Monday, September 1, 2008

My caulk beads are fallin' off...

Hey there ladies and gents. Thanks for tuning in. Before I get into this narrative allow me to clarify the title of this post for you. Before I set off on this trip I lined the bottom of my sleeping pad with beads of silicone caulk. This prevents the pad from sliding around on the tent floor at night (a little trick I picked up from the pros). They are beginning to fall off, and I'm taking it as a cue that its time to go home.

I'm in Davis right now stayin with my aunt and uncle for the night. All last week I was in Yosemite just camping out and hiking during the day. Yosemite and Glacier are in a close race for first place as my favorite park on this trip. The granite domes and walls there are awe inspiring. I overdid it, hiking 50 miles in three days, 26 of those on the first day. As a result I tweaked the muscle in my right shin and had to hike out about 20 miles with a limp and a 42 lb pack on my back. Weak sauce.

I woke up at 4:15 am on Friday and gunned it here, to Davis, to do a river rafting trip on the south fork of the American River. My cousin Max is 18 and is guiding this summer, and my uncle Jeff is a veritable river spawn. So with Max and Jeff guiding we ran a two day trip with a bunch cousin Matty's friends from UCSB. We camped the first night and stayed at my aunt and uncle's cabin up near Sutter Creek on Sunday. It was an awesome labor day weekend and it was really cool to see cousin Max and uncle Jeff guiding together.

Now on a serious note, some asshole recently tried to scam my grandparents out of a bunch of money. Someone called my gramma posing as myself in distress, saying that "I" was in jail in Montreal having been busted with marijuana. He wanted her to Western Union $5,200 up to "me" in Quebec. She panicked at first, as any concerned grandmother would, then got her cool back and asked "me" questions like what preschool I went to and what was my best friend's name growing up. The guy couldn't answer the questions, but kept the act up and sounded very convincing. My family finally got hold of me later that day but had a pretty good scare for a while. Apparently this is a pretty common scam so warn your grannies. Nicely done gramma, that guy got more than he bargained for with you.

So my trip is kind of winding down. I plan on being home in about a week. I'm gonna head down 395 on the east side of the Sierras, through a section of the Mojave desert and then home. I will have covered over 8,000 miles and been out for three months when it's all done. It's been an amazing trip full of spectacular scenery, reconnecting with friends and meeting new ones, and a couple of close calls. I can honestly say that I'm ready to get back to real life and start saving money again, but that usually only lasts about a week before I get the urge to fuck off again. This will probably be the last post to this blog but I'll put up a new batch of pics once I'm home. Thanks to everyone who kept tabs on me. Much love and I'll catch you soon.


"We spend our life trying to bring together in the same instant a ray of sunshine and a free bench."

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Northwest

Hello my friends. I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer weather. I'm in Portland right now, leaving this afternoon to head to the Oregon coast, then heading down through the Redwood Nat'l Forest and ending up in San Fran this weekend for a concert.

I spent about 4 days in Seattle and had a great time. Thats a really cool city and the weather was perfect. From I-5 South going into downtown you could see so many tiny sailboats on Lake Union that it looked like a collision was inevitable. I checked out the Pike Place market, the REI Flagship store (awesome), various parks, and the Ballard Locks where they control the water levels allowing boats to cross from Puget Sound into Salmon Bay and vice versa.

To leave Seattle and head to the Olympic Peninsula I hopped on a ferry with my bike that shuttled me across. It only cost about $7 and was kind of a cool experience. I spent the next couple of days exploring the peninsula and Olympic Nat'l Park. I stopped in a place called Port Townsend, an active port thats famous for harboring and repairing old wooden boats.

Olympic Nat'l Park is home to an incredible array of ecosystems and climate zones. You have the 8,000 foot glaciated peak of Mt. Olympus, temperate rain forests that receive about 12 feet of rain annually, the rugged coast of the pacific northwest, and all of this is linked together by a system of streams, rivers and lakes. It's a fascinating place, and it pissed rain on me the entire time I was there. I loved it.

I camped on the beach one night and had a great sunset. The next day I was hiking back out to my bike (about a 1 mile walk on the beach) and I came across a group of Japanese tourists. The man with the largest camera looked at me and said "Oh, tough guy." It was hilarious.

From the peninsula I made my way down to Portland. Again I was incredibly lucky with the weather. I stayed with a good high school friend Elizabeth and had the chance to meet some of her friends up here. They're all really cool (as Elizabeth herself is a very cool chick), and I thought one of her friend's, Anna, was particularly cool. So when Anna gets off work today she and I are going to head down the coast and camp out for a couple days. Then I'm off to San Fran and in the final stretch of my journey. Stay tuned for a couple more updates, enjoy the new pics, and I look forward to catching up with you all upon my return. Much love.


"Keep the shiny side up."

p.s. Pop, glad to hear that the California Sandbag doubles tourney at the Spitfire was a success. I intend to claim my place at the top of the podium when I get home.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Blessed Rhino

What up party people? Sorry it's been so long. I haven't had access to a cpu in a couple weeks. I'm up in Seattle stayin with the homie Jones, Stevies good friend from Colorado College. Just rolled in last night. Let's rewind...

After leaving Bozeman MT, I rode up to Glacier Nat'l Park. It's right on the Canadian border and is hands down the prettiest park I've been to yet. It was a post card around every bend in the trail. It's also the first place where I've really felt a true sense of wilderness, and almost been too spooked to keep going forward.

I had planned on doing a two day loop and camping a night at a campground called Old Man Lake. The CG was open when I wanted to do the trip, but had been closed the entire week before cuz of grizzly activity. The lady in the backcountry office assured me that she's not afraid of bears and then went on to tell me that there's no way in hell she would camp at Old Man. A poppa griz tried to bunk up with a father and son who were camping out there. Apparently the bear picked up the scent of the father's jock itch cream and decided it was good enough to try a bite of his leg.

So instead of overnighting it I made it into an 18 mile day trip. I walked for a solid 9 miles before I saw anybody else. I was coming to the end of the valley I had been hiking up toward a mountain pass, and I knew I was near Old Man CG. There was a powerful headwind witch meant that I had a grrrreater likelihood of startling the bear since he wouldn't hear or smell me coming. It also rendered my bear spray essentially useless (unless I intended on spraying myself in the face with it and blinding myself so I wouldn't see this massive grizzly bear eat me up).

The hairs on my neck were standing on end and my senses were in hyperdrive. I knew there was a big griz out there accustomed to the presence of humans and eager to chomp my jock itch creamy leg. The part that spooked me the most was that I honestly felt like the bear knew I was there, too. I walked down into this ghost camp and didn't see any signs of the bear, so I hiked out and finished the loop with all my appendages.

I left Glacier after about a week and made it all the way to Spokane, WA. I had had enough of sleeping in the dirt so I decided to flip for a motel room (only the second time in two months). I went out that night and found myself entered in a beerpong tourney at a local bar. Except they weren't playing the way we're used to. They were using only two cups per side and paddles. It was a fun learning experience.

The next morning I was going to town on some primo continental breakfast and got to talking to an older couple there. They were from Seattle and on their way to Phoenix to visit their son. He was a Christian pastor or minister and told me that Jesus loves me and is following me on my trip. After breakfast we went out and Pastor Dick (I'm not blaspheming, that was his name) gave an official blessing of my motorcycle, one hand on my bike, his other hand on my forehead.

I said "amen" and then "sweet" and saddled up and took off. Maybe its just a coincidence but that same day riding west on State Route 20 in northern WA was the closest thing I've ever had to a religious experience. I was on the verge of becoming emotional from how absolutely beautiful the cedar and evergreen covered mountains of the Cascades are.

I spent the next four days on a solo backcountry trek covering about 50 miles of the parks interior. At one point I ended up in the remote town of Stehekin on lake Chelan, which has a year-round population of 80 people. The only ways to reach this town are by foot, ferry, or float plane. The town consists of a post office, a store (very limited selection) a restaurant and a ranger station. Despite it's remoteness, it also has a world class bakery. I mean people in Paris are buzzing about this place. No joke. It was just featured in Martha Stewart's "Living" magazine and will appear on the cover of the August issue of Sunset Magazine (mama save that issue). So after three days of freeze dried beef stew and cliff bars, I just pigged out on pizza, soda and cupcakes. It was awesome.

I left the park yesterday and had to hitch about 70 miles back to my motorcycle. The first stretch on SR 20 was easy but the last 21 miles were over a crappy gravel road that was hell to ride up. I ended up paying a couple of locals $20 to get me to my bike. The wife was a talkative one but the husband wasn't saying a word, just eating a microwave burrito and drinking a can of sparks (malt liquor energy drink-a real classy bunch they were). I finally found out from the wife that he was basically brain dead from a car crash she had gotten them into 5 months earlier. It was a slow, bumpy, interesting ride.

So I'm posted in Seattle for the next couple days, doing laundry, sleeping on a couch and happy not to be wearing a backpack. After this its the Olympic Peninsula, then down to Oregon. Any and all recommendations are welcome. Love and miss you all. Until next time.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In the Bozone

Hello my friends. Thanks for tuning in once again. I'm in the public library in Bozeman, MT. This is a really cool little town where Montana State Uni is located. It hasn't been ravished by tourists yet but still has a slightly trendy yet outdoorsy kind of vibe. I'm staying with a friend of a friend. I rode in yesterday and called my friend Aaron Matto cuz he used to work on a ranch here in MT. I asked him if he still knew anyone here and he said ya, she lives in Bozeman. What luck. It's amazing how warm and welcoming strangers are when you get vouched for by good people. Let's get caught up.

After my flurry of activity in CO I rolled up into WY. I stayed at the KOA in Rock Springs the first night. For those who don't know, KOA is basically corporate camping. Gravel lots, showers, laundry, pool, gift shop, etc. Kind of a repulsing camping experience, especially when you consider who my neighbors were.

Rock Springs, like Vernal, is driven by oil and gas drilling. Every third car I saw was a Halliburton truck. The two guys camping next to me were fat brothers from Kentucky. When I rolled in at around 4pm they were sitting in their American flag chairs drinking Coors Original with several empties on the ground. They were bitching about how hard it is to find work. Here are some of the quotes that came from their campsite:
"We almost had jobs at this one place but they wouldn't hire us cuz my brother's got felonies. It's like, he already payed his fuckin dues so what the fuck."
"Hey, check out that chick. Shes a 3-6-9. 3 Minutus to talk to her, 6 minutes to f__k her, and 9 years in prison."
And my favorite "Well I guess I better brush my teeth and shit like that."

Leaving the next morning for Jackson Hole was refreshing. JH was the first small town I've passed through where I didn't have people to stay with or at least meet up with. I got there early and started scheming a place to stay. The hostel was full and hotel rooms were outrageous. My first thought was to head to the bar, and make friends with the bartender, then ask to camp in his back yard. The pitfall to that plan was that it didn't leave me with an alternative in case I had to ride somewhere else.

My next plan was flawless. I cruised into a river touring agency and offered the guides a case of beer to let me crash in the back of the shop or in one of their backyards. I know plenty of riverguides who would have jumped at this opportunity. In fact I don't think that any riverguide who's worth a damn would have turned down this offer. Alas it proved fruitless. Maybe they were nuns disguised as river guides.

I was kind of bummed that that method didn't pan out but it all turned out great cuz as I was riding to the nearest campground I saw my first ever bull moose grazing down by a river. Then a couple minutes later I saw two buffalo. Then I met a really cool BMW rider out at the campground. So what may have made a cool story turned out to be a cool story.

I spent the next three days hiking around in the Tetons. The peaks there are stunning. They got more snow this winter than they've had in over a decade so my backcountry trekking plans were foiled once more. So instead I just did some really long day hikes, one that landed me at a frozen alpine lake. Definitely went skinny dipping when no one was around. I'll try to upload the video of my shenanigans.

Following the Tetons I road up into Yellowstone. I stopped at the first visitor's center to get weather and trail conditions, wildlife sightings and campground availability. The place I wanted to camp that night hadn't filled yet but was about 30 miles away (it's a big park). I hauled ass over there, not stopping to fill up first. I almost shot myself in the foot on that one cuz when I got there the sign said "Campground Full". I went in anyway and the lady at the desk was able to pull some strings, had her manager do an override in the computer system, and snuck me into a small site in the way back. It was a great place to camp and the neighbors were awesome. I ended up hangin with them by their fire, talkin story and playing Egyptian Rat Screw (which I dominated). It turns out that one of the guys almost took an animation job with Don Bluth, to whom I am somehow related. Small world.

It just went from sunny to gale force winds and hail in a matter of 5 minutes in Bozeman. I hope my bike doesn't blow over. Crap. Holy shit. Bozeman is getting pounded right now. The hail hitting the tin roof of the library sounds like a freight train. People are gathering at the windows to watch this storm. The hail is huge and coming down in sheets. There's no way my bike is still upright. The entire ground outside is a blanket of white.

While in Yellowstone I saw Old Faithful Geyser, The Old Faithful Lodge (an impressive ancient structure built from logs and braun), "The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone", and countless other thermal features. One of my days there I was sort of listlessly riding (which I never do) to get to a trail head and saw some steam as I was coming around a bend. Unconciously my first thought was that it was a factory. But as I rounded the bend I saw that it was of course a vent in the ground releasing steam and not a factory at all. Kind of sad how conditioned we are. I must have really been out of it that day.

Yellowstone was cool but almost too crowded to enjoy. I sat in a line of about 60 cars so every single asshole in the park could stop traffic to take a picture of a buffalo by the side of the road. I stopped and took a picture of the buffalo. But at least I park and hike unlike 90% of park visitors. It's kind of disgusting.

After Yellowstone I headed here. Did a pretty cool hike to a mountain lake yesterday. The only advantage to the switchbacks being covered in snow is that you don't have to feel bad about degrading the mountain side when you cut the trail and just bomb straight up the hill. A couple of times my leg sunk all the way through the snow up to my waist. So I'm here for one more night then off to Glacier, which sources say is the prettiest park in the USA. Can't wait. Love you all and talk to you soon.


p.s. It's once again sunny in Bozeman.

Monday, July 14, 2008

CO in 10 days

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I've been in CO since the first day of July and it has been non-stop adventure. I camped the first couple of nights outside of Steamboat Springs then Granby, making my way into Denver on the 3rd. In Denver I reunited with some study abroad friends, one of whom was getting married on the 5th (the reason for the reunion). Denver was great; basically hung by the pool and got reacquainted with my good friends. The wedding was very nice and Dana looked gorgeous.
After Denver I came to Estes Park, where I am right now. My friend Josh, Maui roommate and homeboy I just stayed with in Utah, was in town seeing some friends so I met up with him and he introduced me. So much cool stuff has happened in Estes that I'm just going to bullet point it:
-Went to a Rockies baseball game
-Night climbed a place called Old Man Mountain and went through a gnarly technical cave in almost pitch black darkness (once again an advantage to hanging out with locals)
-Toured the Stanley Hotel, inspiration for Steven King's "The Shining" and the place where Dumb and Dumber was filmed. I sat at the bar where Jim Carrey sat and said "We landed on the moon!!"
-Summited a 12,800 ft peak, Mt. Chapin, in the Rockies
-Went to Fort Collins and did a free tasting at the New Belgium Brewery (the guys that brew Fat Tire).
-Went on the zip line at the YMCA, operated by this guy John Pickett, local legend.
-Hiked into Thunder Lake in the park then scrambled up to a place called Boulder-Grand Pass (12,250 ft) and crossed the continental divide.
-Went inner tubing down the Big Thompson with Pickett. Basically backcountry tubing with a six pack teathered to my tube and a long stick to push off the sides. Awesome.
-Went to a rodeo. Ya, calf roping and bull riding.
-Went climbing with a friend Quinn, total stunner local climber. After our repel back down the rope got snagged and she had to solo climb back up (no rope) to retrieve it. No problem.
So thats my story. Too much cool stuff is happening right now for me to even detail it all. I have a ton of cool pics but no time to post them right now. Stay tuned for that. I'm about to leave for Wyoming and check out the Tetons and Yellowstone. Love you all and I'll talk to you soon. Peace.


Friday, July 4, 2008


"I smell and I am constantly sweating and I havent looked in a mirror since I left the states but its fun and everyone is dirty and everyone smells."

-Cousin Mattie, on her exchange program in the Belize rainforest


New pics are finally up!! Check'em out!! Start with the one of a "Gas" signpost in the middle of the desert, then do a slide show from there. Holla.