Friday, March 9, 2018

Rose of Sharyn

"...a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys." - Song of Songs 2:1

My romp around the continental southwest began in Las Vegas, which is a town that holds nothing of value to me... except the thrill ride on top of their 1,200 ft tall Stratosphere Tower that dangles you over the edge.

"I can see every iteration of the Blue Man group from here!"
The cornerstone of my entire trip was my hike into the Grand Canyon [West] to visit the Havasupai land and their system of waterfalls. Due to the single digit temperatures that made for some pretty difficult nights, I decided last minute to combine my two days of hiking into one because pain is temporary and wrong.

I got going very early in the morning around 4am, driving more than an hour down an unmarked road to the trailhead. Once there, I got to meet a number of fellow masochists travellers who were all gearing up from their individual journeys. A moment of comradery occurred when people realized what pieces they were missing. I needed batteries since my headlamp had been turned on in my bag during travels, and was able to trade with someone who forgot their wool socks and I had an extra pair. ...Also someone forgot water??
We helped him out.

The Canyon was wonderfully quiet and allowed for hours of meditation, prayer, and the occasional monologue of sound effects.

The waterfalls that awaited the end of my 30 miles round trip were well worth each step. 

Havasu Falls

Mooney Falls
My next stop after a day full of hiking [besides an Epsom Salt bath] was to Sedona, AZ to visit with my friends Kelly and Andrew who lived in Cottonwood. They treated me around the town, brought me to the little town of Jerome tucked away in the mountains, and otherwise provided me with good company, good rest, and good beer.

Sedona, AZ has it's own unique and fantastic type of beauty
My next major stop was Zion National Park, where it was like walking among giants...

Every destination was beautiful in its own way, and I never thought I would find such beauty in a place like Death Valley.

Over looking Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the North America at 282ft below sea level 
It takes a long time to drive through the valley, and with some of the cliff banks... you have plenty of time to work out your salvation with fear and trembling...

This is Artists Drive, a winding stretch of four miles running through picturesque landscape that is all one-way with no speed limit ... amazingly fun to drive.  

Leaving the valley eventually opened up to the plains of Owens Valley, where I got drive a great length of I-395, which quickly became another one of my favourite stretches of road in the country as it winds through the Inyo/White Mountains and the Sierra Mountains. 

What I should have learned from my trip through the Rockies was to remember that some snow mountain passes aren't open in .... February. So to get to Yosemite National Park, I had to tack on an additional 250 miles and 6 hours to go to the only open pass through the mountains [which, if we're being honest... probably shouldn't have been open given how terrifying that driving was].
But all of it was worth it to end up in Yosemite National Park, the last destination of a beautiful and serene trip. 

The winding cliff roads leading into Yosemite Valley
Tunnel View
Yosemite Falls

It wouldn't be a roadtrip if I didn't check out abandoned stuff!

The Ghost Town of Rhyolite 

These statues we on the way into the town... awesome. 

Gray Mountain, AZ
While not a ghost town, only a gas station remains along with the remains of multi-building motel...

Death Valley Roll-off

Way off the side of one of the road's cliff sides I spotted this beauty. It was a pain in the butt to get down to it and back up without dying. 'Not dying' is a pretty common goal of mine, despite evidence. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ireland: The Long and Winding Road

   All the troubles and stress I encountered the days prior no longer mattered once I hit the open road of Atlantic Way ... even if that road was backwards and the width of a sidewalk while traversing cliffs. Given my affinity for driving picturesque scenes and visiting old, abandoned places... Ireland was a lovely fit.
Cork County

The southern most county, containing the Mizen Head, which is the southern most point of the island.

On the way I came across Duckett's Grove, an old abandoned castle, but with a still maintained courtyard.

Clare County

Even with all the hype, the Cliffs of Moher were one of the greatest places to behold.

Galway County
This expansive county contained some of the most interesting abandoned structures including the Clifden Castle

And the Tyrone House, which was destroyed during he Irish War for Independence

Mayo County

 Some of the finest [and craziest driving] I've ever had the joy of having since it features such views as Killary Harbour, and because the curvaceous stretch of road known as Skyway [and yes, the picture provided is SUPPOSED to accommodate two way traffic... in theory].

Sligo County
What would be most likely my favourite spot, the Dun Briste [The Broken Fort] at DownPatrick Head [,,,I might have been biased]

Donegal County
The Final Chapter of the Wild Atlantic Way, and the northern most county, which included some of the black beaches.

Dublin - Deserted

Due to pressing threat of Hurricane Ophelia, I had to cut my Northern travels short and head back to Dublin to hunker down before flying out. Visiting Dublin this time versus my arrival was eerie and wonderful. No longer could I hear the morning sounds of empty kegs banging against cobblestone as they were delivered to each pub, but instead I was met with an almost entirely deserted city, with businesses closed ... except a couple choice pubs. So I filled up on beer and toasties, hunkered down for the night, and flew out in the morning.

And of course, following the storm, Ireland gave me a signature farewell. 

Until next time.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


This is the first bed I've slept in for the last four days. I've slept on a bus, plane, backseat of a car, and a church pew... but not a bed. I am very happy to be in this bed, because so far this trip has been exhausting.

I left straight from work to catch a greyhound bus to the airport. I neglected to see if there were any major events in Chicago that could potentially delay my bus route, like the Chicago marathon. I was incredibly anxious about missing my flight the entire taxi ride to the airport from the bus station. Though the taxi ride was expensive, the taxi driver was kind and offered me some fruit from his lunch since he worried with all the travel I hadn't had time to eat.

My rental was over the quoted price, my feet are already incredibly sore, I'm getting sick, I'm dehydrated, and due to a bent rim I'm delayed by at least a day from my travels. I feel kind of miserable, and want to go home.
However, at this moment, I'm in a comfy bed of a Venezuelan family. Even if things continue to worsen, I'll be okay. I'm already over budget, but I can adjust. I cushioned by schedule with an extra day, so I can still see everything I'd like to.

No matter what, I'm in a beautiful country experiencing very new things, and that's exactly what I was hoping for. The rest is just semantics.

Let's go exploring.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Misty Mountains: The Magic and the Mundane

The Trans-Canadian Highway [1] would be my path leading me back to Michigan through the shores of British Columbia, the mountains of Alberta, and the plains of Saskatachewan, featuring such colourful cities as Moose Jaw, Salmon Arm, and Medicine Hat ... Man, I love Canada.

This leg of the trip had minimal stops and instead I as able to take in the natural beauty while listening through the last of my CDs and spending a lot of time in thought. Per usual, any lengthy interaction with other people was usually peculiar. A mountain hostel was run by a gentleman named Tony "with a cold", as he identified himself.
" ... Withacold? ... is that Danish?"
Tony was a delightful and charismatic woodsman who took time out of booking to usher me outside when the sun started setting. A few minutes of beautiful silence and we were back to chatting - at a speed that even I, as a Midwesterner, had a hard time keeping up with.

The only other night that wasn't sleeping in my car or camping was at a hotel where I had arrived past closing hours, but took an educated guess that the bar across the street might be my figurative and literal key to getting a room that night. I was correct. After paying for a round of Spotted Cow with Joe, the off-duty manager, I was all set. Well, except that the room he gave me had the pesky problem of having people already in it. Joe straightened that out... and decided that was probably the time to stop drinking for the night.

This entire trip, there and back again, was simply magical. I remember lengthy sections of driving [particularly through the Rockies on highway 191] where my mouth was agape. I knew that end of the trip would bring a return from the magic to the mundane. That was the problem, before I took this trip the last day I took off was in the fall of 2016, and by my last day leaving I was in dire need.
I don't ever want it to become that, where I feel that the vacation is a necessity rather than a luxury. I knew I needed to find was to find the magical in the mundane parts of my life, which I knew I could do if I tried. And that's what I plan to do, continue to find the magical in the mundane, AND continue to find new sources of this magic by God's generous provision.

One things is for sure, travel will still be part of that, as I truly feel a sense of wonder when on the road. My father once told me that I should pay attention to when you smile the most ... and I gotta say, my cheeks are pretty sore as I write this.

To the Magic, and the Mundane.


P.S. Most of the pictures for this were taken at various mountains and lakes along the Canadian highway, but before I headed north, I had to explore at least ONE abandoned place on this trip...

The Vance Creek Bridge [Old Railway]
[okay, I've done stupid explores before... this one was my most careless. Please don't do as I do]