Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How do you choose?

In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.   ~Dante Alighieri

As we turned our energies and minds toward planning the first steps of our broader world journey, we knew that we would eventually have to explain how we chose where we decided to go from the almost 200 countries that exist in the world.

As has been the case in both of our lives on the most momentous choices, we are making these choices remarkably blindly, ill-informed, and with little real knowledge or sufficient thought.  Whether it was our decisions about life partners, graduate schools, career moves, or family… we have always made our choices the same way and found that with work, luck, and the willingness to learn, we grew and thrived within the boundaries defined by those choices.

We have asked hundreds of people about where they have been, what they have loved, and why they have loved it.  We have read travel blogs for over two years.  We have researched methods and modes of travel around the world.  We are certain of one thing.  We are na├»ve and ignorant. 

So our choices derive from a few principles, the most important being that all places, and the people within them, have something to teach us.  We have chosen places that thrill us, unnerve us, excite us, and intimidate us physically, mentally or emotionally (and occasionally all three at once). We have learned it is in this state that we grow the most.  We are sure that our journey will diverge from the path indicated below, and if all goes well, it will only be the first year of the trip.    

By publishing the dates and places, we hope that some of our friends and family may choose to walk by our side for part of the experience.  And walk is the key word.  Our next task is to get all of our possessions into a pack that weighs no more than 20 pounds.

Warm, south and international… the next stage of the trip
Los Angeles, CA (Depart Oct 22)
San Jose, Costa Rica (Arrive Oct 22 – Depart Oct 29)
Lima, Peru (Arrive Oct 29 – Depart Nov 1)
Cusco, Peru (Arrive Nov 1)
Overland on our own through Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina and back to Chile
Santiago, Chile (Depart Feb 5) (Fly through Lima, El Salvador and Costa Rica to LA)
Los Angeles (Arrive Feb 5 – Depart Feb 10)

Rarotonga (Cook Islands) – (Arrive Feb 10 – Depart Feb 18)
Auckland, New Zealand (Arrive Feb 19)
Overland to Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand (Depart March 19)
Melbourne, Australia (Arrive March 19)
Overland to Darwin, Australia
Darwin, Australia (Depart April 19)

Bali, Indonesia (Denpasar) (Arrive April 19 – Depart May 3 and fly through Kuala Lumpur)
Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia (Arrive May 3)
Overland on our own to Kuching
Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia (Departure May 24)
Singapore, Malaysia (Arrive May 24)
Overland on our own to Thailand, Cambodia (Angkor Wat), possibly Laos and Vietnam, later to Burma, India and trekking in Nepal by November 2013.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  ~ Lao Tzu

Posted from Haines, Alaska

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Putting Alaska to Bed

September in Alaska is a very different time than July or August.  It is a frantic time for many Alaskan residents as they seek to prepare for the cold, dark, nights of the upcoming winter.  Boats are brought out of the water, buildings and vehicles are winterized in a variety of ways, wood is put in, and the final harvests of beasts and berries are done regardless of the weather.

Fewer tourists are about, with no long lines of RVs at the gas pumps in the small towns, and the temporary “locals” working in the service industry are headed back south for the season.  Tour companies and the supporting food stands, Thai trailers, and coffee shops are closed, even gone, from the empty lots that once bustled with 5 am traffic from hungry fishermen and busy women.

Wildlife is different as well.  The bears are frantically finishing their feast of over 200,000 berry days and their sides move like Jello as they waddle across roads and meadows.  The final salmon, now decaying, white and slowly drifting in small streams, have successfully thwarted the seine nets, dip nets, and combat fisherman on the streams only to die after a final dance in their spawning grounds. 

The fall, short as it might be, gives up its last life in a burst of reds, oranges, and yellows that turn the once green hills into a mottled, earthly and rich landscape with snow encroaching slowly from the tops of the mountain ranges into the foothills.  And finally, the days have turned into days of longer darkness than light. 

Our goal was to come to Alaska until it was cold and dark and then to turn our attention and journey toward some destination south, international and warm.  We have begun that turn mentally and physically and look forward to posting about the next phase of our peregrination.  

Posted from Valdez, Alaska