The Queen Fucking Mary 2

By Lisa Craze

Two hours before I booked a balcony cabin on the only dedicated ocean liner in the world, I was laid-off from my job.

What the hell?

Might as well get out of town.

Might as well spend a week sailing across the Atlantic from Brooklyn, NY USA to Southampton, Great Britain, wiling away the hours at sea in the high style of a bygone era.

To backtrack a bit, it all started with online chat with my sister that day of the layoff.

She was in the middle of chatting with a mutual friend who enjoys booking trips — especially cruises.

He’d found a deal on the Queen Mary 2, departing in less than 3 weeks – and he wanted us to come along.

This wasn’t some run-of-the-mill booze cruise.  It was THE QUEEN FUCKING MARY 2!

Some stats on this vessel; it’s pretty new – commissioned in 2004. She sails about half-the-year on the Trans-Atlantic route, with these hella-fast diesel engines with gas turbines. They say she is capable of going 30 knots, and can cross the Atlantic in less than 4 days—but they stretch it to 7 just to be civilized.

The QFM2 has 15 bars and restaurants, 5 swimming pools, a Broadway-style theater with a turntable built into the stage, a casino and a planetarium!
It’s operated by White Star Cunard—the same company that operated the Titanic —but don’t let that make you nervous. Really. Their safety record is pretty great since 1912.

Wasn’t like I had to ask my boss for time off anymore so I agreed it was the perfect antidote to unemployment-fueled rage.

I have to admit, sailing on this vessel wasn’t even on the perimeter of my bucket list.

There are no ports-of-call in between the coast of the USA and Merry Ol’ England.  You are AT SEA every freaking day. And everybody’s gonna be really old and feeble, right?

Well, not exactly.

 

Turns out some 2300 people of every age, from toddlers to the extremely elderly, to dozens of dogs owned by the passengers- enjoy the ocean voyage on the Queen Mary 2.

Oh, and  there’s also about 2200 crew members to wait on you hand and foot.

After my sister and I booked the trip, we were sent a list of expectations for passage.  That’s expectations for the two of us.  For the way we were expected to dress after 6pm every night.  We were informed that of the 7 nights aboard, 4 were “smart attire” (i.e. business casual or cocktail dress) and 3 were “gala” evenings in which formal ware was expected. That means evening gowns – or other fancy-dress clothing, and tuxedos or nice suits for men.

Fortunately, I have all kinds of formal separates, shifts, sparkly tops and jackets from my years of singing in concerts and other events.  So, I packed the fancy stuff and my sister took care of a lot of the other things we needed.

(Note to fellow travelers: Sparkly stuff weighs a TON! My bag was overweight, and after the cruise, I traveled in the EU for another week. Had to lug that stuff everywhere. There’s gotta be a better way.)

You’re allowed to bring a limited amount of wine and liquor for personal use – for cocktails in your stateroom, so my sister made sure we had adequate supplies.

 

When we arrived on board, I was thrilled to see we had a lower level balcony stateroom near the middle of the ship.  That means the least amount of rocking motion if there are rough seas. If your stateroom is higher than the 6th deck, and if it’s closer to the bow of the ship, you’ll feel much more motion.

But it turned out the seas were calm for much of the journey, and I really enjoyed the gentle rocking sensation every night as I was falling asleep.

There’s a standard split of champagne in a silver bucket with two glasses and a special note from Cunard as a welcome gift in every stateroom.  That’s a classy touch.

And, there’s a leather spread on top of the bed as you arrive, so you can unpack your suitcases into the generous closets without dirtying up the fluffy duvet on your bed. Another classy touch.

There’s 24-hour room service if you just want to stay in your stateroom. But, ordering the Tuna-Melt was a BIG mistake. It was Nasty.  Stick to breakfast in bed. They did that pretty well, but one small pot of coffee was definitely not enough for a Seattlite.

Here was my absolute favourite part of staying in my room for breakfast every day: (notice I used the British spelling of “favorite”…) The Morning Programme (again, British spelling) on the shipboard TV station hosted by the very British Entertainment Director Amanda Reid.  It is shot onboard the ship in the lowest production value one-camera style of classic local cable TV.  But Amanda’s presence is so proper and delightful that you don’t mind watching it over and over. (The show runs on a loop from 6am until noon on one of the 40+ channels on your widescreen stateroom TV).  She informs you of that day’s highlights, and how you should dress, and interviews the guest speakers and entertainers featured that day. Most of them brought her some kind of gift the days we watched, and we laughed with glee along with her as she accepted each one with surprise and humility. She also ended each programme with a joke.  Seriously entertaining in an extremely low-tech way.  Now that’s a job that’d be fun to have.

One other thing to note about your stateroom TV: If you’re too tired to go outside, you can always watch the channel that features the “bow cam”, looking at the endless miles of ocean – (and scouting for icebergs…just in case) day or night.

I really enjoyed High Tea in the Queens Room – but only made it once, because it only lasts an hour, from 3:30 – 4:30 every day—but because we were traveling from West to East, the ship’s clock lost an hour every day at noon.  So 12 became 1, meaning tea started at what might otherwise have been 2:30 the day before…or 1:30 the day before that. Just too confusing.  But delicious when I made it in time.

There’s also dancing in the Queen’s Room after dinner at night, and they bring in these male dance hosts who cruise for super-cheap fares, if they dance with the ladies at night. Only 1 of the 6 or 7 gents onboard our cruise was worth his salt. His name was Jai, and was from Sussex, England. Fantastic dancer – delightful conversationist and we cut a mean rug several times.  If I were a man, I’d love to travel as a dance host. You’ve got some pretty specific responsibilities, from attending the “singles coffee” in the morning, to helping with line-dancing classes and dancing at night.  No kissy kissy, keep it clean – but talking to Jai the last day of the cruise, he said he loves traveling on the QFM2 and that it’s much cheaper than paying rent.

The only downside on the voyage we took was that the main guest lecturer was a retired US Army General who’s a regular talking head on those FOX-TV hate shows.  And he had several talks planned including one entitled, “Why Radical Muslims Will Try To Kill Us For The Next 500 Years”.  The second lecturer, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer from London (and the father of British Celebrity Chef Nigella Lawson) was a climate change denier who did several talks quoting somebody who had “doubts”.  Decided to avoid the lectures altogether, and spend my entertianment time watching a Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” set in post-WWII America. No cheezy Las Vegas style shows on the QFM2!!

The food was pretty great in the restaurants – and the buffet in the King’s Court on Deck 7 was pretty good—especially the day they had sushi as one of the offerings for lunch.  As much as you want and it’s top-grade fish.

And the food in the Brittania Dining Room was alright – I stuck to fish and vegetarian options for the most part. Beef-eaters seemed to be happier with their nightly steak and roast options. Didn’t like the desserts though.  They never tasted as good as they looked.

They want to charge you for all kinds of extras on the QFM2- even soft drinks are charged extra.  So, I was looking for bargains wherever possible. My favorite was the $10 sale day – a big table in a hallway with all kinds of stuff for….guess how much? Yup. Got a sweet tote bag that helped me bring home chocolates from Belgium after the cruise.  What was Not a bargain was the $110 Michael Kors wallet-purse I bought the day we arrived onboard. But it’s SO cute. And hell, I’m on vacation. And it holds my phone and all my cards, and looks good on gala nights. And they make it so easy with one card for everything – door key, drinks, Michael Kors wallet-purse.  Life is short.

The next-to-last night of the trip, they had a 1920’s-themed gala night. My sister bought a flapper dress just for the occasion. I dolled up my beaded fancywear and sang Karaoke in the pub.  Even met a nice man who liked my singing and we had a date in the champagne bar the next day. We’re Facebook friends now.

When the cruise ended, we spent a week in France and Belgium and I went up to Iceland before flying over the pole back to Seattle. That’s another blog post for another time.

But everyone asks me if I’d take the QFM2 again.

You’d better fucking believe it. I’m looking at deals for a 14-day round-trip sailing right now.

Lisa Craze is a broadcaster, writer and singer-songwriter with 2 albums of original songs to her credit and more than 30 years in radio news and information. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

From Zero to Paradise in One Easy Step

Driving for Amazon Flex just wasn’t enough. Not enough money, not enough consistency, not enough purpose. So I told god in no uncertain terms, “enough, change this, now!” I had grown satisfied with sleeping on the side of the road in a van. I had enough. It was time for next.

I walked away from a six figure IT career because it wasn’t enough. I have done that a couple times. And I am still going. I tried a number of strategies to create something larger and went bankrupt trying. They all say “fail fast, fail often.” but rarely talk about what it is actually like to lose everything and call it done. They all say you have to be broke to get rich, but don’t really dwell on how much is sucks to be broke. And I won’t either. Just trust me. There is a reason very few try at this game for long, for long enough to succeed.

So I told god in no uncertain terms, “enough.”

And shortly after a simple thought came into my head. Why not get a groovy IT job in St Thomas? Followed by, “where is St Thomas, anyway?”

I discovered virgin.craigslist.org, the virgin islands craigslist because St Thomas in in the US Virgin Islands. I found an ad for IT techs or something, “must be willing to travel.” All caps, several exclamation points. I figured, I’ll send a resume for practice, never expecting to hear from them.

So now I have a groovy IT job in St Thomas. I am the IT Lead for the team that is here to fix houses after the hurricanes.

It’s chaos. It’s an actual disaster area. Nothing works. Hot water is rare. A few of the missing traffic lights have been replaced by temporary installations. Most are just missing or mangled and not working. All the street signs are gone. There are a lot of blue tarps and after six months yesterday, there is still a lot of debris, everywhere. There are wires on the ground. Everywhere. There are poles laying on the ground. Fences down. Roofs missing and bare foundations where there once were houses.

It’s paradise. Whenever I get a little down, I stand up and look around or out a window. The whole place is drop dead gorgeous. The people smile and say “morning morning!” There is a lot of honking. A lot of honking. It took me a while, me a Seattlite, to realize a lot of the honking was happy honking. Someone waits at the broken light and lets someone into traffic. Honk! Wave. Smile. A lot of honking. I’ve started honking. Smile. Wave. Honk! Yay!

Morning morning!

The cruise ships come. Great cities tied up to the pier, three end to end sometimes. The locals standing on the street corners offering bottles of water. “One dollar!” Smile. Wave. It’s paradise.

The only way to make this better is if the schooner to the left was my boat.

We work hard. Twelve, sixteen hours a day, six, seven days a week. We have a lot to do. There are a lot of blue tarps. No one home. They need to go home. We are here to help. The people are getting to know us. A young man stops me while I’m driving by. I have the sign on my jeep. He asks, “will you be hiring soon?” Yes. Many. I explain the sign. Smart kid. He will find work I am sure. We are just here to help. The locals will be doing the majority of the work. They need to go home. We are here to help.

My coworker shot this with a drone.

All I did was listen. I told god in no uncertain terms, “enough.” And then I listened. And answered one ad. And now I am in paradise. In one easy step.

Listen.

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

 

The coffee shop office

2017-09-25

OK vagabonds. Let’s look at our offices!

I moved into a motorhome in 2007.

My first rig was actually a chevy van. Not much room for an office there but I did build a little table that I could sit on the end of the “bed” and use my computer on. I had one of those all in one things. Where the flat screen monitor housed the whole machine with a separate keyboard and mouse.

It was so modern it had wifi and I had figured out how to run linux on it.

Back then no one protected their wifi and it seemed like everyone was getting it, so I could just drive around until I found an open router and get to work. Right in front of a big apartment building was usually a sure thing.

When I got my first real rig, I tore the dinette out right away and made a desk there. I had a super nice rolling office chair so I figured out how to secure it to the desk with a bungie while I was driving. This worked great. After a while I even got one of the original 3E “laptops” so I did not have to run the generator to charge the computer hardly at all. Those all in ones were real power hogs.

After a few years on the road I moved onto a sailboat. It had a very nice dinette with an oak table. There are wear patterns where the feet on my macbook pro contacted the varnish.

These offices inside worked in a pinch but I always tried to find a coffee shop if I could. It doesn’t matter that I make better coffee than the vast majority of shops. It is nice to sit down, plug in, and get to work without thinking about bandwidth or power.

And it fits in nicely with the Monk Mode Morning hack.

“The execution of the monk mode morning is straightforward. Between when you wake up and noon: no meetings, no calls, no texts, no email, no Slack, no Internet. You instead work deeply on something (or some things) that matter.” http://calnewport.com/blog/2017/02/24/the-rise-of-the-monk-mode- morning/

This way, I never look back at a day and think I did not get anything done. This approach goes well with cafes. Get up in the morning, take the dinghy to shore, walk to a coffee shop and set up. Order coffee. Get to work. Get a refill and order some food. Get back to work. By the time I am done with breakfast and my second cup of coffee, I have four solid hours of work in. Basically uninterrupted, focused work done. No matter what I do for the rest of the day, I have accomplished something.

Dan over at Tropical MBA makes this comment,

“These are the spaces, outside of perhaps only our beds, where many of us spend the most time. And for all their importance to our small subculture, I rarely see them talked about.” http://www.tropicalmba.com/accidental-workplace/

In this article he talks about establishments all over the world that seem to cater to the vagabond business person, location independent entrepreneur. I have not spent much time in developing economies so I have not experienced these establishments myself, yet. I am interested in your experiences.

Then there is the hotel lobby. Many financial and self help advisors recommend spending time in a high end hotel lobby as a method to increase a mental equivalent and demystify the opulent lifestyle. Generally they make good coffee, albeit dearly valued. And the service is always excellent. I found that if I felt I may not be welcome to hang out there, simply asking “is it OK to hang out here” cleared that up right away every time. It’s amazing what simply asking the questions can do.

In all of these scenarios there is the inevitable issue of finding a power outlet within reach. A good long charging cable is a necessity. For my phone, which I use as a full blown workstation quite a bit, I have one of these:

Asking to plug in to the only outlet around when it is on the other side of your neighbor is a great way to get started with a new friend.

If they are already plugged in with a laptop out, asking “how’s the internet here” can get the conversation going.

And there is the value of finding a coffee shop in a new port or town. When you got up this morning and made coffee in your kitchen it was nice. But you’ve done it before. You’ve done it before so many times you don’t remember doing it today. But if I get up in a new town, find a coffee shop and hang out all morning, often there is an experience that sets the day apart.

How much time do you spend in a coffee shop state side? How much time have you spent in establishments abroad? Leave a comment below!

Lonn

Four Ideas To Up Your Game In The Hot Tub At The Festival

2017-09-20

There is a pdf of this document here for you to download.
It does not have the amazon affiliate links so you will be on your own finding this cool stuff!

Settle in, get comfortable, have a snack, and meet new friends. Here are Five Quick Tips from lonnatic.com for maximizing your enjoyment in the hot tubs at the festivals.

First, you can test the water!

A quick search of the internet will find dozens of tales of horror about unclean hot tubs. Nasty rashes and other problems if pools are not cared for properly. It is unlikely you will find any problems at a festival hot tub. It is very important to the festival and the hot tub owners that you are safe. They invest heavily in you enjoying your visit. How would it look if anyone went home sick? However, change is easy in the life of a hot tub; sunscreen, makeup, kids, all have an effect. There are a couple things you can do, too. You can test the water and stay extra clean yourself while helping out at the same time. Take a shower before you get in the tub. Use a nice anti-bacterial soap like Hibiclens or African Black Soap. Hibiclens is made of Chlorhexidine.

“Chlorhexidine came into medical use in the 1950s. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorhexidine.

Some naturopathic sites recommend African Black Soap.

And pick up some decent pool test strips. It doesn’t take long, will give you some reassurance, and may avoid a problem. You need to find out which chemistry the hot tub uses. There are three basic types. The familiar chlorine, the less smelly bromine, and “salt water.” The salt water system uses regular salt to make chlorine, so the end result is the same. It’s just easier to maintain.

Second, Managing your clothes!

If it’s “clothing optional,” co-ed with clothes, or same sex, where do you put your clothes and shoes so they won’t get wet or buried under everyone else’s or worse, mistaken as someone else’s and go missing? If there are lockers, great, problem solved. Usually there are not enough hooks, railings with a crowd, ocean, or other black hole on the other side, or just the ground and some benches. Of course the easiest way is to change in your room or tent and wear a sarong or swim suit, and flip flops to the pool. But sometimes you don’t want to hike all the way back to camp.

There are two problems: if you need to change clothes, how? And once you have a hand full of loose clothes, where to put them? If there is no separate space for changing, women can do something like this: the changing room dress.

and men can just change to shorts under a towel.

If all the hooks are taken and the ground is wet or covered in snow? You could bring a folding chair and hang your clothes from it. There is a good chance others will use it too. You could use your trekking poles and a carabiner to make a leaning clothes rack. Bring an empty stuff sack or one of those nice laundry bags to hang from it or a hook or set in a safe corner. Probably the best solution would be to bring a dry bag. Then you are prepared for the worst and guaranteed clean dry clothes after your dip. Most of the outdoor gear players make nice ultralight dry bags that roll into a little bag of their own.

Third, snacks and drinks!

It is important to stay hydrated and who doesn’t love a tasty snack and cold beverage when hanging out with their tribe? Bring “hot tub safe” snacks, like fresh veggies, olives and other goodies that you can easily retrieve in case they fall into the water. Avoid snacks like crackers or potato chips, these type of snacks crumble and can easily fall into the water and cause a nightmare to clean up. For a real festive vibe, how about a floating bar? Bring one of those inflatable snack and drink holders. Here is my favorite:

Yay!

Forth, new friends!

You have found your tribe or maybe a soul mate. You are in a hot tub with a bunch of strangers who share your love for music and lifestyle. It is no surprise you hit it off with them and want to stay in touch after the show. Perhaps meet up at another show. Maybe go out for coffee and see what happens. Where do you put his phone number? You don’t have dry paper and you don’t want to risk getting your phone soaked. It won’t be long until all our phones are waterproof. The iPhone 7 and Galaxy 7 already are! I love the 21st century! No more making new friends in the hot tub only to never see them again because you could not capture their contact information. Just put them in your contacts on your phone. Be sure to share those crazy pictures of your cat while you have it out. Until then, a ziploc bag has been proven to protect a phone long enough for a hot tub soak.

https://www.dealnews.com/features/Video-Review-Is-a-Ziploc-Bag-as-Good-as-a-Waterproof-Case-for-Your-Gadget-/602430.html

If you don’t have or won’t be seen dead with an iPhone in the pool, try a waterproof notepad. Scuba shops have nice underwater notepads and there are Write In The Rain notebooks at a local bookstore.

Bonus, Fun!

And for extra credit, bring your own light show! There are some cool, floating, LED toys that turn the tub into a crazy disco dance scene! And finally, if there is not hot tub at the festival, bring your own. There are some nice portable hot tubs out there. There is even a hot tub hammock.

 

 

“True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander.” – Charles Caleb Colton

There is a pdf of this document here for you to download.
It does not have the amazon affiliate links so you will be on your own finding this cool stuff!
LONNATIC.COM is an =LJHOLIDAY= brand.

Tell God Your Plan. That’ll get her going.

Plan, plan, plan.
I could do this, I could do that.
I WILL do this and that.
All dutifully ordered and alotted on a calendar, online or paper and pencil, never pen. A page of commitments written in pen and scratched out a very full calendar makes quickly.

You want to give god a good laugh?
Tell her your plan. That’ll get her going.

I’m not saying don’t ever plan. Just know your plan has very little to do with what is actually going to happen. At best it provides a sense of steerage. At most likely, a reminder in retrospect of how many forces outside your control are actually at work here.

Planning is how we start. And it is so very important to start. Nothing will get done if we don’t start.

The big stuff is never clear from the beginning. Start anyway. “All will be revealed.” All the science, all the philosophy, all the evidence indicates that making a start opens doors to opportunity and inspiration that otherwise and previously was not visible or even available.

We were working on an art project. There was a part we did not know how to do. I said, “one of us will figure this out and when you do, it will be obvious. Then come tell the rest of us. Let’s work on what we know how to do untill then.” Sure enough, the next day, David showed up with a drawing on a napkin. As soon as we saw it, it was obvious. It accommodated our available resources and skills while accomplishing our goals. We did it that way.

Seek inspiration and guidance, not to order and arrange.
Seek clarity of purpose and accept happenstance and serendipity. Chose to believe in a greater purpose and try to discern it from the noise.

Also, planning helps us avoid pitfalls.

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

― Gandalf the Grey, The Hobbit

It is good to have contingencies. To have methods thought out and communicated on how to deal with a situation if it occurs. It is best if everyone on board knows where the life jackets and fire extinguishers are. It is folly to think knowing these prepares us for every possibility.

I run with a crowd that says “do the next indicated thing.” They say that a lot. Sometimes we add, “if you don’t know what the next indicated thing is, do the dishes.”

And let go of the outcome.

“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results”

Dennis Wholey

It really is all about getting up, breathing all day, and laying down with a sense of accomplishment. And steps count as accomplishments. So get started. Plan all you want, just know it has little real effect. Marvel in the opportunities that seem to just show up.

And breathe.

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”

Thomas Alva Edison

Do you have plans for the winter?

2017-09-04

August is over. September. October. Cold. I can not be here for November. It starts raining in September. When I left in 2007 it was raining constantly all the way to San Francisco for my birthday. So I need to be gone by my birthday or leave after my dentist appointment the day after my birthday.
Do I have plans for the winter?
I have a departure date. Other than that, not really.

I was having breakfast with an old friend and he asked me a legitimate question. “So, Lonn, now that you’ve gotten rid of all your stuff and have the simple life, how does it feel?”

I told him “right now, it feels terrifying.” I am at a jumping off point.

So now that I have a departure date, how do I answer this question “do you have plans for the winter?”
Yes! I am going south.
What will you do?
The same thing I am doing now, only in the sun surrounded by bikinis.

I am a vagabond, with no visible means of support. I have amazing friends, but one must provide for oneself in the long run. I know I can leverage couch surfing, airbnb, state parks, and bridges, but I can not plan it all ahead so this leaves a huge mystery. A mystery story tellers, the media, and a lot of my friends want to backdrop with fear. There is no security in stepping off an aircraft with just a backpack.

But I trust the rewards are worth it. They always have been. I have never gone for a walk around the block, let alone a drive all the way around Nevada, without learning or realizing or finding gratitude for something.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” The Complete Travel Writings of Mark Twain: The Innocents Abroad + Roughing It + A Tramp Abroad + Following the Equator + Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion

Do you have plans for the winter? Do they include travel? Why? Leave a comment below.

 

Departure Dates

Coming up with a departure date is always challenging for me. I am the kind of person that backs out of parking spaces without knowing which way I am going to turn. I am an easy victim of the little brown signs on the freeway. “Point of Interest.” There goes a day. I now know more about the California Water Project than I ever intended. And Ronald Reagan.

A departure date is important. I need to book a flight or train and they are not as flexible as I am. It can be nice to have a deadline to get the last little bits done. And it serves as a deadline for others. “OK. As long as it is done before I leave.”

What is it based on? Bank balance? Weather? Events? When I left in the motorhome, I had been “ready” for a while. I just needed some fuel. One Saturday I sold a couple things I had laying around on craigslist. Filled up the tank and left. Didn’t come back for six months. Probably the main reason I want to leave is the weather. It seriously rains for nine months in Seattle. Starting sometime in September and not ending until July 4th. So September is departure prime time for me. My snowbird pals seem to gravitate towards October and some even wait until November. Sailors leave in August, which is the end of motoring season. Motoring season starts in June. There is no wind in Seattle from June to August and September. Plus that is when the Pacific Ocean is nice to boats. The Baja Ha Ha and Coho Ho Ho leave in August.

What to do with the stuff the TSA doesn’t like. Without going into what a scam airport “security” is, I own and can not live without a lot of stuff the little bullies in the TSA uniforms see as an opportunity to assert their egocentric creativity. The obvious stuff is fairly easy. I do not try to board a plane with a large fixed blade knife on my belt. But some stuff is less obvious. If I am carrying a gold plated bone handled double edged safety razor, where are the blades? And my German hand held  burr coffee grinder looks like a ten inch metal cylinder full of pellets with a mechanism on one end if seen in an x-ray monitor. When they see something like that, they don’t open the bag and check. They evacuate the facility.

What I do is pack it all up in a USPS Flat Rate box and send it to one of my brothers from a different mother. They can forward it to me when I get there. And I buy a cheap razor and knife and lighter on the ground first thing.

At the beginning of a journey or passage, leave a day to “pack.” I know I live out of two bags and am always “ready” to go but there is some kind of emotional/spiritual thing about leaving/going that requires some time. Don’t overlook this. If I do not give myself a day before, somehow, something always gets overlooked. Shit I didn’t even think existed. Or I just don’t feel right in some way. Rushed. The whole point is to not feel rushed! Take time the day before departure to settle in to going. Once I am going I just clean up the room or campsite and call an uber or start walking. After all, I live out of two bags and am always ready to go.

Mentioned in this post:

 

Coho Ho Ho
Gold plated Joris razor and Fendrihan

 

Taking the Leap

I call myself a vagabond. Websters:

Definition of vagabond

  1. : moving from place to place without a fixed home :  wandering

  2. a :  of, relating to, or characteristic of a wanderer

    b :  leading an unsettled, irresponsible, or disreputable life

-vagabondish\ˈva-gə-ˌbän-dish\ adjective

I’m not even offended by irresponsible and disreputable really, much. While reading this:

A Practical Guide to Vagabonding and Long Term Travel (Part 1): Taking the Leap

I need to answer some questions.

First, why do I travel?

Why do I breathe? Why do I drink water? I never ask myself those questions. Why must I answer this one? It seems so obvious. Why isn’t everyone doing it?

Where do I want to go?

Back to Encinitas for a while. I really like Encinitas. That’s where Yogananda wrote Autobiography of a Yogi. The weather is perfect, the town is fun, and the people are awesome. Oh, and really nice food.

Then I would like to get to the Caribbean, maybe via Mexico or maybe start in Maine and do the ICW in a downeaster. This is a downeaster:

Image result for downeast boat wallpaper

The ICW, Intracoastal Waterway, is a passage of relatively safe water from Boston to the Keys. Then it’s a short hop to the Bahamas, BVI, and beyond.

http://www.icwplanningguide.com/Marinas/Maine-New-Hampshire.aspx

Then maybe the Mediterranean.

What will I do?

Walk. A lot of walking. And eat. Eat all the good food. And ride the rides. When I was young, we went a lot of places. Always moving from college class to college job. But we never could afford the rides. The trams and boats. The wheels and carousels. I like to ride the rides. But mostly eat nice food and walk.

How long?

The proverbial foreseeable future. “Forever.” I am a member of the class of 2007 in the Escapees RV Club. I lived on a sailboat for 6 years. I have been living out of two bags for over a year now. This week I think I am down to one bag, and a light one at that.

 

 

Kit

I spent the last four days obsessing on kit. And geared up.

I have always kept a ready backpack somewhere. Growing up a hippie and moving around a lot inspired a streak of survivalist/adventurer.

I have had several setups over time. My mom made my first backpack out of leftover upholstery material so I could go on a boy scout hike. That did not work so well. With the down bag from the Korean War I don’t think I would have noticed the added weight of an iron skillet.

In secondary school, junior high school in the states, I was placed in “High Adventure.” A pilot program which eventually became Outward Bound. For the first few of those hikes I carried my gear in two opposing shoulder bags like Grasshopper. Picked up a frame pack eventually. No idea where that ended up.

In college, I made a simple canvas backpack by hand. No velcro or snaps or zippers. I also picked up a bunch of scrap polyfill at the Seattle squeaky floor REI and sewed up a sleeping bag seven feet long inside. That bag would serve me for decades until it was stolen from the back of a pick up truck. I also made a cookset out of Revere Ware by cutting off the handles and nesting a frying pan in a pot. Complete with a copper bottom measuring cup. Tied up a knotted bag to hold it all. I have made several of these sets since.

Somewhere in here I pick up a classic Camp Trails frame pack. This is the pack the sleeping bag was in when it was stolen. Complete kit gone. Time to gear up again.

I was blown away by how gear had evolved since my last trip to REI. Among other things, the fabrics amazed me so much I am still trying to get a clothing company going using those modern fabrics in classic style clothes. The MSR Whisperlight had not changed much but the bags and packs and what the hell is this thermarest thing? WOW!

I loaded up a Gregory Palisade with an REI sleeping bag, a therm-a-rest, another RevereWare cook set, a Coleman singe burner, and a Half Dome. Really nice setup served me until this year. It all went as part of the thinning down, simplifying process. I actually justified leaving my sleeping bag, pad, and tent at Goodwill by realizing the new gear I would some day replace it all with would be awesome.

Wow, was I right!

So I have re kitted. I did minimum research and trusted my friends at Second Ascent in Ballard and ended up with a new Therm-a-rest Neoair Xtherm Max, a Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1, and a Mont Bell Spiral Down Hugger 800 #3. All of this weighs in at about five (5!) pounds and fits in my Jansport day pack. Any singe piece of my old kit did not fit in this bag. All three of these do with room for the rest of what I need. Laptop, iPad, toilet kit, backup clothes and warms, chargers, headlamp, and field glasses. Even a pair of lightweight shoes.  I feel like a Buddhist monk. If I forgo the coffee kit, more shoes, and an extra suit, I am ready to go with just the Jansport if I am fully clothed.

Seriously?

 

Update 2017-08-27

I added an MSR Windburner. I have made coffee in it a couple times. As others have said, it took longer to grind the beans than boil the water. I will write about attempting to cook on it soon.

 

 

New elonn Product Steampunk/Art Deco Headlamp

I have decided to make a steampunk headlamp. This product will be offered by http://elonn.com.

I made this decision while I was driving back from San Diego determined to realize my next step before I reached Seattle. I allowed my self the entire trip to figure it out. Around just before Grants Pass I hit upon the idea of a steampunk headlamp.

It will echo the classic Art Deco Sunburst. The lamp will have one very bright center single or cluster led and six across the top. The bright one can be dimmed, shut off, or turned red.

While I was carving and drawing the six leds I realized they could/should be controlled by an app.

The six across the top are totally programable. They will come with some cool built in profile like rainbow and Cylon.

At this time, the vision is for 3D printing on a belt, printing around the electronics. Assemble the electronics, place  in a jig/mold on a belt and feed to a 3D printer. Rotate, and feed to another 3D printer.

You will be able to adjust each of the six leds individually on a timeline. Set the time line duration/speed, adjust each leds color and brightness over the timeline.

My plan is to launch a kickstarter maybe in September.  I need a team for this one. Someone that can handle the printing stuff. Someone to write the app. I can handle the logistics and financials. Maybe one of us could take charge of the marketing. All the media stuff should probably be shared so the content has several individual styles. “She came up with this idea, I like this, we want to do this…” That sort of thing.

Anyone want to play?