On a personal note...

For those that want to see what's up with me and who are not all that enamored with Peak Oil.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

"There are no answers, only choices."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Eight years ago....

Some of you remember this. I once had a Geocities website; wrote the code myself as an html exercise in anticipation of my glorious career in Web Design. This was and e-mail based collection of a journey around the country I took with a friend of mine; a journey that lead me to San Francisco. I have not left since.

The Journey

On the ferry coming in..3/00

This is a rather lengthy e-mail account
of the journey around the U.S. that brought
me to San Francisco; a journey that lasted
a month and a half, and took
my friend Bryan Land and me across
8,000 miles of this beautiful country.

Today I slept in. After playing a bit with the internet. I decided it was time to begin chonicling my adventure..Obviously there are so many of you e-mail friends, that a good portion of this adventure will be batched to all of you (much to my friend Kerri's chagrin ). However, that is not to say that I will not write to each of you individually as electricity and phone
lines are permitted.....

First of all I will be traveling with old buddy Bryan Land. In spite of my passive efforts
to make this a group trip, it boils down to us two [ha, ha your loss :P ].

  1. Geographic Goals:
    1. Mom and Dad's (New Jersey, I'm here now)
    2. Daytona Beach (Bry's Dad)
    3. Denver/ Boulder/ Estes Park, Colorado (Tami's)
    4. Vegas
    5. Lake Tahoe
    6. San Francisco
    7. All points in between, preferably off interstate (thanks Gwen)...need to talk to
      Bry about this......
  2. Personal Goals:
    1. Write these chronicles.
      I am taking along my notebook computer. Provided I have access to electricity, I will be able to journal. As I come across residential phone lines I will be able to send to you all..
    2. Simplify my diet. I am too heavy for my own comfort; 181# ! That's ok when I have daily 1.5 hour workouts, but I have not! I have been very lazy lately. I have noticed that I feel healthiest at 155 to 160. Limited incomes go a long way to helping with this goal and so does vegetarianism. Yes, I am going to try being a vegetarian again, not with the fanaticism I had when did it before (let's face it, if someone goes all out to fix me a home cooked meal with meat...I'll eat it!)
    3. More practice with living fully in the moment.
      That's right, any and all plans are subject to instant change (particularly if my truck blows a head gasket!).

    So there you have it...adventures are great!.............M

    Hello everyone, what's new? What a gloomy day - several days. That's ok though. I have been involved in the huge project of condensing all my favorite music in the ongoing effort to compact myself for this trip (and this life).

    I have always wanted to do this..that is create mood tapes. So far, I have created a super funky workout tape, a tape of just really good mixed genre songs, and I am in the process of making what I call, meditative/hypnotic. Later additions will be a celtic tape and then a latin/flamenco/caribbean tape (or tapes). That should hold me.....

    The inspiration for my next grand adventure (after this one) occured in a camping store here in NJ. Over the years I have wanted to do this, but always had a reason not to. This day, while looking at all that cool camping gear with my Dad, the thought came to me, "now is the time." For what you ask?; to hike the Appalachian Trail.....all of it!...at once.!. After picking my dad's brain about it for awhile, I got on the web and found a 'mountain' (hee hee) of info on the trail especially a web site of personal observations of hikers.

    Doing the trail all the way through is called, logically, 'through-hiking'. The trail is 2,160 miles long and takes from four(record) to seven months to hike; I can do it in five or six. It should cost me no more than three grand, especially since I have mort of the gear already. Most people hike south(Georgia) to north(Maine) starting in February, but apparently there are hoards of people. Since I am more into solitude, I will hike north to south. Southbounders, like me, should begin there descent of great Mt. Katahdin in June. PERFECT! that gives me exactly one year to acquire the cash and train! Stay tuned....6.1.99.......>>>M

Went for a bike ride today...When I tell people that I am from New Jersey, invariably they scowl. I can tell what they are thinking; factories, smoke urban-suburban sprawl...Au contrair. For those of you that have never been to south jersey, it is damned near primordial, no kidding. The large expanse of forest known as the 'Pine Barrens' is, according to Dad, the most thinly populated stretch of the east coast. Today, I rode along the edge of the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge, a vast expanse of marsh that is home to many things, among them, Canadian geese and lots of horseshoe crabs (primordial, remember).

Truck is ready. Hooked up the CB today. Would you believe they still make the things! This is a hand held unit running off the truck battery. Almost finished with the mood tapes.........

Happy Mother's Day everyone. I am packed and ready. Dinner at my folks is always something special, especially the 'good-bye' dinner, and last night was no exception. Chicken Rellenos and Risotto, the new southwestern plateware, a nice wine. For dessert (on the back porch of course, there was a nice warm breeze) french coffee, chocolate cake, endless shots of Irish Mist and strains of Leo Kottke on 12 string in the background.

This morning, mom, dad and I had a nice mothers day breakfast at the Sunryder Restaurant,an old country general store turned eatery. Even though the weather has been crappy, something about the cool grey overcast sky lends to the feeling of home...

Well dear ones, from here on my e-mails will be sporadic as I must depend upon the mercy of homeowners to lend me their phone lines, so do not despair.....M

I am an explorer. In the ever consuming quest for definition of what I am, I can say that I am an explorer. Exploring is the common element in all that I do, and my unrest clearly occurs when I am NOT in an exploration mode.(e.g. working in a dead end job like waiting tables or a job like the Heritage, where there is very little personal growth). I must include in the definition of explorer, inner exploration, the discovery of the soul, my latest quest....Maybe the longing for the unknown, is a kind of reflection of the explorers heart.

About this inner exploration.. I've been reading Autobiography of a Yogi, and reading this has resparked a journey that I have picked up and dropped off and on since I can remember. The inner quest. The results of disciplined meditation and introspection. I must confess that I loose interest because the path seems so renunciate. I am learning something though; this is not necessarily the case. It would seem that some of the great masters had and have very productive lives, jobs and families.

here's lookin' at you kid

Let me describe the recipe for a most spiritual space. This is rather artificially created, yet it's effect, for me, is consistantly produced. Any of these ingredients of themselves, are great fun but it is the particular blend of which I speak. It involves a boat. In this boat, I am a passenger. I am in the front of the boat so that when it moves, much like the scene in Titanic, I see only the water ahead of me. The water is utterly calm so that there is no chop to disturb the peace. The sun is nearly straight overhead, so it is warm, nearly hot, except for the breeze created by the forward motion of the boat. Two beers. Yes, I know. But yes, two beers. Over the years, this blend has produced an effect in me that I can only describe as spiritual. Usually, boat rides like this follow the end of a job or living situation for me, so perhaps that free feeling is part of it all.

Today, Bryan's dad took us in his pontoon boat on a tributary of the St. John's river. All the aforementioned conditions were met. At one point, we came across a huge alligator called "Big Mama" who has apparently been known to attack boats. She (he?) did not do that today, however. We pushed the boat way down one branch of the river, observing the osprey, hawks, turtles, fern and the occasional alligator. Though it is not a very astounding observation, I realized that back when Jesus was doing his thing on Galilee, right here in this tributary, a day indistinguishable from today was going on.

Tomorrow I suspect we will visit Daytona beach and decide in what fashion we will head west. The tents have been tested, the trucks packed, CB's synchronized. We are ready...

Bryan at Estes Park

After some final preparations Bryan and I did end up going to Daytona Beach. Bry just remarked that the women we have been running across have been in their teens. The only one's we have met that are our age have been in the various Wal-Marts. Wip-dee-doo! Daytona was nice, a good driving beach.

We decided to avoid interstates as much as possible (thank you Gwen). This first segment out to St. George Island out of the panhandle of Fla, is no exception. Lots of Florida ranches and toward the end, a great drive right along the gulf coast. The campsite is out on the dunes with a completely deserted beach right over the hill. The only downside is the bugs! Horseflys and no-see-ums! ouch!

Our set up and break down time is pretty fast from the start, and only getting faster. This days travel has only been 150 miles or so because the goal is the Florida caverns in Marianna. We're opting for the lantern tour which occurs at night. Quite amazing. We of course lead the group (or at least the guide lets us think we are!.)

Today. Quick break down. We do some interstate to make up for lost mileage. We are going so fast that we realize we can make it to Tupelo, the town Elvis was born in, on route to Memphis and St. Louis. And here we are sipping Rum and cokes about to go for a walkabout with the videocam.

ElvisPresleyLand was quite a sight. This man is Deified! While standing next to the wall in front of Graceland, a wall plastered with the scrawl of thousands of devotees, I remarked to Bryan that the two of us may be the only people, ever, to stand here and not give a shit about Elvis. Now I admire the man, but it stops there; admiration. We drove until tiring, just shy of St Louis. Don't forget that we have two little CB's tuned to channel 31. These have been great for communicating observations or just general plans. Unfortunately there were no state parks by this tiring point, but there was a KOA. I thought it might be a mistake but we found a site that when turned around, that is, facing the woods and away from endless winnebagos was splendid.

This morning, I awoke to the sight of hundreds of Cicadas in various stages of molt. I know that they only come out every 15 years, but if they were not cicaydas they were kissin cousins. A cicayda (If I even spelled it right) is a large, locust like insect about an inch and a half to two inches long. They are harmless, particularly while molting, where they become lethargic. I actually felt kind of attached to them after watching these creatures in various stages so I went around pulling them off the trucks and tent and set them in the woods. Leaving camp around 10:00am we went to the St. Louis Arch, a site I have zipped past before on my westward travels but never stopped to see; pretty amazing is all I can say. There is a museum undernieth the arch underground. After that we picked up I-70 west for a few hundred miles and found a neat little deserted campground situated near a lake just east of Kansas City.

Went for a jog this morning by the lake. Showers are immaculate here but they only have HOT! water.
Drove 300 miles today, which gives us about that much left to Denver. Because of the sparcity of state parks we again opt for a KOA in Wakeena, Kansas. And as we did last time, we found the best site. Right now, I am looking at what must be hundreds of acres of wheat. It is still green and only about two feet tall. The campsite sits right up against it. This KOA has a pool and hot tub which Bryan and I just took advantage of. One interesting feature about time zones I have observed. There is a drastic difference in the placement of the sun on one end of a time zone compared to the other end. For instance, here I am in central time 100 miles from the edge of the mountain time zone. It is 8:00 pm and the sun still has at least another 30 minutes before sunset! I'm still looking for shade. Yet, the 8:00 pm central time (same zone) back in Missouri - Indiana is in total darkness. Oh yes, a future side adventure: A mutual friend of both Bry and me, Jimbo (from Martha's), has land in Alaska, we've been invited. He's planning to homestead. I have always heard that money is good in Alaska, depending on what you do.

Made it to Denver! The only mishap (besides setting my hand on my open glasses and breaking the earpieces off), was that my truck cover began to rip. Once we got to camp though I stitched it up. We camped at a lame state park outside Denver - winnebago haven. Today was a combination of running errands and sightseeing. Since this is old stomping ground, I knew where to go. I paid a surprise visit to Cafe Paradiso where I was once a waiter (the only waiter). The owner said, "When's the last time you boys had a decent meal?" we both had to think. Next thing you know there are two glasses of Merlot, followed by Fresh Roma tomato soup and Chicken Francaise, on the house! They are trying to bribe me back. It rained tonight.

At this point we had visions of sleeping our cars. It is now friday of Memorial Day weekend, campsites are hard to find. On the way out of the Denver site though we found one available in the same campground, so we stayed another day. Saw the movie. Deep Impact; Pretty heavy. More errands.

estes park

Today we had to leave, which was fine with us. And so..... on through Boulder to Estes Park where we are to drop off my truck with my friend Tami. It is always mind blowing heading into the Rockies. We get so used to the flatness around us. Tami could not house us so we were on our own, in a tourist town, on memorial day weekend. As luck or destiny would have it, we found the most amazing campsight. Tall peaks all around, it is really too much to describe the beauty and rawness around this area. All of Estes Park is like this. No contact with Tami yet. That's alright, we sit around the campfire and sing girlscout songs.......just kidding.

What a beautiful morning, blue sky, large peaks, but rather cold. The good weather doesn't last long, however; scattered thunderstorms. Finally I reach Tami and the three of us have lunch. Estes Park is so beautiful that I begin seriously questioning her on the details of working this town as a waiter. Tami, a tall beautiful blonde who proudly just turned 40, is delighted to be a waitress. She has one of the most cheerful demeanors of anyone I've known. Waitressing, for her, is a passport to anywhere, and she is right; good waiter/waitress can have cash inside a day of finding a new job and there are jobs available all over the country. Tami engages in sport called 'trail running'. Sounds grueling doesn't it? It is!

The tent we are using sleeps potentially five. Inside, each end of the tent is divided into private zippered compartments with a common living area, front and back door and overhead storage. We can set this up in ten minutes, tops. Alas, we must leave our lovely site. On the way out, we have lunch at Tami's place and then take a back road to the interstate, I-70 and head west. I-70 through Colorado has some of the most beautiful canyons vistas; the Colorado River has done her work!

We left early today. The trip west was filled with canyons and endless mountains ranges. Most of Nevada on highway 50 is at 7000 feet which meant a lot of snow! We decided to drive all the way to the edge of Lake Tahoe (750miles) and motel it for a night, which means I have found the holy grail - a phone line...........to be continued..

Today after doing some much needed laundry (my first load yet!), we left for Lake Tahoe. As we descended into Tahoe Valley Bryan was getting giddy with excitement. He used to live here when he was little so we spent a little time looking around where he used to live and hang out. At one of these locations, a seven-11, Bryan found $30 on the floor which means, you guessed it, another night in a motel!. I only sound happy because it has been unseasonably cold here and there were actually a few flurries on the way in. We check into a nice little place (much better than the rat trap in Carson City) that has a year round hot tub outside. After a meal at the corner Irish Pub, Bryan and I check out this place called Eagle Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. The Falls cascade at least a thousand feet from its apex, Eagle Lake high up in craggy cliffs, to its terminus in Emerald Bay. We hiked down a little way (which was more like rock climbing than hiking) and then on up to a point above where we parked. We vow to come back tomorrow as there is a mansion at the base of the falls built in 1920's. After the hike we meandered on to the hot tub and met Ann and Suzie from Maple Lake, Minnesota. Two very nice girls and, of course, we being two very nice guys, we hit it off well and ended up boring them with stories (and video) of the road. At around 1:00am Ann and Suzie said goodnight and the two of us went off to the casinos. We quickly figured that the waitresses give you comp drinks when you first arrive on the scene. Therefore, make short appearences in each casino. After five casinos we were fairly lit. Toward the end of the evening Bryan had hit one of the slots well; the pan was full of quarters. .......

After getting up pretty late and checking the weather channel, we opt for another motel night. They are predicting record lows and snow all over our target camp area. Without the campsite cooking facilities, my diet is crap; canned soup and bread, complementary donuts. But, true to my original goals, I have remained vegetarian and have had no caffiene since this all began weeks ago. Off to Eagle Falls again. It is snowing and the rocks are wet but we hike down anyway, all the way to the shore of Emerald Bay and the old Mansion at the bottom. The house was built with a viking motif and is rather haunting (if not haunted!). An inner court contains some of the ancient pines in the area. I counted 341 rings on one huge pine that had been sawed clean. We took the switchback trail out and met another group of women whom we shared wine with (Bryan snuck a bottle in his backpack). The weather is bad now, lots of snow. Back at the motel we hang out in the hot tub for at least three hours drinking beer and eventually bourbon and cokes. There are big flakes coming down now and accumulating! That's all right, it's 105 in the tub. No casino tonight.

Our plan was to leave today, but the forcast is for another cold crappy day. After some reluctance (worrying about the money) , Bryan convinces me we should stay one more time since he thinks we will be staying with friends from here on.
One more night then. This morning our objective is to hike around Fallen Leaf Lake, near Lake Tahoe. Driving around the lake road is something; a one lane road on a steep hillside, but there are beautiful houses built up and down the slope. We find the trailhead and begin. The hike is punctuated with heavy, windy snowfalls and periods of warm sunshine. There is appears to be an indian tipee farther down the shore of the lake. After sipping someTurning Leaf Merlot on a sunny boulder, we discovered we could not find the trailhead out. Eventually we did, went back to the room and then out to a Sizzler. Apparently this chain is alive and well out west. Later, we hit the hot tub and, yes, the casinos. This time while I regulated myself pretty well, Bryan did not. We survived though.

We are definitely leaving today! While Bryan gets ready I watch an old Eastwood movie. On the way out, we stop at a good photograph site in Tahoe and have one last snowball fight. We leave the Sierras behind and for the first time in over a week we see only hills. Many of these hills have windmills, hundreds of them. They actually look ugly. California! Suddenly everything is at least ten percent higher in price! So much for living here. We get to Lisa's place in Castro valley, one of the people we intend to sponge off of (just kidding mom). I am finding that this area looks like what I imagined California to be; palm trees, hills, varied architecture and police. We get a pizza and do some shots and beer. Tomorrow we intend to visit Napa Valley and camp out there overnight.

I don't know about you, but I get up with the sun. If there is just a little sun or a lightening of the ski with the morning, I am up; even if I have only had a few hours sleep. Needless to say I amd the first one up. This morning Lisa made french toast and it was great! We reduced some of the payload in the cab of the truck so three people could fit comfortably. That being done it is off to the Napa valley! An hour and a half later we are there. As we enter the valley I am reminded of pictures of Italy; Lush, steep, rolling hill dotted with cattel or sheep and strung, as if with a giants necklace, with rows of grapevines. Before finding a campground we have time for one winery; Robert Mondavi. An excellent choice because, we learn, that Robert Mondavi, after splitting with his family, has been responsible for most of the innovations in wine making since the sixties. The whole of Napa valley became 'discovered' soon after he started his production. The tour was great, I fleshed out much of my knowledge of wine production during this tour. At the end, under a lush grape arbor, our group sampled Mondavi's Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a delicious dessert wine, Moscato D'Oro. The Mondavi tour was the best we were to encounter, so I highly recommend it. We found the campground, and picked a site by a roaring stream. For dinner I usually have a salad, a BIG salad. I don't remember if I mentioned it but I brought a very large salad bowl. Later that night played a card game called Uno. Good night.

Today we broke camp after the usual breakfast of eggs and grits; and off to the wineries. Our first stop is Mumm's. Mumm's makes champagne, or rather, sparkling wine (champagne is French). That was delightful, sipping sparkling wine in the warm California sun while overlooking the lush hills of Napa valley. We visited many more wineries that day and sampled liberally. Eventually we headed back to Lisa's place.

Today we just hung around Lisa's place. As I may have mentioned before, Lisa lives outside the city in the east bay area. Our destination within the city is our friend Hope's place. Hope has been working a few doubles, so we'll see her tomorrow. The three of us went out to see Godzilla today and later ordered a pizza for dinner.

Today the plan is for all three of us to take Lisa's car into the city and bum around until Hope is available. The first site we see is the Golden Gate Bridge. Man is it big; and high up too! I threw a nickel over the edge and it took nine seconds to hit the water. We then drove on to the Fisherman's Wharf area. This is a big tourist area with lots of bars, food, scenic shots, (including Alcatraz) and seals, or sea Lions I should say. A whole pier is devoted to these animals and their antics and boy are they funny. On to Hope's place....

We find Hope's place after weaving through the city. I spot her right away looking for us out her second story apartment window, one of those corner windows that juts way out, with five or six panes, giving a panorama of 9th and Irving in the sunset district. Hope used to work with Bryan and me at Martha's, a fine dining restaurant in south Florida. How to describe Hope; tall, beautiful, long black trusses of braided hair; witty and one of the funniest women I have ever known. We get the tour of her place and it is the biggest apartment I have ever personally seen. Up the stairs from the street, one enters a long hallway of old dark wood floors and walls. There are four large bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen, laundry room and large living room area with that big bay window and a fireplace! $600 a month! That is just insane! She works half a block away, right next to her gym. Everything is there; who needs a car. The three of us, along with Hope and her friend Laura (another unbelievably funny woman) all go across the street to a swank restaurant to cap off the evening. Bryan and I stayed the night at Hopes and Lisa went back.

In the morning hours Hope wanted to see a movie at home so we all snuggled in bed (no not that way, more like a bunch of kids). After a nice lunch Hope had to go to work and we bid our goodbyes. Bryan and I toured the usual traps; the trolley, fisherman's wharf (again), several of the local bars on into evening. As we walked, seeing the beautiful city lights and thinking of Hope's open-ended invitation we decided to stay another day in the city. We got severely lost but did not care. Eventually we found Hope's place and crashed.

Hope is doing a double today, so Bryan and I bid our goodbyes again but not after having lunch at her restaurant Nine Avenue. After that we walked and walked; botanical gardens in Golden Gate Park and around the University (general girl watching). I wanted to see the "pyramid" building (Transmedia Tower) so we bussed down into the financial district bummed for awhile and eventually got on the BART (bay area rapid transit) back to Lisa's and called it a night.

Lisa is leaving for work early today. She does and I get involved with the e-mail thing while Bryan tries to reconfigure Lisa's incorrectly connected stereo system. Bryan also made her a video of our more recent adventures (you remember that we are videotaping much of this). That being done and a stop at the grocery store, we make a late start. I am driving and our objective is the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Soon we see it, and let me tell you, the Pacific is magnificent. Maybe it is the unusual calmness of the water today or the fact that we are a thousand feet above it, but it looks like a plane of glass stretching unguessable miles in every direction. The PCH winds its way along the cliff edges of the coast, sometimes dangerously. We stop to look maybe seven times. At one location closer to the water I spot what appear to be life forms on the beach. We pull off and find that they are Elephant Seals up on the sand. They are very tame and we could touch them but for all the signs promising jail time if we did. It is getting dark and way past time to find a campsite. With the weekend there are slim pickin's, but eventually we find one. Anyone watching us set up camp would consider us masters; it is night and we are able to set up camp with no light and not one word to each other, all within fifteen minutes!

Today we break camp very early and continue down the fabulous coast highway. We had been told by an enthusiastic ranger that the western side of this coastal mountain range is in perpetual air conditioning.....he's right! It is very cold this morning. Even more twisting and convoluted than the PCH is California road 58 west towards Las Vegas; a crazy road. We reach the Mojave Desert. It is quite beautiful in its desolation. Many species of sage and lovely rocks. Nine hours from camp we are in Las Vegas. Seems pretty glitzy, we'll find out tomorrow night. After some searching we find the home of Bryan's 'aunt' and 'uncle' Peg and Gene. They live in a lovely Spanish style home on the outskirts of Vegas. Peg and Gene are great hosts. We walk in to the smells of thanksgiving dinner and are soon enjoying just that; turkey and all the trimmings! Now this is why I will forever more be a 'situational vegetarian'. During the seven years when I was a strick vegetarian, I would actually turn down a meal like that which was before me. It was always embarrasing and immediately brought on the endless defensive questions and answers. My rule now is; Although I practice vegetarianism, should a well intentioned stranger prepare me a meal out of the kindness of their heart, not knowing my restrictions, I will eat of it with gusto, and without a word; even if it is a steak. Dinner, a shower and shave and I feel good. Time to e-mail again and sleep.

This morning Bryan and I awake to the smell of bacon. We laugh; "Gee Wally, should we make the beds before we go to breakfast?", "I dunno Beav, mom always does it for us." Sure enough, aunt Peg says, "Now you boys don't bother making the beds, I'll take care of that." We eat a huge breakfast of eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and toast. Did we help with the dishes. Nooooo, she wouldn't hear of it. After that they took us on a tour of the high points of downtown Las Vegas; Ceasar's Palace (it must be a mile long) and some of the notable manufacturing that goes on here such as Ocean Spray, and Ethyl M chocolates. Bryan and I eventually made our own way to the Strip. As with San Francisco, we walked forever. And as with Lake Tahoe, we took advantage of the free drinks! Because of the severe competition of casinos, the draws that have been created to attract the public go beyond amusement parks. Even I was impressed and that takes a lot! We made it back by 2:00 am.

This morning Peg and Gene took us to the breakfast buffet at the Sahara. Remember the customer draws I was mentioned?; food is one of them. All you can eat for $3.49! We came back home and that brings me up to the present moment.


I know I have said this before but it might be awhile again before I can e-mail. I don't anticipate another phone line. In fact it might be when I am working somewhere and have a phone of my own. So there will be one last adventure entry coming to you, probably way after the events therein. At that point, this batch of e-mail friends, you people that have been traveling with us on these adventures, will be disbanded. Don't worry, I'll write you individually (if you write back.)

Future Plans:
After this Vegas visit we will head down to the grand canyon. From there it's on to Albequerque and back to Denver. I will pick up my truck from Tami and then Bryan will make a decision about what he is doing. As for me...................I am drawn to San Francisco. I still want to check out Albequerque, however; I am drawn to the desert presently. I thought I would settle again in the Denver/ Boulder area, and that still is an option for me, but I have done this before and I'm not into repeating patterns. Whatever I do will only be for a year. Do not forget I will be hiking the Appalachian Trail in '99.......

Well tootles for now.............................Mike (and Bryan)

After leaving aunt Peg and uncle Gene's place
we went back into Las Vegas to get some of the
video footage we missed due to a dead battery.

up at Quark's bar (from the set of Star
Trek's Deep Space Nine), stayed much to long and
decided to stay just one more day in Las Vegas.
So we found a cheap room, a cheap buffet and called
it a night.

Of course we have a buffet breakfast! $3.49 a.y.c.e. Drive to Hoover
dam. Wow this thing is big! We happen to be there at the one day in
twenty years that the spillways have been opened. El Nino has given
Lake Mead a lot of water. The water gushing from the openings at the
base makes them look like a pair of rocket engines. Soon we head off
toward the Grand Canyon and stop at a KOA just outside of the park.

Today we drive into the G.C. park after a leisurely morning and pitch camp. We find the grocery store and load up. Since 7:45 is sunset here we decide to wait 'til then to real see the canyon. See the canyon we did, perched on a ledge thousands of feet off the ground, colors changing all around us. There are many people out here and there is an almost religious silence as the sun sets; people are actually whispering.

Looking down the Angel Bright Trail

All over the place in the Grand Canyon are signs telling potential trail hikers that they may not survive. Helicopter evacuations will cost you $2100; mule evacs run around $150;The biggest factor is the heat. Up on the rim it is cool but 3000 to 5000 feet down it can reach 110 degrees. We chose a "strenuous" trail called the Angel Bright. From the rim it drops 3060 feet in 4.5 miles down to a little grove of trees which look so tiney from up here. Down we go. The trail is well maintained, very dusty and because of the mule trains that travel the trail, covered with mule shit in varying degrees of dryness. While the decent is steep. it is not straight down; there are many 'switch-backs' to make it manageable. I knew it was going to be rough getting back up though since after an hour and a half the descent is still steep. At the tree grove we opt to go another 1.5 miles to the "point" which hangs over the Colorado River another 1500 feet below. Magnificent views. We had been preped to bring lots of carbs and water. I take a nap on a ledge. There are many people hiking this trail, even out to the piont which makes it 12 miles round trip. Now the journey back. Until just past the grove of trees, it is pretty level but the incline is tough. I began timing the intervals of walk to break time. the best we can do is fifteen minutes hike to three minute break. It took us five hours to reach the rim! I am sobered by the fact that on the Appalachian trail I will often have altitude changes like that in addition to a 40 pound pack and another eight miles added each day ! After we hobbled back to the tent we met our two new female neighbors Shannon and Melissa, and helped them set up. Chivalry is not dead.

This morning after breakfast we chat with our neighbors some more, exchang e-mail addresses and say good-bye. The soreness created by the hike yesterday has firmly set in. On the way out we stop by Crater National Park, situated at the base of a very young dead (900 years) volcano. Seeing us just step out of the car must be hilarious; two little old men hobbling around. We are in no mood for a hike and soon leave. Drive all the way to Albuquerque. In our sore state relaxing in a hot tub sounds better than setting up a tent so we find a motel with one. I sleep very well this night.

Exploring Albuquerque was one of my objectives for this trip because I have thought for quite awhile that I would like to live there. Although I like the desert and would like to experience more of it, Albuquerque is disappointing. This city seems to lack the energy that I like about cities. I interview, albeit briefly, some of the Wild Oats employees (had to visit these stores too). They seemed to concur; this town is dead. Northward ho! After passing through a quaint little Colorado town called Trinidad, the weather starts getting wicked. Then, passing by Pikes Peak, we get stuck in traffic from the Pikes Peak Speedway which is just letting out. We make it to a KOA outside Pueblo which, again, has a hot tub.

Today the drive takes us all the way to Estes Park, but not before pulling off to visit the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. Here there are cafes, restaurants, book stores (small exotic ones), mountain gear shops and people playing guitars or violins or drums wherever you look! I
feel the old itch to live and work here but I resist. I've tried this before; many obsticles. My destiny is elsewhere, at least for now. We meet up with Tami and arrange to pick up my truck tomorrow. While we get the same campground in Estes, the site we had before is taken. No biggie, the view is still spectacular.

I am up early (as usual) and I spot an Elk not thirty feet from the campsite just nibbling away not caring about me. We have a BIG breakfast (our last in camp) and break camp. After picking up my truck and hooking up the CB's we head to Denver to find a cheap hotel; except there is no such thing. We drive around town for hours. Denver either has raosch infested crack motels of executive hotels. We opt for the cheapest of the latter catagory, a brand new Motel 6 which actually has modem ports for people like me with lap tops. Bryan's truck is begining to make some nasty noises, and with the trip ahead of him, it will have to be taken to a garage tomorrow. If you have not guessed by now, I have decide to move to San Francisco. Albuquerque was a dud; Tahoe - too small for me; Estes - too seasonal (I want to stay put for a year). It is more expensive but my needs are few and the jobs, plentiful.

Bryan's truck to the shop today. The mechanic seems to think it is just an unbalance drive shaft; nothing to worry about. We do laundry and I have a nice chat with my sister Lynne in NY. She and her husband Peter are about to embark on their own adventure by moving to England. You can guess where I will be visiting! Pizza and lots of HBO movies tonight!

Another one of my objectives for this trip has been to liquidate my storage unit in Denver. For over two years now I have been maintaining a small apartments worth of stuff in storage. Kitchen, bath, bedroom stuff, books; I have used them on occasion but I never seem to stay in Colorado very long. One option could be to actually use the the stuff; get a job and a place to live. But you know me, I need new horizons and I am not spending $500 + to move it all to San Francisco. Hello Disabled American Veterans Thrift Stores. It took twelve hours but I did it. What I am taking with me, some clothes and bedding, will actually only take up half my pickup. That and the four small boxes I will be mailing to mom and dad and you are looking at a man who has accomplished one of his goals; to have as close to no posessions as possible. I do not have a thing against owning stuff, that is if I have a place and use for all of it. As mobile as I am and want to be, as uncertain as my upcoming living situation is, and with the appalachian trail looming, I have no business owning so many things. I had anticipated being alone during this unloading process; doing this kind of thing requires much focus. When Bry decided that he wanted to help I didn't know how this would work out. But it works out great! Not only is he able to take some of my little stuff (you always feel good when you can give things to a friend rather than a semi-appreciative charity), but we are actually able to tie my ex-futon to his truck! At one point, while somberly looking through memorabilia, and looking at the second truckload of my things soon to be owned by anonymous people, Bryan comes over with a six pack. Breaktime! Discovering the dregs of a bottle of Ouzo that my friend Becky had brought me from Greece, we drink toasts to the adventure and to the unknown future. A salad bar for dinner and we cap off the last evening of this grand adventure by reviewing recent video of the trip. Tomorrow I will load up my truck, mail some boxes, Bryan will be off to Florida and I to the west....always the west.....Good bye my friends (for now).......Mike


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