Tuesday, November 24, 2009
A few days after I arrived in Toronto, we left on a roadtrip to NYC. We had a memorable stop in Binghamton, NY. Beautiful urban decay, and nice people. The NY city was great. Brooklyn seemed limitless, trendy and fun. Better lighting than Toronto and more romantic.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Well. I made it to Toronto. I was pondering 'the scenic route' but somehow that fell by the wayside with scheduling and the lonliness of the interstate. I left Benton City, WA at about 1 pm, and had a beautiful drive through open wheat country up to I-90. I made it over the Bitteroot Mountains of Northern Idaho, and passed Missoula and Butte. The temperature was fluctuating wildly, warm on the high passes and cold again in the valleys. Must be an inversion. I made it just past Butte, MT before I started to get a little tired. I made camp at the Missouri River Headwaters State Park. I chatted with the man in the camper next to me. He was the only other person around, the campground was otherwise totally deserted. The temperature was in the low 60s! Crazy for mid November in MT. The man in the camper said he was headed the opposite direction, from the East Coast to the West, and he'd had snow the day before in Wisconsin. Good weather for camping! I slept great in my thin sleeping bag after an instant soup and some sleepytime tea. Then to bed with my roadtrip ritual, falling asleep while reading the map. Day two was an absolutely mega-day. From Three Forks, Mt, to St. Cloud, MN. 950 miles. The driving was great. No traffic. Perfect weather. It was even HOT in the car! But no A/C for me! Don't want to put any load on the engine! As far as hypermiling goes, the Audi A6 Avant, is a bad choice. Quattro drive might be a good system for traction, but it not great for milage. I usually average 23 on the highway. Not good. But this day, over 950 miles, I averaged 26! I think the reason was that there was a crazy windstorm, right on the tail. I had at some times sustained wind over 35 mph, blowing dust around, tumbleweeds and leaves all over the freeway. And it kept up most of the day. Then, past Fargo a long, long downhill section. What felt like a down grade? Or maybe it was just highway hypnosis? Anyway when I finally found a hotel room in St. Cloud, MN, I really had highway hypnosis. Objects waved and shimmered. I felt as if I was still on the highway. The most horrifying was when I turned on the TV in my hotel room. I haven't watched TV since the spring, and being on the ship for 4 months has somewhat insulated me from TV culture. It was horrible. To sum-up-- Everything was about fear, and money, and power. Selling, by any means. Sensationalism. Fearmongering. Control. I sought refuge in The Weather Channel, but even there was death. A 'reality' show about the destructive force of Tornados. With a panel of meterologists turned fear dealers. And the commercials were packed with political ads from the coal industry, pre-emptively persuading the public of the doom that will become them if they even THINK about regulating carbon emissions or imposing a carbon tax. Well. I turned off the TV and went to bed. To wake up and burn a little carbon of my own. Day three I made it all the way to Toronto. I pulled in at 3 am. The border guards didn't harass me too much, everything was smooth as silk.
Monday, November 2, 2009
In a few hours I'll be picking up my car from the shop in Seattle and heading East, to Preston, and then hopefully tomorrow, farther east to Cle Elum and Red Mountain. Then in a few more days, farther east across most of the country, across the border and into Toronto. Sara and I are going to share an apartment and try to start spending some short-distance time with each other. It could be seen as a big move but it really seems like the logical next step. I'm excited and relaxed and ready for the challenges and changes and opportunites that life will present. So I was thinking I might as well start blogging again? As this is a voyage of a different sort, to foreign waters, also with its own reefs and beaches with soft waves lapping at the sand.
I've been off the ship now for two weeks and I'm still enjoying the slight euphoria and hightened senses that comes with release from the ocean's deprivation. Never has fall seemed so necessary and its various smells and colors so intoxicating. Many are saying that the colors are much brighter this fall because the summer was so hot. Every hour of that summer is in my hands when I heft a big healthy pumpkin. The pumpkin is a holy artifact of that summer. It is a precious concentration from the rays that fell on the viney, loamy fields each day. Its a way to connect to those long summer days that passed while I was far north, wreathed in fogs on a gray ocean on a steel ship. Each pumpkin seems as exotic and as fascinating to me as a meteorite. This past week we had a pumpkin party and we did pumpkin carving and pumpkin jousting (counter-rotating pumpkins on ropes). I carved out their flesh and made pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie. We drank Pumpkin Ale. We roasted pumpkin seeds. I carved a maple leaf into a pumpkin's skin.
Friday, May 1, 2009
I've been poking around a bit on the internet now that I'm back in civilization and it seems like the Swine Flu epidemic might be on the downslope, not clinically, but of its media-hype life-span that is. I'm wondering if the real story to come out of all this might acually be about the media itself and how it picks and focuses on a story. The acutal influenza outbreak might turn out to be a small blip in the history of influenza, but its overhyped media explosion and feardemic could be a watershed moment. Sara might not like this but I would reccommend that anyone interested read the Wikipedia entry for 2009 swine influenza outbreak. The entry has improved greatly in the few days since I've read it last and its the one place where I've been able to find complete and precise information about the topic. And, the last section of the entry is in regards to media response and bias, and distortion. So the upshot is that the effects seem to be very mild now in the states, very much like a normal flu outbreak. The reason is had such a high motality in Mexico is being debated. Thousands and thousands of people die every year in the US due to influenza and its no news story at all. This outbreak has so far only killed one person, and already its the top story for a week. Something doesn't seem right. I'm wondering if this is not further evidence that media and news is something that should be consumed like a vegetable, the more local the better. Any "news" that does not directly discuss something happening in your immediate community is probably just a distraction, and a stressful one at that. If I tune out of national/international instant news and analysis what will I do with all my time?? What will I read in the airport? Books maybe?
The round trip has been completed. I've returned to Red Mountain, WA where I began my trip south. The grape vines are just starting to bud out, and things are very green, especially the weeds! My carefully selected ride for this trip, Dusty, herself, deserves a bit of a break, or at least a check in with the capable mechanics at Wilson Brothers in Ballard. She performed beautifully, stylishly, while carrying all my stuff and precious cargo safely and without complaint. I am impressed with those German engineers who made such a fine auto. You would be hard pressed to find a car as quiet and solid feeling as this one, that could carry so much stuff while still carving sharp turns on back roads with a little sports car like gusto. Her engine is no monster, its 2.8 liter V6 its nothing like the 4.4 liter BMW 540 V8 that I was considering for a while, but its very quiet, and seamless, and when you push the pedal down far enough you find that you have moved quickly past any car you wish to pass. At 100mph it feels like 40mph in my old car, so quiet and solid, and that German sensation that seems to say, go ahead, run like this all day long, faster if you like. The one complaint I have is the gas milage. I averaged 24 mpg on the freeway, and this was considerable less than I guess I was hoping for. I think the Quattro full time AWD system is partly to blame for this. But the one time that I found myself on very soft sand all the sudden, she did pull right out of it without a thought. On Hwy 78 in SE Oregon yesterday, I was blasting along a absolutely deserted stretch of rangeland with bagpipe music playing on the stereo, the car expertly hugging each curve and hill. And she, the car, it, may be only a piece of machinery, but for a few hundred miles we were perfectly in sync, and I could not have been happier.
In eastern Oregon, they have the practice of making a triangluar fencepost with a platform piled with rocks. My guess is that this is because the ground is so rocky that it makes it very difficult to dig a hole, and this platform provides an anchor point for a high tension top wire that holds up intermediate posts which aren't buried deeply in the dirt.
Amazing. What amazing roads. Hwy 78, and 395. Beautiful, small towns. Untouched by the freeway. I spent last night in the middle of E. Oregon, alone in a roadside campground just north of Burns, OR. It got down to 27 degrees F last night! I was warm in the tent under 3 blankets. I'm not in the tropics anymore.
Nevada is huge!!!! I had a great night's sleep next to a desert lake. Beautiful birds all around. Spring is in full swing and the temperature is getting much nicer as I climb north.
I had always believed in the concept of back roads, but now really do like them more. You might not get there as fast but the driving is much more fun and interesting, and the town you pass through are much more real. After Arizona I visited the Hoover Dam. Quite impressive. Notice the huge suspension bridge they are building just downstream. And also notice the watermark in Lake Mead, behind the dam, with the water level far, far below its historical level.
No I don't have Swine Flu, and I don't think that I was in any danger, but it was a little eerie being in the country the State Department was telling people not to visit. There were some strange scenes of people walking the streets in masks, and stocking up on food at the store. Max and Sarah had a semi-stresful bus ride across the border, not really knowing the extent of the virus. And now that I've returned to the states I feel like I still don't really know what's happening, or more specifically, how much I should worry. I've been washing my hands in rubbing alcohol when I have any contact with anyone who deals with the public, toll booth attendants etc. Overkill? Probably. San Carlos is probably just as removed from Mexico City as a lot of places but who knows when someone will drive through town who has just come from Ciudad de Mexico and who knows?? And even if you get the virus how much worry is there? Maybe scientists don't even know why the mortality was so high in Mexico and seems to be much less in the states. Its confusing to try to figure out if this flu is really much more than a normal flu.
I had been thinking about this for a while, and both Max and Sarah agreed that we should try to sleep on the summit of a mountain to watch the sunrise. Sleeping was a little difficult, but it was a memorable night.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Yesterday Sara and I drove up to Tucson from San Carlos. Its a beautiful desert drive but one that seems longer than its supposed 5 hrs of driving time. Tucson is nice, but Mexico does seem, nicer, more real, more relaxed in some ways. The past two weeks of exploring the coastline have been amazing. Really beautiful scenery. On one of her last days on the boat Sara and I climbed the local iconic mountain, Tetakawi, and had privlidged vantage point out over the desert and sea. I have some pictures from up there. In a few hours my friends Max and Sarah will arrive here in Tucson and we'll drive back down for another week of lime drinks, cool breezes and the SPF 50 lifestyle. Sara will be a very hard co-captain to replace. She seemed more at ease and competant onboard than I most of the time. We had some great sailing, and some wonderful days at anchor at Ensenada Grande. She will be missed. Tonight I'm hoping to camp with Max and Sarah at a lake near the border named Pena Blanca to break up the drive a bit and ease them into the desert life. Max has only packed flip flops and a sweatshirt. My next charter guests might take a little more oversight! We have incomming. I've gotta run to the baggage claim. Thanks to anyone who's following.