11.29.12 – My Life in a Backpack

What’s in the bag you ask?  Well, let me tell you a little bit about how I prepared for the current trip I am on.  It is a little different from other trips since I will be staying in hotels for six months.  This time I didn’t need to leave space for practical things, like a tent, mosquito net, sleeping bag, bug spray, water purifier, alpaca blankets.  This time I was able to stuff as many clothing articles in my bag as possible!

Believe it or not, I pretty much have my entire wardrobe in this backpack.  I have 8 pairs of shoes – sneakers, vans, hiking boots, cowboy boots, climbing shoes, flats, flip-flops, and wedges – 3 jackets, 4 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of yoga pants, long johns, 3 sweaters, 3 dresses, 1 bikini, a bag full of undies and socks, climbing gear – harness, belay, chalk bag – work out clothes, winter gear – neck warmer, 2 pairs of gloves, 2 winter hats – a bunch of t-shirts, 4 work shirts, 3 pairs of shorts, 1 lace body suit, and 1 hot pink tank top.  Besides wardrobe I also able to transport all of my toiletries and extra little things.  In the pouch in front of the backpack I carry shampoo, conditioner, body soap, facial soap, razor, lotion, and mouth wash.  On the removable part on the top of my backpack I carry a small plastic bag with my tooth brush, tooth paste, dental floss (yes I am obsessed with cleaning my teeth) vitamins, facial creams, nail cutters, makeup, and a couple of makeup brushes.  In this part I also carry some jewelry that I really don’t wear, tummy ache medicine, nail polish, peppermint oil, electronic chargers, a bandana, ibuprofen, and a brush.  There are a few small compartments on the inside and outside of my pack where I am able to fit my camera, super absorbent towel, a first aid kit, another kit with batteries, rope, tape, matches, and a deck of cards, a poncho, headlamp, sunscreen, water bottle, and a couple of plastic bags just incase.

I also have another small, reusable, grocery bag where I carry my food, orange juice, bowl, fork, hot sauce, tin foil, spice packets, books, and laundry detergent to and from the hotel.

There you have it.  My life in a backpack.  Its not heavy to me, but sometimes people think I’m carrying around a midget or small child.  I guess anything is possible.

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11.27.12 – Unselfish Love?

Is there such a thing as unselfish love?  Do we really love without expecting to get anything in return?  Do we love just for the sake of loving or do we expect to be loved back?  Are we really unselfish beings?  Do we have children so we can produce miniature us-es?  Do we enter into relationships only because we want to make ourselves feel happy, make ourselves better?  Maybe it’s a mix of both selfishness and unselfishness?  Do we become teachers, caregivers, nurses because we are loved by our students and patients?  Do we get married so we will have some one to take care of and support us?  I know how I feel about this, but I want I want to see what YOU think.  I have 26 followers now so I should have 26 comments :-)  Tell me: Do we love unselfishly?  I’m talking to you mothers, boyfriends, fiancés, wives, friends, admirers, teachers, caregivers, whatever it is that you are, I want to know what you think.  Once I get some feedback I will write another post telling you my feelings on the subject.

We all have opinions, thoughts, experiences.  Share!  I know I’m expecting something out of our blogging relationship :P

11.26.12 – Sharing Some Blog Love

I just want to show some fellow blogger love today.  Here are the links to a few blogs that I follow when I get sick of listening to myself ramble.  

 

Helping Turtles.  A friend, Victor, has been volunteering his time in Costa Rica to save turtles.  He is one of the most productive people I know and is always finding different ways to keep himself busy – cooking, arts and crafts, making nature videos.  For those that are interested in travel and volunteering at different sites along the way you should definitely check out his blog!  He documents his adventures at:

http://www.helpingturtles.com

 

Prego and the Loon.  This lady is amazing.  I don’t know her, but I feel as though we could be friends in real life.  She’s honest and not afraid to share details of her life that most people would keep to themselves.  Plus, she is a great writer.  It’s one thing to put something out there, but another to actually make people care about what is going on in your life without even trying.  She wants to share her experiences to help others, and I’m sure that is what she is doing :-)

http://pregoandtheloon.wordpress.com

 

Break Room Stories.  I can always go here for a laugh.   This blog posts funny quotes said from customers to bar tenders, waiters, and others in the service industry as well as photo galleries that always make me smile.  We have all been there at one point or another.  We have all been left thinking WTF?! after a customer has done or said something idiotic.  

http://breakroomstories.com

 

 

11.25.12 – To Hell With Waiting!

Today was a tough one.  I’ve been feeling lonely.  Maybe watching “Home Alone” sparked some feelings.  Even though I surround myself with people.  I make new friends in every new city I travel to, go to parties, see movies, have drinks.  I talk to hundreds of people  every day that I work.  Plus, I have a number of family members and friends back home who will gladly answer the phone if I call, but, I still feel alone.  I once had my cards read by a friend in Costa Rica.  Written on one of the cards that I pulled was the word “alone”.  I wrote about this some time ago on a different blog so I apologize to those that are reading this again.  On this “alone” card there was a child, a young girl, standing on one side of a fence.  On the other side of this fence there is a group of smiling children playing with each other.  The lone girl stands looking at these children.  At first glance I saw that the fence was separating the girl from the other children, but on second glance, I saw something else.  There was a gate that was slightly open.  The lock was unlatched allowing the girl to walk freely through the gate.  She chose to isolate herself from the other children.  She chose to be alone.

I don’t want this for myself.  I don’t like this empty feeling.  That card was telling me something, telling me that aloneness will be a part of my life, and it’s something that I need to come to terms with.  Whether it is something I do to myself or something that other people do to me, I need to accept it and be comfortable with it.  I must be confident in knowing that when the time is right I will walk through that gate and enjoy the love the other children are sharing.  I can’t keep waiting for one of them to notice me and extend their hand because, as much as I want it to, that’s not going to happen.  I’m not much of a waiter anyways.  I had a job as one while in college.  That lasted two days.  Why wait for some one to do something for you that you can do for yourself?  You are strong.  Go do it!  And, take your own advice every once in a while.  You’re pretty smart too :P

11.24.12 – Kevin, You Are Such a Disease!

I made my family disappear?  I made my family disappear!  It is time for those holiday classics like, “Home Alone”, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I have probably seen that movie over 100 times.  I have the entire thing, step for step, word for word memorized, yet I still watch it every time it comes on TV.  Everyone can identify with this movie.  We all love our families, but there are times when we just want to say, “This house is so full of people it makes me sick. When I grow up and get married, I’m living alone. Did you hear me?”  Or if you’re like me, and welcome the idea of having your whole family together you can at least see the importance of standing your ground and not letting the bad guys scare you.  “This is my house, and I have to defend it!”

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11.23.12 – Travel Theme: Liquid

A blogger I started following proposes a new travel theme every week.  I’ve decided to take her up on the offer.  Make sure you check out Where’s My Backpack for more weekly challenges!

Inflatable pool full of dad’s hot air
I was three years old splashin’ everywhere
And so began my love affair with water

 

On a river bank with all my friends
A big old rope tied to a limb
And you’re a big old wuss if you don’t jump in the water

 

And when that summer sun starts to beatin’ down
And you don’t know what to do
Grab your swimming trunks, ice up that old Igloo
And drive until the map turns blue

 

All you really need this time of year
Is a pair of shades and ice cold beer
And a place to sit somewhere near water

 

This is how my family does water according to a song by Brad Paisley.  I was thrown into a pool before I could even walk.  I learned to fish when I was just big enough to hold a pole.  I know how to drive a boat, drink beers on a boat, wakeboard, tube at a nice relaxing pace, deep sea (lake) dive, snorkel, float on a raft, jet ski, swim at night, and post importantly, I know how to appreciate the family that I get to spend time with, in and out of liquid.

11.22.12 – The Safest Thanksgiving Ever

Bust out the turkeys and casseroles!  It’s time to give thanks and get fat.  I am away from my physical home and blood family this Thanksgiving, but I got to become a part of some one else’s family.  I am thankful they welcomed me in, shared their stories, made a space for me at the table, and let me listen to T-Pain while doing the dishes (a Nowicki family tradition).  Plus, they brewed their own pumpkin beer and Panther Piss for the occasion.  What more could anyone ask for?  A deep fried turkey?  Check.

Thank you Candace aka Babe and family for inviting me over for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

11.20.12 – What do Couch Surfers, Bikes, and Mead Have in Common?

I can’t possibly explain how grateful and how happy I am to be a couch surfer.  I have been a proud member since January 27th, 2009.  Almost three years now!  The Couch Surfing community has significantly changed my life.  Not only do I have instant friends in any city I travel to, but I have learned to connect to the cities I find myself living in.  I was lost, but with Couch Surfing I am found.  I belong here.  It’s days like today that remind me I have a place in this world, that remind me how truly good people are, that remind me of the beauty that grows from the relationships we have with each other.

Enough of the sap.  Let’s get down to the good stuff.

I woke up slightly bitter that I wasn’t able to see my family for Thanksgiving, but I decided to make the most of my time off in Columbus, OH.  I found a bike shop called Handy Bikes on the North side of campus.  The owner agreed to loan me a bike until Friday morning for $40.  I hung up the phone amazed that I was able to find a bike so quickly and that I was actually going to have a bike for three days.  A bike!  It is one thing I was not able to fit into my backpack for this six month tour I am on.

I hopped on the bus, picked up my bike, and rode to the main Ohio State campus.  I wandered into some buildings looking for a huge lecture I could join, but I think it was too late in the day for those.  Plus, I had no idea in what building I could find such a thing.  Eventually I wandered into an Annie Leibovitz photography exhibition.  She has taken many recognizable and famous portraits. All of her work is stunning especially her photograph of William S. Burroughs.

William S Bourroughs

When I was finished starting at walls I met Bill, another couch surfer, at Northern Market for some delicious Indian food.  With full bellies we headed to the climbing gym to stare at some more walls.  I have never met Bill before, but after a test run on belay we decided we could trust each other.  If I fell I knew he would catch me.  What a wonderful feeling.  A stranger, now a friend.  That happens all the time in the Couch Surfing world!  After the climb, we met Gwen, yet another surfer, at Northstar Cafe.  I am in love with Gwen.  She is hilarious, energetic, and big hearted.  She wants to meet every single couch surfer that exists.  Is that too much to ask for?!  Next up, bar hop!

At the first bar I ordered a dark and stormy, my favorite drink as of lately.  It just looks so pretty in a highball glass.  Gwen turned in for the night and Bill and I wandered over to Brothers Drake the local meadery.  The bar was full of wonderful people, cute dudes with dreadlocks, and of course, mead.  As I sipped on my apple pie I became delighted that I still had a six mile bike ride ahead of me.  I also some how managed to receive two Thanksgiving invitations from people I don’t know in a city I have never been to.  I thought about how lucky I am to feel home anywhere I go.  My family spreads beyond conventional definitions.  It grows every time I meet some one new, every time a couch surfer walks into my life, any time I connect with another person.  I am thankful not only during the season but everyday of my life.