Category Archives: Travel

My New Office

I woke up this morning in Kona, Hawaii.

Wait- let’s try that again.

I WOKE UP THIS MORNING IN FREAKING HAWAII!!!

I’m at Kealaola Farm, sitting in the common area, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.  The hosts, Ken and Barry, are easy going, genuinely nice people, and made me feel at home immediately.  The other WWOOFers here followed suit, and I’m thrilled about the chance to get to know everybody more in the coming weeks!

A cool thing about my timing is that I’m getting in right as all of the old WWOOFers are leaving.  This means that a new crop of adventurers and I will get to learn about farming in a (excuse the pun) more organic way than if we’d been started out under the direction of more experienced volunteers, and likely with more hands on direction from our hosts.

Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of my new home:

ImageThe common area view from the doorway last night

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What happens when you turn 180 degrees in that doorway (taken this morning at 6:00 AM)

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My new office assistant 

I’m off to make breakfast and stretch out a little bit.  I hope yall are doing well, and would love to hear your thoughts or ideas on how I could make this most of this adventure!

-NSTB

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The Packing List

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Examining the method and madness of our brave, stunningly attractive, exceptionally intelligent, worldly (alright, I might be embellishing just a bit…) hero.

I’ve got a bit of time before my first flight leaves, so it’s time for me to start catching up on my blogging!

I put some thought in to what I packed. I also did a little bit of research in the process. I doubt that I got it right, but I don’t think that I got it too wrong either.

The thought process:

  • Duration: This coming three months will be the longest that I’ve ever travelled. That said, it’s much shorter than some of the journeys that people I admire have taken, and shorter than the journeys that I ultimately aspire to.
  •  Destination: The destinations that I’ll be hitting these next few months are forgiving, but offer a diverse range of possibilities. I’ve got Hawaii, where I’ll be staying in Kona as a WWOOFer for two months, and I’ve got Spain.

I backpacked Hawaii with a camp when I was younger, and while the circumstances are a bit different, I think that my biggest concern is gear that can handle working, hiking, surfing, and getting wet. Currently, I don’t foresee much else.

The last time I went to Spain, a few years ago, I fell in love with Madrid. I had an incredible experience that came from me being able to interact with the locals and see the city from a much more intimate perspective. I’d like to do that again. This means having gear that allows me go out without looking like a troglodyte. Europeans tend to have a much higher standard of dress than Americans, which presents challenges for a backpacker trying to be conscientious about the amount of shit (s)he’s lugging around.

My Conclusion? Screw it, I’m throwing in a bit of everything and using this is a learning experience.

On me: I wanted to keep down the weight of my bag. Excess luggage fees tend to occur at 20 kilos from what I’ve seen online, and pack wasn’t going to be light (I found out at the airport that it was 33lbs, so I was in the clear. This isn’t the recommended way to go however, and luggage scales can prevent expensive miscalculations). This meant wearing heavy items. Additionally, I wanted to wear my Bill F*cking Murray shirt in case I encountered any Chivers (long story for those who aren’t in the know).

  • -BFM t-shirt
  • -Jeans
  • -ExOfficio boxer briefs
  • -Thin, quick-dry, synthetic hiking socks
  • -Cowboy hat

Conclusion after today’s testing: This setup worked pretty well. I kept the hiking boots loose, and they turned out to be comfortable and quick to slip on and off at security. The cowboy hat (which goes with me everywhere) proved to be a bit of a logistical PITA because I couldn’t wear it while sitting down, couldn’t store it in the overhead without worrying about it getting crushed, and was a bit sketched out about it being under my seat. It spent its time in my lap.

In the Day Pack (my carry on): I wanted everything valuable that I had on me at all times. I also wanted to be able to keep myself entertained and connected, as well as be able to take care of myself if my primary back pack disappeared.

  • -My mac and its charger
  • -My kindle and its charger
  • -iPhone w/ OtterBox and its charger
  • -Sunglasses
  • -Seeing glasses w/ case
  • -3 notebooks (one for each of two online courses that I’m taking, and one general purpose)
  • -pens
  • -passport
  • -neck pouch with uncuttable strap
  • -a mini notebook
  • -my toothbrush
  • -floss
  • -deodorant
  • -a long sleeve synthetic shirt
  • -ear buds
  • -a first aid kit with immodium and benadryl

Conclusion after traveling with it all day today: I packed it perfectly. I primarily used my kindle, but also started this post in the airport. The long sleeve was very useful for when the flight got chilly. I sleep easily, but if you’re a light sleeper, I might consider the addition of ear buds. Also, I think that I’ll be adding a water bottle for next time.

My backpack: tons of things. I wanted to be able to test out EVERYTHING. When I’m done with this trip, I’ll know what I do and do not use, and won’t have to suffer through questioning whether or not there was an item to bring along with me. Additionally, I brought my travel Electrician’s tool kit (mini drill, kleins, channel locks, level, multi-meter) in case I can find some side work. Even as full as it is, it only came out to 33lbs total weight. Not bad.

  • -Athletic shoes
  • -Dress shoes
  • -Flip flops
  • -Rain Jacket
  • -2 Board shorts
  • -1 Rash guard
  • -1 Synthetic pants
  • -1 Short sleeve quick dry shirt
  • -Wrist brace
  • -Work gloves
  • -2 Thin, quick-dry, synthetic hiking socks
  • -1 ExOfficio boxer briefs
  • -Luggage lock
  • -Tool Kit
  • -Sleeping bag
  • -Sleeping pad
  • -Mini tent
  • -Pocket knife
  • -Floss
  • -Tooth paste
  • -Dr. Bronner’s soap
  • -Medium travel towel
  • -Head lamp
  • -Lip balm
  • -Sun screen
  • -Bug cream
  • -Aloe
  • -Small cologne vial
  • -Condoms

Conclusion: I’ll have to let yall know in 3 months!

Have yall got any thoughts on what I packed?  Suggestions or comments from your own travels?

-NSTB

And So It Begins

And so it begins.Image

It’s been a while since I last posted. That’s mostly because my life took a very interesting turn recently. Through rather serendipitous circumstances, I met a of couple of couch surfers who are long term, low cost travelers a few weeks ago, and they introduced me to WWOOFing (I’ll explain in another post to come shortly). We got to talk of travel, and I heard all of these incredible stories, and tips, and ideas for how to live the impossible dream that they were living themselves. After a couple of hours of good times, and seeing my interest, I was urged by one to say “Fuck it!” and get going immediately to see the world. I told him that I’d think about it, and we went our separate ways. While I consider myself to be spontaneous, and flexibility is one of greatest strengths (born out of necessity to compensate for several weaknesses) I wasn’t quite ready to drop the ‘ol F-bomb and dive head first in to the unknown.

Apparently life wasn’t having any of my shit, and decided to say “Fuck it!” for me.

Put simply, I lost my job just over a week ago. The company executives took the time to sit me down and explain the situation, and honestly, I can’t fault them for it. I was always temporary, with plans to leave Texas for California this summer as I begin pursuing my education, and my dream of Berkeley’s Haas school of business. After several projects were delayed, layoffs became unavoidable. We were lucky to have a crack team where I worked, and so any layoffs presented a real loss of talent. The difference between myself and the guy who still has a job is that I wasn’t a long termer, and it would be a crime to lay off a company man for someone who is going to be leaving shortly. As I said, I can’t fault them. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sting though.

I’m a firm believer that every challenge presents an opportunity, and that a great challenge presents an even greater opportunity. It didn’t take much brainpower to see the potential here. I began doing tons of research, reading blogs, talking to people with experience, and then researching some more. My credit score is now better than it’s ever been, I have plane tickets to both Hawaii and Barcelona, the bare minimum essentials in gear, and three months of travel ahead of me. The future is looking bright!

If yall have any inspiration to share, any comments on making it through rough times, or tips of backpacking, I’d love to hear them!

-NSTB