The Midnight Train Going Anywhere

On a warm summer's evening on a train going nowhere I met up with this gambler. We were both too tired to sleep. We took turns staring out the window at the darkness, until boredom overtook us, and he began to speak.

OK, so my train ride did have the warm summer's evening, and often I was too tired to sleep, but no gambler came my way to impart words of wisdom before taking his final breath. Instead, I was seated next to the Staring Sisters. It felt like these two girls were taking turns keeping their gaze upon me. And when they were not staring, one of the girls would proceed to recline and upright the chair in front of me, the one that was attached to the tray table holding my laptop.

All in all, it was a good trip from Seattle. I met a couple decent people on the train. I had the smarts to stop at Pikes Place Market in Seattle to pick up some fresh fruit and snacks for the journey. This allowed me to avoid being taken for the high priced fare aboard. I was even able to scam some wireless internet signals at a couple stops.

It was all going well, until the night before Minneapolis, when we were informed that the train would not be going all the way to Chicago. Due to recent flooding in Wisconsin, the tracks were currently being worked on. The train would have to take a detour, but many passengers would have to take a bus from Minneapolis to Chicago. I was one of those chosen ones. But we were in luck, as Amtrak was generous and gave us a very posh bus to ride in. If that were only true, what they gave us was a cramped bus, a cake doughnut, and an eight ounce bottle of water. That, my friends, is service that will keep me coming back. A freakin' cake doughnut!

Well, we finally made it to Chicago, and were told to go to the baggage claim to get our bags. For some reason, I decided to check with a staff member about my checked bag, which in a real world would be transferred to my train to Bloomington. He informed me that only the earlier train to Bloomington had checked luggage service, and that my bag would arrive the next day. He did offer me a chance to get my bag, and so I found myself under the belly of Chicago's Union Station. It was an interesting place where few venture. Down there I met the men who get no thanks for getting the bags from train to baggage carousel. I found my bags, and proceeded back to the surface, only to discover I had about fifteen minutes to spare before my next train departed. No time for that slice of Chicago style pizza that I had hoped for.

Three hours later, I was at my parents' place trying to remember where they hid the spare key. It was found, a much needed shower soon followed, and now I am hit with the fact that the trip from Korea is finally over. It is a sadder thought than I expected, but at least it means that the next adventure is ready to be planned. Where to next?

Currently listening to:


Coming To America... Today

I am actually on American soil yet again. Currently I am sitting on a bus on the Canadian/American border waiting for all the people to clear customs. The bus is hot, as the air condition has not been turned on. And I am strategically sitting with the hope of having both seats to myself for the rest of the trip to Seattle. Plus there is wifi on the bus. How freakin' cool is that? Sadly, I was an idiot and left my iPod and headphones at my friends' house in Vancouver. So it is going to be a quiet ride.

There have been so many stories and adventures on this trip, and perhaps when I get back to Illinois I will share a few here. For now, check out my trip photos. I have a few more to add, but that only gives you a reason to keep checking back.

The aircon just kicked on, and it looks like me intimidating seating worked. Seattle, get ready for my arrival.

Currently listening to: My Last.Fm Neighborhood Station Thanks to free wifi on a bus and a extra set of headphones I found in my computer bag.


The Earth Was Last Night's Bed

I have spent the last few nights sleeping in a tent on Orcas Island. I came up here for a music festival, and now wonder why I never made it to this part of the world before. There will probably be a greater update on this portion of the trip, as well as the trip as a whole. (Don't worry Dave, I have not forgotten the freighter posts) But for now know that if it were my desire for a shower and a room with heat for the night, I would stay here a little longer. There is only so much that a pack of Wet-Wipes can do to keep you clean. And cheap me did not plan properly for the cold nights. The cheapest and lightest sleeping bag at Target is not always the best option. Luckily for me, Bill Mallonee offered my a spare bag for one night. (How about that for cool name dropping stories?)

So now I sit and wait for a ferry to Canada. Yep, time for another boat ride to another country. Perhaps I should start to see how many countries I can enter by sea. So far.. Ireland, England, Belgium, Greece, Japan, USA, Canada, South Korea and I think France. Not too bad start.


Love Your Masks

Looking for something to do today? How about taking a little trip to The Ark, a cultural centre for children in Dublin, Ireland. Why? They are currently running an exhibition called Masks.

From their blog, "Masks have always held a fascination and a magic that everyone can relate to and the traditions and rituals associated with them are many and complex. The aim of this exhibition is to create an accessible way for children and their families to tap into some of that magic together."

Oh, and did I mention that my lion video from India is being used in the exhibit? So I've got that goin' for me, which is nice. Actually, I was excited when I was contacted about having it used. I only wish I could be back in Dublin to check it out. If any of you are passing near Temple Bar, stop in a check it out. Better hurry, as it ends August 17th.

Currently listening to:


Tell You About The Plane Crash

It was a Fourth of July to remember. I joined Dave and his extended family at Surfside, California for some festivities. We started the day taking part in a parade. This isn't the first time we have taken part in a parade together, but I am kind of hoping it is the last. It was good times as we walked around the community to a backdrop of patriotic music.

After lunch we were all hanging out on the beach. At one point, several of us headed in to avoid any further sunburn. As we were sitting and talking, Dave noticed that many of the people outside were pointing and running. We jumped to the balcony to see a plane that had just crash landed in the ocean.

Oddly enough one of the others at the party had commented earlier about how dangerous those banner planes were.

Luckily, the pilot was able to touch down with minimal injuries to himself. He actually was able to walk away from the plane, although the lifeguards quickly assisted him.

For the next hour or so, we watched as the news media descended on the area. One even interviewed Dave's dad for the evening news. The authorities managed to pull the plane out of the water using a John Deer tractor. Then two lucky officers were able to spend their holiday guarding a plane, until it was taken away a few hours later.

Here is a news report on the crash. If you look hard enough in the second photo in the slide show, you can see me.

After that I enjoyed a fireworks display, hung out with some friends, and even had crazy story from Ryan's travels for a while. But really, it was all downhill after the plane hit the water.

Currently listening to: Bruce Springsteen -


Get Back Honkey Cat

So the other night, my friend Dave told me he wanted to see more posts here on my blog. Quantity, not quality was his request, if I remember correctly. In order to appease him, I give you a brief summery of yesterday.

It started off by seeing Dave and his family off to their various work and school responsibilities. An hour later, I was picked up by a former coworker from BFA. We headed over to the California Grill for some breakfast and catching up. It was good to be able to talk about our old days in Germany. The cool thing was that he also worked in Korea for a time, so we were able to exchange stories about our different Korean experiences. It was an encouraging morning.

At noon, I was heading to Angel Stadium of Anaheim to watch a battle between the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It was a beautiful day at the park, and I was sitting closer to the action than I have ever been. It sure beat sitting in the very top row of Minute Maid Park last year. Plus I had my Nolan Ryan Angles jersey on, not as I am so much a fan of the team, but a fan of my name on baseball jerseys.
Good times were had in the stands, enjoying the game, talking baseball and life, and cheering on the Angels. Sadly, the Athletics took the lead. Fortunately, the Rally Monkey came out and boy that little primate did his job. Minutes after the Rally Monkey appeared, Juan Rivera hit a two run homer to seal the victory.

At dinner we celebrated the Thompson's anniversary with the help of George Forman and his fine grilling skills. A couple Marie Callender pies finished out the meal.

So I headed to bed thinking what a great day this had been. As I slid my feet into bed, I felt a little moistness. My first thought was I had left my towel on the bed in the morning. Sadly, I was incorrect. The best I could deduct was that one of the cats had decided to mark his territory. Actually, it was more like he got trapped in the room when the pressure mounted. Not wanting to wake anyone, I decided to sleep on the floor. Later in the night, I found my way to the couch.

Dave did tell me that it never happens with their cats, but then again, he sounded like one of those parents who say their kids never act that way, when their kid acts up. Actually, I think he has told me that too. Ha. And in order to keep my lodging safe, have I mentioned Dave's new website and podcast?

Currently listening to: Coldplay - Viva la Vida