Monday, October 01, 2007

good old Antarctica

A friend who is currently living/working in Antarctica sent me these recent pictures.

The first is an aurora and the 2nd is of the lunar eclipse that occured in August.

Scuba in the NW???

I have been scuba diving for 8 years and I never thought about diving in the pacific northwest. I don't even think it entered my mind....well, I somehow stumbled into a great group of divers here and they invited me along for a weekend of coooold water diving. After a bit of hesitation I found myself at the dive shop trying on serious wetsuits and saying the words " I am going diving in cold water". The best part for me was that 3 friends were coming along for the experience. Rob & Alison are longtime tropic divers and this was going to be just as new to them as myself.

The diving was ok...we poured ourselves into large amounts of rubber and survived the 52 degree water temps!! I didn't mind the diving as much as I did wearing all the extra gear! In the tropics you are fine wearing shorts/shirt. Here in the NW you must wear either a dry suit or a 14mm suit, boots, gloves, and the worst part a tight thick hood.

"Sunrise Beach"

Rob, Alison, Me & Cindy
This was great!! We turned our weekend of cold into a reunion. Alison, Rob & I are all friends from Kwajalein. Alison, Cindy & I all spent time and actually were roommates in Antarctica at sometime. So it was so great to all be together and get caught up. Our "beach resort" had bunk beds and it was very familiar to being roomates on the ice.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Burning Burning Man

I participated, survived and didn't die. I think that's what the t-shirt says.

I did have a wild, wild, wild week of mind blowing fun in the desert.

Burning Man is put on once a year in the north/west area of rural Nevada. This year there were 47,000 other crazies flying their freak flags for the week long festival.

Burning Man is many things, this was the 21st year of the event. Its a temporary city, its an incredible art museum, its a test of community to live together under harsh conditions, its a party, its a ton of work, its expensive, its a week of anything goes, its an experiment and its also the biggest leave no trace event in the world.

It was a different year....a few things happened this time that I had not seen in my previous trip to BRC 2 years ago. On Monday the man was burned down (5 days early) in a big case of arson. This was the same night as the full moon & the full lunar eclipse.

Thursday & Friday we got a reminder from mother nature that she also likes to play in the desert. She treated us to 65 mph winds/full white out conditions but then delivered rain & double rainbows for dessert.

Here are a few pictures from the week...

Dad trying some of the faux fur on and getting in the spirit. I think you will see pictures of him out there enjoying the craziness next year.

You have to have dust mask/goggles with you all the time. You just never know when you will find yourself in a storm.

In Antarctica this would be a "condition 1". It went from blue skies to a sand whiteout in a matter of minutes.

The dessert after the storm. This really was unbelievable, a double rainbow in the desert!!!

Some of the large performance art pieces out on the playa. These monkeys were swinging around the bars being powered by people pedaling stationary bikes!!
We were able to take this "art car" for a ride but it only went in reverse...night time is all about keeping warm, this year I took quite a bit of faux fur outfits
my address this year, we were on 9:30 & Arctic. The event is set up like a clock from 2:00-10:00 and then streets go from A-E and the names correspond with the theme of the year.
wind, wind and more windbefore a storm
after a storm

This was one of the most impressive pieces of art on the playa this year. There were 7 giant people sculptures representing each continents dependency on oil. The people shot fire out of their hands & mouths. The oil tower was 7 flights of stairs high and you could climb to the top. At the end of the week they set fire to the tower and it was the biggest explosion & mushroom cloud I have ever seen. This is Sabrina getting interviewed for gnome adoption. She passed and became the proud parent of Bobby Bu. I also adopted and now am looking after "Scuba".
This is Bobby Bu & Scuba
another impressive piece of art....its 2 real semi truck cabs somehow stuck together

you can really get and send mail from the BRC post office. although to get a stamp takes about 7 forms and a few hours of bribes. its very postal!!

this was a fun block long thing you ride your bike a car wash of ribbons

The "Thunderdome" where people in bungee harnesses fight each other with Nerf noodles. You can stand on the dome structure and watch it...its really wild!!!
This is me and my good friend Sabrina trying to look tough because we are at the thunderdome. I think we did pretty good despite wearing pink & gold.
Dad hooked me up with food for the week! He made 7 meals and put them in labeled ziploc bags. I think people would pay him to take care of all their burning man food preparation.
It was definitely HOT, HOT, HOT. This was 5:00 pm and it was 131 F in my tent.

some more random art
These are two of my oldest friends with me, Tammy & Sabrina....this was Tammys 5th trip down & Sabrinas 6th.

The man burns...for the 2nd time in the same week!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sunny Oregon

I am in the suburbs of America. Its full of healthy dogs, kids, garage sales, people doing yardwork, shopping in strip malls, picnics and barbecues.

I have been here 3 weeks and have spent the majority of that time getting ready to leave again. This trip is short, only 8 days. I leave tomorrow to head to Burning Man in Northern Nevada for a week of wild times in the desert. If you have never heard of Burning Man then check out and if you happen to be heading that way yourself then come say hello at the Astral Vortex camp on 9:30 & Arctic.

A few recent pictures of the happenings around Portland

This is Buttercup, she has a twin brother named Bruno. They are about 4 months old and will be HUGE!!
My good friend Julie "Sausage"...we have been good friends for 15 years!!
My roommates (mom & dad) painting a hat I brought home from Vietnam. I could not take a plain white hat to Burning Man, so they are getting it all ready.
My good friend Andee, we worked together on Johnston Island & Kwajalein. She happened to be in one of my favorite places for a few hours (the airport!). It was strange being there and actually parking a car and then leaving in the car. I am used to being the one who is flying out.
My change at Trader Joes was $7.77 and so I had to buy some lottery tickets.

This is my good friend Alison who lives in Eugene. We worked together on Kwajalein and were also roommates on the big dead continent of Antarctica. We had a fun night in the state capital of Salem (which if you switch the letters around is the word LAMES). We had a great laugh going to the capital building at 11 pm at night, sitting on the steps and pledging allegiance to Oregon while playing lottery tickets.

Off to Burning Man....come back in 10 days or so for some crazy pictures!!!!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Its been a fun 5 month trip!!

People always ask "what was your favorite" so that got me thinking....and thought I would put down a few of the trip stats.

In the past 5 months we
  • visited 4 countries, 25 different cities/islands and slept in 35 different hotels

  • had fried rice for breakfast numerous times

  • learned how to ride a motor scooter

  • learned how to say hello & thank you in 4 languages

  • learned how to bargain over pennies in 4 languages

  • learned that "air conditioned bus" means bus with windows that don't open an 45 extra people inside & on the roof

  • got severe food poisoning 1 time

  • learned that everything in Asia is "same same but different"

  • learned that girls that look like girls are often boys

  • did about 60 dives in Thailand and a few in Vietnam

  • averaged about $30 USD per day (that is without any of scuba diving or additional plane tickets)

  • time spent: 3 months

  • favorite towns: Pai (northern) and the islands in the south...they were wonderful!!!

  • least favorite: Pattaya

  • best diving: Similian Islands

  • worst diving: Pattaya & Ko Chang due to visibility

  • time spent: 2 weeks

  • favorite: Luang Prabang & swimming in the waterfalls

  • least favorite: Phonsovan/Vietienne

  • This was the cheapest country we visited
  • time spent: 2 weeks

  • favorite: Phnom Phenn
  • time spent: 1 month

  • favorite: Hoi Ann & Halong Bay

  • least favorite: the rest of the country

  • this was the most expensive of the 4 countries

Thats about it! It was a fun adventure and I am glad I had the chance to go. I am off to Oregon today via Hong Kong and dont really have a plan. Burning Man is the end of the month and then my calendar is pretty wide open!

Wheres next? Well....I am thinking the next big multi month trip will be more of Central America. Would love to go diving in Belize, see more of Mexico & Nicaragua

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Its all Business

Six years ago when I was in Bangkok I upgraded my return flight back to Hawaii. I went to the airport and was sitting on my backpack in the business class check in line. An employee came from behind the counter and and said "you are in the wrong line, coach is down there" and pointed. Well I very quickly whipped out my business class ticket and assured him I had read the signs and that I was in the correct line.

For this trip I also upgraded my economy seat to business class using frequent flyer miles. (well worth the 15,000 miles it takes). I am curious if I get the same reaction this time, I have the exact same backpack, same dreadlocks and all in all look like a poor backpacker and not somebody who fly's business class.

Full Moon Party

The island of Ko Pha Ngan is world famous for its full moon parties. We have also learned they have 1/2 moon, no moon & after moon parties. Basically Ko Pha Ngan is a party with a moon theme 36 times a year.
We made the trek to the island for the July 31st full moon party. We were not alone, thousands and thousands of other people migrated on the beach. Because I didn't want to loose my camera we got smart and took a disposable so pictures will actually have to be developed. I hope places still do that...

This is the "before" picture, I guarantee you this was dramatically different to the "after" picture. I thought it would be a good idea to drink "3 buckets" and then get up early for a boat back towards Bangkok. This morning was rough and if I could have just flown off on my broomstick I would have. Instead I spent hours sitting on this pier in the hot sun waiting and waiting for a boat that "was just a few minutes late" to pick us up.

more pictures from the party soon, it really was a good and memorable time!