United we sit, and the seats are small

There isn’t much to pack for this trip. It’s less than a week, and so I grab a few things on the way out. I have plenty of room, I think to myself. A book? Ha ha ha, I laugh, I’ll take two!

I check in with United and then learn the terrible truth: my ticket allows for only one “personal item.” No overhead baggage allowed.

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Smokey lake on a brisk Alaskan fall morning

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Coldest morning of our camping trip in the Kenai. The weather has been good to us, despite how late it is in the season. By Alaskan standards, snow can fly at any time in October, so we were pushing it to try to squeeze in one more week, but the weather has been fantastic. I’ve have been in McCarthy since March — not even so much as a trip to Glennallen (the closest town, four hours away) in the last seven months — so it’s been enriching to me to get out and explore! This pic is from a campsite in the Kenai Wildlife Preserve, Kelly Lake, where we were the only campers. Fog in the early morning makes the lake look smokey and mysterious.

Vanlife

Taking a few days to tour the Kenai Peninsula. The weather has been amazing, especially here in Homer, where the bright sunny beaches make me feel like I’m already back in California. This is the view from our campsite in Homer (out the back of our rented mini-van), where we can see the Pacific Ocean spread out before us in a campground we have all to ourselves.

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#vanlife

Beginner’s Pen

I’ve redesigned my blog, simplified it a good deal. I’ve always been excited about the Internet, and I realized the other day I’ve been blogging and whatnot for something like more than 15 years now. The first time I really plugged myself into the World Wide Web was while I was working my second corporate gig, a job that had a boat load of inspiration for a satirical writer of comedies like Dilbert or The Office. Read more

Changes

People often ask me about the culture shock that I must experience, travelling back and forth between places like remote McCarthy Alaska and Silicon Valley, the mega-bucks techie epicenter of the world. Well, I’m kind of used to it. After a while, it becomes familiar, I suppose the mind eventually realizes that there’s really no reason to freak out, just switch into that other way-of-being and roll with it. A friend of mine who has travelled a lot more than myself says that when she is travelling she will sometimes forget what city she is in. Like, for more than just a few seconds.

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A wind that passeth away

For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. ~ Psalm 78:39

At the moment, I’ve not got the patience to count all the miles that I traveled on my road trip from McCarthy, Alaska to where I am now, the Bay area in northern California. I had purchased a conversion van, intent on seeing more of Alaska, to see sites I’ve not yet seen and to hopefully gather material for my winter writing, a novel set in Alaska.

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My view from Doha

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Initially when I purchased my cheap ticket via Orbitz, I was worried about having to spend almost 48 hours in transit, the bulk of the wait being a 16 hour layover in Qatar. As luck would have it, my long layover qualified me for a stay at a hotel, with transportation and meals provided. Lucky me. This is the view from my room. Doha, Qatar is filthy rich, off of fossil fuels, of course, and they are currently modernizing and diversifying their economy, resulting in an economic boom and grand building projects such as the one just outside my hotel room. Surrounded by desert, the parabolic warning about “building castles in the sand” comes to mind. But Doha is merely a metaphor for the situation of all humanity right now. We have overextended ourselves to the point where our earth cannot support us. Still, we keep building, using the wealth of a resource that is running low.

Dedicated Spiritual Practice

When you go on an extended spiritual retreat, you never really know what is going to surface. For me, there were no major revelations, but a lot of things that I already “knew” really sunk in deep. One of those things had to do with dedicating my spiritual practice to someone. This was quite a profound realization, because meditating 11 hours a day for ten days can get incredibly difficult. It helps you to keep going, if you aren’t just doing it for yourself.

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Review of Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

“An ultrarunner’s mind is what matters more than anything.”

I was intrigued to read more about ultrarunning, from an accomplished racer. Many people think that running a marathon is a mammoth achievement. But that’s only 26.2 miles. Ultrarunners do 50k runs, they do 50 mile races, they go head-to-head in competitions that span 100 miles….and more. And they even compete against each other in 24 hour races – round and round a track for 24 hours.  Read more

A Review of The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

This is my first Barbara Kingsolver novel, and she is now at the top of my favorites list. She is a magnificent story teller, and I really feel like I could just listen to her stories for hours and hours, for days and days on end. She picks away at the essence of the human experience, all without any need to announce it or explicitly tell us that she’s exploring the deeper meaning of it all. She just tells stories that unearth the treasures of our existence. Read more

Alpine

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This is Alpine, Texas, a small town in South Texas that I passed through on the train ride to Santa Monica, where I have arrived, safe and sound! I passed through Alpine this same time last year. The buss dropped me off and I hitchhiked a hundred miles south to backpack in Big Bend National Park, one of the least visited, remote of all the Parks. Strange that I should pass through almost precisely a year later.