Tonight I’m finally sitting in my room right off the Boston Common, so ready to launch what has been turned into a month-long excursion. Life has been a whirlwind of excitement leading up to this trip, so much so that it hasn’t fully sunk in that I’m on vacation yet. And I left home Tuesday morning!
Tomorrow night, my friend and I fly off to Iceland for a packed 5-day itinerary consisting of unique food, waterfalls, glaciers, ice caves, Icelandic horses, Viking exhibits, geothermal vents and hot springs, hopefully the Northern Lights, and maybe some sleep in between. Though not every single minute is planned for, it’s a pretty structured schedule…something I haven’t done on vacation in a long time.
But the rest of my trip to Denmark and Austria? Not so much. I’ve been blaming the lack of planning on just having been so busy and not having the time to plan it out, but we all know that’s not the whole story. You make time for the things that are important to you. Well, it’s not as if traveling is not important to me, or that this trip in particular isn’t important. But I’ve realized that I’ve become so comfortable with a somewhat laissez-faire composure in regards to traveling that I almost don’t care to do much research or plan ahead of time. Things have always worked out fine in the past: I survived a month in Japan not knowing the language or having any sort of guide; I ventured up through Canada to Alaska and back alone without any hiccups…so, whatever happens, happens, and I’ll have a good time regardless, right?
Yet now that it’s almost upon me, I find myself wondering, Okay, what are you going to do in Copenhagen and Vienna? You don’t want to come home and find out you missed something so obviously amazing just because you were too lazy to open your laptop or ask around for suggestions. To top it off, lots of people are asking me what my plans are, naturally. And it would be nice to have a better answer than what I’ve been saying with a shrug and manic smile: “I have no idea!”
I do get quite a thrill out of just winging it, but at the same time I fear maybe I’m erring a bit too much on being laid back that I could be setting myself up for an anticlimactic outing. A lot of the best stories come from botched plans or serendipitous encounters, but in order to have botched plans, one must first make some kind of plan! The whole point of traveling is to open oneself up to the wonderment of possibility, and there is indeed a bit of responsibility required to “make the most of it.” So now a bit of panicked last minute research begins.
Now, “make the most of it” means something different to everyone. Some want to spend their time in historical museums learning about the different cultural influences in the area. Others would rather prioritize trying the best and most popular eats, and hitting up the bars and party scenes. Then there’s the outdoor adventures and appreciating the natural beauty of the land. Of course, there is also just simply relaxing, grabbing a book and sitting in a cafe or having a cocktail at the beach. In my opinion, a good mixture of all the above makes for a great vacation, but not everyone is the same, and even for the same person not every vacation is going to be approached with the same intentions.
I haven’t much reached out to others for advice on this trip, which is partly because I’ll have hosts in both Aalborg and Vienna, but it’s also because part of the thrill is discovering things on my own. And that is the addiction of traveling alone. Tips are great, but there’s nothing like being pleasantly surprised when your aimless city stroll lands you atop a quaint hillside park filled with beautiful flowers and a great view. The internet has made experiences like this much more easily accessible, and thus a little less rewarding to those of us who savor the unexpected delights. Often times what is now left is either something so new that hardly anyone else knows about it (very rarely), or a disillusionment (more likely). Not that I need to do something that no one else knows about, but in a world full of remixes and regurgitation, it is comforting to feel some semblance of novelty.
As it often is, my life is a series of internal checks and balances to ensure I fall somewhere within the realms of “fun” and “not stupid”. Obviously the lines are often times blurry and while I may think that I’m bee-lining in the direction of fun, it turns out I’ve landed six inches deep into incredibly stupid territory (like slowly nose-diving your car into a ditch, perhaps?). It’s all a continuous discovery not just of the world around me, but of myself as well, which is the other highly addicting aspect of travel. And not just on the trip, but in the preparation for the trip too. Am I a planner, or do I just “wing it”? It’s really a spectrum with a sliding scale, and though I tend to be more laid back – sometimes to a fault – I’ll kick myself into gear when I have to, and I’ll be damned sure to have a grand time throughout it all, even if I look stupid while doing it!
So, what kind of traveler are you?
After my last post, I had a couple of readers request that in my next post I share some snowboard tips.
So, without further ado…
Look at these amazing tips!
They’re pretty fantastic, aren’t they…
Hah, okay, attempt at being silly is over. I have no snowboarding tips for you, only because really, I’m too novice to provide snowboarding tips. For now, just drool over some more beautiful snowboard tips with me:
The last one is especially my favorite.
‘Til next time!
As I mentioned in my last post, I went up to Tahoe during SuperBowl weekend, and I should tell you that it was awful so that the secret isn’t ruined. Honestly though, I don’t think it really matters, because when is the next SuperBowl going to be in the Bay Area again? Not for a long time (Oakland Raiders who?). Plus, a lot of non-football fans already head to the mountains that weekend anyway, so it’s not exactly a secret. The nice thing was that the weather was perfect, the snow was perfect, and the slopes were pleasantly not crowded. All in all, a great weekend.
I also mentioned how I haven’t hit the powder in 3 years (that’s not a euphemism for a drug addiction, I promise), so needless to say, I was really looking forward to this trip. The sad part about not having boarded in so long, on top of all the traveling and moving I’ve done in the meantime, is that I’ve been a neglectful board owner. The last time I went was on a work trip in Utah, for which I bought a bag to carry my board and boots in, and sadly enough, I hadn’t really pulled my board out of that bag since. Everyone knows that this is a huge no-no!
Side story, just because: When I went to go buy a bag for my snowboard, it was around the end of the snow season and options were pretty limited. I went into an Any Mountain here in the Bay Area, and all I could find in their selection were for boards in the 160cm+ range…my board is 143cm. I found a sales rep and asked him,
“Hey, are these all the bags you have?”
“What size is the board you’re looking to fit it for?”
“I’ll go check in the back, but I don’t think we sell bags for kid’s boards…” and he walked away.
He came back with no bag, so I left and went online to buy one instead. NOT a kid’s board bag, bro!
If you hadn’t already deduced, my board had accumulated quite a bit of rust from its cozy cocoon, and therefore was in need of some serious TLC. It needed a re-wax anyway, and so because I’ve grown tired of having to take it in and pay to have someone else wax it every time, my crafty self decided to take it to YouTube instead and find out if this work was something I could do on my own – besides, who doesn’t love learning something new? Lo and behold, I found some pretty decent DIY videos, and the process is pretty straight forward. All I needed was to buy the stuff to do it.
A DIY Adventure
Just to get this out of the way, I’m only sharing the account of my own personal experience with DIY edge work and wax on my snowboard. I’m a complete amateur with all of this, and if you think otherwise, I’m incredibly flattered, but I can’t be held responsible for you mistaking me for some type of expert in this area.
In true Jessaline procrastination fashion, I didn’t even decide that I was going to do this on my own until about a week before the trip (also partly because of a minor foot injury that was causing me to waffle on the decision to even go on the trip or not – silly, of COURSE you’re going!). When I did get around to buying all this stuff, a lot of it didn’t show up on my doorstep – online ordering again – until the day before leaving for the weekend. I told myself I’d do it Friday after I arrived at the cabin…
NOT. 5 hour drive, though no doubt enjoyable (#roadbum4lyf), made me tired. I wanted to chill and socialize, so I did. I told myself I’d do it Saturday during the day instead of going snowshoeing with the group…
Again, I was too tempted to go awkwardly frolicking through the snow with the group, and I have absolutely no regrets with that decision. That left Saturday night. It was either then or take my board into a shop Sunday the morning before hitting the slopes and waiting and spending the money on someone else doing the work much faster than I could, but then why did I even bother to spend all that money for all the supplies to do it myself?! So I did it Saturday evening while everyone else was drinking and playing games. Damned if I was going to waste time AND money! Responsibility points for me…I guess…
The resource I primarily used were some tutorial videos that REI has: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM1r7rFzsXE
Before getting started, it helps to have your board in a stable position to help maintain even and smooth movements. Vice grips are great, but stacks of books are a decent economical alternative. I was able to use the box that my supplies came in, though I probably should have had a second box or stand-like item for more stability, but I made do just fine.
Once I wiped the edges of my board down with rubbing alcohol, I wet the diamond stone and ran it over the edges from tip to tail. For me the focus was on removing the rust as well as I could, but board edges can get pretty gnarly from various things from icy conditions to rocks, trees, paved roads and the like, so the edge work here can also be done to grind down any uneven areas. If you need more dramatic grinding, I read that sandpaper is an option but diamond stones are preferred because they don’t take off as much edge per swipe. After this, I went over again with the gummy stone, which is meant to smooth out the edges, a finer “sanding” if you will.
The purpose of removing all the rust was successful. It took quite a few runs over with the diamond stone, but it was well worth it to see all that oxidation flake off. Not sure how confident I’d feel about doing any work for more intensive edge refining, but I can cross that bridge if/when I get there.
This was the more time-consuming process of the two. First, I plugged in the waxing iron and then brushed the base of my board with a steel wool brush to get rid of anything I wouldn’t want trapped underneath the wax, and then wiped the base with rubbing alcohol. By this point the iron was ready, and I held it over the board and placed the wax against it and let the drops of melted wax fall onto the base of the board. I moved back and forth over the board to get drops dispersed on the base. Once I let the wax drip all over the board, I then placed the iron to the board and started to iron the wax drops into the base. The tutorials mention it is important to keep the iron moving so as to not overheat and burn either the wax or the base, and to make sure that wax is spread and covering the entire base of the board. I missed some spots on my first go around, so I melted some more wax and dripped in the spots I knew I missed, then went over with the iron to spread it out again – it was pretty easy for me to differentiate between the areas that had wax and the spots that didn’t. I honestly have no idea if I ultimately used enough or too much wax, since I wasn’t really sure what to look for. When I was done, the bottom of the board looked very streaky from the spread wax. Unfortunately I did not take pictures of the process, but maybe I’ll remember to next time.
After that step, the wax needed to seep into the base and then cool down, so I placed my board out of the way for the next hour or so while I ate dinner. Once it cooled, it was time to scrape off the excess wax using the plastic scraper. That was the most laborious part of the work, and again, maybe it was because I used too much wax, or maybe that’s just how it’s supposed to be. The tutorials stress being firm and steady here, moving from tip to tail, as the scraper is used to help even out the base. You’re supposed to go over it until you’re not scraping any more wax off. It ended up being incredibly messy, with wax shavings all around the board on the table and on the floor. I imagine placing paper down first would have expedited the clean-up process.
After the scraping, I then used the nylon brush to better even out the base, again going from tip to tail, to help create tiny vertical grooves along the base. I found here that a little bit of wax, though not a lot, was still coming off. Once that seemed done, I wiped all excess wax shavings from the board, then went over the board last with the horse hair brush, which served to smooth out the waxing finish.
The end result looked pretty darn good if I say so myself. It looked like I had just picked it up from the shop after a nice hot wax service. All the uneven streakiness I saw right after the ironing had been scraped and brushed and wiped off, and the base looked as smooth as ever.
My ride the following day was pure bliss, and though I can’t take credit for the great pack and conditions, I’d like to think that the glide and quick response were in large part due to the care I showed the night before. It’s pretty rewarding taking the time to get your hands “dirty”. I’ll definitely be doing my own hot waxes and simple base and edge repair from now on, and I’m sure I can only get better at it from here.
2016 is already shaping up to be an awesome year, travel-wise (okay yeah, and generally life-wise too). I’m finally back at a point where money and flexibility are on my side, yay! It took me some time to get here, but I am happy to say that I am back and better than ever!
Where I’ve Been
2015 and 2014 post-international travels were not completely house-arrest status, but in all relative terms, they felt pretty darn close. After the abrupt return from the Philippines back in April 2014, I at first stayed local with weekend camping, then had quite a few jaunts further around California, 2 trips down to Arizona/Las Vegas, and 2 trips up north to Vancouver and Portland (most of these all accomplished with the same trusty ol’ Subaru). Sometimes, when trips like that feel so second nature and expected for someone like me, I don’t realize until after the fact that, oh man, I should have blogged about that! Eh. The opportunity has come and gone.
The urge to blog has always been in the back of my mind, and sometimes the forefront, almost dauntingly so. And I know the more I stay away from it, the larger of a monster it seems to become; the grander the idea of what it should be grows so large in my head that I can’t even fathom sitting down to begin. So I don’t. In one way or another, I know we’ve all been there. I’m trying not to beat myself up about the missed opportunities, but also need to remind myself to learn from them as well. No adventure is too small, Jessaline!
It Can’t Be a Mistake If I Just Call it Change
The idea to turn this blog into something more versatile, something that reflects a bit better the mish-mashed conglomerate of a person I am…it’s all been stewing in my brain for at least a year now. I think I’m getting closer to something not only edible, but dare I say delectable. But I also realize no successful blog just pops up out of thin air – I need to practice what I preach and actually continue the act of blogging while I also work on whatever it is I want it to become. Because thoughts don’t mean much unless you put them into action (or onto a blog).
And yes, a lot of other changes in my life have come around within this last year. I’ve finally settled into a job (really I prefer to call it a working lifestyle) that I can really get behind, for a great company and a great boss, and I’m constantly meeting and interacting with fascinating and inspiring people on a weekly basis. I’ve also moved twice within the last year, or 3 times if you want to count the in-between mooching off of my parents for 2 months (they most certainly count it). I’m really digging where life has landed me at the moment, and what an awesome vibe in which to be enveloped while getting back into blogging.
Plus, during Super Bowl weekend my brother invited me along with a large group of his friends up to Tahoe. I haven’t gone snowboarding in 3 years, and though I had a pulled muscle in my foot, screw it if I was going to let an opportunity like that pass me by! It was a blast! Met a lot of great people and the weather and slopes were pure bliss. Coming fresh off the trip and looking forward to all that is yet to come has the blogging bug biting at me again…this time I can’t resist the urge to scratch.
Be prepared for a handful.
Mid March: Eastern Sierras Road Trip
A good friend of mine who I met on the internet about 10 years ago (it’s okay guys, he passed the in-person test a long time ago) has invited me along for a little off-roading trip! I’m stoked to take my Subaru out for some sweet dirt adventures, and I hope it comes out alive (with me intact).
Late March-Early April: ICELAND -> DENMARK -> VIENNA -> NYC
Your eyes do not deceive you. One of my college roommates and I promised each other about 2 years ago that we would explore Iceland together, and since we are both awesome kick-ass traveling women who follow through with what we say, we are going to Iceland together! She happened to find an amazing deal through Groupon that involved roundtrip airfare and accommodations in Reykjavik (still figuring out how it’s pronounced…), and she could only do it during spring break, so we’ll be wearing bikinis at the Blue Lagoon instead of at a beach! I have no qualms about that whatsoever. After Iceland, I’ll be hopping over to Denmark (because it’s just so close!) and visiting two of my cousins who live there to see what the hype is all about. Then after a few days of bugging them, I’ll be off to Vienna to bug one of my good high school friends who’s been living there for about 3 years now. Lastly, why not use this trip as an excuse to stay with my brother in New York for a couple of days before I get back home? I need to get my NYC foodie fixes, and I’m also going to go watch a new Broadway show that’s opening up based off of one of my favorite movies, Waitress.
Needless to say, this trip is going to be freaking epic. On another note, you know that you travel too much when even though your trip is just over a month away, you are still not panicking about not having booked all your flights yet…
or I’m just stupid.
Late May: Chicago!
A good friend is getting married! This will likely be a short trip because I’m using all my money for said previous adventure…darn those finite resources!
Late July – August: John Muir Trail
The brother from NYC wants me and the other brother to join him for 3 straight weeks of bitching and moaning…err, I mean hiking. It was about 15 years ago that we went on a long Southwest states road trip with our dad, and all this brother wanted to do was go to Las Vegas. Now he wants to perpetually live in the outdoors carrying our lives on our backs like nomads? Me and other brother (who is a rock climber) say hell yeah! I will now begin accepting bids for who will want to bail out first…
Early September: Alberta, Canada
We picked dates, so uhh…it’s happening! Fellow bad-ass traveling college roommate and I just recently agreed to go to Canada together to bask in the natural wonders of Banff and Jasper and everything else near Calgary for a weekend. We will likely get no sleep.
And that about wraps it up, for now! Who knows what else this year might bring me…and take from my savings account. Any tips for the places I’m headed?
Credit: Travis Burke via GoalZero
I’m deciding to coin the term “Road Bum” for those of us who fit into the category of living in our cars and traveling for an extended period of time (I would designate the minimum as at least 1 month).
Here’s an article about a cool dude who has spent a year on the road, Travis Burke. His pictures are awesome. Often times when I’m reading about other travelers, a lot of them have really stellar photography skills, and I find myself a little jealous that I, 1) do not have their skills, and 2) don’t have very many pictures of myself on the road. I think a blog is much more enticing when the photography skills are top notch (as well as the overall blog design itself…something which I am obviously lacking, but hopefully will be changing soon!). I myself am easily transported to feelings of inspiration and nostalgia when coming across well-crafted imagery of my fellow road bums out on their adventures. A lot of them are getting paid to do this (usually because they are photographers), and look at all the sweet gear they get to use! It makes me drool, really. Actually, I found out about Travis through Goal Zero, which makes solar powered devices, particularly for outdoors enthusiasts! They have some awesome portable generators, rechargers, and lighting solutions. Haven’t had the chance to test out their stuff, but I like what I see.
But I have to remind myself that just because I am not at this dude’s level, doesn’t mean that my trip is any less amazing or rewarding. In fact, I’m in a pretty elite club right now! The best part about it though is sharing with you all, and hoping that you are inspired to venture out on a crazy-amazing, daring journey of your own…because, really, it shouldn’t be an elite club at all.
So check out Travis, and wish that you were him (like I do, only…a female version):
Remaining primarily stationary and practically broke for the rest of 2014 led to lack of updates on this blog, as well as quite a bit of reminiscing on the fun times had in the first half of the year (and the year before). I’ve missed the writing, but it is hard to keep it up when your main motivator – travel – isn’t what you’re spending your days doing.
The past 6 months I’ve been living at my dad’s house working a part-time minimum wage job. In a word, it’s humbling. I chose it, for various reasons, and have to remind myself on occasion that I don’t need to be ashamed of my choice or try and validate it to anyone, because your job doesn’t have to define you. When I made that decision I thought I did it not because I was lost or because I couldn’t get a job anywhere else, but because I knew I wasn’t lost and I didn’t want to dig my career heels in just yet. Fresh from my unconventional care-free traveling (though it turns out it’s not so unconventional for my generation), I was in no rush to jump into “the rest of my life” just yet. A part of me envied my post-grad friends who got a non-career job that just paid the bills while they lived on their own and took things day by day, and I wanted some of that experience. Granted, I’m not living on my own, but knew I would be soon(ish). So why rush things?
By soonish I mean that my boyfriend and I have made plans to move in together, but certain circumstances have been making it difficult and it’s taking a bit longer than expected (stupid economy). The novelty of this directionless life has quickly worn off, I think partly because I don’t truly feel on my own, aka still semi-freeloading off my parents (semi, because they charge me super cheap rent). Time has been simultaneously dragging on and slipping away. All I want is to semi-freeload off of my boyfriend instead! Is that too much to ask?!
In the fall a travel opportunity presented itself for me to go to El Salvador for a week. My kid sister was going on a mission trip with her church to their sister site in San Salvador, and she said to me, “I know you like to travel, and I’d like to have someone come with me, so would you like to come?” Continue reading “2014: The Year in Review”
My good friend Trent Shelton has recently started On The Road Travels, a customized road trip-planning agency catering completely to your areas of interest in the United States, your timeline, and your budget. He asked me to write a post for his website’s blog, summarizing my trip last year. Putting 7 months of new experiences into a single blog post was quite the challenge. Here is what I came up with:
It was August 7th, 2013, and I had about an hour left before the sun set behind the Teton Range. I knew it was time to close my book and get back on the road again. I spent the last couple of hours relaxing with some red wine in a collapsible plastic camping wine cup (durable, yet still classy), reading alongside the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park after a day of leisurely hiking and exploring the area. Based on my country atlas, I was aiming to drive 250 miles east to Casper, WY and spend the night there, since Walmarts were more likely in larger cities. Over the past 2 months, Walmart parking lots had become my free safe haven for sleep, within the safety of my vehicle, of course. Driving another 4 hours felt like a breeze because at that point I’d already covered more than 10,000 miles, 7 states and 2 Canadian provinces since leaving my home in San Francisco 11 weeks prior.
Heading east on highway 26, winding by the river, the roadside was decorated with walls of red. It was not a trick of the fading light, but the iron in the stone that magnified the sunset beyond the sky. Where the rocks leveled out, the plains were covered in sharply green grass, decayed wooden shacks interspersed among the fields. Occasionally a fenced off area containing grazing livestock; at one point a chestnut brown horse gliding along the green. The pale blue sky, riddled with jagged peaks in the background, and this array of distinct colors in the foreground was a feast for the eyes. I knew that as beautiful as it was, it would only be a fleeting moment, as soon after the sun went down and the spectrum grayed out, yet the colors still linger in my mind.
In that moment, I knew my life led me there. In this car, on this road, was where I belonged. As I turned on my headlights and the road straightened out, I looked on to the miles and months ahead with fervor, to finish what I had set out to do: a 49 state road trip…
Greetings, readers. I realize it’s been a while since I’ve written, and frankly it’s been from a lack of lasting motivation on any given topic I’ve been inspired to write about. There have been numerous occasions where I’ve been on the “Write a New Post” page with either a blank page or just a few sentences written…it’s been difficult to find ways to express what has been going through my mind over the last few months. Most prominently in the back of my mind is that I do want to write about my volunteer experience in the Philippines, but it is a pretty loaded subject, and I think it will take some time to finally get out.
For now, I have some comments on a topic of recent conversation among my circles. Continue reading “Do For You”