Time keeps on slipping…

It has been 8 days since I came back to the states, but feels like I arrived just yesterday.  This is because my life has become extremely routine; wake, eat, work, errands, eat, sleep.  Each day is no longer a new adventure.

Furthermore, it is difficult to differentiate one day in my memory from another.  What did I do Tuesday?  Worked.  Ate.  Slept.  What about last Thursday?  Worked.  Ate.  Slept.  The days seem to just run together and become forgotten in my mind.

The positives of a routine

It is a relief to be back on a routine after bumming around for 5 months.  I’ve become extremely productive, and have mostly caught up on all the work I’ve been putting off for so long.  It is also easier to incorporate a healthy diet and exercise regimen into your daily routine.

What next?

I’m currently looking for a 4-plex in Reno so I can establish my business and residence in the great state of Nevada.  Once I get that whole deal set up (~4 months) I’ll be able to hit the road again as long as I’m not spending lots of time in California.

Changing the way I travel.

While the last 5 months was tons of fun, I’d like to slow down and spend 3-6 months in each place.  3 months is enough time to get a feel for the town, make new friends, stay productive, but also short enough to always keep life exciting.

Possible domestic destinations in the coming year include Portland (again?), Colorado, Austin, and New York.  International destinations include Stockholm, Russia?, Spain/Argentina?, South America, New Zealand, Singapore?

What did I actually miss about the US?

Last week, I posted about stuff I missed in the US.  I’ll go over what I think about it after being back for a week:

Pandora: Ah yes!! I missed you!

Reliable and Unlimited Internet: I’m still grateful every moment I use the internet.

PST: I still think about what time it is for anyone that I call.

English: How convenient everything is now!  It only took a day to get re-adjusted to this.

Not Being a Foreigner/Familiarity: Like I said above, it is more convenient, but life is no longer an adventure when everything is so familiar.

Laws/Traffic: Its nice to know them all, but we still have some silly ones.

In n Out: I’ve already been twice.  Just as good as when I left.

Smoke-Free Environments: Definitely noticeable.  Way better.

USD: It only took a day to get re-adjusted.  I’ve completely forgot about currency exchange rates and all that jazz.

Condiments: Another thing that immediately goes unnoticed again.

 

Mariele left for a family reunion just after we arrived in France.  Luckily, my friend Shelly from Seattle flew into Paris that same day, and we met up to explore France, Spain and Italy over the next 3 weeks.

Paris, France

We spent a few days exploring Paris.  This is a pretty expensive and large city.  Lots of stuff to do, and of course the Eiffel Tower.  We walked up the first part, and too the lift all the way to the top.  Extremely touristy, but something you have to see when you visit Paris.

Lyon, France

This is a few hours south of Paris.  We couchsurfed with a friend of Shelly for two nights, and had a great time exploring the city and going out on the town.  I had my first shot of Absinthe here and for some reason thought it would be a good idea to try and tell the locals I was from Ireland.  They believed me!

Marseille, France

This seemed like an area that a lot of French tourists visit.  We were only here for one night, so only got to explore the city for a bit.

Provence, France

We used a French ride-share website to carpool from Paris down to the south of France, and the driver, Ben, was actually also a couchsurfer, so we ended up couchsurfing at his place.  Provence is a big college town, so there were a lot of international students when we went out.  I guess a big thing is going into the fountain after a long night of drinking, so that picture is of Ben, his Canadian friend and myself in the fountain.

Barcelona, Spain

I’ve met so many bi-lingual people on my trip that I’ve been inspired to learn Spanish.  Knowing that we were headed to Spain, I actually started brushing up on it while in France.  To my disappointment, Spanish is not the official language of Barcelona.  Catalan is.

We couchsurfed with a guy from Colombia and a guy from Mexico who were studying music there, so I got to practice my Spanish a little.  We went to a huge party on the beach on a Sunday night with a bunch of locals which was quite the experience.

Madrid, Spain

We actually flew from Barcelona to Madrid because it was much cheaper to fly than it was to take the train.  We stayed right in the downtown area of Madrid at an old little hostel on the top floor of a building overlooking the main street.  We went to a bullfight, and learned that they actually kill the bull in front of you.  Somewhat traumatizing.

Rome, Italy

We did a week in Rome because we were a bit tired of bouncing around all the time, and we had already booked flights out of Rome (myself to Prague and Shelly to Athens).  Rome was a little dirtier than I thought it would be, and extremely touristy.  We visited the Coliseum, went rollerblading in the park, ate tons of pizza and pasta, went to the beach, Vatican, and even went to a waterpark “HydroMania!”.

After Rome, Shelly went to finish her trip in Athens, and I flew to Prague to meet my college friend from San Francisco, John.  We will be touring eastern Europe for the next few weeks.  On July 5th we fly out of Vienna.  Johnny is headed back to the states and I’m headed to visit Luke again, but this time in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Finally, on July 12th, I’ll be flying home to SF!

 

I left the bustling city of Bangkok and arrived in the quaint town of Karlskrona, Sweden two weeks ago.  I had a 12-hour layover in Dusseldorf, Germany, so I got to spend my first night sleeping in an airport!  It ended up not being too bad; my flight got in at 6pm, I ate dinner, played on my laptop, then found a nice quiet bench to sleep on.  I woke around 4am to the sound of the awakening airport, and caught my flight at 6.

Sweden

The first stop on my Europe trip was to see my friend Luke, who is just finishing a year-long sustainability masters program in Karlskrona, Sweden.  (For anyone interested, Luke runs TheSocioCapatilist.com.)  Sweden was insanely fun.  I helped cook for 200 people, rode bikes into the Baltic and ran a half-marathon in a skirt (Sorry gents, I’m not gay; we decided that we’d run the half-marathon and do it in silly costumes the night before after a bottle of whiskey).

Video

Karlskrona at night

Half-marathon in Gothemburg.  From left to right: Luke, me, Chris.  I finished in 2:29, Luke in 2:07 and Chris in 1:37.

Gothenburg at 3:00AM (just getting light out)

Running the half-marathon without any training in 2-year old running shoes turned out to be a horrible idea.  My legs were hurting so bad that I hobbled the last few km.  My feet hurt so bad the next day that I could barely walk.  They finally felt fully recovered yesterday, 10 days after the run.

Overall, my impression of Sweden was very positive.  Most people speak really good English, the country is beautiful and the girls are very pretty.  Sweden is definitely on my list of places I’d like to re-visit for a longer period of time.

Holland

I said goodbye to the niche of Karlskrona and flew into Amsterdam to meet my friend Mariele (from California) on Monday.  My feet were killing me, but we rented bikes and had a blast cruising around the city.  I’ve never in my life seen such a bike-friendly town; there is even a special sidewalk for bicycles.  We hung out with tourists, but the locals were very friendly and typically spoke very good English as well.

I mostly forgot to take pictures in Amsterdam, but manged to get a few:

Lots of bikes.

A seemingly excessive amount of fire protection features in our hostel.  I found this rather interesting at the time of taking the picture.

My friend Tom from the bar crawl.  From San Francisco and went to St Marys.  Small world.

Overall, I thought Amsterdam was such cool city that I didn’t get to spend as much time exploring as I had wanted to.  Definitely on my list of places I’d like to re-visit for a longer period of time.

Belgium

Mariele and I took the train out of the mayhem that was Amsterdam to the quiet town of Bruges, Belgium.  It was definitely a nice change of pace.

Canal tour.  We were the youngest by ~35 years.

View from atop the brewery.

I enjoyed my 2-day stay in Belgium, but nothing really inspired me to plan a longer trip back.

What now?

I went through France, Spain and I’m currently in Italy.  Will post pictures from those countries when I have time.  Heading to Prague next, around eastern Europe, then flying from Vienna to Edinburgh.  After Edinburgh I’m heading back to the States!  Will be back sometime in July.

 

I said goodbye to Asia, left the busy city of Bangkok on Wednesday morning, and arrived in the quaint town of Karlskrona, Sweden Thursday afternoon.

After spending the last 3 weeks in the chaos of south east Asia, this calm Swedish town feels like being on another planet.  I was blown away at how opposite everything was.

Don’t get me wrong, I had the time of my life in Asia, but did grow tired of it, especially my last four days in Bangkok.  That city was the epitome of most of the things I didn’t like about Asia.  Dirty, hot, crowded, smelly, insane traffic and chaos on the roads, English isn’t widely spoken, huge city, etc.

Karlskrona is exactly the opposite.  The weather was nothing short of perfect when I arrived.  About 20c and sunny.  The sun finally set late in the evening, and it eventually got dark around 10pm.  Luke and I went for a bike ride around town, and at no point did I think I was going to die (from crazy drivers).  It actually took a little while for me to adjust back to driving on the correct (right) side of the road.

The town is beautiful and insanely quiet compared to the disorder of Bangkok.  At midnight, we wanted to grab a bite to eat, but there really wasn’t anything open.  The community was so small that Luke ran into a dozen people he knew as we were riding around town.  I finally wore my jacket again!

Sunset around 9:30pm

Whats next?

Meeting with a friend from Walnut Creek (Bay Area) in Amsterdam on Monday, Belgium a few days later, then to Paris.  Meeting with another friend from Seattle in Paris and possibly doing Spain, Italy, Greece.  Meeting with a college buddy from SF after that (mid-June) in Prague, and doing Eastern Europe.  Maybe Scotland in July?  Back to the states to eventually, with a stop in Colorado to visit Chris who landed a job out there!

If I make it back to SF with summer to spare, I’ll head up to Portland again to make a visit while the weather is still good.  Probably spend the fall in SF.

 

Due to my somewhat unusual lifestyle, I’m constantly getting questions/comments from curious individuals.  Here is a list of common questions, and my responses to them.

Note: I was going to do a single FAQ post, but decided to split it up into two posts: Lifestyle and Business.  This is the lifestyle part.

Must be nice not having to worry about income/job/boss/working/time/money/etc.

While there are heaps of perks doing what I do, it isn’t exactly this perfect lifestyle that some people perceive it as.  To dis-spell some common misconceptions, here are a few notes:

1.  I still put in close to 40 hours of work per week.  It is not 9-5 M-F, but I’m still putting the time in.  That whole 4-hour work week idea is crap if you ask me.

2.  While I don’t have a boss, I also don’t have co-workers who I can push responsibilities to if I want to take a 2-week vacation away from work.

3.  All my websites are NOT set-and-forget.  I do have to maintain everything, and if something goes wrong, I’m the only responsible for getting it fixed.

4.  There are risk factors beyond my control.  A recent Google logarithm update dropped the traffic in about 6 of my sites by 30%.  I can’t exactly get on the phone with Google and tell them to take it back.

Are you still looking for a place to “settle down”?

When I embarked on my first RV tour, a big justification in my head was that I wanted to check out other places in the country/world to see if I would ever want to “settle down” there.  At this point, I haven’t been thinking about settling down as much as I have about adventure.  Now that I’ve ventured outside the US, I’ve realized there is just so much to see.  I could spend a lifetime discovering new places.

Are you planning to do any more travel in the RV?

To be honest, I was a little tired of living in the RV when I returned from Boston in December.  I was in and out of the RV for my most recent stay home (Dec-Feb), and every time I returned to the RV, I realized I had missed it.

At this point, I am still enjoying the luxuries of living in a house, including:

1.  Hot water

2.  Unlimited electricity

3.  Oven/BBQ

4.  Roommates/ability to have multiple friends over

5.  Yard

6.  Telling people where I live without also having to explain that I’m not a rapist.

I guess we will see how I feel when I get back into the US, whenever that may be.  Just thinking about it right now, I realize that I do miss the RV lifestyle!

Is it harder to stay productive on the road?

Yes.  Constant change and lack of a consistent schedule do not create the best working conditions.  However, I am adapting, and learning to squeeze work in whenever I get a chance.

Your adventure sounds awesome.  I wish I could do that!

You can.  And you should.

The average Australian that I’ve met has traveled much more than the average American.  I’d estimate that Australians travel 5 times more than Americans.  Any excuse you can make is just that, its an excuse.

Job?  Take some time off.  Or save up some money and quit!  You’ll be able to find another one.

Kids?  Bring ‘em along!  It will benefit them to see other parts of the country/world.

Do you miss your cat?

Yes, and I’m sure she misses me just as much, if she noticed I’m not there.

Are you still watching Sharks games?

Even better, I am listening to them!  Its like reading a book instead of watching a movie.  I get to imagine it all in my head.

Have you told anyone that you are an international spy yet?

Yes.  And they did not believe me.  So I spared their life.

Are you just making up questions?

Yes.  I thought I had more lifestyle questions to answer.

 

Winter Wonderland?

I’ve always wanted to spend a winter in a place that snows.  Since I have no plans for this coming winter, I might as well start brainstorming ideas.

My conceptual plan is:

  1. Get a 6-month lease between October and April
  2. For a cabin/apartment/townhouse (depending on who’s in)
  3. In a place where it snows.  Ideally near Tahoe.  California would probably be easiest, but I’d be open to places further away.  (Utah? Canada?  Alps?)
  4. Season pass to a nearby resort.
  5. Snowboarding every day.
  6. High speed internet.
  7. Working some days.

Any advice?  Tips?  Want in?

 

Getting prepared for Australia

I intentionally planned my Australia departure for February 20th (I pushed my flight back 6 days to allow myself time after returning from Mammoth) to allow myself time to spend back in the Bay Area. For most of my 10-week Bay Area layover (December 11 to Feb 20) I was between SF and Moraga, with a bunch of smaller trips in between. The things I needed to take care of back in the bay were:

  1. Taxes: Fail.  I sent my account everything he needed on January 3rd.  I was hoping to have everything 100% taken care of before flying away.  Guess the government wasn’t ready yet.  I’ll have to finish my taxes up remotely in the land down under.
  2. RV Repairs: Success, but at a cost.  Just needed routine maintenance and the shop took 19 days.  I dropped it off before a weekend trip to Tahoe, thinking I’d pick it up when I came back.  So the only clothes I brought with me were the ones I packed for Tahoe.  I made it last 19 days somehow.
  3. RV Storage: Success, but could have been much better.  I ended up finding a Craigslist spot for it about an hour away from home.  Right after I dropped it off, I got a return call from the guy just down the street from me, who could store it cheaper.  Later that day, I realized I could have stored it at my trusted friend’s house as well.
  4. Christmas with the family: Win.  I did end up spending plenty of time with the family.
  5. Work: My little brother Joe has been doing a lot of work for me, and I wanted to go over some stuff and show him how to do additional tasks.  We got him set up doing some extra stuff and he has been doing a great job.
  6. Mini Trips: Still managed to take some fun trips while back in town.  Destinations included: Twain Heart (Pinecrest for Snowboarding), Las Vegas, San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara, Tahoe, Sonoma (State), and Mammoth.  Three snowboarding trips this season, which is three times as many as I have ever made in one season.

After recalling all the fun times I had over the last 10 weeks, I realized that I am a terrible picture taker.  Pretty much all the pictures I have are ones other people took and posted on Facebook, or pictures of stupid things (that I thought were cool at the time) I took on my phone.  Either way here are some visuals:

Hail in Moraga, and a cat.

Santa Barbara – beautiful photography by my older brother.

Vegas – this is inside at 2am.

Company meeting

After finding pictures to post, I again realized I need to take more and better pictures.

 

Bought a one-way ticket to Melbourne

Melbourne is Jason Bourne’s (The Bourne Identity) younger brother, Mel.  I’m going to go visit him in Australia.

My flight leaves on 2/14/2011 at 7:45PM from SFO.  Since I’ll be flying west into different time zones, this will technically extend my valentine’s day by several hours, making this the longest valentines day of my life.

I’m going to arrive in Melbourne at 10:00AM (local time) on Wednesday, 2/16.  What a flight.

I’m going to park the RV long term somewhere.  Somewhere is yet to be determined

 

I had to quickly leave Boston since the freezing weather was finally causing damage to the RV.  I raced across the country in 79 hours to beat some storms that actually closed down the highway.

I’m now home for the holidays, enjoying the better weather.  My plans from here on out are currently:

December/January/February: Bay area/SF in the RV (Maybe trips around the West Coast)

February/March/April: Australia

April/May/June: Europe

June/July/August/September: NY (With some trips up to Boston)

September/???: Possible southern tour of the US?

With this plan, the RV will be sitting for 6+ months.  Anyone have ideas on ways to get it some use while I’m gone?  I was thinking of letting close friends/family borrow it if they wanted.

 

Home for the Holidays?

The weather continues to get less and less favorable as I stay here in Boston.  I suppose I could just travel south to keep warm, but there are a few things I want to do:

1.  I’m getting the itch to travel outside of the US

2.  I’d rather not store the RV somewhere that freezes.

3.  I’m getting homesick and would like to visit family/friends for the holidays.

4.  I need to get my taxes done, which is easiest to do if I am at home in CA (I do own a California S-Corporation).

All of these problems can be solved by driving back to CA for the holidays.  Right now I’d be looking to make the trek in mid December.  It shouldn’t be hard to find an outside storage spot for the RV that doesn’t freeze.

The only problem is navigating a route west-bound that will be least disrupted by the weather.