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A dog chat

23 Aug

Since we’ve been slacking on our blog, enjoy this post from the black dog chronicles and read what Shae and Olivia think of life on the road. Thanks Aspen and Porter! We can’t wait to meet up in the states.


Feeling My Way

28 Mar

The day begins slow.  The morning is cold and slow to warm.  The place is new and I am lost within, empty.  I don’t brush my teeth, I just want to be happy.  I am mourning the loss of Sarah’s presence.  She is in New York.  The sun is on, I look out to three mountains on a lake.  The dogs are free to roam a healthy sized green field.  Olivia explores.  Shae pants while laying at my feet.  A black Chihuahua ironically named sunshine follows Olivia from a distance.  Two mountains on one side one in front of the other.  I am trying to make peace with where I am.  The opposite side is another mountain.  In between the mountains is a low place that curves down as to form a bowl.  Shae makes her way under Skyhorse to find shade, her coat is long.


A loud Spanish speaking man is talking to two small children who are swinging intermittently.  My ankles, lower legs and waist are covered in bite marks from days prior.  My body itches, it’s hard to focus.  I keep looking around.  Small black flies are on my legs, I’m unsure if they are making the situation worse.  Olivia is at a neighbor’s Ford Aerostar.  She circles it standing on her hind legs taking it all in, looking for food.  A ten year old boy approaches, making dog call noises while snapping his fingers with his arm extended towards her.  Olivia draws a towards him for a moment and wags.  She goes back to the Aerostar.  I’m trying to be in the moment.  My mood softens.  Boats glide criss crossing the lake.  The water gives the sense of home.

Eleven months straight day and night I’ve been with her living in a 14’x8′ space and sleeping in a 1964 Cessna 310 fuselage.  Yet I’m not rejoicing in the space I have without her.  I’m immobilized without her energy.  The sun gives life but the soul has its own type of sun.  Sarah is my sun.


I’m telling myself today is for the pups.  Let them roam free and remember their wild nature.  Olivia is far and I’m mildly worried.  Sarah would have wrangled her back by now.  I’m super glad the dogs are with me.  We are a pack.  Olivia pees as usual with one leg up.  She goes further challenging her boundaries.  I bring her closer with a treat and Shae at my side.  A boat almost arrives at the shore.  I think about launching the kayak.  Man I love my dogs.



Nothing fits.  I look out to my surroundings.  The more I sense the calmer I am.  If you can feel it, it has meaning.  I move to the shade.  My body cools and wind pushes all over me.  A cool breeze make me happy.  I walk over to a shy boy in a bathing suit at the pool.  He is fearful of some dogs.  I introduce Shae and Olivia to ease his discomfort.  His chest is on the concrete while his waist is in the pool.  I move to a concrete table and bench with a metal umbrella.  Unappealing materials for a natural setting.  Shae has left my side to roam.  The boy is submerged in the pool.  I miss my childhood days swimming in our backyard pool with my yellow lab, Hercules.  One time I got him to jump off the diving board before the insurance man declared the board unsafe and made us remove it.  Hercules and I owned the summers in that pool.  He will always be a dear friend.  Hell he swam in it by himself in the winters.  Shae comes to my feet.  Olivia hears my call and joins us.  He swims alone although he has four siblings.  You can’t connect with people on all levels even if they are family.  But the the more levels you connect with someone else the more beautiful the friendship.  It’s rare but profound.  It’s hard for me to make friends.

Four worker clumsily disassemble an outdoor tent.  Sounds of metal and awkward body movements.  The clouds cluster on every point of the mountains.  Shae and the boy lay in similar positions.  Shae prefers the shade.  A sound is let out.  I’m unsure if it was the boy or Shae.  I’m recovering from spending time in Guatemala City.  Big cities are so gluttonous.  They lack natural space.  Where do the souls of city dwellers find rest?  He moves to a different spot along the pool.

Each day we race to fill our lives with things.  The brief moments I have spent watching this morning, I could spend weeks unpacking them.  Nature encourages a slow rhyme of quality.  I am learning to love silence.

The boy’s sister comes in bright clothing close to her brother.  Her movements seem to mock his enjoyment of the water.  She leaves quickly.  He stays a while longer to hold fast to himself.  Maybe I will take a kayak ride.


When You Swept Me Away

25 Feb

We are on a tour.  Our movement has been constant.  We have a pace.  The next place is frequently thought of.  It has been uncommon to break from this rhythm and to elude our ingrained urge to move forward. Zipolite has taken away the next and given me the present.  Most mornings I am not eager to get out of bed.  Here, I awake with the sole thought of coming down the stairs to open the rears doors that face the beach.  The feeling of the salty breeze falling on my almost waken body quiets my soul.  I now know why cats live in windows and people live in their porches and balconies.  The rear doors are an extension to the sea.  


There are two rock formations, which appear to be volcanic in nature close to one another in the sea near the shoreline.  It’s easy to spend the day watching the waves dance into and over them.  Each day the dance varies with different size waves.  Along with the dance comes the song of sea that convinces you seeing is overrated.  What a pretty voice.  What a sweet smell.  It’s a place that has spoken to me.


This experience makes me think why can’t I draw such beauty from all that I encounter.  Is there something that hinders me from achieving this?  If I was more attuned with my surroundings and possessed a positive mind, could I be harmonious daily regardless of where I was and what I was experiencing?  I want to analyze the dimensions of this experience so I can use that information in the future.    The desire to continue this pleasure has become an addiction.  It will be difficult to leave.  I imagine this is the reasoning that makes people susceptible to continual drug use.  If you find it, you keep it going.  What it costs will depend on how you need or want it.  For now, I simply live it and resist a rational dissection.    


I read.  I finished A River Runs Through It.  The author, Norman Maclean, raises the question of how to be with a destructive brother.  It’s an unsolved endeavor but an enchanting read.  I wear a bathing suit all day long although it is a nude beach.  I should be naked.  Sarah takes me to yoga class.  Our instructor, Marjorie, says Sarah is a natural.  I’m proud of her and glad how happy yoga makes her.  We made friends who have rented a house and make ice cream from fruits.  They plan on staying here for a year.  They are colorful and I am certainly glad to have met them.  Their neighbor likes the bottle, Mezcal to be specific.  They can see into each other houses.  When he is high on the sauce, he raises his machete and curses them in Spanish.  When they see him in town, he greets them cordially.  Now they have concealed the area that was visible between their homes.  The dogs are easy to walk since they shit on the beach.  We watched an acrobatic type circus perform on the beach.    


When you find such a place do you enjoy it for the time you have or do you try to make it your home despite the impracticality?  I was raised to be realistic.  Both my parents are dentists who practice together at their clinic in Ormond Beach, Fl.  They emigrated from Egypt and built their practice with distant dreams and hard work.  They were determined to have me carry on what they built, not for their vanity but to give me comfort in life.  What kid eagerly proclaims his want to be a dentist when questioned by adults?  Middle Eastern diplomacy has a subtle way of convincing others.  Perceptions and patterns become part of you and when faced with a challenge to them you guard them as such.  Maybe I can rewrite myself into the poetry of eternal adolescence where real has no place. 



Mudd Bay

16 Oct

We met the Zeigers, Mark, Michelle and Aly, on the side of Mudd Bay road.  We had just come from the town screening of White Fang, which was filmed in Haines, Alaska.  Earlier that day, someone from Haines Brewery told us that in a certain area of town, people parked along side the main road then cross a bay to get to their homes.  We sought out this road.  When we met the Zeiger family on the side of Mudd Bay road, they were waiting for a bear to leave the bay so they could cross it to get home.  We stopped and chatted with them for a while.  That night, Sarah and I could not stop talking about how they have to cross a bay while being mindful of the tides and then walk an hour through an unpaved forest just to get home.  I parked close by for the night so we could we explore the area the next day.  The following day, we went back to the bay and the tide was really high—uncrossable by foot.  While this added to my fascination of how people lived on the other side, I was disappointed I couldn’t walk across to learn more.

My other obsession in Haines was a wooden boat. DSC_0448

I spoke to the brother of the owner/builder.  He said it was a London sailing barge style.  After taking about a hundred pictures and measurements, I did an Internet search.  I found that the designer, David Zeiger, lives in Haines.  I emailed David trying to arrange a meeting since we were in Haines for a few more days before we took the ferry out.  The emailed response said it was Mark, David’s brother, who managed the website and email correspondence.  David was out of town but Mark was more that willing to meet up, and actually, we had met on Mudd Bay road the day before.  I told Sarah about this strange coincidence.  She asked me if I told Mark about how we were still talking about them nonstop.  I had, along with a request to visit their homestead.  Mark was up for it, as long as a tour of Skyhorse was in it for him.  In his email, Mark suggested we wear rainboots for our journey.

The next morning, we first stopped at the only store in town to buy rain boots, a worthwhile $40.  To say that the Ziegers live differently is an understatement that starts with the passage to their house.  Boots are a necessity.  After parking on the side of Mudd Bay road, we walked across the street and began to cross the bay.  If the tide is out, it’s a walk in rain boots, maybe waders.  When the tide is in, it’s a kayak ride or afternoon in town until the water reaches a crossable level.  That morning, we walked across what once was the bottom of a bay, wet and seaweed ridden.

the start of the walk across the bay

the start of the walk across the bay

boots and coats

boots and coats

Once across the bay, we treked 45-minutes through the lush forest.  If we hadn’t had Mark and Aly as guides, we surely would have gotten lost.  The path to their home was minimally marked with flags but heavily covered in mushrooms, canopy trees and moss.  And then we arrived at their ocean view homestead.  It felt like walking though Sherwood Forest to get to Robin Hood’s hidden village.

DSC_0468  DSC_0472

DSC_0481 DSC_0504

The main cabin has a  wood burning oven in the center, along with their shower which is hooked up to the oven. The back room is the master suite and the upstairs has a cool tv room and Aly’s room.

the cabin

the cabin


There’s a healthy garden any rabbit would happily call home.

DSC_0485 DSC_0487

They collect their own water, produce all their own electricity through wind and solar and have an outhouse with instructions on how to use the toilet.  They don’t have refrigeration and everything they bring out to the house must be carried on their backs.  Even though they did not build the cabin, it fits them so well.  I love their spirit—a spirit nesting in the treasure of nature.  In our contemporary world that encourages making our lives convenient and lavish, the Zeigers have ignored this and followed their hearts.  It affirms that those that follow their hearts receive rewards that are hidden in the waves of conformity.

The day passed like we were all on swings on a porch, sharing each other’s energy.  We toured the grounds.  Ali made us bumble weed pesto from plants in their garden.  Mark poured wine that he made.  After eating lunch, the tide had come in so we continued our stay.

The conversation flowed all over—our travels, their decision to move from Juneau to this remote home to live off the land, and Aly’s schooling (she’s now in college).  Dinnertime rolled around and Mark cooked us lentil chili.  Michelle came home from work just as the sun began to dip.  We figured we should begin the hour long hike back to Skyhorse through the wilderness.  The Ziegers, professionals at this walk, trotted along in the near-darkness sans lights.  We followed, though I’m certain had it just been Sarah and I, we would have turned on lights the second we stepped out of the house.


As we walked back to Skyhorse among the shadows with wood and rock under our boots, Mark spoke about his passion for the Christmas season.  He said the Haines library had a sleepover for the release of the final Harry Potter book.  At midnight, everyone walked over to the local bookstore, bought the book and returned back to the library.  Mark wanted to have a have another sleepover to during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.  His face had an innocent mischievous glow when he talked about Christmas.  We were walking downhill single-file surrounded by dense forest.  And then we all turned on our flashlights.

Aly earlier had anthropologically dissected Christmas.  She said it was a festival designed to give a reprieve from the darkness coldness of winter by adding colorful lights, gathering with other while drinking and eating in excess.

I remember how much I awaited Christmas morning to celebrate the gifts that I got.  Now the gifts that I value the most are experiences, not possessions.  Thank you Zeigers for a truly memorable gift.

walk back across the bay

To learn more about the Zeigers and their homestead check out their website: and the blog post they wrote about meeting us:

Down But Not Out

29 Jul

I hear honking and see the car behind me quickly move next to me into the oncoming lane, driving all over the road trying to get my attention.  I look in my rear view mirrors to see if Skyhorse was safe.  A week ago, one of the exterior storage compartment doors opened while we were driving and an unopened two gallon jug of motor oil ($30) flew out, spilling all over the dirt road.  From that experience, I felt that something was wrong.  Looking back, I could see no problems but I knew something was wrong and the fact that I couldn’t see a problem made we even more worried.  The worry was a fear that sat low in my stomach.  When I was in grade school, my teachers would walk around the classroom handing back tests face down on our desks.  I would look up at their faces.  The times I saw distant eyes or movement in their mouths is when I would have the same fear I was now feeling.

I stop.

Sarah tells me to turn on the rear view camera.  I turn it on.  The screen flashes on and immediately we realize we can’t see the motorcycle that we carry on the rear.  We run to the back (my door is still open) and the bike is upside down still attached to the truck with the handlebars on the pavement.  The smell of gas spilling hits me.  The cover hides the bike and I don’t know the extent of the damage.  Part of me wants to keep the cover on and not know how screwed we are.  On the other hand, I want to get it off right away and know.  Isn’t always the case that we have interior movements that are opposed to one another at difficult times?

In my earlier days, I would always move forward without much regard to the future.  I have slowed down that forward motion and many a time chosen not to get involved with certain people.  The realization that some people will drain you, no matter what they are offering, is a life lesson.  It is important to heavily participate in the selection process.  In this situation, I didn’t have a choice.  The cover needed to come off in order to right the back and place it on the truck again.  The well-dressed gentlemen who alerted to the accident, stayed with us and helped us right the bike.  He stayed until I told him we were stable.  In fact, he was ready to help lift the 300-pound bike back on the truck by hand not realizing we had a winch to lift it.  It felt good to be surrounded by a person who truly cares and willingly to place himself in your situation.  I think when you see a disaster unfold before your eyes you are helplessly compelled to be part of it.  When he parted he wished us well and said with an accent “hopefully I will see you in better times.”

The cover came off.  The gauges, front master cylinder, and mirrors were ground down.  I put the key in the bike.  I needed to know how bad off we were.  It cranked up, shifted, lights and rear brake worked.  I was relieved.  The street we were on had minimal traffic and drivers had been stopping all along it to view wildlife.  We were lucky that we did not have to be rushed.  I didn’t want to rush and Sarah can’t work fast.  Sarah was there in full force helping.  She is very caring and I could tell she was really concerned about the situation even though she is not a big fan of the bike.  Sarah’s caring is a trait I cherish.  When I get worried about the future or we are arguing, I know in the end, she will always care about me, probably more than I do about myself.  She really knows how to love.  Of course when you’re in the middle of an unpleasant situation the fact that the love of your life is next to you helping is obscured.  I guess that’s why having perspective is valuable to access events.  I wanted to take the bike on a ride to test it.  Sarah objected and I didn’t want to push my luck.  We loaded it back on the truck.

The previous night, we camped next to Pyramid Lake on the outskirts of Jasper.


I thought we would have been asked to leave because it’s near a park.  I figured we would test the Canadians.  Night one was successful and we even had some French neighbors in a campervan.  I wasn’t going to try my luck again, but the neighbors were going to.  We had a late start to the day and the motorcycle debacle didn’t get me in the mood to drive.  An accident takes your sense of security away.  You don’t trust your skills and knowledge.  So we returned to stay another night at Pyramid Lake.

At 1am we had a visitor, the law.  Sarah asks if we she should answer the door, I say no.  After four separate knocks, Sarah caved.  She tried to talk him into letting us stay for the night.  He was not having it.  He said we needed to go to campground.  The nearest one was about seven miles and $30.  I thought, screw it I’m up lets make our way down the road to our next stop.  Sarah said what about animals.  We make our way to the city center where two massive elks were grazing in a public square.  I agreed with Sarah.  Jasper is a small town and we are notable.  It would be hard to find a spot at night where the law wouldn’t find us.  We could have gone to the campsite.  I didn’t want Johnny law to win and it was a challenge for me so we drove around for almost an hour.  I parked in an apartment complex parking lot.  An hour into it, we saw some kid leave a note on the windshield.  It said we needed to leave or we would be towed.  In the space that asked for Province, he put “florid.”  The vehicle description was “Magic Bus Mobile Home.”  The note alone made the experience worthwhile.  He let us sleep and didn’t knock.  Thanks for the note kid.


At 8am, a middle-aged man with a clipboard knocked on the door.  I opened the window and told him I needed a few minutes and we would be out.  He was satisfied and walked away.  Sarah was still in the plane.  I drove with her still in it.  In my heart, I want to believe that Sarah felt like the plane was flying.

I headed to the only station that sold diesel.  I look to my left while I fuel and I see the man who helped us yesterday.  He still expressed regret for our misfortune.  He is from Israel.  I tell him my wife is Jewish.  Sarah didn’t believe me that I told him that.  As an ethnic person, I can appreciate people feeling at ease at meeting a person from their same background.

Forever frontier

27 Jul

A year ago I came to Wyoming.  In 2001, I had driven the southern portion of the state west to east.  I vaguely remembered being in Yellowstone and the Tetons on that drive.  Last year is when I began to know Wyoming.  I was out there to attend a three week course at the Trial Lawyers College.  The College was created by Gerry Spence to teach lawyers humanity and how to truly communicate.  Its located in Dubois which is about an hour and half from Jackson.  The College is located ten miles off a dirt road.  The property was previously used to ranch and is now called Thunderhead Ranch.  The most important lessons were how to empathize with people and we all have issues.  It’s an experience that I don’t want to characterize in words.  Anyway, I had a few chances to get off the ranch and feel Wyoming.  I also was reading Gerry’s biography.  It’s a land of cowboys and vast land.  I enjoyed being out there.  I made sure on this trip to see those involved with the ranch.  Before we entered Wyoming we had visited five other lawyers who also attended the college with me.

As soon as we exit Highway 80, the pavement ends and there is nothing but a trailer selling fireworks.  No gas station, no fast food, no buildings. Just dirt pounded into a flat track.  Surely this is not the road to Lori and Mike’s house. Lori is a good friend with a sense of humor and the registrar of the College.


Mike, Lori’s husband, is a well rounded guy that can discuss wind energy to politics while drinking quality beer.   After a call to Lori, we were assured this indeed was their road. Their home, simply put, is removed.  Their home has lots of atmosphere and historical décor.  The most notable aspects were the antique, very ornate furnaces and the wind generator that provides all their power and then some.  Mike has a dream garage that I wanted to take with me.  We are in Buford, Wyoming where there is a dearth of people.

During our journey, one of the most surprising aspects is the amount of people who live in small remote areas.  When I was younger I desired obscurity.  A small wooden boat with a line or two of color around it in the Mediterranean I thought.  I would be tethered to this wonderful ship while living a simple hidden life in Greece.  Outside of time away from people an unknown existence.  I don’t know why I yearned for that.  It was my teenage years, a time where popularity was the most sought commodity.  I didn’t buy into it, and I despised that type of value system.  I thought if this was the basis of society I could without it.  I’m an upstream swimmer sort.  At times, I forget that about myself.  Like when I decided to go to college in Boston and abandon my Grecian fisherman vision.  Or when I pushed aside my want to be a filmmaker and go to law school.  But now, the absence of people and their activity seems to be a lonely proposition.  It’s not so much that certain stores or services are missing but rather the bustle that makes atmosphere.  I grew up in Daytona Beach and the city was only active during a few seasons such as bike week or spring break.  Outside the seasons, Daytona was dead, although many people and stores lived there.  Key West is much smaller and has much fewer stores and services than Daytona but it is all atmosphere all the time.

As we continue, I feel like I again understand this self-imposed exile from society.  Lori and Mike’s house has a mesmerizing back porch that looks out to rolling green hills of uninterrupted nature.  We spent a full day just sitting on that porch.  The porch was filled with entertaining chatter, reading, napping, hummingbird watching, and great food.  As the sun set behind the mountains, a dense front of storm clouds way low to the earth paraded towards the sunset.  What a force those clouds presented.


The clouds, in time, brought a dark sky.  Lori ran into her house.  Once the sky turned from a warm blue to blackish gray the clouds erupted and brought down m&m size hail.  Sarah and I ran to Skyhorse so we could watch the show.  We loved watching it.

The next day we visited another Laurie.


Laurie is the executive director of the College and a rather well put together gal with a big smile.  She lived down the same road, except her driveway is two miles long.  I think that’s like living on an island.  You can’t see anyone unless you traverse your driveway.  Laurie is completely off the grid.  She relies on solar, wind, and a large battery bank for power.  The land was so vast, filled with large stones and a lake.  We surprised Laurie as she was in the process of collecting slag, tree remnants aside from the trunk.  I will say that I didn’t know Laurie really gets down with nature.  We walked the land, ate a Greek salad, and caught up.


Next stop, Thunderhead Ranch to see the ranch managers Greg and Kate.  I first met Greg when I was at the conference.  He wears a cowboy hat.  But that’s not the first thing I noticed about what he wears.  He has a magnificent mustache that is the envy of any male.  I am a hairy guy and he makes my mustache look like I’m Asian.  Kate is a warm individual with a fiery personality.  We spent a couple of days on the ranch with them.  We went in town for the Fourth of July.  We had a blast meeting their friends and watching a lengthy firework show that seemed to have multiple endings.



18 Jun

Time is at the center for communal life.  It is the one tool that coordinates the lives of numerous people.  Our needs and desires can’t be met whenever we wish.  We have to balance our goals with the availability of others, who we need to achieve those goals.  So we have calendars and clocks as our language.  Time is the format of our existences.


I am walking Olivia down a dirt road on the ridge of several mountains on the outskirts of Silverton, Colorado.  Silverton is a former mining town in the valley of mountains.  I have never seen a village like this before.  It’s now a tourist attraction because of a steam train that comes here and mine tours.


The two streets were lined with gift shops that were once saloons and brothels.  One side was the respectable street and the other had the brothels.  But there were underground tunnels that would take from a respectable saloon to a whorehouse.  This way you could keep your public image in tact while indulging yourself.  Isn’t that where we meet our desires, in the dark secret places?  I am pretty sure it was more interesting back then.  We have been in this area for a few hours yet we have seen a few other cars.  I am allowing Olivia to walk wherever she wishes.  She is mighty happy and is in her own world.  The walk takes me through our journey in my mind.  I begin to think of how long we have been on the road.  I know its been six weeks because Sarah told me earlier.  Has it experientially felt like six weeks to me?  I try to compare how I calculated time when I was working and stationary.  I thought well back then I calculated experiences between times.  For example, I knew when I had a commitment at work such a court appearance or a deposition then I would think when will that finish and when will I be meeting up with friends.  That’s not to say that I do not enjoy my profession.  For me, I experienced time as things I needed to do versus things I wanted to do.

Now, I don’t work on time and dates.  We decide what to do and we do it.  It happens instantly without too much if any future planning.  I am no longer accessing the present time and waiting a future time.  Time unfolds in a continuum without breaks.  We still have need and want activities but they now blend together.  A solidified life is more enjoyable.  When I compartmentalized time it felt like a battle between dislikes and likes.  During that period I would try to create more likes to drown out the dislikes.  I still have like and dislikes but the time battle is not in play.

Before I return to society I hope I will continue to approach time the same way, have a wiser mindset, or devote my time to the things that give me joy.

I woke up to a rancher knocking on our door.  Where we camped for the night was in front of his entrance and he had a trailer full of horses waiting to get on his land.  He was not upset at all and rather friendly.   This reminds me of a place we parked in the hills of Santa Fe.  The following morning, this guy with a ponytail driving a Mini comes towards me gesturing for me to come to him.  He says “Cool rig, this is my land you can stay here but don’t leave any trash.”  I told him it was a nice property.  He retorted, “Go sell some weed and buy it.”  I didn’t know if that was his opinion on how I existed or he thought selling weed is good business.


We get on the road to find the mountain pass, which we were driving on, covered with cyclists.  This road was narrow, full of switchbacks, steep declines and ascents.  I have to drive the truck in second gear to control our speed on the descents.  If not the brakes will overheat and give out.  It’s nerves racking to say the least since I’m figuring out all this as I drive.  Of course I’m worried about the transmissions burning up or the coolant system springing another leak while having to concern myself with cyclists and rushed drivers.

Living out of a truck has its own set of problems.  A couple of days ago we take the truck off-road on windy mountains dirt rock roads.  We neglect to carefully read the map at the start of the trail and we get lost for a few hours going ten miles an hour.  We had stellar views all to our selves.  Things seem to carry greater value when they are exclusive.  Two elks ran in front of Skyhorse.  They were three times the size of deer.  Later on we saw big old boy buck.  He was magnificent and twice the size of the other elks.  Chipmunks were scurrying all along the path.  A few deer popped out to look at us.


Once we exit the Rio Grande forest roads right outside of Del Norte, CO I smell something burning.  Well I smelled it before and was too negligent to do anything.  I stop and lift the hood.  The turbo was smoking because some oil seeped out.  We park for the night while I read the truck service manual trying to figure out if there was a problem.  Next morning we start up fine.  But I can’t get the truck over 45mph and my rpms are limited.  I stop at a mechanic, the only one I see.  Its Saturday, no one is open, and this mechanic doesn’t work on diesels and he’s just in the shop doing a personal project.  He tells me the seepage is fine but he doesn’t know what’s wrong and to come back Monday when the diesel mechanic is in.  He thinks it may the turbo so I think to drive to Napa and try to source the part.  At Napa they can’t find a turbo in their computer.  Eventually they find one and its $1200 and I’ll see it on Tuesday.  Now we are looking at staying four to five days in this nothing town and losing $1500 (with it installed).  I stay at Napa trying to talk to many people to get their opinions while using their Internet signal to find a better priced turbo.  After a few hours I talk to this guy who seemed to have experience with motors.  He told me how to test the turbo.  I do the inspection and its fine.  I go back to him and he follows me to the truck.  He checks it himself and confirms they turbo is fine.  He believes I’m not getting enough fuel and that’s why we are sluggish.  He tells me to replace the six week old fuel filter.  He was spot on.  I wished he had stayed to watch the truck back on the road so I could thank him profusely.

Book Report

7 Jun

Ruby Payne-Scott was the first female radio astronomer. Miller Goss, also a radio astronomer, just finished writing a book about her. Miller and his wife Libby are the parents of my friend Kate.

Miller told us how he visited Ruby’s children in Australia so that he could gather information about his book on Ruby. As he went through the stories of Ruby and his research, I felt as though I was collecting information on the identity of Kate. I began to understand that identity is a canvas comprised of those around us. And what we contribute to those around us is the legacy we leave behind. That legacy is generational. It’s as though you can’t know someone without exploring their pieces and linkages. After hearing all of Kate’s stories of growing up, it felt like they finally came alive in Socorro, New Mexico. Not only that, being around her parents made me feel like I was around Kate.

We had a great time with the Goss’s. It felt like we were home since they treated us like their own kids. They introduced us to all their curious friends and neighbors and bragged about our travels. They took us to dinner, they made us Indian food and we saw the Very Large Array. And I mean very. If Socorro is isolated, then the Array is on another planet.


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The VLA is comprised of 27 telescopes that use radio waves to understand the universe. All 27 telescopes function as one large one that move their position in place and can be individually unbolted and moved on train tracks by a custom made transporter. This technology of using radio waves to study the universe is not that old. There are radio telescopes throughout the world. The most impressive thing of this field is that the research is open to every country in the world. So the Chinese can come tomorrow to the VLA and the VLA scientists can go to China tomorrow. In a world of conflict and propriety interests, I found this refreshing. I highly value sharing and transparency.

A friendship is not only a person, it is their tribe. And I’m sure glad I know the Goss tribe.



15 May

We arrived late at night before our friends. Do we go in? Do we wait till our friends arrive? We go in as strangers. We were welcome. Food was offered and good conversation started. Despite the continuous rain at the beach, I knew we would enjoy ourselves.

When we first arrived to visit our friends, the Khans, in New Orleans they invited us to stay the week and come to Grand Isle to spend the weekend with their friends at a rented beach house. I went to high school with Zia and Traci. Traci was a year ahead of me and Zia was the other ethnic kid in my class. My friendship with Zia helped contextualize my solicitation. I didn’t feel isolated anymore. No one wants to be alone. Our friendship arose out of a complete understanding of one another. That and I had a car before Zia so he used me for rides. Zia’s friendship means a great deal to me. He is the only person from high school who I still keep up with. He and Traci now have two beautiful daughters. I hope they are walking at Audubon Park now enjoying nature and their girls. They are fortunate to be moving to Hawaii. While I believe this will be an excellent step for them, part me knows that this distance may weaken our bond.

Zia had said the beach was not as nice as a Florida panhandle beach. You can also see oilrigs from the shore. Our trip isn’t to only see beauty but rather to be open to the possibilities that present themselves to us. Once something has closed, it no longer seeks to add. There is no room for growth. In Key West, there was a radio host who would always say, “your mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open.” The energy you arrive with determines your destination.

We moved from one conversation to the other. Quickly felt comfortable. Snacked throughout the day. I kept telling Sarah we couldn’t leave Louisiana without going to a crawfish boil. Saturday it happened. Two rounds of boil eating on a long bench facing one another. It wasn’t food, beach, or drinking, but rather a gathering of people for the sole purpose of sharing our selves and what we had. Work was hardly discussed. It’s how people were meant to exist. Thank you all for being open to us and to each other. It was an experience that renewed my belief in being open and more importantly in humanity.

Odds & Ends

10 May

New Orleans has been our first stop after leaving Florida.  We encountered a few issues so we decided to take a few days to make life a bit more comfortable.  On the drive our windshield wipers gave out.  The plane blocks a lot of the rain and I put some Windex so the rain would bead.   I replaced the faulty wiper motor.   We also discovered we have weak headlights.  We switched them out with some brighter ones and added auxiliary driving lights.  Those have yet to be road tested.  A few organizational changes were made to the cabin.  The last few days were productive.

I decided to install a composting toilet for the following reasons: they have no odor, they can be dumped anywhere, they have to be dumped less frequently, and they do not require the installation of a holding tank.  These toilets are pricey.  I bought a marine toilet and spent lots of time modifying it to make it compost.  The key is to separate liquids and solids.  I accomplished the separation but it wasn’t pretty.  It did work for a while until Sarah and I first spent the night in the camper.  It had a major failure.  Needless to say sometimes its better to buy some things then make them.  I found a few suitable toilets in the market.  I bought a Nature’s Head toilet.  So far it has worked great.  I am always happy to use it.  The install was easy and we have no odor.  Anyone interested in a compost toilet should go with a Nature’s Head.  If you want more information email me and I’ll give you the skinny.

I also wanted to mention that I will be trying to be honest and transparent with my entries.  Being on the road I feel I have the freedom to be honest without having to deal with the fallout.  When you have a job and are one place we all have to play politics and be diplomatic.   My good friend Doug is always transparent in all situations.  He is not only honest about who he is, how he sees things, and his emotions to me as his friend but to anyone he meets.  It’s refreshing and it makes me want to be honest and quit hiding my thoughts.  So I dedicate this initiative to Doug who has showed me that being open and vulnerable is liberating and endears people to you.  If any issues arise with this approach take it up with Doug.