The Point of Travel

Travel used to have a purpose – to find trading partners, to cure disease, to scout out fertile land to homestead on. According to my favorite modern philosopher, it still should. Travel should be about more than gaining social media followers and checking items off a clichéd bucket list. It should feed your soul and help you grow as a person. Living in India for five months when I was 21 years old certainly changed my entire being in a number of ways and while I have taken some trips since then that were purely for fun, when I travel internationally, I usually seek out places that offer novel experiences I believe I can learn from. Continue reading →

13.11 on a Mesa in Southern Utah

Mile 1: It’s 6:59 AM. I just peed 10 minutes ago and I really have to go again because despite the cold, I’m only wearing a tank top and capri yoga pants, and I’ve just chugged a cup of coffee to warm up and a bottle of water to combat the dehydrating effect of the coffee, as well as the desiccating salt of the bacon I ate in the rental car on the several thousand foot ascent up the mesa in the pre-sunrise hours of the day. The train of cars kicked up so much dust that my companions wondered if we were in intense fog, even though there is a total lack of humidity in south-western Utah. We all wondered how far we’d roll if our intrepid driver, who, like all of us, got only four hours of restless sleep, messed up and went off the edge. But there’s no time to pee; the judge fired the gun and we’re off.

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What’s New for Dinner?

I can’t resist making an easy buck. Some part of my mind still thinks I’m in my early 20s, earning $25k a year, instead of being nearly 40 and earning much, much more than that. So, I take on freelance work and odd little side gigs, as long as they pay enough. I don’t think I’m entirely alone in this hustle; I have friends in their 30s who still babysit, dogsit, or do other little favors for cash or beer. I mean, I don’t have kids, so what else am I doing to do with my free time? Go out and spend money, or stay in and earn more money? Plus, I get to work on some really cool projects!

Recently, I had a taste-testing gig for a market research company. The session itself was only 25 minutes long, and with driving to the place and back and checking in, I was all-in for 40 minutes. And it paid $50 just for eating some food and telling people what I thought about it, which was worth it to me. Fifty bucks fills up my tank and buys me a beer (or two on happy hour!). And it certainly was an easy buck.</p>
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Feats of Endurance

Big Bend is the least visited of our national parks. In 2016, it saw just 388,290 visitors, compared to the 11,312,786 who went to the most visited, Great Smoky Mountains. This is not a surprise, given its location in an almost-forgotten corner of Texas, an 8.5 hour drive from Dallas, if you speed and don’t stop to eat or gas up. The drive down is a wasteland of oil fields and abandoned towns. But don’t be deterred; the park is worth the effort it takes to get there.

What to do when you get there? You can stay in the lodge and hope to see a javelina. You can cross to Mexico, legally via the Boquillas entrance or illegally by wading across the Rio Grande. But mostly, you go to Big Bend to hike. My first day, I did a four-mile hike in the morning up the Lost Mine trail and a five-mile hike in the afternoon to the Window. The second day I did a 15 mile hike up to Emory Peak, down around the South Rim, and back to the Chisos Basin via the Laguna Meadows trail. The last morning was only a quick two-mile (if that) walk to the end of Santa Elena Canyon and back. I would have loved to spend more time lying on the banks of the Rio Grande, soaking up the sunshine before heading back to the 20-degree Boulder weather, but that 8.5 hour drive lie ahead. Continue reading →

A Brief, Half-Assed, Unsuccessful Attempt at Being Vegan

I love meat. Bacon, medium-rare steak, charcuterie platters, Buffalo style chicken wings, those little cubes of ham in a salad bar, a big greasy cheeseburger, and anything and everything that comes from the ocean. I’ve tried horse, dog, tongue, bone marrow, monkey brain, chili powder coated grasshoppers, and most recently, snapping turtle. So why would I try being a vegan?

That’s a good question! I, much like you I suspect, have heard the spiels about animal abuse, environmental pollution, unsustainability, unsanitary food processing conditions, etc. over and over. They don’t convince me. That’s not the same as saying I don’t believe them. I do believe that most of what I hear about the negative consequences of our daily meat consumption is true, but those consequences simply aren’t enough to spur me into action. Continue reading →

But Is That Butts or Butts?

English has no shortage of homonyms that can easily cause confusion for someone trying to learn this language. But they can almost as easily cause confusion among native speakers as well.

On our way into mountains last Sunday to hike Grays and Torreys peaks, my two girlfriends and I saw a sign on I-70 just like this one.

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All three of us had the same thought – we need to bring the car from 75 mph to a complete stop in the middle of the highway and get out of the car right now to see what we are missing! Surely if CDOT felt the need to tell us (in such a cheeky way) that we should remain in the vehicle, something important and exciting must be happening along the roadside. And then 20 seconds later, we non-smokers realized we had all misunderstood which “butt” the sign meant. Continue reading →

Yoga Makes Your Nightmares Come True

I am not a person who does yoga. But I firmly believe in the saying, “When in Rome…” and since I live in Boulder, Colorado, I find myself going to yoga now and again. Given my workaholic, overly pragmatic, and strictly rational personality, a little mindful relaxation is probably good for me. So I tag along with my girlfriends from time to time. Besides, doesn’t every yoga class need that one awkward person in the back of the room who can’t come within six inches of touching her toes?

There are other reasons to go to yoga as well, like getting my butt away from the computer and out of the office midday. Last Wednesday, for example, I went to lunchtime yoga hosted by a local beer garden and run by a delightfully upbeat instructor who provides much needed reminders throughout her sessions to “Relax your face.” Each time she says that, she is most certainly looking at the unattractive grimace and wrinkles of frustration that cloud my face each time I attempt garudasana or gomukhasana or some other pose that is as equally unpronounceable as undoable. Continue reading →

Lit Fest 2015 – Exercise 3

I used to be afraid of my parents’ bedroom because it lay at the end of the upstairs hallway, far away from the brightly lit staircase and the liveliness of my family of seven, sometimes eight, down below and even though that fear had always been just because of the location and the darkness, my fear grew noticeably worse after I watched an episode of the Twilight Zone in which a little boy had been left alone in the house with his ailing grandmother and when she called to him and he went to check on her, her scrawny arm reached out from under the covers and grabbed him and he discovered that she was a horrible looking monster who I was sure slept in my parents bed (or maybe under it or maybe in the closet) whenever they weren’t there and no one had thought to turn on the upstairs hall light yet so I had to creep through the total darkness to get to the room and grab whatever little woobie toy I was in need of and then go fleeing down the carpeted stairs as fast as my sock feet could take me without slipping out from beneath me, sending me bumping on my fanny eleven steps down to the landing where I could stand up and compose myself and then walk calmly into the kitchen where everyone else was still eating dinner and I could pretend that I hadn’t just escaped the very Devil herself once again. Continue reading →