Friday, July 27, 2012

The Big Apple

So much has happened that I'm just now stopping to breathe!

A beautiful Manhattan space and cool gifts in process!
I left off where I was leaving for a cross country trip the next day....  That got canceled.  I felt like the timing was off and the group of people weren't the people I wanted to be stuck on the road with for a week.  Instead I ended up wrapping up a few more things in LA, barbequing and enjoying some close friends' company before catching a flight to New York.

New York was an absolute blast! I ended up arriving around 5 am.  I jumped off the plane with my 45lb backpack and found my way around the city to Manhattan where an old friend now lives.

Apparently on Sunday the elevator doesn't work in his building so I carried my backpack up 8 flights of stairs. That was awesome! I did it with no hesitation.  It's kind of ironic because I think the last thing I said to my mom was, "Bye mom. I'm going to go get some calves now." referring to carrying my backpack around the world and all the muscle I would be gaining.

The highline, Manhattan, NYC

We had breakfast then decided we were going to walk from 26th St & 11th Ave all the way across the Brooklyn Bridge and take a nap in the grass on the other side. I guess it was only about 5 miles but after climbing 8 flights of stairs and the humidity it seemed like forever. It was a gorgeous day to make one of my dreams come true in New York.
Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

We took about three hours rest/nap in the grass in Brooklyn then caught the subway back to the Manhattan  From there we packed our things to go stay by Far Rockaway on the 7th floor by the beach.  I passed out as if I had been tranquilized.

The next morning we woke up around 8 am then I headed back to Manhattan solo. I ended up jumping off the subway a couple stops too soon which worked to my advantage.  I found a quaint coffee shop and grabbed a pastry in Greenwich Place then walked down to the beach.  There I rested for a bit and watched all the weird/fit people jogging by.  HA ha!

I ran some errands then grabbed my backpack.  I was now ready to head to the airport.  This time the elevator guy was there! Thank goodness! I walked back to the Penn Station which was about 10 block give or take.  This day was EXTREMELY humid to a LA native. By the time I reached the subway I was not only dripping sweat, it was like the flood gates had opened and I was showering everything in my path.  I felt bad for the pregnant lady I gave my seat to. It wasn't until she looked up a little confused why it was raining that I realized how sweaty I really was.  (I'm sure I have disgusted you all now.)

New York City, I am now in love you too!
Not the best food shot, but this NY pastry was delish!

Here are 10 reasons why:
1. The subway
2. People outside being friendly and active
3. Awesome parks, each with a different purpose
4. The highline in Manhattan.
5. A plethora of history and cobblestone streets
6. The gateway to America's art/fashion culture
7. Bodies of water all around you
8. Many people from around the world visiting
9. COFFEE! The way it should be!
10. Famous pizza and pastries

I found my way to the airport just fine.

Now: NYC -> Berlin -> Gothenburg, Sweden

Friday, July 13, 2012

A journey to see "The Angels"

Oregon was incredible! I was delighted to leave around 6 pm.  This way, unknowingly I would have the opportunity to pass by the magnificent mass of formed dirt they call Mount Shasta at DAWN! Ugh, the beauty is indescribable!



 This is a 360 view just past the marker for the Oregon trail.

Yes, those are camera straps! Film shots are coming soon.

After being in the sun all day I was completely exhausted.  I felt like sleeping as soon as I got in the car but the views kept me entertained and awake.

I landed in Sacramento around 1:30 am.

When I woke up it was 108 degrees outside! Mr. Pigglesworth was not having it. Piggie pool round two was necessary!  This time Emu-head decided he was going to join in.

After this, we scooped up all the cousins in Sacramento and spent a few hours at the river in Columa. Columa is big for it's GOLD and METEORITE! Yep, meteorite, dust that fell from a meteor when it crashed into the earth many miles away a just few months earlier.  Pretty cool, right?

The last surprise from this trip is that cousin Alisa would be joining my on my travels back to LA.  We packed the car said our goodbyes and left Sacramento around 9 pm.  This would put us back in LA around 3 am, except there was construction the whole way home.  We didn't arrive until 4 am.  I slept about three hours.  I was so happy to be back "home" on the couch at my friends' house. I couldn't wait to say good morning and start getting everything ready for an 11 am departure to begin my cross country/around the world trip the next day!

 My first task of the day would be to repack my three suitcases into one, small, lightweight backpack. (Thanks for your help cousin! You helped me keep my focus and I appreciated it.)  Second errand, to take Alisa and pick my mom up from the mechanic so mom can help me move my cars to her house for semi-permanent storage!

My mom and her second cousin, Alisa hadn't seen each other in almost 20 years! That's nuts!  So, I didn't tell my mom Alisa would be joining me. This way I could see the look on her face!  As my mom was introducing me to her mechanic, I said, "hi George. Nice to meet you.  This is my friend Alisa." I guess my mom didn't even see anyone else in the car.  My mom stooped into the car, her reaction was a little late because she had to realize it wasn't just my friend but her long lost cousin.  As soon as that clicked in her brain her mouth immediately dropped wide open and it was all hugs. Yes!! I did my part!

The three of us spent the rest of the day running my lame errands.  Going to the bank, buying one more ring to fake people into thinking I'm married while I'm on the road, picking my bike up and delivering it to a friend's house so they can use it while i'm gone and junk like that.

All and all a very successful two days!  Awesome times!

Oregon, with you I am in love!

 The next day Tim, Emily, the kids and I went to their friend's log cabin/house/mansion on 10 acres right outside bend.  Tim bought some special cut 10 oz new york steaks, kielbasa, shrimp and chicken drumsticks. We barbequed all day in their Traeger (which is apparently some awesome smoker i've never seen or heard of before). Tim is a chef at one of the resorts close by so he really knows how to cook! He had some special combo of herbs and spices. Oh. My. Goodness! It was SO good and SO much food!!

On their 10 acres we took their gigantic greyhound named Dixie for a "walk". This included taking out this go-cart-like ATV out at full speed and watching the dog run along side of us! HaHa! What a trip that was!

I wish I had taken photos so I could show you how big Dixie is and how MUCH food there was!

The next day Emily and I took the girls to the river.  FINALLY, I got to jump into A river! It was freezing cold and the sun was covered by a huge nimbus cloud. It didn't rain but it sure looked and felt like it was going to! The sun came out shortly afterward, the girls made friends and were running around having a great time! It was a glorious day under the sun!

They're so cute after a long day!  ;)

The next day Emily's parents arrived.  She said they had a big van, but MAN! They can fit 14 people in that bus of theirs. They arrived with what seemed like 10 family members! Grandma took the girls to Sun River with everyone else while Emily and I went to run errands!

First stop R.E.I.! Time to buy a tent, sleeping bag, backpack and comfortable shoes! ... but where do I start? What kind of backpack do I need? wheels? no wheels? big? small?? Geeze it was so overwhelming. We asked a guy in camping section where to start. He totally helped out and mentioned that I might want to check up stairs where the luggage and such was.

Upstairs they had a few backpacks that seemed very wrong for what I wanted to do. They also had some backpacks with zippers made to be locked and smaller backpacks that detach for day time use. After weighing out my options and unzipping the few ideal women's backpacks I found one with all kinds of cool pouches and compartments. It seemed perfect! Except, it didn't seem to fit quite right.

I took it back downstairs so the same guy who helped adjust the straps, Velcro and other elements that control how high or low the pack sits on your back.  He also explained how to pack. Put the heavy things closest to your back and along the lumbar and try to keep the pack to 30-40 lbs.  Great tip!

Next stop, sleeping bags! Given that I have no idea when or where I will be along the way it was hard for him to recommend something "ideal".  He said if I was going to be in cold weather all the time I would probably want to go with down.  The thing with down is that it doesn't dry very quickly so, for someone with my plans, it's probably not the best way to go.  We ended up finding an awesome lime green mid-weight mummy bag. I fit in a medium but I got a large to give me a little extra room so I don't feel claustrophobic and I have extra room around my neck the way I like it.

This is what I look like trying on sleeping bags!
(Maybe this is what they were talking about in church with Alisa when two people randomly prophesied butterflies and rainbows to me! haha! Most likely not.)

Now to find a tent. Do I want a one person? two person? how expensive? how heavy?  This got narrowed down quickly.  They only had one or two, one person tents. A two person tent seemed unnecessary since I'm traveling alone and it's more weight to add to my 30-40 lb limit. Plus they're more expensive. So for about $200 it looks like "half dome" is my choice! It's a cute little tent that literally looks like half dome. It only uses two small, lightweight poles for the frame and you crawl in and out of the vertical part of what would be half dome.

For good measure I went and found a pair of lightweight running shoes with good arch support.  These will be my everyday shoes while traveling and carrying the pack.  I found some awesome Brooks for about $100. They had a few different colors: bright blue and white, mostly dark purple with grey or ugly reddish and nasty brownish.  I really liked the bright blue and white but thought these would attract too much attention. So, I got the dark purple and grey.  $700 later, my shopping was finally done!

When we came out of the store it was raining warm chickens.  Okay, maybe not chickens but HUGE rain drops. We ran around the Old Mill in Bend to try some delish organic coffee! It was pretty mind blowingly awesome!  Well worth getting rained on for sure!

After that went to meet up with Emily's family at Sun River Resort where they were staying.  Tim was about to get off work and took the next day off. Party time, right? Right. We snatched up Emily's older brother and we all had brother sister time at a local pool hall.  How fun!  Sorry Emily but me and my brother are way better than you and your brother at billiards!  ;)   All and all, another great night. I think by this time we all finally understood each others' personalities which made the night much better. I feel like some times my personality throws people off where they have to take a minute and figure out what's really going on in my head.  I guess every one is a bit like that though.     

Next day: sun, sun, sun and more sun! We all made it to the water park! It's totally made for kids so they had a 1ft kiddy pool, a sand box, a 4 ft wading pool, two water slides, a lazy river, an Olympic pool for doing laps, a jacuzzi and some other random areas each with their designated purpose. It was fun laying around and swimming with the girls who had life vests so they weren't so dependent on us.

After a few hours of that and lunch it was time to say "goodbye".  I have fallen in love with Oregon.  It must be one of the most gorgeous places on earth. The tap water is so clean and pure, the stars and bigger and brighter than ever, every where you look you are surrounded by beauty.  In July there are snow capped mountains in every direction nestled among immense amounts of pine trees, juniper, blue skies with friendly silver-lined clouds passing by. The people that live there are very active in town. There are many bicyclists, backpackers, people rafting, canoeing, paddle boarding, jogging and enjoying their lives. The trip was everything I hoped for and much more.  I'm now headed back to Sacramento to stay the night rather than driving 20 hours in one shot. 

Cheers to peace, natural beauty and much, much LOVE!  ♥ ♥ ♥

Film shots will hopefully be coming soon!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A successful week and another 471 miles!

The fourth of July was a success. I spent the afternoon swimming with my third cousins and picking wild blackberries in the driveway with Ariannah who is about to be nine.  I have now met her three whole times. 

 Later, I had a ball observing my favorite swine, Mr. Pigglesworth, in his "piggie pool" 
and said what's up to the prehistoric bird they call an emu being is goofy, bird-brained self. 

Much later, I went to celebrate the evening with more CouchSurfers in Roseville. I from this met another group of great people had a wonderful time with them.

The next day I slept in a bit, hung out and then went to a youth church group called "Epic Life" with my cousin Alisa and her close friend Laura. I enjoyed the people and the friendly, open vibe. (No, it wasn't stuffy and they didn't mention going to hell.) I was a bit in La La Land because I kind of felt like I should have been speaking on this exact topic. Maybe thats a little over confident of me. :/ While in the clouds I had a moment of sincere clarity. I can't wait to share my idea with someone when I get back to LA. Thanks Epic Life peeps for the amazing blessings you wished upon my travels, for your tremendous hearts and the rad T-shirt to remind me that *I* have an epic life!

The next morning I finally found the courage to pick up the phone and Skype my cousins in Sweden. (I had been putting it off for a few days because I was nervous.) We chatted for a bit then I passed the phone around to my cousins who are also related and maybe had never talked to each other before. The best part of this whole scenario was when my 91 year old great aunt Astrid got on the phone, as sharp as a tack and spoke Swedish as if she never skipped a day. I must admit; I shed a tear or two of happiness. I was so taken back by the greatness of what had just occurred. Aunt Astrid is the only one left out of all her siblings.

I finished packing my things then hit the road! I remembered northern California and Oregon being gorgeous but, I guess I forgot just HOW gorgeous it really is. California really is golden at this time of year with lush green pastures scattered across the horizon and snow capped mountain ranges in the very far distance. There were olive trees, tomatoes, sunflowers, apples, hay, many more crops I'm sure, trains, bees and honey.

That's the motto baby, YOLO!

By the time I made it to Shasta Lake I couldn't take it any longer! I HAD to stop! I wanted to jump in the lake and go swim SO bad on such a hot day but I ruled that out since I would be swimming alone, it was probably unsafe and I still had somewhere to be. Don't worry gigantic lake. I'll be back for you before you know it!

I moseyed my way through the Oregon forest at sunset and finally arrived 9 or 10 hours later at my destination!

Yay!!! My big brother Timmy who I hadn't seen in 15 or 16 years greeted me with the hugest hug! I then met his gorgeous lady Emily and my two nieces who were supposed to be sleeping, for the first time. They are everything I thought they would be via Facebook yet better!

Timmy and I spent the evening sharing 15 years of stories, wrestling, play fighting, hugging, laughing, being ridiculous and bonding. It was definitely worth the drive and the financial investment coming to visit! Now, to make sure it won't be another 14 years or two for that matter.

Stay tuned! More stories from Oregon coming up after the commercial break!

Driving through Yolo County

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 3rd, 447 miles!

Today was a grand success! I wrapped up everything in LA this morning and hit the road. 
447 miles later and I have arrived!
I can't wait until the morning to see the little munchkins! 

From last night: Peace LA, be back soon.

Sacramento bound!

My mobile home!

Wide open spaces, new places and new faces.

Oh Lord, Stuck in Lodi again! #CreedenceClearwater
This is the town right next door to where I went to elementary school. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sactown, Oregon and back down!

Things are moving right along. The plans to go see both my cousins and my brother are locked in! I'm headed to Sacramento for a few days then off to Oregon. I'm so excited to meet my gorgeous nieces, see my brother for the first time in about 14 years, meet his lovely lady, spend fourth of July by a river with my cousins and play with the rugrats before they're all grown up!

This independence day will be one I won't forget, as it is a celebration of my independence and a farewell celebration from my homeland.

It's been hard to try to divide my time and hang out with everyone one last time before my departure.  There are many people that I haven't had the chance to see yet. My time is becoming more and more limited. Last night I officially said "bye" to two of my closest friends who are flying to the midwest. The thought of not seeing them in a very long time saddens me. A few tears were shed. But!.. I have an awesome new hammock to relax in an think about how awesome they are on my trip! All I need to do now is get to a place with palm trees so it will be warm enough to use it!


Above one of my cousin's emu. He and his mom saved some eggs from being destroyed and rotated them every 6 or 8 hours in an incubator for weeks on end. They're such intriguing, wacky animals. 

I'm doing my best to wrap things up here in the states and be as prepared as possible. Saturday morning I bought a youth pass through for $28. That's supposed to save me a ton of money on flights, hostels etc.. Hopefully it will come in handy.

Yesterday I finished house sitting and said bye to my temporary doggie. He's a smart dog and seemed pretty bummed that was I leaving.  We had become good friends.

I've been trying to narrow down my possessions. When I repacked all my stuff I went from backpack and two small suitcases down to a backpack and one small suitcase.  It's progress and I think this is a good way to take what I'll actually NEED and not everything I want to take. It will be weird only having ONE bag and nothing else. 

Make yours @ 
 These  are a couple maps to help describe how BIG this trip is going to be for me. Obviously, the places I've been are in pink. On the larger scale of things, I really HAVEN'T traveled! I can only imagine how much I will learn while I am gone and what a different perspective I will have.