A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.


"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cats on a Plane

You’ve seen Snakes on a Plane, now get ready, prepare yourself and buckle up for the ultimate in aviation adventure…
“Cats on a Plane!“

The vet had given us kitty xanax but they both freaked out during the trial run last week. Sushi became a total bitch, hissing almost continually at anyone and anything for an entire 24 hours. In complete and utter contrast to Cooper who regressed to a little baby and whined and cried unless you held him. I had to carry him around with me all day like an oversized handbag.

With this drama, we opted to not drug the cats at all and they were actually really good on the plane. Silent. Petrified. And so ecstatic to make it to Oklahoma after 10 hours of trains, planes, and automobiles. So were we.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Packin it Up

I got back at 4:30pm on Sunday and packed until 1 in the morning, woke up the next day at 9 and did it again. Still the kitchen and office isn’t yet packed. I’m exhausted. (And so is Ron - he packed all weekend).

How did I collect all this stuff, err crap? Like a meeting that will drone on unnecessarily to fill the time slot or your stomach expands to fit another slice of blueberry pie, so will your house hold more and more until every nook and cranny has something, anything to fill up the space. I’m a firm believer now that you don’t own your stuff your stuff owns you. I can’t wait to have everything I need to worry about able to fit squarely on my back.

On Tuesday, four cubes were delivered by Door to Door Storage and the movers also came that afternoon to pack them up. It was another 10 hour frenzy of activity. I highly recommend Corrib Movers for anyone moving in the Bay Area, they definitely live up to their 5-star Yelp rating. They were really good packing every inch of the cubes like a massive 3-d puzzle. And funny enough the foreman was Irish. Since Ireland came into our line-up I keep meeting Irishmen. But they all see to be from Cork. Maybe this is serendipity and we should head to Cork and heed the wisdom of the universe.


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Little Niece Jordan

San Diego was short but sweet. Lots of hanging out, walking on the bluffs over the beach, and a pleasantly sunny Sunday BBQ. My brother Jason and his wife Joanna had their first baby this last New Years, a little girl named Jordan. She has the whole family coo-coo for coco puffs, and you can see why when she gazes at you with those perfectly pure innocent blue eyes. She is an amazingly good baby, and they are such doting new parents. I love to see my brother melt when he kisses her little forehead.

Babies can really soften you up. Even me, I came home and said, “I want one!” Ron had the typical slightly frightened, slightly excited expression on his face. Maybe after the trip…

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Pink MGB

Yesterday I drove my little car down to my brothers in San Diego.. My Dad flew out to drive it back to Oklahoma to store for the year. He is the bestest in the world! He not only spent a year, painstakingly and lovingly restoiring the car but then even painted it PINK just for me. It was so fun having a convertible, throwing the top down on a warm day, driving in the salty California air. It’s too bad I only had it for 5 months!

The drive was pretty lame. Even though I left at 7:45am I didn’t get to SD until after 7pm. Ugh. Most of the problem was that it was the Friday before Memorial Day so a lot of folks were hittin the road. I thought I would be safe getting to LA at 2pm but boy was I wrong...It took 1 hour to go 10 miles. I was hot, sweaty, dehydrated, stuck with the top up as the ipod and gps both ran out of battery, in a jam-packed 6 lanes wide bumper to bumper as far as you can see.

Now I remember why I hate SmelLA. Traffic is horrendous, drivers are rude, if you don’t ride up on someones ass you are cut in front of mercilessly. Zero to 80mph to Zero. Over and over and over. But at least I got to see my girl Vanessa at her work, which was a pit stop from heaven! Gatorade is thirst aid, let me tell you.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Green-Eyed Monster

Now that most everyone in my life knows I’m going, an interesting phenomenon is occurring. And this time I’m glad to be on the other side of it.

I remember clearly when a few years back my friend JC announced he was quitting his job to travel the world. I smiled and nodded as he talked about his plans, inside alternating between screaming at the top of my lungs and just blanking out because it was too much to hear about what I secretly dreamed of doing but didn’t have the guts to do.

Now I see this same look in the eyes of some people who are wishing me well on my journey. They sort of loathe me. They don’t want to admit it but they do.

This is only a few people mind you. Not everyone really wants to do this. Some can say “Oh how wonderful! I’m so jealous!” but the reality of really doing it would never be seriously considered. Why? Because it’s tough. It’s not for everybody. It’s complicated and messy and involves a series of unknown mishaps. Believe me, I like the consistency and stability of a life with boundaries you can see clearly and the rules are well understood. But not for every single year of, what I hope to be, a long and fruitful life.

So to those who want to go. GO! I’m proof you can actually just get up one overcast Sunday and decide to do it. You can overcome any challenge or obligation if you get persistent and creative.

Money is easy, live below your means for a couple years, anyone can do that. Do you really need another <fill-in-the-blank>? Chances are, probably not.

For those of you with children, who think it can’t be done, this blog puts that excuse to rest: 360 Degrees Longitude

So start planning your escape already!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

REI Wonderland

I don’t like to shop. I am not very trendy, not a fashionista, nor a big consumer. I know those in my former life at Macy’s are wincing at this blasphemous statement. Yes, I said it. My dirty little secret is exposed.

But at least every week these days I wake up, pray silently towards the north and scramble excitedly to the the mecca that is my neighborhood REI. The one exception where I buy things almost uncontrollably. I can spend hours looking at all the millions of handy items that would make my camping, backpacking, and hiking trips more bearable if not luxurious. I even linger on things that I could never use, often talking myself into buying something cool that I may need “someday” and it ends up collecting dust in the garage. Never mind that REI has been a slight addiction, it remains a veritable wonderland for the adventurer or those that dream of being adventurous.

And thanks to my former colleagues extremely thoughtful gift cards for my departure, I got totally set-up this week for our final purchases. Two large shoulder bags, long sleeve shirts, water filter, and travel towel. If you’re reading along, thanks again! and I miss you!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Second Job

Getting ready to goof off for a year is really a lot of work. Nobody told me I’d be working 10 hour days and still feel a bit overwhelmed. Now I know you can just get up and go. Plenty of plucky adventurers just buy a ticket and hit the road. I even did it once when I was 22. Threw some old clothes in a secondhand backpack, got a passport, and jumped on a plane a few weeks later.

But a decade later it’s a little harder to just up and leave. Things need to be organized, somewhat. Loose ends tied up, if not in a boyscout knot at least in a scissor-curled bow. I do hold out on the hope that once every kitty is nestled in its fuzzy catbed and everything else is nestled in its storage cube that I can let go a little more. Not have to have it all figured out. Not have a 12 tab excel spreadsheet of stuff to categorize, calculate, and remember to do. Not live by a list to check off.


And just float for awhile. Somewhere in the Aegean sea perhaps...

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First Need XL Water Purifier

Dubbed the best portable water purifier for hiking and camping by Modern Outpost, we are hoping this doohickey will save us loads of money on bottled water simultaneously saving us from waterborne illness.

The specs on the First Need XL Water Purifier that make it special include a 0.1 micron filter that filters out all 3 classes of microbiological baddies, including cysts, bacteria, and viruses. JC has even purported such extreme uses as drinking water filtered through this purifier from rivers in Calcutta and Nepal, and has lived to tell tale. That gets my seal of approval!

And as an added bonus, I do hear that you get big biceps from filling a few containers a day so Ron has his daily workout regimen to look forward to. I’ll be sure to make him switch it up so he doesn’t come back all outta whack with one arm brawny and the other scrawny.

Yes, I am also a poet.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Feckless Drifting

We went up to the Olympic Peninsula to visit my Mom and drop off camping gear and other essentials for after the trip, like a business suit (banishing the thought about future job interviews for now!). They have an incredible house with an equally incredible view of the bay. And we ate like kings, my Mom the chef recreating Lamb Shank with Mushroom Bolognese from the Tra Vigne cookbook, and drank like royalty with “her Ron” as the always savvy sommelier serving wine from his home-crafted wine cellar. You know its special when a Ledson makes the line up. I am careless to not have a photo of this masterpiece. And this is on Mother’s Day!

I should have been the one cooking. Although I did chop some of the ingredients like a dutiful sous chef, I would then disappear into the office to offer meager technical support to the home network configuration kerfuffle in progress. Just 3 days ago I configured Rocky’s router, network, printer, and file sharing in under an hour. That is the bliss and then ultimate aggravation of technology. One minute easy, the next impossible. And then Vista, forget it!

But after the plate was licked clean, the last drop of wine drunk, and the router was secure and purring it was almost already time for our departure from the warmth of my family.

My mom is just amazing and we are so incredibly lucky to be as close as we are even, and especially, as the years go by. She had tears in her eyes as we gave our last hugs for the year, although hopefully we meet up at some point on the trip, “perhaps New Zealand!” saying she felt like she was birthing me into the world again. That moment made me feel like a little girl full of a mothers love, which is like no other, and confident to follow my heart wherever it may lead. My mom with her unwavering support is unabashedly proud I’m running off to see the world. With full permission to be a "feckless drifter". I like the sound of that! But I admit I didn’t know what feckless meant and had to Google it later.

Feckless (Adj) Lacking purpose; Without skill, ineffective, incompetent; Lacking the courage to act in any meaningful way; Lacking vitality

Hmmmmmm. This doesn’t seem exactly what I thought it meant or what I think she meant. More of a drifting with no ulterior motive but to drift. Travel for travels sake. Not needing to get anywhere but to be just where you are when you get there.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

That will be my definition of fecklessly drifting around the world.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Trail of Ten Falls

We are in Damascus, Oregon visiting Ron's brother Rocky and his wife Sue. They bought a little house in the country only 20 miles outside the bustle of Portland and have spent 3 years transforming it into a paradise. Rocky is a creative wonder at restoration and I can tell how much Ron admires and looks up to him more than anyone else in his life. I’m so happy we could come spend a few days before our big trip, and it was packed full of good eats, playing pool and darts (and being severely beaten at both), a bonfire on a cold drizzly night, late night swinging from an old elm tree, and of course copious amounts of laughter and of course bourbon.

We really both wanted to stay longer if we could. Enjoying the easy life with such great company. Rocky and Sue are one of those special couples that you know exist but all too rarely see. They totally complement each other and are so much in love, you can tell when they look at each other that nothing else matters more.

And to top it all off, yesterday we went on THE MOST AMAZING hike I've ever been on, the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park. I don't mean to scream but I’m going to...WOW! It was mid-week and raining so we basically had the trail to ourselves. The green moss covering every open space of rock and tree. The river gurggling . And the roar and soft spray of waterfall after waterfall after waterfall. There were 10 falls ranging from 27 to 177 feet and then many more impromptu run-off waterfalls that would be the highlight of any normal hike. But this was no normal run-of-the-mill hike. Some of the falls you could even walk behind and get to a space where you are totally surrounded by the sight and the sound and the spirit of the fall. Such a magical feeling.

Check out the video below that Ron put together. Hang in there, its BIG!


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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chez Panisse

Ron took me to Chez Panisse in Berkeley tonight for my birthday dinner. And let me tell you it was YUM. I've been wanting to go for years now and it might have been the end of our relationship if he didn't pull out the reservation this time. I joke. But only mildly. I've been dying to go and it didn't disappoint. We got the most romantic table right in the front window. And as I sat enjoying an asparagus tart shaped like a slice of pizza and spit roasted chicken with morel mushroom sauce, I realized that this would be the most expensive dinner I would eat for the next several years.

We have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the Bay Area, mainly for birthdays and anniversaries. There was the neverending dinner under the bigtop canapy at Fleur de Lys, the best crack-duck ever at Applewood Inn, the imprompu fireworks at Forbes Island, the proposal extravaganza at Julias Castle, the stoned waiters at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, the talkative man dining alone next to us at Silks, and the all consuming all scrumptious lobster pot pie at Michael Mina. God, I love food. And we have been so lucky to live and eat in the foodie wonderland of the Bay Area.

But not all dinners have to be expensive, we've had a thousand amazing meals on the cheap, in dives, tacquerias, and taco trucks that have been just as good if only that they are simple and warm and under 5 bucks. I really can't wait for authentic italian pasta, fresh french cheese, indian masala, thai gang panang,....and on and on. Real food from around the world instead of food from around the world eaten in a mall food court. Doesn't quite compare. I'm sorry I don't mean to spoil your Yokohama rice bowl : ) eat up!

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Laptop

ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005PE-MU27-BK 10.1-Inch Black Netbook with Kindle for PC (11 Hours of Battery Life)Check it out, my new laptop! It's an Asus Eee PC 904HA. Ron got it for my birthday so I can blog up a storm and stay connected to our family by skype via a built in webcam. And it's only 8.9 inches and under 2lbs so its mini-sized which is perfect for travel. It has 160 GB Hard Drive for our gazillion photos and a 6 cell battery which should last up to 5-6 hours of regular use.

So far I love everything about it except for the page up key is placed where the right shift key should be so as I write I end up the previous driving me crazy line and turning it into a jumbled mess. It's really I'm almost ready to just put everything in lowercase. See what I mean!

Edit: they no longer sell the version I originally bought but they have a new version ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005PE-MU27-BK that is 10.1" display with a larger 250GB hard drive. It even comes in colors: pink, white, blue, black. All for less than $350, you can't beat it as a traveling companion, and you can always stay connected!

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Party Like a Rockstar

Last nite we threw a party in our loft to say farewell to our friends. It was a pretty good turnout, even a last minute surprise visit from a NY colleague, although a few notable exceptions were no-shows, you know who you are and we are mad. Mad I tell you.

We advertised it as BYOB since we are unapologetically being cheap and saving every dime for our trip. But everyone brought over so much beer, wine, and alcohol we need to throw another party to get through it all! Seriously if we drank it all we may never get through packing or just end up labeling every box incorrectly or incoherently like "odd socks make good puppets". Now that I think of it, I could probably use another Vodka-Rockstar right now...

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