Wednesday, October 26, 2011

nyc 2 & Philly

My parents went to Puerto Rico for a week, which is kinda why I am here to babysit by baby. I spent the week mostly alone. I have not had a night to myself for a whole month. I have not had an apartment to myself since I left PDX in February. It was so nice to eat when I wanted to, not clean up after myself right away, and be on my own schedule. The following weekend, we all headed to Philly to visit my brother while the parents help him work on his house.

I’ve been researching environmental education volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica. I am still interested in ecotourism, but I like the idea of education. I want to get experience teaching and working with kids as that’s a requirement for most park ranger positions for the National Park. I don’t want to go back to school, so I hope volunteering is a loophole. I’ve been hearing great things about costa rica despite how American and touristy it has become. I also have two sets of friends who just moved down there.
I also reopened my Peace Corps application. Had to redo my dental exam, get a new reference and submit a new motivational letter explaining why I deferred in January. They don’t have programs till April-July. I can still say no, but figured I’d see where this takes me. It’s a good long term career and life experience. I get to live and work abroad for 27 months. Hopefully, I can do either environmental nonprofit work or teaching/education. Should know more by Feb.

Click here for pix.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Alaska: Living Simple is not Simple - Article voting

I wrote an article for an ecotourism contest, you can read and vote for it by clicking here (voting button is to the right of the article). The top three travel stories will win an ecotour trip. I've never done anything like this and it's strange to me that all these contests now are about friends/popularity than the actual quality of what is being judged.

The article is a combination of blog entries and photo captions from my time in Alaska in July. It still took time to piece it all together, but it's nice to have a comprehensive account. I've been slowly working on putting all my Alaska blog entries and photo captions together, which is harder than I anticipated. Anyway, thanks as always for reading! More news coming soon.

P.S. Some of you may not know that I send a short weekly green tips email, leave a comment here if you'd like to join the group!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

NYC - Not so much for me

As I get older, I get more disconnected from the city that raised me. I can’t relate to the people, lifestyle, noise, and negative energy. I now remember the reasons I left five years ago.  It always a strange feeling visiting "home". The past 4.5 yrs in PDX, I changed so much and these past 7 months has been a life experience like no other. This city has also changed, the village was moving from punk/metal to yuppies. Sometimes we just grow apart and that's ok.

There’s tons of trash on the streets and plastic bags discarded left and right.  It pains my heart to see so much disrespect for our land. On every street there’s shopping and consumption to be had. People buying things they think they need. I, too, was one of them. Now passing by the stores, I don’t even look. I feel good to not waste more money on more stuff that I don’t need.

Ok, so there’s a few good things here too. I love walking here. The old buildings are magnificent. Now, I have time to walk slow and w/o an end goal. Taking photos is free entertainment for me. And of course, there’s great food to be had as well. My stomach is expanding: Chinese, Indian, pizza, cannoli. I want to cook while saving money; it’s a tricky balancing act that I have mastered.

Seeing friends and their kids has been interesting. Such different lives we live now. No more bars or late nights. Sitting at home with a glass of wine, all u need is good company. It’s been nice to be here more than just a few days to see nyc, people, (honey), and for me to catch up on normal life stuff. 

Click here for more pix. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

National Parks 2011 Tour

As if you guys needed another reason to visit the National Parks in the US, I compiled two photos of each park (which was very difficult to narrow down) that I visited on my 2011 journey; 18 parks total. Looking back, it's hard to believe I was in so many beautiful places. I was getting weary towards the end of the US tour, and it's good to be resting in the big city, but I miss being in motion and venturing to new sights/lands. Figuring out my next moves, more on that later.

If you have not yet done so I highly suggest watching this informative documentary about America and the national parks. Taking kids and adults to see these natural wonders will hopefully teach us the importance of conservation. Understanding why it matters. We rely on the planet; the "environment" is not a separate issue from us.  We are a part of the environment and should show it some more respect.

Later on I will add, if possible, the other eight parks that I have been to. There are stats in captions under the original picture albums. I did not bother to go over all that again. Below are some stats I got from wiki.  Enjoy and click here for my album.

"The United States has 58 protected areas known as national parks, which are operated by the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. National parks must be established by an act of the United States Congress. The first national park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, followed by Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890. The Organic Act of 1916 created the National Park Service "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." National parks usually have a variety of natural resources over large areas. Many of them had been previously protected as National Monuments by the President under the Antiquities Act before being upgraded by Congress. Seven national parks are paired with a National Preserve, six of which are in Alaska. While administered together, they are considered as separate units and their areas are not included in the figures below. The newest national park is Great Sand Dunes, established in 2004.

Twenty-seven states have national parks, as do the insular areas of American Samoa and the United States Virgin Islands. Alaska and California have the most, each with eight, followed by Utah with five and Colorado with four. The largest national park is Wrangell–St. Elias, at over 8,000,000 acres (32,000 km2), followed by three more in Alaska; the smallest is Hot Springs, at less than 6,000 acres (24 km2). The total area protected by national parks is approximately 51,900,000 acres (210,000 km2), for an average of 895,000 acres (3,620 km2) but a median of only 317,000 acres (1,280 km2). The most-visited national park is Great Smoky Mountains, with over nine million visitors in 2008, followed by the Grand Canyon, with over four million. Fourteen national parks are designated World Heritage Sites."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vermont – A Great First Time Visit

I hopped on an 8 hour mega bus to VT, making it state #41.  I visited my friend Dave, whom I met up with in SC & GA just the other week. It was great being by the water, Lake Champlain. We had sunny days so we were out and about hiking, kayaking, and walking on a farm. Got to see the sunset and yellow/reddish trees glowing.

VT has a few local biz that are pretty popular which I had forgotten about, i.e. VT Teddy Bear, Ben & Jerry, Burton snowboards, Green Mountain coffee. Never realized VT was still farmland with local brew and vineyards.

VT reminded me of a mix between Portland and Ashville; people are into local and sustainability but with less hipsters and hippies. Click here for more pix.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Boone, NC Again? Who would have thought :)

Somehow, my good friend Kelly, talked me into visiting her in small, mountain town Boone, NC. Well it did not take that much convincing. I was already in her state. After a long day of 2 buses and 4 hr wait in Winston Salem, I was in Boone.

Sadly, Kelly had to work 3 shifts and was starting a cold. We cooked, which was super nice. I caught up on some green blogs, my own, and even watched a few cartoons and episodes of the new office. I hardly ever get to watch tv. I also watched two interesting food documentaries: Ingredients mostly filmed in OR and the Botany of Desire (which was educational w/ interesting histories of apples, marijuana, tulips, and potatoes).

Then off to another bus to Charlotte to connect to a plane to NYC. One cool thing is I get to see my cs friend Jared, whom I met last year. He is just getting coming back from his 2nd season being a park ranger in AK. We did not get to meet up there. He lives in Charlotte and I have a 2 hr wait. We had lunch and he took me to the airport.

I have mixed feeling visiting NYC. Nice to see the fam and of course excited about seeing Honey. But it feels like my trip is over and I still don’t know what the heck I am doing. Well I am busing to VT Oct 6 – 11 as I never been. I have a friend there, time, and it ain’t too far.  Then I will be in NYC till at least 11/2.  After that, we will have to wait and see! Click here fore more pix.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Below is a list of things I have come to appreciate these past 7 months on the road. I started it in Alaska back in May. Some of it is obvious, maybe even cheesy, but it was fun to do and I might have missed a few things too. In any case, we should appreciate what we have and not worry too much about what we don't have. (I know easier said than done).

Dry pants
Running water
Warm water
What about just water!
As the days started to warm up, I now appreciate refrigeration.
Clear, rain free days

Clean, dry clothes - socks, shoes, gloves, hats, etc
Kindness of others, especially strangers!
Home cooking, especially from scratch and home made wine.
Soft seats, couch
Comfy bed
Live music
Not planning – Looking back I continue to realize that I over planned most of my trips. Not sure why or how that came about, but I am happy to be lessening that addiction little by little.
Friends & Family and for making this trip happen
My health
Sight, hearing, feeling

Pen and paper
Books, films
My brain
Being Alive