my way down to the pedestrian crossing line and it was the better part of a mile.  I saw signs all over for Sentri pass entry, a thing I possess, but literally no indication which line it was or how to circumvent.  Once I was about 300 feet from the gate, I saw a border agent and was like “Is that a Sentri lane?” to which he said yes and asked if I had Sentri.  I showed him and he said “Yeah you didn’t have to wait in any of these lines.  You can go up there now if you want.”  Lesson learned, I suppose, for this one border crossing… Just act like you own the place, got it.

In all honesty, though, I’m glad I spent the time in the line.  I was able to see families and individuals, young and old, who wanted nothing more at that moment in time than to come see the United States.  Presumably they had friends and family on our side but it lifts the spirits to know I live in a place that is still a place sought out by others for whatever reason.  The media makes it difficult to see this fact by painting with a broad set of brushes but I for one welcome people to see what it’s all about.  We get painted with the same set of brushes on this side of the fence so do your best to not assume, as some of us do.

Thank you for the glimpse, Mexico, I shall return with more plans in mind next time.

Grounded too long.

I’ve been home for almost 72 hours now and this time it has already been too long.  The calling is too strong to ignore…

The next trip is to the west coast, this time for a long weekend, and slightly further north.  This is one more little step but not the long-shot trips I plan for later in the year.  More flags, little time.

Soon enough, on the road.

Near the edge of the Western World.

Today I found myself without a schedule or a care in the world, much like the theme of this week.

I decided it would not be a trip to the left coast without walking on the beach so I chose the Mission variety.  I made my way south toward Mission Point and decided that it was challenge accepted.  As I was standing there surveying my path, I reached to place my phone in my pocket.  Naturally it tumbled between some rocks that were far too narrow for my wide ass to get to.  Luckily a young gentleman risked scuffing up a nice track suit to recover it for me.  I do not know your name, lad, but you saved my day from absolute shit.

After this I placed all of my pocketed belongings into a pocket that has a zipper.  If they were destroyed now it was because I fell off the rocks and am probably severely injured and I won’t give a shit about any of that stuff.

I began my journey out on the stone “walkway” and tested my skills of balance all the while.  The end result would be worth the effort.  And I was not disappointed.

I found myself on a rocky point with only the ocean in sight to my front, surfers behind me waiting for good curls, and pier-dwellers to my left, across a bay.  It was silent, save for the sea’s incessant crashing on the rocks.  It was astonishingly beautiful.  The air was light with sea breeze, the sounds were intoxicating, and peace was everywhere.

I am a lucky man, and I am not unaware of this fact.