July 25, 2014

Lost in the crowd when traveling?

Lost in a Crowd

(Lost in a Crowd – photo by Keoni Cabral)

This week I’m in San Francisco, after riding my motorcycle from Washington. First, I have to say – the ride down the PCH was in-damn-credible! Thanks to a friend’s suggestions, I got off the PCH near Fortuna and took the Avenue of the Giants scenic route. Who would have thought that there was a scenic route to an already incredible scenic route? I’ll write more about this another time. Take my recommendation, though, if you are ever in southern Oregon, take 199 West and to 101 South, then just take that as far as you’re able. Here’s a couple pictures to wet your appetite.

Trinity at the Pacific Ocean

(Trinity and I at the Pacific Ocean)

Avenue of the Giants

(Avenue of the Giants)

Now – this week, I wanted to ask a question. When you travel to busy, vibrant locations (big cities and such) – do you feel a bit lost? A bit secluded?

The other night, I was talking with my friend Boris, who I met when trekking through Siberia (a real awesome guy, btw). Anyway – we were discussing what it was like to visit a large city like San Francisco when you’re traveling solo. We both felt that if you don’t already know someone there, it’s easy to feel a bit alone. It’s the reason he gave me some things to do in SF; recommendations that would get me started and he also introduced me to some of his friends.

Truth is – often when I’m traveling solo, I feel the need to some alone time to acclimate. I remember going to Göteborg, Sweden a few years ago. It was a great place to hang out with a vibrant night life. Before I could venture out, though, I had to spend about a day alone in the hotel to absorb the new environment. Only after that did I feel comfortable in going out to explore the city. Yet, on every adventure I’ve been on, I’m often traveling as part of a small group. In those instances, I felt comfortable in most situations (well – except for some really sketchy ones). I was able to jump right in and explore the surroundings.

I noticed the same thing at World Domination Summit a few weeks ago. I was fortunate to have a lot of friends to hang out with and springboard from; but, it’s something that I would have struggled with otherwise. I find that with small, intimate destinations it’s much easier for me to get involved and to be a vibrant part. Once there’s too many people, I tend to step back and observe, rather than participating.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts – is this just part of my introvert tendencies – or is this a more common feeling?

Chris Plough writes and podcasts at oznog.com, where he shares stories and advice from his adventures and from the incredible people that he’s met along the way. You can also follow him on twitter: @chrisplough.

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Category: North America, On The Road, Solo Travel

June 27, 2014

Enjoy the ride

 

Chris Plough - Guadalupe Mountains - 2014

(Riding past the Guadalupe Mountains)

I was planning to write about learning to throw axes during my last trip to Toronto. About how it reminded me to get out of my head and flow in the moment. That the moment I started laughing, that’s exactly what would happen and my throws became more accurate. I’ll write about it another time, though, because today I learned that my grandfather has passed away.

He had an incredible impact on my life and is a large part of why I’ve become the man I am. Though he was a great man, I’m not going to write about him either. First – it’s much to fresh and I don’t have perspective yet. Second – this blog is about us, learning about how travel has made our lives better.

Instead, I’m going to write about why I’m grateful that I’m able to ride my motorcycle across three thousand miles of this beautiful country. Right now – I can’t imagine anything better than cruising through the incredible landscapes of the Southwestern United States, then up the Pacific Coast Highway.

I don’t know about you – but for some reason, I’ve always found driving and riding to be almost meditative. After a few hours on the road, it always seems that the gates to my subconscious pry open and I’m flooded with thoughts, ideas… emotions. All those things that we seem to seem to suppress during our minor-crisis and Facebook filled days.

How about you? When do you find that moment? I know some people who find it when running; others when meditating; and more than a few after a judicious portion of psychedelic drugs.

This is one of the main reasons that I love traveling. I mean, aside from meeting interesting people and seeing/smelling/hearing/feeling a new place. The act of traveling – of being on the road – brings me a sense of contentment. Of course, even that has its limits. After 14 hours in a truck, I’m usually beat and need to pull over for a nap. On a bike, anything over 7 hours makes my butt ache – a lot.

Again – how about you? Do you seek the destination or the journey? Both? Think back on your last few trips – which memories burn the brightest? Were they from the destination — or from somewhere along the way?

All I know is that I’m grateful that I get to spend the next couple of weeks in the saddle, flying across long stretches of highway. Right now it’s about the journey.

Chris Plough writes and podcasts at oznog.com, where he shares stories and advice from his adventures and from the incredible people that he’s met along the way. You can also follow him on twitter: @chrisplough.

 

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Category: General, North America, On The Road, Solo Travel, Vagabonding Life

June 13, 2014

Working on the Road: Austin, TX

WorkingInAustin-VintageHeart

(Working on this article in Austin – Vintage Heart Cafe)

My last couple of articles have been a bit higher-level (How lessons I learned while traveling have helped me through family tragedy and Becoming a better person via the kindness of strangers). Today, though, I’ve decided to post something much more tactical – the places I’ve enjoyed working over the past couple of weeks while in Austin, TX.

I’m riding my motorcycle across the western United States, in order to catch up with friends and interview them for my upcoming podcast. That means balancing a lot of work with a lot of fun. Austin seemed like the perfect starting point, since I’m considering moving down here. It was also a central place to meet up with my dear friend Stephen Blahut, so that we could decompress and brainstorm on our upcoming creative projects.

While I was here – I started looking for places to work. Coffee shops are always easy to find and Yelp reviews help – but I couldn’t find the info I was looking for: Internet speed, access policies, likelihood of finding a table, power outlet options, …); so I decided to start compiling it myself. In the process, it’s made me aware of the specialties of each place. Bennu is great for late-night work because they’re open 24/7. Hot Mama is a great place to record podcasts and to upload videos. Vintage Heart is a great place to come download a bunch of media. Cenote is just plain cool.

Now, this is by no means a comprehensive list – hell, it doesn’t even cover a fraction of Austin. If you’re caught on the east side, though and are looking for a place to work, here’s the places I can recommend. Got a favorite spot? Leave a comment and recommend it.

(Note: I’m not affiliated in any way with these shops – just appreciate what they offer.)

WorkingInAustin-Cafes

(Cafes in Austin – click to enlarge)

Chris Plough writes and podcasts at oznog.com, where he shares stories and advice from his adventures and from the incredible people that he’s met along the way. You can also follow him on twitter: @chrisplough.

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Category: General, North America, On The Road, Travel Tech, Vagabonding Life

May 25, 2014

Camping Hawaii

A few weeks ago I had the chance to shoot a wedding in Hawaii, and since the flight there is so long, not the mention the fact that Hawaii is my most favorite place ever, I decided to make a week long camping trip out of it. I hadn’t been to the big island (Hawaii) before, so I decided to spend most of my time there.

I managed to get a week’s worth of clothing, a tent, sleeping bag, and a couple pairs of shoes into my larger pack, and all of my camera/computer gear into a (slightly) smaller one. I landed in Oahu on a Wednesday night, and the wedding was on Friday, so I had just over a day to deal with a six hour jet lag. I planned to put my money towards renting a car for $15 a day and camping instead of spending at least $100 a night on hotels. However, I got in a little late the first night, and the people at the rental car agency insisted that I would have a hard time finding my campsite on my first visit there in the dark, so I got a last minute hotel and went straight to bed. Waikiki is a little too urban for me, so I got up to the north shore first thing in the morning and set up my campsite. I camped at Friends of Malaekahana, and I highly recommend it.

They have bathrooms and outdoor showers, which is all you really need on the beach. I spent my downtime reading in the sun, and there was a grocery store nearby for food. Low maintenance camping. My only complaint about this campsite was that it was EXTREMELY windy, so windy that it was difficult to sleep at night with the noise of the wind blowing my tent around. It would be a good idea to try and find a place to pitch your tent where you have a little more coverage from the elements.

The morning after my wedding I took a flight ($140 round trip) from Oahu to the big island. The flight was short and easy. When I landed there I got another rental car and spent my first day in Hilo. I stayed at Hilo Backpacker’s Hostel in a room with seven other women. I think this was the first time I was the youngest person in a hostel (I’m 31), which is almost never the case. In Europe, most hostels are filled with college aged kids, but here one of my roommates even had a walker with her :) The hostel was clean, nice bathrooms, and the people running it were very friendly and gave me good advice on places to check out. I went to Rainbow Falls, then Googled “best beach near Hilo” and found a beautiful beach park a few miles from the hostel.

After a day in Hilo, I drove to Volcanoes National Park, where I camped for one night at Kulanaokuaiki, which was free with your park entrance fee. I was sad that the lava was not currently active, but the park was strange and beautiful. At the end of the road you can literally see where the lava flow stopped and froze on the pavement. The campsite was pretty secluded and not that easy to find, and there were no showers, but it was a pretty site.

The next day I headed to Kona, and I spent three nights camping at Hookena Beach Park. This was possibly my favorite campsite. There were showers, bathrooms, a shaded area on the beach to set up your tent, and families camping and swimming in the ocean. I felt very relaxed and safe here. During the day I would read and take day trips further north past Kailua, where I saw some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii. There is one beach you can hike into that is not as well known, called Makalawena. When I got there I only saw a couple other people who were sneaking in to camp for the night. I read that you aren’t supposed to camp there, but I was jealous and wished I was with them, because it was beautiful and very secluded. I can only imagine how amazing the stars must have looked at night from this beach.

Sadly, after a week in the sun I had to return to the mainland. I would really recommend spending time on any of the islands in Hawaii. The people are some of the nicest in the world, the beaches are unbelievably pretty, and you can have adventure or luxury, whatever you are in the mood for. Camping really helps to cut costs, and having a car makes it a thousand times easier to get around and gives you a place to store your stuff. More photos below!

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Category: Destinations, North America

May 4, 2014

Greyhound across America: Photos from a month on the bus by Kristina Perkins

Starting from Minneapolis, Minnesota, I spent 30 days exploring the United States (traveling to 37 states) and documenting the faces and places I saw on the Greyhound Bus system with photographs and short stories. I showered rarely, slept infrequently, ate poorly, and I loved every uncomfortable minute of it.

My fascination with the culture of the Greyhound started in college when I would take the bus to Montana to visit a dear friend. As I discerned my creative inspiration to street photography, I felt a pull to quit my awful job, forget about my recent heartbreak and get on the road. Why wait?!

While exploring in the few moments I had off of the bus, I wanted to learn about each city’s preferred method of travel. Was it bus? Subway? Bicycle? On foot? Why were people commuting the way they were? As you can imagine, the answers varied based on financial and geographical limitations.

I took over 4000 digital and film photographs using four different cameras: Canon DSLR, Holga, Fish Eye and iPhone. My trip was funded solely by the Minneapolis community with individual donations. The gallery exhibit profiling my journey was funded by a FEAST MPLS grant I won in November 2010. My self published book, Falling Asleep Behind the Lens, documenting my journey is available on my website: KPCreates.com

KPC_VB14_1

KPC_VB14_2

KPC_VB14_3

KPC_VB14_4

KPC_VB14_5

KPC_VB14_6

KPC_VB14_7

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KPC_VB14_12

Follow Kristina on Instagram or through her website

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Category: Images from the road, North America, On The Road, Solo Travel

June 13, 2013

Wicked World releases its first digital issue

In the past few months, I have complained several times about the current status of travel writing and how it does not satisfy my needs.
In this sense, it would have been too easy to just sit there and complain without actually doing something about it. And that’s exactly what I did by joining forces with British travel writer Tom Coote.
We sat down and worked hard to create a new digital magazine: Wicked World.
You can access it by clicking here.

Wicked World
exists to promote the kind of travel related writing that wouldn’t normally find an outlet in more mainstream publications. We’re not here to sell expensive guided tours, round the world tickets or travel insurance. On the contrary, we are here to provide a showcase for honest, alternative and irreverent writing, with a particular emphasis on internationally oriented underground culture. And we of course accept related, inspired submissions from like minded travel writers and adventurers.

If you want examples, the very first issue of Wicked World has articles on: the burgeoning black metal scene in Bangladesh; the rarely visited Meroe Pyramids in Sudan; mine clearance in Cambodia; a haunting return to Vicksburg, Mississippi; the resurrection of a mummified monk in Thailand; a bizarre encounter with the police in Kyrgyzstan; System of a Down’s self-financed film about the Armenian Genocide; and a festival for hungry ghosts in Malaysia and Singapore.

In the future, we are planning to provide a syndication service for travel related articles, and to experiment with publishing the kind of eBooks that wouldn’t normally find an outlet through more mainstream publishers.

If you would like to get involved in Wicked World, or would simply like to know more, then send an email to either marco@wickedworld.net or tom@wickedworld.net

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Category: Adventure Travel, Africa, Asia, Destinations, North America, Travel Writing

April 10, 2013

Vagabonding Field Report: Camping in Northern Mexico

Cost/day: $40/day

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

Our family of seven is camping in Mexico beneath a full moon and enjoying a tranquil evening after crossing the border into this ‘dangerous’ country. Just the day before, we were warned that we were ‘risking our children’s lives’ by taking them to such a lawless place.’ Completely alone in a farmer’s field, we watched the sun peacefully set and then rise again the next morning on our first full day in Mexico.

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Category: Family Travel, North America, Vagabonding Field Reports

February 22, 2013

Towns of Boring and Dull plan epic celebration of all things uninteresting

We all know that most cities are desperate for tourism money in this lousy economy. Some are going to great lengths to generate interest. Now a PR man (or woman) has looked at a map and cooked up the tourism industry’s latest publicity stunt:  Two towns, separated by an ocean and thousands of miles, plan to launch a joint promotional effort to entice tourists with a day of celebration that boldly promises to be a total snooze.

It all began when a UK traveler, passing through the west coast of America on vacation, happened upon a community with a name similar to his own hamlet back in Scotland. Before long, the Oregon town of Boring had itself a “sister city” called Dull, a tiny Scottish village.

A real town in Scotland. Pretty place. Not much in the way of nightlife, however.

Now an article in the UK paper Telegraph describes Boring and Dull’s plan to make August 9th— the anniversary of their union , or whatever—a mutual, transatlantic day of celebration of all things uninteresting. The  intention is to draw free publicity to their respective communities’ charms. With a low population, rainy climate, and eight hours’ time difference, it is still unclear whether Boring and Dull’s event will be, well, eventful.

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Category: Europe, Images from the road, North America, Notes from the collective travel mind, Travel News

February 6, 2013

Vagablogging Field Report: Superbowl Sunday San Francisco

Cost/day: $50-70 a day

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

The collective depression of San Francisco’s denizens after their beloved 49’ers lost a thrilling Superbowl against the Baltimore Raven’s was a strange and unfortunate phenomenon to witness. Red-clad, boozed and bleary eyed folk sat in the few bars that bothered to stay open, mumbling incoherently to themselves and shaking their heads. It was a painful loss, given that the 9’ers had responded to a first half spanking and a 35 minute power outage by surging back and, very nearly, pulling off a preposterous comeback. But it wasn’t to be and, instead of partying in the delirium of a win, the city grumbled, cried, drank heavily and then went to bed early.

Impromptu sidewalk dance party. Not that strange in San Fran.


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Category: General, North America, Vagabonding Field Reports

January 25, 2013

A Moving Museum Experience in Memphis

Having recently been in Memphis over Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday weekend, I realized once again that few things make you feel connected to history like being near a historic landmark on a significant anniversary. In this case, it’s the thought-provoking National Civil Rights Museum on the birthday of the great icon of the movement.

Ironically, the site is located not at the place of his birth but the place of his assassination. The façade of the Lorraine Motel, where King was murdered by white supremacist James Earl Ray in May of 1968, is all that remains of the low-rent building. Left just as it was at the time of King’s murder, the façade remains eerily frozen in time: a tacky 60’s turquoise-and-yellow sign stands in the parking lot. Nearby, a wreath marks the spot where King’s life was taken as he relaxed on the balcony outside room 306.

Lorraine Motel in Memphis, site of MLK's murder.

It’s not just the site of his death that draws visitors; the museum complex attached to it is the real attraction.  Built in two phases over several years, the sprawling, state-of-the-art space—much of it underneath a hill adjacent to the motel’s dingy façade—features listening posts, artifacts, records, and archival films detailing the civil rights activists’ efforts to win equality for all. Aside from the physical relics, a 12,800 square foot expansion project called “Exploring the Legacy” offers compelling insight into King and the movement he led.

On my first visit to the museum a few years ago, Memphis sweltered under a boiling summer sun and only a handful of visitors were present. This time, as I enjoyed a friend’s wedding weekend on the anniversary of MLK’s birth, the chilly winter day saw hundreds coming to show respect for King and, more importantly, to show their children the museum dedicated to the civil rights struggle. I imagine how strange it must be for a child to learn that, just a few decades ago, a large movement of brave activists had to fight bullets, bombs, and hate to win liberties now taken for granted. The fact that this birthday celebration coincided with the second inaugural of the nation’s first black president only underscored how far the movement has come, though more work remains.

Site of the assassination.

Driving through town I catch a fleeting glimpse of the site. The commotion of my friend’s wedding weekend is temporarily forgotten as the instantly recognizable motel sign catches my eye. I feel a sudden, poignant tug at my emotions as I glance to the Lorraine’s aging façade. There, just outside room 306, a small wreath lies on the cold concrete of a motel balcony, a silent testament to a profound truth: Lives can be taken, but words and ideals that speak to the better angels of our nature can change the world. And that’s worth celebrating.

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Category: Ethical Travel, Images from the road, North America, Notes from the collective travel mind, On The Road
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