Episode One: Plan G

You know how there is plan A and then plan B etc.? The last few weeks have been a lesson in always having a backup and/or being willing to go with the flow. I feel like I am currently on plan F or G of my trip already. The original plan had been to start from Grass Valley, CA and head over the Sierra toward Klamath Falls, OR, where I would meet up with some friends for about a week near Bend, OR before heading back to Klamath Falls to start north again. 

Things were looking pretty good for a while; the snow was melting and Punxsutawney Phil had said that spring was coming early, which I was a big fan of. However, about a week before I had planned on starting, there was a big snow storm in the Sierra and things started looking bleak for me. I told my Dad that his ski season was going to need to be cut short, but in the end, he got lucky. This was not a horrible thing; it just meant that my plan to try to stay on dirt paths for the bulk of my trip just went out the window, and instead of going over the hills, I would need to take the road around through the valley. However, this did not mean I did not need to go through the mountains still; I would just do it in a lower place instead. 

Country road, take me home...(table mountain in the distance)

In the next couple of days, I got to Red Bluff via backroads, and then cut east to head up and over the mountains. Well, this day it started raining, then snowing and then I actually hit snow at about 4,200 feet, which is a bit lower than expected. So I tried to plod through it for a while, but ultimately it was very hard and it was uphill and my feet were getting cold, so I decided to head back down the hill to regroup. I was going to try to hitchhike to the town of Burney, but nobody would pick me (a very wet person) and Bob (a very wet bike) up. Luckily, I found a feed store that was on the side of the highway and I went in and begged Sonny, the owner (we became good friends), if I could use his heater to warm up and asked him if he knew anyone with a truck who would be willing to give me a ride. 

After reviewing the weather in Burney and surrounds, I determined that the upcoming snow would make this journey a bit unpleasant and possibly dangerous, so in the end, I decided to go back to Redding, which is along highway 5 and wait for my friends there instead of in Klamath Falls. Luckily Sonny's friend was headed to town and he gave me a ride right to my motel! Thank goodness for friendly folks. After a week in Oregon, I was back in Redding, but ironically, though it had been nice for the last five days, it was set to snow again in the mountains! I decided to take a bus to Burney and start from there rather than trying to go up the snowy slopes of the highway. 

Yup, those are my tracks (and a bunny)

The pass I wanted to avoid

This turned out to be a wise decision. The highway (299) to Burney was uphill, windy and had very little shoulder and there were a couple of snowy passes. In the end, I skipped about 7 miles, but I am okay with that. I started off in Burney and headed east and then north again. However, lest you think it was easy, it was uphill, snowing part of the time, and in the 20s in the mornings! But I made it to Klamath Falls safely in the end. The weather is still supposed to be a bit hit and miss, but this week's lows are supposed to be in the 30s and highs in the 50s/60s so that is much better than 20s! I have spent a lot of time looking at weather, routes, and webcams lately, but hopefully things will become more (and stay more) spring-like after this. 

View of Mt. Lassen from highway 299

A few stats --> Dead animals seen on side of the road: snakes, squirrels, cat, deer, vole, birds, lots of unidentified bones. I have also seen lots of cans (but not as many as in Washington), cigarette packets, and beer bottles. Good things I've seen: many farms/ranches/live animals including goats, donkeys, ponies, horses, sheep, ducks, geese, hawks, unidentified birds, dogs & cats, many sunrises, many empty roads, fun small towns.

Now the fun part, the Q&A! If you haven't gone and asked any questions yet, you can do it here. Don't be shy! It can even be anonymous if you want it to! I thought I would answer a few in each post, except for some of Engie's questions, for which the answers will likely be an entire post! This time, I will answer a few logistic questions that I have recently been asked. 

Where do you sleep? (Michelle and various other friends) - I am doing a mix of wild camping, established camping, motels and staying with friends. Most of this will not be planned in advance, as I will not really know how fast or how far I will go each day, but my expectation is that I will likely try to have a warm bed and a shower about once a week. If it rains or snows on me a lot, this number may increase. [edited to add: given the snowy conditions, I have so far stayed in a motel 4 nights and wild camped 2 nights, but I am hoping to do a lot more camping over the next week.]

Wild camping in Modoc County, temps around 40

What do you eat? (Michelle and various other friends) - I carry enough food to get me to the next town, which will likely mostly be only a day or two's worth of food. However, there will be sections where I will need to carry several days worth of food or several liters worth of water. What I carry will be similar to backpacking food, like rice, beans and oatmeal, but I will also be able to carry some heavier things or fresher items like peanut butter, bagged salad and fruit/veggies. I will also stop in towns and eat real food from time to time! My favorite grocery store foods in town are ice cream, cheese and meat, but I will also be splurging on an omelet or a hamburger sometimes. I also do carry a stove and so I can have hot food like instant rice, oatmeal and coffee. 

Typical snack food

Coffee maker (aka the stove)

Where do you use the bathroom? (My friend K's 10 year old daughter L) - This really depends on where I am. The first few days I was in small towns or rural roads. If there is no traffic and/or I can hide, I usually just pee in the bushes. If I am in a town, I may use a park restroom or a gas station restroom, but I don't really like leaving my bike out too long. If I am camping, I will go in the bushes. If I am in a motel, I will use a toilet! 

Will I carry a weapon? (My aunt and my friend G) - Not this time. I am going to leave my Glock at home, but will likely get bear spray when I am closer to or am in Canada. 

Progress report: 352 mi / 563 km | 7 days | 42 hours (6 per day) | gummy bears eaten: 76

How was your week last week? Did you get any snow? Is it cold where you are? What do you do to warm up when you are cold? 


Slow Travel: Week One

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend and maybe even are out doing something fun with the kiddos this week! I am feeling much more motivated and organized than I did last week! A quick update before I jump in, just to let people know how everything is going; it is going well. I have started the grand depart for the Bikepacking USA and Canada Adventure and am currently spending some time with some friends in Oregon. But I don't want to just talk about all of my bicycling woes all the time (although I did used to do that a lot with running!) so I will probably put out a bike centric post every few weeks or once a month. 

Currently here

Also, I am rounding up questions for future posts, and I need your help. If you don't mind, can you please go here and ask a few? I will sing your praises in all future posts if you do!

Now onto the beef. My first week of retirement was spent at my parents' house. So basically, I am living with my parents again. Yup. In a van, down by the river. The fun thing is that my brother also showed up to help my Dad with a job and so it was actually the whole family there at the same time. We all lived under one roof for several days and did not even kill each other even though maybe we wanted to sometimes

So long sucka!

Seriously though, it was so "real life." You know how sometimes when you are with family or friends for a special occasion, or only one or two days, you feel the need to behave, aka hang out and entertain and do the things you may not want to do? Well this was just regular days, with each of us flitting in and out on our own timelines, while still spending time to eat breakfast and dinner together most days. It's those low pressure visits that are really more my style. I love being able to read my book even though other people are in the room and not feel rude, like I am using up precious time. My Mom would nap, and I would read, or go for a walk, or go and play with my bike, or pick my nose. It was great. 

Spring has sprung!

I also accomplished a few things. Thanks to all of you, I got out of my reading rut! I did not mention these books on my last post as I was not finished with them yet, but I can also add A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking (4.5 stars), Then She Was Gone (4 stars), The Cover Story (3.5 stars) and Die With Zero (3 stars) to my March reads and none of them sucked! In case you think 3 stars means I did not like it, that is not true; it means I thought it was good but not great, which is what I would say a 4 is. 

I also now have some great songs for my Pick Me Up playlist! Thanks to all of you for contributing! There were some great adds, such as System of a Down from my friend E, who likes bands with names like Dead Fetus, so this was actually a very tame suggestion from him (I also added some White Zombie, Deftones and Korn, which all remind me of a certain time in my life, although I do not listen them as often any more.) I know many of you (including my parents) are cringing right now, but never fear, I also added Maneater, both the Hall and Oates (thanks Nicole!) and the Nelly Furtado versions, and of course a little bit of Pitbull. It was so fun hearing all of the different suggestions and so many of them were so different. I have stopped in my tracks several times over the last few days to check my phone to see what the song was. 

Case in point, the song Rasputin by Boney M. was suggested to me by my brother. I was on a run and I wanted to run on my tiptoes when the song came on and so I stopped running to see who it was. Turns out, this band is from the 70s and when I just now went to YouTube to get the link, I saw the video, and they are so groovy! You cannot help but want to dance. Also, if you listen to the lyrics, it talks about how the Russian Rasputin was feared by all but apparently was a great womanizer! It made me giggle. 

He ruled the Russian land and never mind the Czar
But the kazachok he danced really wunderbar
In all affairs of state he was the man to please
But he was real great when he had a girl to squeeze

Other than collecting books and songs, I knocked a bunch of things off of my list. Due to working in the finance industry, we were required to keep any investment accounts with our company, so the first thing I did was open new accounts and have my accounts transferred over. I also rolled over my 401k, redid all the paperwork (transfer on death designations, beneficiaries, etc.) and had to reinvest some of the accounts due to items not transferring over. I had to change my address on a buttload of things, even though most of my stuff is paper, and this of course caused issues with opening the new accounts because not only am I now not working, but what IS my mailing address? It turned out to be easier to just put my old address on the application and then call them to tell them that I need to change my mailing address. However, I had already forwarded my mail by then so I really did not want anything going to my old address!

 I also opened a new credit card that I will use to pay the contractor who is working on the house so I can get some points out of the deal (yay!), even though the points value will be a slight fraction of what I will be spending (boo!). I also sold my car, which was fairly easy, except the dudes showed up about three and a half hours later than the 6:00 pm appointment, which as you know, is way past my bedtime. Luckily the family stayed up with me and played Quirkle with me to try to keep me awake. I even finished my taxes and did lots of fiddling with Bob (wow, that sounds kind of kinky, but it's just #bobthebluebike)! 🚲

Bob is raring to go.

The one thing I left for last was health insurance! I know waiting until the last minute is not a luxury that everyone can afford, but I am still dragging my feet. Most companies will honor your health insurance until the end of the month that you resigned. In our case, we actually get 20 days, which works out better as long as you quit after the 10th, which I did. So I basically have until April 4th to decide. My conundrum is this. Most USA insurance will not cover other countries, so you would need to get travel insurance for the period you would be out of the country. Most international (or nomad) insurance only covers the USA in case of extreme emergency or for a very short period, like 30 days. There are other options, but I am still looking into them. The bottom line is that any of these options are cheaper than Cobra, but the coverage is hit and miss. For example, for Cigna Global, they will only cover inpatient hospital visits, unless you tack on an extra $150 per month for outpatient. Anyway, I will probably leave it right until the last minute. Anybody have any input here? 

I am also still working on getting the house ready for sale, and could probably write an entire post about that, so I will save it for later! 

Have you ever played Quirkle? Anybody have any good postal service/mail snafu/moving stories? If you are married, and you changed your name, in how many different places did you have to update things? (I feel this would be way harder than just updating an address, but YOU TELL ME!) 


Looking Back: Books

As I mentioned last week, I have been struggling a little bit to concentrate on books lately. However, I am happy to report two things. First of all, per Engie's recommendation, I started reading A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking. I am about two thirds of the way through it and so far, it is just what I needed! It is light and fun and easy and there are gingerbread men who come to life. I will report back when I am done, but I think the reading funk has been banished! 

Secondly, just because I have not had a lot of luck in March does not mean that the last quarter was all bad. Here are several books that I read during the first quarter of this year that I did enjoy! 

The Secret Book of Flora Lee by Patti Callahan Henry: In 1939 Hazel and her younger sister Flora are sent out of London to the country to live to escape the bombs. One day, while playing near the river, Flora vanishes and Hazel blames herself for her sister's death. Years later, Hazel is working at a publisher when she reads a manuscript of a story that only her and her sister would know. This makes her believe that maybe her sister is still alive after all. I enjoyed the story itself and the author's writing style, and was even surprised from time to time as the story progressed. 

None of This is True by Lisa Jewell: Unassuming Josie bumps into famous podcaster Alix in the bathroom of a local restaurant at their separate birthday celebrations. After that Alix runs into Josie several more times and eventually even agrees to interview Josie for her podcast. Of course Josie ends up being different than expected, and there are many twists and turns along the way before we find out what is really going on. This is another typical Jewell novel, but I mean that in a good way. Some of hers have been a little less exciting than others, but this one did not disappoint. 

The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel: This is the story of two friends during WWII. When Elise becomes a target of the Nazis, she entrusts her daughter with her friend Juliette to care for until it is safe to send for her. When the war is finally over, she returns home to find Juliette's house reduced to rubble, Juliette nowhere to be found and no knowledge of what transpired during her daughter's final moments. She searches for years to find Juliette in order to get answers about her daughter so that she can have some closure in her life at last. 

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King: This is not your typical King horror novel; it is a thriller about murder and an ex-detective named Hodges who tries to solve the mystery of the killer and of course there are some twists and turns along the way. I was pleasantly surprised, as I was not sure what to expect after years of not reading a King novel (but I did read most or all of them back in the 90s!). 

Evil Eye by Etaf Rum: The tale of the expectations placed on Palestinian-American women, this is the story of Yara. She married the right guy, moved to the suburbs, had children and is doing everything right, as her culture expects. However, after her husband forbids her to go as a chaperone to a school trip, she begins to wonder if she really is happy, and if she is not, how she can be happier but not rock the boat with  her family. This seems impossible and is an interesting look into the struggles that some woman face even still.

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin: April leaves home early after a fight with her Dad and goes off to make her own way in the world. She moves from city to city trying to find her place in the world, and meets a lot of interesting people along the way. This is more of a character driven novel, which I am not always a big fan of, but I did find some of her trials and tribulations interesting and felt engaged with her throughout the story. 

Kill Show by Daniel Sweren-Becker: This one got accolades from many of you, and I jumped on the bandwagon a little late, but I am glad that I jumped, as it did not disappoint! It is a story of a girl who goes missing and her family's struggles to find her. To do this, they agree to make a reality show about her disappearance in real time. The best part was that it was done in an interview style format, which really kept me engaged the entire time. It has an essence of Gone Girl, in that it keeps you guessing and tickles you a bit at the end. 

What was your favorite book over the last three months? Have you read any of the above and/or did you enjoy them? What is your favorite genre? 


So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Last Friday was my last day of work. I was going to write a witty recount of my time there and talk about my feelings about leaving, but I don't think I quite have it in me yet. My brain is on half mast; I have DNFed three audiobooks this month and have not read any eBooks. All I can do is listen to podcasts and sometimes not even that, so I have reverted back to listening to music in the car. 

This month so far, I am batting 250 on books, and my one hit was only a single. I read Lisa Jewell's Watching You and it was just okay. I don't know if that is my mindset or if the book is not that good, so take my review with a grain of salt. I then DNFed Everywhere an Oink Oink (annoying Hollywood producer) and I Didn't Know I Needed This (annoying Twitter influencer) and started Murder in The Family twice and just could not get into it, so I realized that it's not you, it's me, and decided to just give it a rest. I think I may be ready to give it a shot again, but I need something light and funny and fun. Does anyone have a suggestion of a quick and easy read? No Emily Henry please. 

Speaking of music, I found an old SanDisk music player among my things and it still works! It cost maybe $15 and it holds about 3G of music, and it was about half full. It was so fun to turn it on and see what I was listening to when I last used it, which was probably at least ten years ago! I also added more songs on it so I will have something that doesn't drain my phone battery that I can listen to when I am on the road. The playlist includes a variety of songs like Shaggy's It Wasn't Me, So What by Pink, Jesus Walks by Kanye, Believe Me Natalie by the Killers and Sex Is On Fire by Kings of Leon. I also have a playlist on my phone as a backup that I have dubbed Pick Me Up, and will be used when I am feeling discouraged or tired and need to be pumped up. 

Testing out the SanDisk

It still works!

Speaking of that, if you are interested, I would love to get one song recommendation to add to the pick me up playlist from each of you. FYI, I listen to all genres, and would be just as happy with Pantera or Snoop Dogg as I would with Taylor Swift or James Taylor. So lay it on me folks! If you are one of my shy lurkers (you know who you are Berreaux!) you can text me or email me your suggestion. 

As I said, I have also been listening to more podcasts. If you love hearing a short story made long, I have one about this too. I used to use Stitcher as my podcast player. It was great, I had all of the settings down and everything was copesetic. Maybe six or ten months ago, they closed up shop and told everyone to migrate their playlists, and suggested Google Podcasts. I am an Android user and a fan of the Google suite, so I did what they said and have been very happy with the transition so far. However, about a month ago, Google Podcasts announced that they would no longer be around and that we would need to migrate our playlist again. Sigh. I don't mind learning new things but that is kind of annoying. So I moved everything to YouTube Music, which is where I listen to and get my music from. However, I don't love this platform for various reasons. So I am going to try out Podcast Guru, unless one of you has a suggestion for a great podcast app? Like I said, I am an Android user and I don't want to pay for the app. Any suggestions? And if so, why do you like the one you are using? 

Speaking of podcasts, one of my go tos lately has been All the Hacks and I just listened to a great one about FOMO and FOBO. I had never heard of FOBO but it is the Fear of Better Options, meaning that you do not make a decision right away because you think something better may come along after you do. It really hit home with me, as I don't really have too much FOMO, but I definitely have a case of FOBO from time to time. It is not unusual for me to turn on Netflix and spend half an hour trying to decide what to watch before finally giving up and turning the TV off. It is not unusual for me to put an alert on a flight price rather than buying one right away, in the hopes that the price will go down later or that the flight will be at a better time. I try not to be, but often am guilty of analysis paralysis. 

In the podcast, they talk about being an optimizer or a maximizer, both who want to get the best that they can out of the choices they make and it is fascinating to see how much I can relate to much of this. The opposite is a satisficer, who will pick something that is "good enough" just to satisfy. Supposedly, maximizers will take longer to make the decision, but it will often be a better decision due to the research put in, versus satisficers, who will choose quickly, but be happier in the long run. I take a long time to make decisions and often have to ask many questions to be sure I know exactly what I am getting myself into before I make the plunge. I know this is annoying to many of my satisficer friends, but to loop this back to work for the grand finale, has served me well in my industry over the last ten years! 

What fun book should I be reading now? What is your one pick me up song? What podcast app would you suggest I use? Are you a maximizer or a satisficer? 


A Million Tiny Things

I know that I am not the first person to ever sell a house or make a big change, and I even know that some of you have very recently done this (Nicole, Suzanne) without nary a peep about any of the annoying things that one must do in order to make this happen. Ladies, I applaud you. It is something that is not high on my bucket list, but it is One Of Those Things that must be done in order to get to the next step of your life, hopefully a Good one, or even a Better one than you were at before. 

Of course this makes me think about all of those things that we do to get to something beyond them. Even something as simple as hiking is sometimes not that fun, but you know that the beauty that you will behold will make the trudge worth it. It is almost a kind of type two fun, where the activity itself is often not that fun in the moment, but when you look back you talk about how fun it was. Will I look back and wax poetic about selling stuff on FB Marketplace in six months or a year? Currently I do not think so, but you never know! 

Gratuitous hiking photo: Healy Pass in the snow - Banff, AB

I feel like I have a million tiny things to do. In case I did not mention this in my last post, I am selling my house, but not only that, I am paring down my belongings to a few boxes, mostly of mementos, camping gear and a few reference and childhood books (I just could not help myself!!) This means that much of my last several months of life has consisted of working on my unsuccessful side hustle, sorting through stuff, throwing stuff away and giving stuff away. I do not want to bore anyone too much, but I could tell a whopper of a story about how hard it is to get rid of a simple couch (it is hard). 

Oh, you do want to know why? Well, after having no luck selling it, I tried to donate it to Habitat For Humanity, who by the way is very picky about their items. They do not take any patterned upholstery, sleeper sofas or anything that has oak. They also will not accept anything that has ANY stains or nicks, no matter how tiny. They will not take anything made of particle board or that is painted. So, in a nutshell, they basically do not want used furniture unless it has been wrapped in plastic and never used. However, after speaking to a woman on the phone, submitting an application and submitting photos, the couch was accepted. I was more proud of this day then when I was accepted for college. The truck arrived, the driver disembarked and after looking at the couch, he turned his nose up in denial at it, as if it had just let out a silent but deadly fart, because it had a tiny water mark on one arm. Not only that, but when he was moving out the items that he did accept, he must have also scraped something dirty on it, causing it to have a black smudge on it after he left. I had submitted a request for about 20 things and they only took about 10 of them, and they were not the large items that I really wanted to get rid of. 

A few days later, I phoned option number two, Out of the Closet, to see if I could schedule a pickup and was told that I had to specifically call back on the next Tuesday to schedule a pickup for their next pickup day, which was March 15th. When I called back on Tuesday promptly at nine, I was told that I was going to have to call back on March 18th to schedule a pickup for their next day, which was March 28th. This simply would not do. 

A few days later, I had my brother come with his truck so that we could take the couch, and several large items to Salvation Army, whose website said that they accepted furniture. We pull up to the donation center and we get denied, as they state that they do not accept any furniture. At this point, we already have the car loaded with half of the items, including the couch, and my armpits are starting to smell bad from the fear that this is going to be a lot more difficult that anticipated. 

Broski, the truck & the accursed couch.

I decide to try Out of the Closet, which is down the street from the Salvation Army, so I call them and speak to a nice lady named Brenda who says that yes they do accept furniture, but not if it has any stains or nicks. I tell her that I am going to come with a truck and she says she will come out to look at the stuff when we get there. I get there, go in and get her and she comes out and looks at everything and says that yes, they will take everything. I wanted to kiss her! We unloaded everything and then told her that I had a second load, and even showed her photos and she said she would take all of the second load too. We went home, loaded up the rest, came back, unloaded it and got the heck out of dodge as fast as possible. I kept waiting for Brenda to start chasing me from the back screaming, "wait, this couch has a tiny stain, take it back!" and me yelling, "sorry Brenda, possession is 9/10ths of the law! It's yours now! Have a nice day!" 

Anyway, this story is just one of many similar ones and although it has not necessarily been stressful per se, there are some things that have not been my favorite. For example, I do not really like having strangers in my space. In the last six months, I have probably had no less than 100 people come onto my property, whether it is to buy something, fix something, look at something, load something up or take something. On the other hand, I sold a ladder, a bike rack and a BBQ, all things I was worried that I would have to take to the dump. And thirdly, I talked to all of the people who bought these things, and I was even friendly, which simultaneously makes me feel a little bit like I need a social break and a little bit amazed that I can do things that I hate, and am even okay at faking them fairly well. 

I am not done yet. I still have so many things to do. This week, I have my Global Entry appointment, I have to put my car up for sale and I need to get my bike tuned up. I will have at least two more trips to the donation center, one more night with the girls, and much packing and cleaning to do. I hope to be fully done by this weekend, and will spend Saturday hopefully out on the trails, basking in the (fingers crossed) sunshine and the beauty that is the Pacific coast, before heading out. 

In one week, my house will be empty, I will be the proud owner of nearly no possessions, and I will be free to go where the wind takes me. Did I get everything done that I wanted to get done, the way that I wanted to do it? Nope. But I have accomplished a million tiny things, one tiny thing at a time, and that is good enough for me.  

Have you ever sold your house and/or all/most of your possessions, or moved from one place to another? If so I would love to hear your thoughts about the process! How did you feel? What was the hardest part? What do you hope you never have to do again? 

P.S. I was telling my friend K this story, and she said she just hired people to come and take everything. They recycle or donate 80% of the items and it cost her about $200 to have them come the next day. This is not a sponsored post, but maybe if you want to avoid the hassle of DIY, hire someone like this company in your area! PPS but she won't have the "fun" stories that I have, will she?! 


Round The World (RTW) Episode Five

Over the years, I have stopped working to take various longer adventures around the world. The first was in 1999, when, after taking a semester of French, I signed up for a work abroad summer program and went to Bordeaux to work in a French supermarket. I overpacked, bungled around with the language and learned very quickly how to summon help and to be relieved to hear "j'arrive." 

Tour de France, 1999 (Lance Armstrong won that year)

In 2004, I quit my job and went to live in London. After being there for a couple of months, and doing some local traveling in Europe, I stayed in Paris for a month before moving to Istanbul. This was my first version of a round the world trip. During this trip, I did a lot of things wrong (not fully understanding the entry restrictions, running out of money WAY faster than expected, etc.) but I learned a lot and had a great time despite my trip only lasting about six months in the end. 

London 2004

Since then, I have taken a sabbatical and/or quit my job to travel the world three more times. In 2006, I spent about four months traveling in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Borneo. In fact, as I mentioned in this post, my first ever blog post was in April 2006 from Vietnam (how quaint it was)! That means that in just two more years I will be celebrating my 20 year blog-iversary, woof! In 2008, I spent almost a year in South America and in 2010, I did a year long round the world trip (Europe, Africa, India, Nepal, South Korea, China, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand). 

Singapore 2006

Guatamala 2006

Australia 2006

Chili 2008

Brazil 2008

Peru 2008

South Africa 2010

Nepal 2010

Every time I have decided to do this, it has been a nervous combination of excitement and fear. Quitting your job and going off into the great unknown is scary, but also traveling to countries you have never been to is fun! However, there is always that element of the unknown and sometimes it feels a bit intimidating to be doing this every day or week or month as you move from place to place. We get so used to our daily routines, and so comfortable with them, even if we are also sometimes stuck in a rut and want change! 

Istanbul 2004

So this post is to tell you that I am ready for episode five of the RTW travel adventure. Since my last big trip in 2011, I have pretty much only gone somewhere every one or two years and I want more! So, at long last, basically 25 years since my first big adventure, I have decided once again to step out of the rut and jump back into excitement and fear...This includes quitting my job, selling my house, selling/donating/tossing all of my things, packing up my meager belongings into a backpack and/or onto a bike and hitting the road. 

This space will still be manned, and I will probably also be resurrecting my Instagram page if you want to follow along there too (the link is in my Who Am I page). 

Currently, I plan to start by doing some biking around the northern/Midwest states of the US and southern(ish) part of Canada. I know this is a bit broad, but if you are in one of these areas, and I can pedal to your house or town, I would love to meet for a coffee or a meal! Let me know if that sounds like something you would want to do (you can comment below or my email is on my Who Am I page). After that, I will likely be doing some slow travel (staying in places for ~ a month at a time) and will start in Asia (I think?) at first and then...to infinity and beyond? The world is, once again, my oyster. 

Have you ever done any extended traveling? If so, how do you keep from getting burned out? Have you ever stayed in one place for a month or more? 


Confessions & Randoms

Happy Monday everyone! I hope that everyone had a great weekend and that spring is starting to show in your neck of the woods. In the Bay Area, it finally stopped raining and on Saturday it actually got above 70! I was very happy and celebrated by taking a nap (inside). I know it doesn't make sense, but I left the windows open, so I don't feel too guilty about it! 

Before I get to the confessions, here are a few random thoughts churning around the old noggin. 

Today I have a plumber coming to fix a leak under my kitchen sink. It is going to cost me more than my last vacation, which makes me cringe big time, and reminds me of the joys (!!) of being a homeowner. This is one of those things I want my personal assistant to take care of and I will just write a check. It will not be a happy check, but at least I don't have to deal with the guys in my house and things possibly going worse than I already imagine. Just tell me when it's over please! 

On the reading front, I have really been enjoying thrillers lately. I think my brain capacity has diminished recently and it is just so much easier to listen to a fluffy thriller than anything more substantial. The last one that I read and enjoyed was None of This is True by Lisa Jewell. I also just finished Kill Show, which came highly recommended by Lisa and Engie, and it did not disappoint. Due to my lowered brain function, I have also been getting back into podcasts. I just cannot concentrate enough for much more at this moment. Some of my favorites lately have been The Adventure Sports Podcast and All The Hacks

I went skiing with my Dad last week and it was a great day. We got snow on Wednesday and we skied on Thursday and it was sunny and nice with great fresh snow! The only thing that was a bit of a bummer was that my ski boots, which I have had since high school (that is a long time!!) broke in the middle of a run, so we had to rent boots. However, that did not stop us from having a great time. Lately I have only been skiing maybe once a year and this was the perfect day for my one day this year! 

Lovely day on the slopes

Today, something big is happening in my life (aside from the plumber) and I will talk more about it next week. However, I am both looking forward to it and dreading it in equal measures. Stay tuned to find out what the heck I am talking about! And now, onto a few confessions...

I am not very good at spelling. Yes, I read a lot and I know a lot of big words, but sometimes I still can't remember if "protein" is "I before E" or not. By the way, why IS the E before the I in protein? It does not make any sense. Also, if I can write it down and look it it, my spelling is better, but if I have to spell it out loud to someone, I am slow and I have to look inside my head at a whiteboard in order to get the letters out of my mouth. I think in general I am more of a visual learner and will remember things much better if I read them or write them down than if I hear them (over the phone for example). 

I sometimes hoard food. No, I am not like the chicken girl in Girl, Interrupted, but I do like to have something on hand in case I get hungry. I also do like to buy things on sale, so if it is a two-for-one, I will buy two of them. I also shop at Costco, although I am trying not to do that as much, as there are certain things you just don't need a two year supply of (although I will continue to buy the five dozen egg pack and the two pound bag of coffee). I bought a huge bag of protein powder a couple of years ago, and I finally just had to throw it away (gasp!!!) as it was a little sweet for me, and I barely used it. 

I eat expired food. I do not like throwing food away. I will eat expired food in most cases (obviously not rotten eggs or moldy veggies or anything) and have some spices that date back to the teens (does curry spice REALLY go bad?) that I finally just threw away. Plus there are some arguments about "sell-by" vs "use-by" vs "freshest by" dates. If it smells fine, I will usually go for it. This really disgusts some of my friends and family members. 

I schedule a lot of my text messages. Since I get up super early (usually around 4 am), and this is also when my brain is working at its best, I often reply to texts or send texts to people then. However, I am loving the schedule feature, and will usually set the text to go out around 8 am instead of the hour of the dead that I am actually sending it. There are a couple exceptions to this, such as when I know the person keeps their phone on silent at night, or if I know they get up super early too (Hi Mom!). The other thing I do, so I won't forget, is schedule texts like birthdays or anniversaries when I think of it. Otherwise the day will pass before I know it and I hate being the person to wish someone happy birthday a day late. 

I have never cleaned (or used) my fireplace. Some people like to sit in front of a crackling fire at night. Some people love the routine of starting a fire. I am not one of them. I bought a house with a fireplace and I have never used it. Therefore I have never cleaned it. I grew up in a house with a woodstove, which was our only source of heat, and making a fire (and chopping and carrying wood) is a chore to me. I also do not like smelling like smoke, even when camping. I can make a fire in a jiff if needed for survival, but it is likely I am not going to just do it for fun. 

Your turn! What random things are happening in your life? Do you ever schedule your text messages? Do you have (or use) a fireplace in your house? 


A Lifetime of Blogging

Lately I have been going through some of my old posts. I had an idea that I was going to relabel some of them and try to tidy things up a bit. But then I realized it was a huge undertaking and would probably not really be that helpful to anyone but me, so I binned it. However, it did make me think about my blogging journey and I thought I would have you all join in with me in talking about your own journeys too! Please feel free to answer any or all of the questions including links if you like! If you do not have a blog, feel free to tell me when you started reading blogs and what kind of blog you like reading the best! 

When did you start blogging and why? I started blogging in 2006 while traveling. I had been writing a mass email at the time, explaining where I was and what I was doing but found it easier to post it online and that way people could come and look at it when they wanted and it would all be in the same place. However, blogging was fairly new to me and my friends and family and I did not really get many comments for a long time! 

Egypt 2010

What was your first blog post about? Here is my first post (excuse the naivete and bad formatting! I swear, I got more polished eventually) It was about a bus ride from hell that went from Laos to Vietnam. It was a long ride, it was hot, our bus broke down...but here is the silver lining, according to 2006 me: After the breakdown there were really no problems except that I saw a bucket of pigs feet soaking in water right near the toilets and I thought how glad I am that I am a vegetarian... (FYI: I am no longer a vegetarian).

What is your most used label and why? I am going to cheat on my own question and answer the top three. Feel free to do the same. Lists (314 times), Travel (243), Running (233). And why? Lists is so general and crosses a lot of other categories. Travel makes me glad, since this is the travel spot, not the running spot or the food spot. Running has been around for long enough that it makes a podium spot, I guess! 

What is your most viewed post? And why do you think this is the case? Stephany is going to get a kick out of this, but my top post is actually a guest post that she wrote about theme parks in Orlando. I am guessing it is because it has the word Disney in it. The second most popular is a post I wrote about strange signs you find when abroad. I am guessing it was popular because I used the word $ex in one of the captions... Mr. Lovely's 10 reasons why Nepal is better than India was also a big hit. 

Do you answer comments on your blog? If so, what method do you use (email, post on blog, etc.)? I do answer comments! I used to always respond via email because if the commenter put in their email, blogger would send the comment to my email and I could just reply to the person via direct email. It seems that is not really the case as much, and so a lot of people don't have their email linked, so I just reply on the blog itself. However, I find that harder, since the person has to go back and check rather than knowing I responded, so I do try to email people back if I have their info. NOTE: If you are anonymous, please state your name in the comment so I know who you are (unless you don't want me to). 

Do you go back to see if a blog post that you commented on got replies? If so, how do you keep track? Yes, I do go back, although it is much more helpful if I get an email letting me know that there is a response. Probably only a handful of the people I follow have this though. So my current method is to keep the tab open to the comment and then check it later to see if there is a response, although this is not really a very efficient method. I will be interested to hear if people have tips or tricks for this. 

What blog that you still read now have you read the longest? This won't come as a surprise to most of you, but I have to give a shoutout to my OG Lisa. A down to earth Mom of two living in MN and working in the finance industry, she gets it done! Also, she commented on my site when nobody else did, regularly! I have a lot of one comment posts from the beginning and it is almost guaranteed it is her. She is thoughtful and responsive and she taught me that it is okay to go out on a limb and support another blogger as they get started, even if you are the only one. Thanks Lisa! (P.S. there are so many other great people out there, and I just can't stress how important ALL of these connections are!)  

Do you post on other forms of social media regularly? If so, where? I am very poor at most other social media forms. I have accounts, but rarely post! I don't get the same sense of connection from most of them and I also find myself wasting time on them when I do log on (as in looking at posts on FB of the children of a girl I met while traveling in Australia in 2006 who I have not kept in touch with). 

If you talk about people in your real life, do you use their real names? I may have at the beginning, when nobody read my "online journal" but as I started to gain traction, I made code names for most people. Perhaps it's overkill, especially with all of the things that we all post online these days, but I still want to respect other people's privacy as much as possible. 

If you could get paid to blog no matter what you are writing about, what would your focus/theme be? I would probably write about travel, but I would hopefully have to be traveling in order to get fodder! However, even if it was just about past travels, it would probably still be fun. 

Your turn! 

When did you start blogging and why? 
What was your first blog post about? 
What is your most used label and why? 
What is your most viewed post? And why do you think this is the case?
Do you answer comments on your blog? If so, what method do you use (email, post on blog)? 
Do you go back to see if a blog post that you commented on got replies? If so, how do you keep track? 
What blog that you still read now have you read the longest?
Do you post on other forms of social media regularly? If so, where?
If you talk about people in your real life, do you use their real names? 
If you could get paid to blog no matter what you are writing about, what would your focus/theme be? 

Please feel free to answer any or all of the questions including links if you like! If you do not have a blog, feel free to tell me when you started reading blogs and what kind of blog you like reading the best! Or if you are a private writer or journal keeper, what do you normally write about? 


Things I Do Not Buy

I noticed the other day that although I have not bought toilet paper since March of 2022 (a 24 pack), I still have seven rolls left in my overflow stash. This could be partially because I bought a bidet in September 2022, which has drastically cut down on my TP use! The other thing is that I am at work four or five days a week for eight or ten hours, so many of my potty trips are at work. However, I was quite surprised to find that it had been that long when I looked back at my Amazon history. I do suspect that I probably had several left over before I bought the last pack, but I am surprised to still have some left! Question: How many rolls of TP do you go through each month? 

Sign in hospital bathroom. Hands? Really?

The other thing I rarely use is paper towels. I bought a Costco pack of 12 rolls when I moved into my house in May 2015 and I (a) still have two rolls left and (b) have given away at least six of them if not more. I just do not use paper towels! If someone comes over for dinner I will use them but otherwise, I use a rag to wipe the floor or the counter (a clean one!) and if I am eating dinner alone, I just use a dishrag as a napkin too. I have a set of older dishcloths that I use for those kinds of things, and a set of new ones that hang on the sink for wiping dishes or whatnot. Question: Do you use a lot of paper towels, napkins, cloth napkins, or dish towels? 

I have actually never used Doordash or Uber Eats. Once at work, I had to order for a group, so I have a Doordash account, but I have never had food delivered to my house. I tend to cook at home and am happy to eat oatmeal for dinner if I have not had a chance to go shopping, or I have a commercial district with restaurants and a grocery store about a half a mile from my house so I can just walk to get food. A coworker of mine ordered Chipotle through Doordash and he said that it cost like $40 with the delivery, food and tip, and I cannot imagine spending that much on Chipotle. You do you and all, but that is not where I want to focus my spending personally. Question: What is the weirdest thing you have ordered for delivery? 

After having several purges and getting rid of many books, I set the goal to not buy anymore until I had read (and given away) the ones on my shelf that I had not yet read. Confession: I still have a couple on my shelf that I have not yet read, but except for those two, I am reading 100% library books now. In the past 10 years, I have bought very few books. I did go to Powell's in Portland about five years ago and I used a gift card that was given to me to buy a few travel books. However, I am now down to only about 20 books on my shelf, which are mostly books from my childhood, and I do not have any plans to buy more books any time soon! Question: Do you still buy books? 

Powell's is awesome. 

I love going out to eat as much as anyone else, but there are a couple of things that I never order at a restaurant. The first is spaghetti. Don't get me wrong; if I am at an Italian restaurant and they make their own pasta, I will go to town on some ravioli or tortellini, but I will likely not order spaghetti. The other thing is roast chicken. If I am going to pay for meat at a restaurant, I feel like it should be one that I don't or can't cook. Fois gras? Yes please. Duck? Sign me up! Rabbit stew? You betcha! Roast chicken? Nah, I can make that at home. Question: Is there something that you rarely or never order at a restaurant? 

Exception to the rule: chicken and waffles!

Years ago, I realized that it is so much easier when hiking or traveling to just bring smaller tampons with me. I should have swapped long before that, but at that point, I finally made the switch to applicator-less tampons. I hated using the plastic tampons due to environmental issues and the ones without an applicator are not really any different. I do wish that I would have heard about or tried the Diva cup earlier, as I think that would have also been a good way to not have to use/carry so many feminine products on long hikes! Question: Have you tried the Diva Cup (or equivalent)? If so, what are your thoughts? 

List of questions: 
How many rolls of TP do you go through each month? 
Do you use a lot of paper towels, napkins, cloth napkins, or dish towels? 
What is the weirdest thing you have ordered for delivery? 
Do you still buy books?
Is there something that you rarely or never order at a restaurant? 
Have you tried the Diva Cup (or equivalent)? If so, what are your thoughts? 

Feel free to answer one or all of the questions above, or tell me what things do you NOT buy? 


Winter in the Bay Area

While it is not unusual for January to be rainy in the Bay Area, last month felt like it was raining almost all of the time. Maybe this was because I needed to patch and paint my front porch and the patch needed at least 24 hours to dry properly and I wanted a few clear days to do the paint job. We patched it on December 16th and I did not have a chance to paint it until late January. So in my mind there was not a stretch of clear days in that period. I actually looked it up, and here is what I found. 

A lot of cloudy days! (grey = cloudy)

But maybe not as much rain as I thought? (I painted on the 28th)

However, having said that, there were several times that I had a marvelous walk or hike and did not get rained on at all! The day of the crosstown trail hike was perfect, and last Tuesday I went out for my normal after work run along the bay, which is generally about six miles, and it was so nice I did double the mileage! I went all the way from my office to Hoppers Hands / Fort Point, where I watched the surfers catch some waves under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was so beautiful and it made me remember why I like running, but I was definitely a little sore a couple of days later!! It was completely worth it though. 

Headed out to Fort Point from Crissy Field.

FYI, here is what it looked like two Tuesdays before this! 

I got completely drenched on this run!

I would say that my least favorite weather when doing outdoor activities is probably rain. When you are backpacking, being wet all day and setting up your tent in the rain is really not that fun. Trying to get warm while also not getting your only dry item (your sleeping bag - hopefully!) wet is not that fun. Having to put wet clothes back on the next day and start hiking is not that fun. Going out for a run when it is raining is hard mentally. In fact, I don't mind running in the rain too much, but I prefer it if it is not raining when I start running; it is just hard mentally to step outside knowing you are immediately going to get wet. Commuting to work by bicycle is also not that fun. 

Headed to work.

I know this is probably easy for me to say, since I do not live in a place where it is -30 F in the winter, but for outdoor activities, I would rather have snow or (slight) cold than rain. Obviously I do not want to freeze my butt off, but I can put on an extra layer at least. I hate being wet. 

The silver lining is that this January the lows have not been that low. Usually we get down into the just below freezing or just above freezing area, but we have had pretty steady temperatures lately and I often don't even have to put on the heater. Don't get me wrong, I do have to wear socks and an extra sweater, but the winter has been fairly mild. The blue bars in the chart below are the actual lows, whereas the blue line is the average lows. Check out the 31st; the low and the high were almost the same!

The arrow points to the day I had the great run (almost 70 degrees!)

Last week the predictions for the next 6 or 7 days was rain, and for Sunday and Monday (yesterday and today) it was supposed to be a bomb cyclone or an atmospheric river or some hoo-ha. So dramatic. They even had signs on the freeway saying not to travel both days and a tornado warning. The city of San Jose even declared a state of emergency due to flooding. 

So yesterday I was planning to go out for a run but it was pouring when I would normally start, so I decided to put it off. However, it was basically 100% chance of rain, with not even one hour that was not supposed to rain. But, around 7:30 it sounded like it was slowing down a little, so I decided to chance it and I did not get rained on until about midway through my run! I got about 45 minutes of basically no rain. The last half was wet but I did what I wanted, I started with no rain! Also, at the end of the run, I saw my third ugly Tesla truck!! I saw one in Monterey, then another last week in Danville, and this one was in Oakland. I guess they are hitting the streets! 

Pretty ugly eh? 

The bomb cyclone never manifested, but we did have some really heavy wind and I was out of power for about two hours in the middle of the day. Luckily, I had charged my phone so I just made myself a cup of tea (yay for gas), did the dishes and tidied up the house while listening to my audiobook. So basically exactly what I would have done anyway. 

So now that it is February, and Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring, here's hoping that means less rain for this month!! I guess that also means I will have less excuses to not go outside and go running or biking? Time to get my butt in gear! 

Speaking of rain, I heard a joke! If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? 


How is your winter going so far? Do you think we are overreacting to the weather? Have you seen the new Tesla yet and/or do you like it?