Sunday, October 31, 2010

Leftover Clean

Boca Raton, Florida

No updates just yet.  Just a quick reminder that I am alive.  Fantasy Fest could have easily killed me, but instead it turned us into some sort of savages every night.  Last night was insane & I am asking myself questions about it & feeling the results.  I am bow legged & my legs are scratched & bruised up.  Man...

Saying goodbye is the worst.  It's never easy, but it's getting better.  Mike, my rideshare from St Petersburg laughs & says "After just a week, right?"  Makes sense, but he doesn't get it.  It's easy to fall into it.  These guys are my brothers.  We'll keep in touch, and maybe meet again someday.

This isn't the last time I will write that.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Crew.

Let me introduce the cast of characters for my next act.







Damon & I met up in Ft Lauderdale.  He was setting up shop there from Cape Cod, Mass to do some seasonal work on a fishing boat.  Together, we came down to the Keys.  He's gotten uper lucky with meeting people & finding a job out here, including an ESPN fishing captain who said he'll give him work.  Plus he never wants to leave.  Today he's on a charter boat for 10 hours with the owner of world-class restaurant Dante's.  His boat back home caught a 920lb tuna last week & sold it for 21,000$.  His phone has an issue with calling my phone, so he occasionally gets his mom to call me & leave a message with me.  He's been travelling around awhile, but always ends up home at Martha's Vineyard in the summer.  His introduction to CSing was though his ex-gf at the Collective in Alaska.  He spent all summer out there & is in love with it.  He keeps mementos in his car of someone who died in his arms.  He has Honesty written in white ink on his right wrist and looks at it everyday.  Him & I went to Haulover Beach the second day we met, and haven't really been the same since.  He's been an animal every night - really coming out of his shell.  It goes like this:  He'll go wild at night with costumes & general nonsense & proclaim that this is the best night of his life.  He will sleep about 1 1/2-2 hours, then be awake & unable to sleep.  The next day he will complain about feeling like shit all day & being super tired, sometimes using it as an excuse to get out of doing things.  He will be determined to take it easy that night, cause he needs rest & probably needs to do something work related the next day.  By the time he hits the street he realizes this is impossible & says "Tonight's gonna be a fun night".  Repeat for 7 days.
Bryan says this time next year, he will be an entirely different person.  True story.







Bryan is "the van guy".  A super cool, laid back sort of guy, with a killer sense of humour & sense of everything really.  His son Domenique named the van Vanny.  He was in town for kicks, with his hitchhiker Jeff.  He's got cups taped to the outside of the van marked "Homeless veterans' fund".  The joke is that that's him.  He had a couple weeks leave from the Air Force Reserves, but is heading back up to Gainesville via Georgia to do that.  It is because of his hookups you might see people running around in fatigues, or flak jackets, or a military issue helmet....sometimes with little else on.  There's no hurry with him, and everything is Nice or Cool.  He's got minigames for everything, including people watching & scavenger hunting at night.  Bryan left yesterday with Damon's phone & my hat in the van.  He's bummed out by Northern Florida so far - everything is a downer after Fantasy Fest, especially when you leave early.  He drew a picture of me on the roof of the van & gave me some photography tips.  He calls to check in once & awhile, to make sure we're in no hurry & that we're having fun.







I adopted Cameron one night in the rain.  He walked out of Walgreens at 4:30am with this bewildered/completely lost sort of look on him.  I invited him to come over & learn how to make roses out of palm tree leaves with the homeless guys I was chatting to.  He's from Wasilla Alaska, which leads to some great conversations.  There are so many things he's surprised Canada has, like vines & turtles, that they don't have in Alaska.  He's been here 5-6 months working with the Coast Guard.  His job is to sit in a room with no windows all night & make sure no ships are sinking.  There's a guy named Roger on every boat.  This guy pays huge attention to detail, doesn't show that he's drunk easily, and is super witty.  He administers DUI tests on Damon when he says he's okay to drive.  You can handly touch him because he is so ticklish.  He is a cat person & I may have convinced him to come to the Garden of Eden bar with me.  He unintentionally gives me tips for self-defense.  His goal for this week is to get me to say Take off ya hosers in casual conversation.
"Wait, what do you call people you don't like in Canada?"
"Assholes."
We met innocently enough after I lost a bet about which state Sault Ste Marie is in.  (He has lived there while I've driven through twice this summer.)  Now we have a race to see who will make it to Australia first.




Paul is a very cool guy, who is engaged in a social experiment.  He is a street performer, with a car & a place to stay.  He's wandering around on crutches due to a broken heel from falling off a wall.  (Who hasn't done that?!)  Him & I have fun times off the strip, more rooted to reality.  We both love live music, and Paul is a great guitarist.  He has often taken my request to play Bob by NOFX, Punk Rock Girl by the Dead Milkmen, or Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts by Less Than Jake.  I've promised to send him some new Propagandhi, and he believes Canada's the place to be.  One day we will meet in Winnipeg I have a feeling.  We sing "Will he ever walk the line" from Bob while Alaska does tests on Homeboy (Bryan's nicknames).  Last night he played his first gig in awhile & just jammed with all these guys playing bluegrass tunes at a restaurant, using a ukelele as a mandolin.  He knows the best shows for the night & wants to create a basement scene here - despite there being no basements.



I don't know much about new girl Wendy, except that she arrived yesterday with a rideshare who kinda gave her bad vibes.  She dressed as a mermaid yesterday.  She is smokin hot & is from Clearwater FL.  She is an engineer with the railways.  Seeing her face last night was hilarious.  She had no idea what it'd be like, but she is ready I think.

I am the technologically savvy of the group, since Damon can't upload pictures to Facebook & Cameron struggles to turn on his computer at work but has figured out how to use my camera, which is more like reverse evolution.  Damon & Cameron have to do pushups whenever they say "I know, right?" & I have to do pushups whenever I say In Theory.  I  am "that girl" - the one that hangs out with all the guys.  These guys follow my humour & add to it.  In whole or in part, these are the guys that help me to close down this town every night this week - during the biggest party of the country right now.

I will go on to describe some of my favourite moments of the week so far.  But not now.  I'm going to run to catch the sunset!







Monday, October 25, 2010

Change of plans...again...

Key West, Florida



Friday night was the Full Moon party in Islamorada.  So much fun.  I was feeling anxious heading in, but it was non-stop & pretty unbelievable.  All night on the beach dancing.  Non-stop.  The best cover band I've probably ever seen, marching band, fireworks, then back to the band!  They played seemlessly, one song to the next.  They played a Michael Jackson set even!  Great night down by the water.  Back to Xochi's couch at night.

Saturday we hit the road late, but it was a great drive through the Keys.  Island in the Sun by Weezer was the best.  When we got to Key West we discovered we were staying in a 6 million dollar house.  Holy shit.  2 waterfalls in the pool.  We were busting, it was completely outrageous!  Biked all day.  There was another surfer, a first timer (Jesse) who came with us to check out Suenalo at the Green Parrot.  They are a killer Miami funk band.  You can never have too much funk!  damon was 'mad excited' because he met this super famous fishing captain from ESPN who might have a job lined up for him.  Swimming when we got home!!!  Under the rainbow lights.  Swimming like a dolphin.  8.5 feet at its deepest, means you can dive through the waterfalls.  Soft chlorine.

Last night was the craziest.  We've been meeting all sorts of people, tons of really nice people.  Michael, this pedicab driver, is a super nice guy.  We have great discussions & I've been seeing him all over town.  There's this dude Bryan with this van...  He's been getting people to write all over it.  I crashed a zombie party at some point.  I doubled up on a bike for the first time, by going with Bryan down to see the sunset.  !!!  Fed (got attacked by) pigeons in Mallory Square with Damon.  Went on a scavenger hunt with those guys to find all the stuff we left all oven the city - two pillows in the street, B's camera on a fence, my magnet on a stop sign, B's hat on a statue, another hat was placed in the basket of a bike that was zooming by...  We spent the rest of the night - literally until after most of the bars were empty - on top of the van on Duval street talking to people, high fiving people, learning Serbian from the many Serbian pedicab drivers.  It was my goal to get as many pedicab drivers as I could.  People tagged my legs & back...the bottoms of my feet.  I'd walk down the street and know every single person!  We even met some of the people we had been meaning to call on Couchsurfing!  A Danish guy, who was chilling with us on the roof, & 5 Croats.  It was unreal.

This morning, we had to leave our CSer's house early, so we parked by Bryan's graffiti van & napped.  At some point while we were sleeping someone came over & said "You're that van that had that girl on it last night."  I wasn't doing anything but being friendly, loud & taking people's pictures - honest!  This place is totally going to my head!!!  Even though I know the star of the show is the van.  She deserves the love.

Everyone here is from somewhere else.  The joke is that it sucks you in & you never leave.  I am getting that vibe.  I was just convinced by a couple people to stick around for the week.  One was Michael.  He's been here a couple months, and says he's never been here for the festival, but the night before was simply a taste of what's to come.  It's just heating up.  It was so alive & it was Sunday night!!  The other was a guy who had just stepped off a cruise ship & happened to sit beside me.  He was so stoked about this place - nothing like anywhere he's ever been before, and he is well travelled.  70,000 people are expected for the parade Saturday, and people have been talking about this since I arrived in Florida.....a week ago.

They are both great options, to leave or to stay.  If I go there will be trouble, but if I stay there will be double.  I hate feeling indecisive, so I flipped a coin.

Tomorrow Ima spend some time & get you guys pictures of some sort.  If you wanna chat, let's arrange something!  You need Skype though.

Trying to keep up, I'll have more to talk about soon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

You wouldn't believe....

I've had some amazing moments today.

Somehow I was woken up before dawn by a random text message.  Please don't do that.

I woke up for breakfast & showed Emerson how I was like a worm rolled in my sleeping bag.

Swimming.  I just played in the water.  Swam up & down the beach.  Looked at shells.  Tasted the salt.  Examined seaweed.  Dove & delt the sand.  I saw a jellyfish & backed the fuck up.  Those things scare the hell out of me.  Okay, when it's out near the bouy, but closer to land, I just hauled anchor instead of sticking around.  The water was exactly as could be imagined.  My friends said it was a little chilly, but I dove right in.  That silky aquamarine.

I participated in a nude beach today.  I always thought I could do it.  I also knew my butt would get burned & obvuiously did not cover well enough.  We made some nude beach friends & after some sweating being the odd man out Damon joined too.  We had huge laughs about this later cause we've only known each other just over a day & have done things we wouldn't do with our closest friends.  We were playing beach volleyball completely nude with a bunch of strangers, man!  Very cool.  Very relaxed &...it was alot of fun!

There were vultures circling the nude beach.  Trying to think of some sort of ironic metaphor.  When they sold the top 3 floors of the condos on the beach, I doubt they mentioned the flock of vultures that'd be perched on their balconies & swarming the place.  What a brilliant imperfection.
Damon's end of some calls were super funny, like after I pointed a golden orb spider out to him.  Or when I caught him on the beach saying "Dude, you wouldn't believe where I am or what I'm doing.  I'll talk to you later."

An awful picture shoot with the family.  Cyclops (Bryan), Brooke, Damon & I....with Emerson running wild.  I'd love to see our expressions from when she's fiddling with the camera on a timer & almost gets a timeout.

Flat roads, miles upon miles of concrete, slong the everglades & a beautiful sunset.  Driving south.  Engrossing conversation.  Windows down, volume up, feet up.  Hair driving me mad cause it's got sea water in it.

We crossed over water.  The bridge they blew up in True Lies.  One way highway - the stretch - 25 miles between here & nowhere.  Damon & I are staying with Xochi on Islamorada, in the Florida Keys.  Eff Miami.  We went out to a bar & played some slick pool.  Some games I kicked his ass (by sinking 12 balls, most of which were my own) & some games he reamed me.  Best of 5 means he won 3-2.  He is obviously a better player than me though.  I can tell from the way he shoots & lines up his shots.

When we stepped outside the bar it was unreal.  Oh right, the ocean is right there.  There's a lagoon in the other that Damon dropped his sunglasses into.  We walked around on this tiny beach & dreamed about the ocean & the stars & philosophies & psychologies.  He says I really helped him out by talking out his problems.

Black Out Cake when we got back!  In the middle of the night.  Crashed at 4am.  Their cat's name is Luna(tic) and Socks who wears a collar that says Pantera.

-x-x-x-x-x-

This place is completely sucking me in.  Who knew Florida would do this to me?  I need to get to Mexico, but I wil still be there for Halloween or Dia De Los Muertos.  Islamorado, Theatre of the Sea, Suenalo, Fantasy Fest - what is my hurry?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Southern Hospitality

Boca Raton, FL

Let me try this again.

Somewhere between stepping out of the airport, feeling the slight humidity & thinking "hmm, palm trees", I hopped in the car with my backpack, drove down miles of concrete and found myself at home.

Also, I stepped straight from one Seinfeld reference to another.  From New York City to Boca Raton, FL.

I woke up to the heat.  I didn't even notice till I was fully awake.  When Emerson got home, we introduced her to Damon, another CSer we met along the way.  She looked at me & said "You slept a long time".  I slept almost 12 hours last night, understandably, in a pink room beside Sunflower the turtle.  This is what happens when I sleep in a bed.  I get comfortable.  And most times sleep between 8-12 hours.

Damon came with us (Brooke & I) to lunch, where we laughed at Southern & Canadian euphemisms, and travel stories.  Brooke is originally from South Carolina.  Damon's from Cape Cod, has lived in St Augustine, FL & has travelled all over the US.  He was going out with one of the editors of CSing a couple years back & went to the CSing Collective in Alaska at the time.  There's a default picture on the CSing homepage that he is in.  He is a big time fisherman, & has caught 7 of the 10 deadliest sharks out there, including hammerheads & a 400pd one we saw a picture of.  If we end up going to the Keys in a the next couple days, he's taking me fishing.

After lunch we headed to the Everglades kinda.  Apparently this is the off-season & the Everglades National Park is actually closed.  It was the Eveglades to me though.  Spent the afternoon walking around on the boardwalk birdwatching & turtle spotting.  No gators, drat.  No mouquitoes either!  All marshland.  Beautiful.  Florida softshells with snouts, Great Blue Herons, many different sorts of ducks & waterfowl.  Waater everywhere.

Then fighting off old NY ladies for spots at the Boys, a farmer's market - the way they should be.  Every counter we went to we got a free sample (Fancy Strawberries, bread, grapes, pineapple, coffee, chocolate covered jellies), and the workers were super nice.  None of them were local either.  Different varieties of everything blew our minds.  Damon wanted to live there.  No Miracle Fruit though.  I have to get on that!  Black Out Cake made the lights flicker.

At home, we sampled music from each other.  "Have you heard of.....Awwww, they're the best!"  Brooke was blown away that Zach Deputy - a little known musician highly recommended by Damon - is from her small hometown in SoCar.  Also, can almost play Tom Sawyer by Rush on the piano.  Her & Bryan saw them just a couple weeks ago at an outdoor amphitheatre!  Bryan is working on a way to sneak in a hookah.  Emerson coloured her stuffed kitty rainbow (everything is named Rainbow Da Cat to her, except Sunflower), and rode around on Damon's shoulders.  I kept tricking her by asking so many questions.  When Rainbow Da Cat needed to get down from the ceiling fan we got out the remote controlled helicopter to help, instead of calling the fire department.  She could be a one way vaudeville show - the way she says "Do you have a napkin please?" while covered in chocolate cake & marker.

I just finished drinking two cups of Papua New Guinea coffee - no wonder I'm so wired - from a CSing mug.  My feet feel much better.  I am sitting on the balcony, about 2 feet from where I'm going to sleep. :)  Pretty stoked about sleeping outside tonight, although I was thinking Emerson would have her room back.  Tomorrow, well, I don't want to jinx it or ruin the surprise, but the next few days will be fun!

I should never be shy about asking to surf with people, & I should invite CSers out all the time!

I am also trying to restrain myself from sending Kara so many requests for HER show, but I can't help myself.  I am just inspired!

**Don't get too used to my updating all the time.  As long as I am in the States, time & wifi is readily available.  Plus I love to write!**

"My favorite thing to do is to go where I've never been." - Diane Arbus

"Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled." - Mohammed

"A good traveler has no fixed plans & is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu

"He who would travel happily travels lightly." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Not all who wander are lost." - Tolkien

"Experience, travel--they are as education in themselves." - Euripides

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." - Robert Louis Stevenson

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." - St. Augustine

"To travel is to discover that everybody is wrong about other countries." - Aldous Huxley

"Money, who needs it?
Let me live a life free and easy--
put a toothbrush in my hand,
let me be a traveling man" - Performed by GD & JGB

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

"Traveling has changed me more than I thought. I am not me anymore, or not the same me as I was." - Che Guevara

"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, & avoid the people, you might better stay at home." - James Michener

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, & narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain

"As long as there is a 'there', I want to go." - Unknown

"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, & remember more than I have seen." - Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hardly strangers

Boca Raton, FL

I am sitting on the balcony in the dark with someone else's computer on my lap.  It is warm, about 21 degrees.  I am in a gated community overlooking an old overgrown golf course.  I am breathing blueberries.

Brooke & Bryan are very nice.  We get along very well.  I even came along with Bryan to pick up their daughter Emerson from daycare.  I am welcome here, and even before bed Emerson gave me a big hug & a kiss.  We all danced together & played Doggy Where's Your Bone with her.  She invited me into her fort in her room.  No boys allowed.

I asked Brooke about how she explains to her about these strangers coming through the house.  She said that she understands people need a place to stay, & they may as well stay with us.  She said they have told her things like to Always leave with the person you came with, and that kids don't know the concept of strangers.  Mommy & daddy talk to strangers all the time.  It is also interesting that she is so relaxed around people, & is exposed to all these different types of people.  She is 4 and a half.  She is awesome.  Sometimes demanding.

There was a day last week -Tuesday- that was such a great day and I just wanted to cap it off by hanging out with my kids (at the pool).  I wonder if it's the fall that brought that out, since it's part of the routine.

Brooke & Bryan & I have some great discussions, sharing information about parts of the world we know.  They give me directions to towns around here like I've been to Florida before.  :s  We both know what it's like to host as well as surf.  Mine is an exceptional situation.  I can see myself on the other side of the looking glass & wonder how I stand as a surfer.  I can't cook, but hopefully I can do something.  I was thinking of maybe going swimming with Emerson.  The water's getting cold though - just under 80 degrees.

I was telling them about the winters I know, and how -15 can be nice.  They look at me like I've got something growing out of my head.  Hahaha!


Brooke only works twice a week, so we're going to hang out a bit.  As a surfer I know what it's like to have a balance between independence & spending time with the hosts.  I don't want to overstay myself, but Bryan said I was welcome to stay until Saturday.  I may move from Emerson's room to the living room though, just to check myself.  We might be planning a trip to the Everglades & to visit Robert Is Here, which seems kind of awesome & something Brooke's been wanting to do.  I want to try exotic fruits!

It's just past ten & I've had far too much computer & rest for the day.  My legs are back in tiptop shape...or at least I will be able to tell when I go downstairs again.  I am so tired.  Nothing is stopping me from a good night's sleep tonight.

Crickets.

Maybe he was right...

FLL - Fort Lauderdale Airport

Remember when I went to New Orleans for New Year's last year?  Remember all the trouble we got ourselves into - 80% because of me?  Let me refresh your memory:
-lost cellphone at the bar
-lost 100$
-lost passport
-fractured foot (unconfirmed)
-lost luggage -> which is a big deal for me cause although I almost exclusively carry on, the the day before we flew someone had tried to light themselves on fire, so TSA were extra careful & made everyone check their luggage.

Does anybody remember what Al's response was?  About how I am the worst traveller ever & probably fall for all those lame con artists.

Well let me refresh the situation.

I am in Fort Lauderdale on my extended layover.  I arrived in New York City at 11:30ish Sunday night, spent two nights sleeping in the airport, and flew out this morning at 7am.

My count is at this:
-questioned at the border for suspicious documents: I can't help that I'm interested in Middle Eastern culture & politics.  Before I left, I copied down everything from my old notebook I wanted to check before I left, including some Iranian/Middle Eastern journalists, and some Global Incident sites.  They weren't buying it & I thought we had about 70% chance of being denied entry.  We laughed all the way to Grand Forks.

-lost notebook with all my addresses, emergency numbers & general recommendations
-lost NYC map 3 times
-lost checked baggage ticket

I got to the airport at 3:30am this morning after waiting & chasing subways all night.  I slept during the flight, and slept through boarding for my flight...right in front of the gate!  Apperently they paged me about 3 times, and I thought as soon as anyone came on the intercom I'd wake up.  I woke up 30 minutes after it left.  All the flights the next couple days are full, because of cancelled flights due to the hurricane that just passed.  I am rebooked for the 23rd - Saturday.  The girls who helped me were so so nice, and got me on no charge.  Plus if I want I can try to go for standby until then.  And they got me a Distressed Discount at Days Inn for only 75$.

Distressed?  Me????  I can't help but laugh my face off at my stupid situation.  I am such an idiot.  Lucky I had no plans, reservations, or people to meet me.  As for the hotel, I put out an Emergency Couch Request & have gotten 4 responses already.  I have made arrangements for my host Bryan (& Brooke -> http://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html?id=BAJWOPA) to pick me up at the airport after work.  Affording me time to create new emails, new blogs, upload pictures & the like.  Apparently they live pretty close to the beach!  Maybe I'll take the tri-rail to Miami one day, maybe I'll get to go to the Everglades, or hang out on the beach or go kayaking!  Plus there's this that starts this weekend.  I have a feeling this city will surprise me. :)

So my question is this:
Great traveller?  or Horrible traveller?