Thursday, March 3, 2011

Flipped Car: First Responder.

What is an Adventure?

I think that everyone has an idea in their head of what an adventure is for them. Whether it is rock climbing, skiing the Matterhorn, or skinny dipping in the pool at the Holiday Inn. There could be millions of factors or requisites for Adventure identification, but to me there are only two necessary identification questions.

1. Does it get your Adrenaline flowing/blood pumping?

2. Does it create a cool/kick-ass story.

Based on those two key yeses, being the first responder on scene of a flipped vehicle is in fact an Adventure. Story below.

Flipped Jeep
After a weekend exploring the wilds of Southwest Michigan, my Brother-in-law and I set sights for home amid tempestuous winter conditions. Freezing rain pellets froze to the road, and created extremely dangerous driving conditions. We continued on undeterred, as Jason was drawn home by his pregnant wife. As we snaked through the rural backcountry, we passed a
Jeep Liberty that was on its side. In passing we noticed no other vehicles on the scene, and quickly pulled a U-turn. We were the first responders.

I thought to myself. "This is what you have trained for!" "This is what all of those years in Boy Scouts was all about!" I told Jason to call 9-1-1 as I exited our car. As I approached the overturned vehicle, I noticed a creepy little girl standing up in the front window of the Jeep. I thought that if this girl ended up in the front window, then her parents could be extremely beat up.

At this point I look over my shoulder and see that a pickup truck has also stopped, and is talking on the phone to 9-1-1 about what street we are on.

Back at the Jeep,I tried to lift up the handle of the front door, but it was locked. At that point, I was sure that I was going to get to smash at least one window, which I have always wanted to do. Unfortunately for my window smashing dream, but fortunately for the people inside, I heard a tapping from within on the glass of the back seat window. I was able to open the door and out pops the head of a man, and below him, within the wrecked fuselage, I can see his wife.

They said in broken English that they are only bruised and shaken up but not hurt, and that they will wait for help from within their still wobbling compact SUV. With a little nudging, I was able to convey the message that their current camping site within their recently rolled over car, was not a safe one, and they then agreed. Although I would have liked to smash a window, I am just glad that no one was dead, and the family was safe.

We were able to help them down from the side of the car, while bracing it from falling completely onto its roof. The local hillbilly type guy with the truck put the small family in his back seat, and waited for the police to respond.

With the family safe, we flipped a bitch, set our sights toward home and talked and joked excitedly in an attempt to diffuse some of the adrenaline that had built up within us.

Sometimes an adventure is being in the right place at the right time, and being prepared to do the right thing.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Chicago Travel and Adventure Show Review

A few weeks ago, I got an email from the people putting on the Travel and Adventure Show inviting me to attend this year's show for free. Because the price was right, I decided to attend, figuring that information gathered could prove useful for planning future ADVENTURING opportunities, also figuring that this would be a great opportunity to gaze into the future of the Travel and Adventure marriage.

I send my condolences to all of those poor saps that spent the $15 on the ticket and the $13 to park, because that show was a dud. There was no excitement in any of the booths. It might as well have been an insurance and actuarial convention. It was as if the entire show was sponsored by Nyquil or Ambien. I would have thought that the guy handing out 'Visit South Africa' sales literature would have been more amped than the lady from the 'Southeastern Wisconsin Board of Tourism', but that was not the case.

I was hoping to get information to help plan future trips to Europe and China, but anything good was few and far between. I should have expected it because the purpose of a show like this is to make money and generate sales, and not to present honest and or useful information. The only information I found relating to China was trips arranged by Trafalgar, with costs that accosted the soul.

Through this misinformation gathering, I learned what I always had known.
1. Plan your own trip
2. Beware of phonies

No one that is under 65 should ever leave the planning of their trips or adventures to 'experts'.
1. Planning a trip is half of the fun
2. When you get there you will know what to expect
3. When you get home, you will be able to tell someone where you have been and what you experienced.
4. It will save you a shitload of cash(Euros, Lbs, rupees, yen, dollas, shillings, dabloons, skrilla)

Now a word about shyster travel companies. As far as I know, I have never been taken advantage of by a travel company. Women, yes. Travel shysters, no.
1. Travel shysters are a bunch of phonies that only want your money. You will float down the Yangtze river in a semi-water tight tour bus, and probably won't see anything remotely cool. And they will rape you(r wallet) Plan your own trip.

Chicago Travel and Adventure Show
1.There was a camel there. I took a picture of his toe, and put it on my Facebook page. Don't you hate it when a Camel tracks dirt onto your carpet?
2. If anyone knows famed travel writer and personality, Rick Steves, they know that he may or may not be gay. He is ambiguous. Not that there is anything wrong with that, he just has some unique mannerisms. Anyway, his brochure that he was handing out promoting h
is tour company had the title 'Rick Steves: Europe through the back door'. That is some seriously funny stuff that made me cry with delight. You would think that someone would have caught that before he had one million copies made.

1. Being there.

Feast your eyes below with Rick Steves' back door review, and the camel-toe.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

REI Oakbrook Terrace Garage Sale Tomorrow 12-30

Just a quick FYI. The REI Oakbrook Terrace store in Illinois is having their Garage Sale tomorrow(December 30th, 2010) at 9 Am. Because it is kind of a strange day and time, I am not able to make it to the sale, although some compatriots of mine will be there looking after my gear collecting interests. I anticipate that this sale will have the usual returned and semi-damaged items, but the pot may also be sweetened with some Christmas returns. Get there early and get add to your camping gear stockpile. Good luck!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Adventuring Blog Resurrection

A little over a year ago, I got really lazy with the Adventuring Blog, and I for lack of a better term, let it go to shit. It has been stagnant for over a year, and has cob webs on it. Since, it has gone dormant, I have gone on some great adventures, and the stories have gone unreported, the memories locked away. I have climbed the cables to the top of half dome in Yosemite, have seen the Florida Gators play football in the Swamp, I planned an adventure in Ireland for my parents, went climbing at Devil's Lake in Baraboo, Wisconsin and have explored the life giving microbrew beers of Boulder Colorado. From now on, I am going to do better. I am going to share my adventures, and will do my best to impart any wisdom that I can conjure up about the exciting world of travel and adventure. This is the Adventuring Blog Resurrection!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Euro Trip Day six: Florence/Firenze

A view of Florence from Piazza Michaelangelo

9-17-09 Florence

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal which I kept on my trip through Europe.

"Woke up at 10 to 10, checkout is at 10. I had to hustle to pack up my things. Got out in time, and walked to Termini to catch a train. I also tried to get my train arrangements for Venice to Munich, but the ticket guy said it was sold out, even sleeper cars. Shit! I am in trouble. So I just get on my train, and brainstorm on the way. I discover that I can get a night train from Venice, Florence or Bologna, and worst case, I could go on an earlier train and either attempt to find a hostel, or sleep in a park. That is all for now...

At the Florence train station I talked to the ticket lady, and she initially said that it was full, then said I could go, I would just have to pay an additional 45 Euro to upgrade to a sleeper car. I had no other options, so I went with that. At least now I know I will get there, and will be able to rest, relax and sleep. As I write this now, I am in hostel, b. It is a very nice and scenic viewing spot for the city of Florence. The views from here are absolutely spectacular. I love the vibe of Florence, it is very similar to Naples in that respect. The people here are very friendly, and were helpful when I got lost. Also, the women here are super hot.

Although there are tourists here, it seems a lot less touristy than Rome. When I got here, my hostel I guess was full, so I was handed off to another one. No problem. The accomodations look good enough.

I struck off through the city through a slight rain. I saw the museum with 'David' in it, but the line was way long. No time for lines with only one day here. Then went to see the copy/fake 'David'. What's the big deal, I look better than him. Just kidding, it was really cool. The piazza where the fake Davis is located has some really awesome statues in it. I sat down near them, and examined them from every angle. Some of my favorites so far.

Saw a few nice churches, the Duomo, and a few piazzas. Then got really F---ing lost, I mean, I was off the map that I had of Florence... but I saw some nice scenery--a winding road with massive and beautiful villas. The people helped me get back to where I wanted to be. Apparently my accent is alright, because when I ask for directions, they answer me in Italian even if they know English, as they don't know that I am American. Now I will strike off back toward the hostel.

later that night, I walked through the streets of Florence to the 'David' copy. I stopped at a produce market for an apple to eat in the Piazza. I felt really safe except when I walked down a really dark, dirty, and littered street that was loaded with maybe 50 gypsies. At that moment, I knew that all eyes were on me and if shit went down, my only defense would be flighty feet, and a single flying apple. Luckily nothing happened, and I hada great night time stroll. When I walked back to the hostel, I avoided Gypsy Lane. Florence is nice, I would like to go back there at some point."

On top: Man fighting a Centaur
Bottom: Fake David

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Euro Trip Day 5: Rome

Above: In front of the Basilica in the Vatican
Below: Drinking from the Fountain in front of the Spanish Steps

The following is an excerpt from The my travel journal chronicling my adventures in Europe.

9-16-09 Roma

"Went to the Vatican with Nick, a guy I met from New Zealand, and a tour group. We were
hoping to catch a glimpse of the Pope, but it was too crowded by the time we got there, so we only saw and heard him on the big screen TVs . The tour was very informative, and the ceiling and front wall of the Sistine Chapel are awesome! After we finished with the Vatican, Nick and myself walked to a few places including the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. I was at the Spanish Steps the day before, but at the time did not realize that was where I was. We people watched on the steps, and drank a Heineken. Then we took the metro back to the hostel. I showered, and went to the Yellow Bar for some wine. After some wine, the Kiwis and myself went on a mission to get some food, and got lost. We ended up getting Donner Kabobs by the Termini. Donner Kabobs are delicious. After that, we retired to our room(which smells like an old shoe) for some sleep. Tomorrow is a big day, traveling to Florence."

Belvedere Statue in the Vatican. Known as the best ever statue of a human torso.
This guy really looks like he enjoys it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Free National Parks Day 2009!

November 11th 2009

In honor of America's veterans, The Department of the Interior is suspending entrance fees to National Parks this Veterans Day. In addition to this, the U.S. Forrest Service is also waiving any entrance fees that they have on that day.

Celebrate Veterans Day, Go for a hike.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Euro Trip Day 4: Rome Italy

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal of a day spent solo traveling in Rome.

9-15-09 ROME UBER-Tourist Day

"The New Zealand guys planned to rent scooters today, and I would prefer to see Rome from foot, so I am striking off on my own. I walked everywhere today. I pretty much saw all of the major sights, and did it all by foot. I must have walked 20 miles or more. "

"I walked by the Santa Maria Maggiore, for anothe rextenal visit with the Coliseum, and again checked out the Arco di Constantino, Arco Tito, and the Domus Aurea. From there, I went to the Monumento a Vittorino Emanuele II, which was absolutely spectacular. Such a sight. Near here, I also saw Colonna Traina and Mercati Traina; one is a statue on a tall post-like tower, and the other is semi-building, semi-ruin."

I walked through a small park, where it looked like a flock of gypsies were protesting something. I guess the gypsies are in a union. While walking in this park, and small boy probably 3 or 4 years old started running toward me from behind, and tried reaching into my pocket. Luckily I had my head on a swivel, and I picked him up and punted him into heavy traffic, but actually, I ran from him like a frightened girl while holding my pocket closed. I am sure the adult gypsies were delighted by the free entertainment.

At one point I got lost, which is pretty much what I do, and kept wandering and discovering new sights around every corner, it was great. I recommend that everyone should get lost alone in a foreign country it is quite a pleasant adventure.

"I found the Arc Pacis, the Mosoleo Augusto and the Piazza Espana(Spanish Steps) this way. I went to the Piazza de Popolo up north which was really nice. At this Piazza, I went into some
Augustine(?) church which had a great domed roof, and paintings on the ceiling. Next, I went south, and finally found the Trevi Fountain, which I had been looking for for a while. The fountain is awesome, (although this may be racist,) but it was a little too crowded with Americans. Other sights are less crowded and the tourists are a mixed bag. It seems as if the Trevi is the only place American tourists go. "

"After that, I visited the Pantheon, which was really cool. I went in although I was not supposed to wear shorts within the sacred building. The dome there is a work of architectural genius, and the religious paintings and sculptures are nice too. "

Shortly after leaving the Pantheon, I was walking to Piazza Navona, and was heading down a narrow alleyway in between buildings. I was hugging the wall to the right of me the best I could in order to give the cars ample berth, and they passed with ease. I continued on, immersed in my own thoughts, and contemplating the beauty of the day, when suddenly I was thumped on the left shoulder with incredible force. I nearly tumbled to the ground, as I unleashed a string of expletives and vulgarities. I looked up, from a half slouched over position with my hands on my knees, to see a large truck speeding away. I had been hit by a truck's mirror, and as he sped away, his mirror was touching his window. He had hit me hard, at probably 33 or 35 miles per hour, and who knows how many Kilometers per hour. I was pissed, so I looked around for a rock to throw at him. The thought struck me 'is this worth a trip to a Roman jail?' I quickly determined that in fact it would be worth it, but I could not find a rock. Maybe this was some kind of Karma for pretending to be dead under a truck the day before, or for wearing shorts into the sacred Pantheon. I was bruised, but decided to not let it ruin my day. I continued walking.

"I walked to Piazza Navona, and Campo de Fiora. At all of these places I went, I took pictures, but I tried to be more than the typical tourist. I took a little while to have a seat, and truly drink in the entire atmosphere of the sights. On my walk home, I revisited my two favorite sights of the day, Vittorino Emanuel II and the Collosseo, and had a nice sit at both places. "

"When I got back, the Kiwi guys invited me out to dinner with them. We went to a place down the street that looked good, and the menu sounded good, but the portions were minuscule, the food took forever, and the waiter forgot to bring my Chicken until we were already ready to pay. After leaving, we were all still starving, so we went to get pizza. I got a few slices of caprice salad pizza that was great. "

"What a great day!, full of excercise, and seeing almost all of the sights of Rome. Now it is a little after ten, and I am taking it easy, as myself and one Kiwi are waking up early to go to the Vatican Tomorrow. Tomorrow is Wednesday, and the Pope gives a speech every wednesday, so we might get a look at the old guy. Today I had a very introspective day, It was very peaceful, and I enjoyed the solitude, even when I was within crowds. One of the many perks of traveling alone. "

The Pantheon, Rome
Trevi Fountai, Rome

Monday, November 2, 2009

EuroTrip Day 3: Roma

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal:

9-14-09 ROME

"Woke up a little late with a slight hangover. Said bye to my friends that I had met in Naples and walked to the metro. Walked from Dante Metro stop to Napoli Central Station which is in Piazza Garribaldi. At the station, I met a couple from Palo Altothat was having difficulties, and seemed frustrated, and I helped them find our train." They were nice, but looked like idiots with backpacks completely engulfed in duct taped hefty bags. "Train ride was uneventful besides gaining some much needed shuteye. I already miss Naples and hope that I meet some cool people in Roma.

When I arrived in the Rome Termini Station, it was raining. I luckily had my jacket handy, and the walk to the 'Yellow Hostel' was only a few blocks. I was checked into the hostel around 3:00 PM. The rooms are not quite as nice as 'La Controra', but are adequate.

When I was checking out the room, I met a couple guys from New Zealand, and three girls also from there. Apparently, they put me in the Kiwi room of the hostel. The kiwimen want me to go with them on a pub crawl, but with my headache, I don't know if I can commit to that. I decided to think about it while doing a mini walk of the city to help me get a lay of the land.

I walked about 30 minutes to the coliseum, and sat and took in my surroundings. I am so glad that I decided to add this Italy excursion to my agenda. I walked around the coliseum and checked out a few of the ruins and archeological sights nearby. One cool thing about Rome is that there are running fountains of water on the sidewalks around the city, and the water is delicious. After my walk back, I decided to get a panini from a nearby restaurant. When I got back, the Kiwi guys were about to leave for the pub crawl, and I vetoed that idea for myself. The kiwi girls and I decided to go to the 'Yellow' bar downstairs. After an expensive pint of Newcastle, we went to the restaurant next door so they could eat. I was not hungry, so I just had an Italian beer, and another Kiwi girl Molly gave us some wine.

After the restaurant, we went back to the bar, and eventually played beer-pong and foosball in the basement. My Florida Gator beerpong skills whipped every European and Eurasian in the place. After a while, I went off with a group of Americans and Australians to get some more pizza. On the way back, we got a few more beers, Piralta's I think, and drank them on the street. We found a huge truck which was jacked up, and we staged death photos.

When I got back to the hostel, there was a passed out drunk Canadian guy in my bed. I yelled at him the get the hell out of my bed, but he was not coherent enough to give a logical response to my threats. After a little time at the front desk, it was sorted out, and my bed was moved into the adjoining room with the Kiwi guys. I took the time to send a few emails to friends and family, and went to bed, in my new room, which smells like a shoe. The end of another great day in Europe. Tomorrow should be quite busy, tomorrow is my Uber-Tourist day.

Ted Kennedy Statue in Rome?
Staged Death Photo in Rome.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eurotrip Day 2: Naples Italy

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal for the second day of my European trip in Naples Italy.

Napoli 9-13-09

"Woke up early, and had breakfast at the hostel. Set off to visit Pompeii with 2 British girls, German guy, and a Dutch girl. Took two trains to get there and 45 mins. First was a metro to the Napoli Central, then the circumvesuviana to the Pompeii Scavi station. Pompeii is amazing! The sheer magnitude of the amount of history and ruins there is hard to comprehend. The city is very big and takes a long time to navigate through. The dead bodies were harder to locate then we had expected. Eventually we did manage to find some rather charming specimen. Also, there are stray dogs and puppies all over Pompeii that sleep so still on the marble floors that they too look dead. After we finished with Pompeii, we trained to Sorrento to take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea(my first ever dip in the med). Sorrento is beautiful, quiet and clean. The water of the sea is crystal clear. We had quite a swim out to a rock breakwater where we dried in the sun and dove back in. We could see spear fisherman in the depths as we swam over them. We had a nice spot on a small beach, where we listened to music and played frisbee for about 2 hours.

The Beach and Jetty in Sorrento, Italy.

On our way back to the train, we stopped for gelato, which was excellent. After a train back to Naples, myself and my new German friend, walked through the city for some traditional Napoli pizza. It was delicious. In fact, it is the only thing they eat here."

After this entry, my new group of friends and I played some American and European drinking games for a while with wine, that only cost 2.5 Euros per bottle at the hostel, which was a great deal if you ask me. Then I slept, because the next day, I had a change of scenery. This time it would be Rome.

I had a great time in Naples. Every moment I was there is a cherished memory, that I won't forget. Although before going there, many people had warned me that Naples was dangerous and scary, Never for a moment was I worried or scared, and I found the people to be extraordinarily friendly. And I never met any Italian mafia people although I hear there is a mafia controlled district. I highly recommend a trip to Naples for anyone that is traveling through Italy.

Italy: Women so hot, your face will melt off!

Italy: Also has volcanoes to melt your face off!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eurotrip Day 1. Naples, Italy

View from my room in Naples

The following entry is an excerpt written directly from my travel journal Day one in Europe:

Roma-Napoli 9-12-09

"When I landed, I already had my bag(I had not checked it, which saved my skin). I pretty easily managed to find the Leonardo Express train to Rome's Termini Station. From there, I had a little difficulty finding the booth to validate my Railpass. Once validated + ticket bought, I hopped a bullet train to Naples. When I got there, I decided to walk from the Napoli Central Station to the hostel(La Controra Flashpackers Hostel) because Google Maps said it was 3Km 30 mins. It was not 30 mins, very hilly, and got slightly lost, but all the Napoli people I met were very friendly + helpful, although a part of the city I walked through was covered in graffiti, and looked post-apocalyptic, like 'Mad Max'. The area where I stayed was much nicer. Immediately after arriving at the hostel, I met several nice people that I will tour Naples and the surrounding towns with. There are a lot of Germans here.

Observation: Naples is loud, people honk horns constantly,
As I write this, horns are honking.

-Traffic in Naples stops for NO ONE!
No such thing as crosswalks. "

Later this first night, I drank a bit of wine with the new friends that I had made, and a few of us decided to hop a few buses to get to an Italian rap concert in the city's main square. We took a jug of wine with us, and had a great time. The Italian language is a romance language. Italian rap music is not a romance language, and sounds pretty gross, but to me, life is about having new experiences, and a rap concert in Naples was a new one for me.

Below is my new North Face Terra 60 backpack on my room's balcony in Naples.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Flight from Hell

On my trip through Europe, probably the most miserable times were related to time spent at airports, and in my flight to Rome. Although I usually have a great time at airports, people watching and reading, this time was different, I felt like I was on 'The Amazing Race'.

My flight was intended to leave O'Hare Airport in Chicago at 1:50 PM. I was then supposed to have a 1 hour layover in Philadelphia before embarking to Rome. I decided that I did not want to take any risks in missing my flight, so I left my house in the city around 9:30, which was almost pathetically early. I took a bus and the El, and made it to the airport around 10:15. I checked into my Us Air flight, did not check my bag(which was super clutch thinking on my part, and crucial for my trip), and zipped through security. I was reading a book at my gate by 10:45, which was about 3 hours before the flight was supposed to board.

I waited patiently reading my extremely boring book(about an old geezer walking the Appalachian Trail), and about 30 minutes before the flight was about to board, they changed the time on the screen to say that the flight was delayed an hour and a half. Therefore, I would be unable to make my connection, and would have to spend the night in the Philly Airport, and delay my trip. I stormed the desk and sweet talked the lady into booking me onto an Al Italia, which was direct. I was pretty happy about this, as I took a tram from terminal three to terminal five.

When I got to my new terminal to check in, I was told that I would be flying standby on the Al Italia flight, and that the flight was full. The lady at this booth recommended that I go back to US Air and demand to speak to a manager. She also said that I should hurry because 2 other people from my original flight would be quickly on my tail. The race was on! Back on the tram to terminal three.

Back at US Air, I talked to a manager, and told her to get me on a flight to Rome that day. She was able to book me in a confirmed seat on an American Airlines direct flight to Rome, leaving at 6 PM. She said it was the last seat on the last plane leaving for Rome that day. I had made it, I had won my mini Amazing Race.

So I waited for a few more hours, and eventually, it was time for me to board my plane. I was completely ready to leave Chicago, I had been at O'Hare Airport for nearly seven hours, and had eaten three meals there. I walked triumphantly down the aisle with my North Face Terra 60 backpack that I had thought ahead not to check. I walked further and further through the fuselage of the plane for what felt like miles, and as I neared my seat.....Oh Shit... This can't be true....A huge fat man was sitting immediately next to me. What rotten luck.
I not-so-delicately smashed my pack into the overhead compartment, and took my assigned seat in the way back of the plane in the absolute middle seat, sandwiched between the gargantuan man, and a know it all cougar.

For the next nine hours or so, the obese man's enormous arm and elbow were touching my chest. The heat controls didn't work in the plane, and it was hot as Hades in the back of the plane---The man was sweating on me the entire flight. I almost was brave enough to take a picture to document him eating a wheel of cheese during the flight, but I chickened out. The in-flight movie was 'Mama Mia' which sucked, but was only made better by the fact that the sound system did not work in my section, so I did not have to listen to Pierce Brosnan sing. Unfortunately, my reading light didn't work either, so I had nothing to do except think about the amazing adventure that lay before me, as I try to ignore the beads of sweat(not mine) rolling down my right sleeve.

European Trip to be continued....
Next Stage...Naples, Italy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Europe Trip

About a week and a half ago, I got back to Chicago from my adventure in Europe. On my trip, I toured through Italy alone, then met with friends in Munich for Oktoberfest, we went to Austria for a brief climb of a mountain, and finished off the trip in Prague, Czech republic. Then I had a 14 hour layover in Dublin on my way back home. Getting myself out of my comfort zone while traveling alone, as well as the great party atmosphere of Oktoberfest, combined to make this the best trip of my life. I will continue to post more detailed accounts of my trip, country by country in the coming days.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

J. Benjamin Eckenhoff Memorial Bike Ride

This weekend, September 12th, will be the 15th Annual J. Benjamin Eckenhoff Memorial Bike Ride. Since my dad passed away in 1994 from Leukemia, we have been raising money towards research at Stanford Hospital. We have raised over $800,000 since the start of the ride, and we only hope to raise more money in search of a cure.

The reason we chose a bike ride in memory of my dad was because he was an avid road cyclist and rode through the hills of Portola Valley, near Palo Alto in Northern California during his lunch breaks at work and on the weekends. We decided to have three routes to choose from on the memorial bike ride. There is a 10, 20, and 35 mile ride. While I have completed all three of the rides, I tend to stick with the 20 or 35 mile ride for the challenge.

The point of this ride is to gather family, friends, and supporters of my dad as well as those who want to be apart of the search for a cure for leukemia. The registration fee for the bike ride is $25 (which is tax deductible) and with that includes a Ben Ride t-shirt and a lunch after the ride.

For more information please check out

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Euro Pack on the Way: North Face Terra 60

Before embarking on my trip to Europe, I needed to get my backpack situation locked down. Looking at my inventory of camping gear, I realized that between my K2 external frame pack and my overly large internal frame pack, the job was not going to get done. So the past few weeks, I have been doing research on what backpack I want to buy for my trip to Europe. I have solicited advice from well traveled friends. One of the recommendations that I gained from them was that the Eagle Creek Truist 55L was a great pack for Europe. I looked into this option, because it is specifically designed for international travel. Unfortunately, the price point was higher than I wanted to spend at a firm $200 everywhere.

I did more research and found that both REI and North Face had models that would get the job done and that would be suitable for trips abroad, as w
ell as trips into the wild. I decided that I wanted the North Face Terra 60.

On a walk from Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood to the Loop two weekends ago, I stopped at 2 Uncle Dan's outdoor stores, the Lincoln Park REI store and a Sports Authority.
Uncle's Dan's Southport: $125.00
REI Lincoln Park: $149.00
Uncle Dan's Lincoln Park: Did not see an available Terra 60
Sports Authority: $149.00

I followed up with some price checking, a few days later, I ran(by foot) a few miles to my neighborhood Moosejaw store, where the Terra 60 would have to be special ordered and where the sales woman tried to up sell me into more expensive packs I didn't want. When I convinced her that the only pack I was interested in was the Terra 60, she looked it up in their computer system. When she told me the price($149), I told her that it was cheaper at Uncle Dan's. She thought I was an idiot and said well that is because Moosejaw has access to different colors than them.
I said, "What Color do you have?"
She said, "...Well....well...what color were you looking for?"
I then told her that the backpack comes in green, greenish, blue, blueish, and black, and that they are identical, and that there should not be a pricing difference. At this point she realized that I had educated myself and that her sinister tactics would prove fruitless.

Yesterday, I ran(by foot) to my local Uncle Dan's on Southport, and ordered a Large Blueish North Face Terra 60, and it should arrive at the store either today or tomorrow. Their sales associate also mentioned that their store has a price match policy that applies to other stores, but not online sales.

The terra 60 will be mine soon enough.
10 days until aira non-ferma, 11 days until Italia terra firma.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Surfboard Repair

While Charlie gets to travel abroad, the most exciting thing I have on my "things-to-do" list is repair a couple of dings in my Al Merrick 6'4" and my O'Neill 7'4" surfboards. While I am not a professional ding repairman, the process is fairly simple and I take pride in doing things like this on my own.

The process begins with me collecting the necessary items I need. I use latex gloves and a protective mask to keep the repair materials off of my skin as well as outside of my respiratory system. The ding repair kit I have is made by "Ding All Surfboard Repair Products". The black bottle is the resin and it comes with a smaller clear bottle which is the hardener. Some kits come with fiberglass sheets in case a larger repair needs to be made (luckily I don't need to make those type of repairs right now).

I begin by using some fine sandpaper to remove all sharp fiberglass around the area where I will be making the repair. I then take the resin (black bottle) and pour about 2 ounces into a plastic cup. I then begin to add about 10 drops of the hardener (smaller clear bottle). I use a popsicle stick to stir the resin/hardener mix for about one minute. I then begin to slowly pour a little of the liquid mix onto the area of the ding, about the size of a quarter. As I smooth it out with the popsicle stick, I clean the drips if there are any. I also am generous with the resin to make sure I cover all necessary areas of the repair. Any excess resin can be sanded away.

The resin/hardener mix will harden over night. The following day, I'll take a piece of fine sandpaper and begin to smooth out any of the bump created by the resin. The goal is to smooth out the repair as if there was nothing there at all. This will help reduce any drag that a poor repair might create in the water. This is the process of repairing a ding in a fiberglass surfboard. I do not own an epoxy surfboard, but those repairs involve a different process.

Surfing for me is an escape. The way waves are created boggles my mind and I am so fascinated by this. The feeling of standing up on a wave and riding it is indescribable. I'll leave you with a quote from David Henry Thoreau, "Launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Italian Solo Itinerary

On September 11th, I will depart on a solo journey through Italy that will conclude with me meeting up with friends for Oktoberfest, a short trip to Austria, and a few days in Prague. Because I am trying to explore the world without going broke, I will be staying in hostels for this leg of the trip. I booked them online, after sifting through a multitude of reviews, and even after that, it is pretty much a crapshoot. I will be happy if I do not see any bedbugs on my trip. The itinerary for the Italian portion of the trip is as below, as for an activity itinerary, I don't like to plan that far in advance. The beauty of a solo trip is that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it.

September 11th: Fly from Chicago to Rome through Philadelphia
September 12th: Arrive Rome approx 8:30 AM
: Train to Naples
September 13th: Stay in Naples
September 14th: Train back to Rome
September 15hth: Rome
September 16th: Rome
September 17th: Train to Florence
: Stay in Florence
September 18th: Train to Venice
:Explore Venice for the day
: Night Train to Munich
September 19th: Arrive in Munich 6:30 AM

Hostels: Naples: La Controra Flashpackers Hostel
Rome: The Yellow Hostel
Florence: Florence Youth Hostel

Before my departure, I have some gear that I am hoping to buy. Included in this list is a new backpack(50-60 L), sunglasses, a money pouch, maybe a new Camera, and possibly some form of ultra-lite summer sleeping bag. I will keep the Adventuring Blog a breast of these pre-planning activities.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Linda Mar Surfing

Destination: Pacifica Latitude: 37.59915 Longitude: -122.50

I have become a regular at Linda Mar, a surf spot located in the City of Pacifica, in Northern California. This spot offers quite a few amenities that are not typical at most surf spots: Showers, Bathrooms, and a Taco Bell that offers walk-up service for the waterlogged surfer. This Surf spot is somewhat protected from the wind and offers a pretty consistent wave for beginners and intermediate surfers, which makes the line-ups rather crowded. The beach is a mile long with dark sand and numerous rocks scattered around. The south end of the beach is littered with rocks on the ocean floor and can present quite an obstacle if you aren’t wearing booties. I find myself here more and more because of the convenience, there is ample parking, and I know that if I wait long enough a large enough wave will come through. I learned to surf almost 10 years ago on the smaller waves of the east coast of Florida, but stopped surfing when I moved to Chicago in 2002. Seven years later I am reviving my passion for the sport of Surfing. I am working on improving my surfing skills so that I can seek adventures at more remote and wild surf spots. I intend to put together some surf camping trips near-by and eventually spread out further up and down the coast and someday travel abroad to search for surfing adventures. The next step will be a Big Sur Camping Trip, Stay tuned for updated, and progress.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Coming Soon: A New Contributor

Lately I have been relatively adventureless. I have been focusing on trying to move into a new apartment in Chicago, and have been saving my resources for the Euro Adventuring I will be doing in a little under a month.

My other contributors Brian and Jeff have had no dry spell in the adventure department, but what they are lacking is the limited effort and time it takes to write a summary of their most recent activity.

In an effort to add to both the quality and quantity of posts, my friend Brandon will soon begin contributing to the Adventuring Blog.

He is currently high atop of Machu Pichu in Peru gathering up adventures that he can bestow upon the blog here.

In addition, I will begin posting as to the final preparation for my trip to Europe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Inspirational Thoreau Quote

" Men come tamely home at night only from the next field or street, where there household echoes haunt, and their life pines because it breathes its own breath over again; their shadows, morning and evening, reach farther then their daily steps. We should come home from afar, from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day, with new experience and character. "

-Henry David Thoreau
Walden AKA Life in the Woods
page 196

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

REI Lincoln Park Garage Sale - Chicago

REI Lincoln Park Garage Sale

When: July 26th 2009 at 9:00 AM

  • 1466 North Halsted Street
  • Chicago, IL 60642

More Specifically:
  • 41° 54.476' N
  • 87° 38.891' W
  • Cost: FREE but must be an REI member

Whats the deal?: It is time for the Lincoln Park REI to clean out their stockpile of returned items, imperfect gear and outdated stock. Typically available is all types of camping and hiking gear, as well as shoes and clothes and even sometimes kayaks and biking items. They advertise that prices for could be up to 60% off, although at a previous REI garage sale, I have seen items discounted more than that. Get there early, for a better chance of snagging the best items. Previously I have purchased a "REI Rentals" 3 man tent for $20 at the REI Oakbrook Terrace Garage Sale. I will be there this time, and I hope you are there too...but hopefully behind me in line.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Holy Roaming Empire

Yesterday I made a very impulsive decision. I read an article that basically said that anyone thinking about planning a trip should buy airfare immediately to avoid paying more as gas prices rise. I had been thinking about going to Berlin for a trip, but then changed my mind. I decided that rather than spend more time in Germany, which is an absolutely amazing country, but one that I had been to before, I would go to Italy instead.

I did some research and discovered that for people under 26 years old, STA Travel had some affordable airfare to Europe. I found a deal and immediately booked a flight for myself from Chicago to Rome via Philadelphia. I fly September 11th arrive early on the 12th and will be solo in Italy until I meet up with my friends in Munich on the 18th.

This being my first solo international trip, I am a little nervous, but also I am excited. From what I have read, traveling alone is one of the best ways to see a country, and experience the culture. Being a very social person, I don't think I will have too much trouble finding fellow budget travelers to accompany me on day trips to Vesuvius, or Capri, or Pompeii.

My itinerary is still completely in the air, but I know I want to spend some time in Naples, Rome, and maybe Venice, if I have enough time, and depending how much I want to rush myself. I still need to make a tentative travel plan, find places to stay(most likely hostels), buy a eurail pass, and figure out other the more minor details. I will post more details as I discover them, and will post an itinerary if I make one.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

International Travel Update

I am still working out the details of my trip to Europe. This much I know: my friends and I will be in Munich(Munchen) Germany for 4 days of Oktoberfest, followed by a few days in Austria, and I think 3 or 4 days in Prague, Czech Republic. Because I wanted to experience a little more, and be less rushed, I decided that I would extend my vacation a little bit earlier, and do a weeklong solo Eurotrip before meeting up with them in Munich. I was about to pull the trigger on some airfare to Berlin before I realized that I might like to see Naples Italy or Rome instead. So, now I am on the verge of another decision, and will probably seek out some advice from fellow travelers, and then pull the trigger on that sometime this week.

If anyone has any advice on what I should be doing on my solo international expedition, send me an email with your input.

Domestic Travel Adventures

I am currently in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the rock formations and mountains are tempting me to hike them, but it is 108 degrees outside, and being well equipped for a business trip, I am ill equipped for a real adventure. Although Camelback is a quite accessible, and quite do-able, I don't know if I want to push it when it will still probably be over 100 when I get done with work. But we will see.

This coming 4th of july weekend, I am planning a slightly adventurous weekend of Walleye and Bass fishing and swimming in Winneconne, Wisconsin at a friend's lake house. This is a luxurious adventure by my standards, even though I will be but one FIB in a sea of cheeseheads.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vermillion Rafting Update

Rafting the Vermillion River--- SAT June 20th.
After a two hour drive, we arrived at the Vermillion River Rafting Outfitters. From the gravel parking lot we could see that the best of the best in homegrown rafting talent had arrived to challenge the raging rapids of the Vermillion, and they came prepared--outfitted with copious amounts of Busch Light and jean shorts, as well as perfectly groomed(see ungroomed) mullets. I could see that I was over matched. My lack of jorts, and the prominence of my teeth cast me into a world of desolation, I was not invited to take part in any of their hillbilly games, which included a game called "hey, let's harass this wild snake."

The only hope for me was to prove that I was not a greenhorn on the rapids. Once on the "class II" rapids, I could tell that immediately that I had been lied to. These rapids were only slightly wavier than bathwater, it was obvious that this was going to be a long day. Throughout the anticlimactic four and a half hour journey, we came across only two or three real drops, one of which was called wildcat rapids, in which I was almost decapitated by I leaping Asian Carp.

The scenery on the river was peaceful, but the abundance of trash, rusted out cars and tires on the river bank prompted my nephew to ask if we could come back again so that next time we could pickup everyone elses trash and beer cans. Although it was sunny and very hot, we were hesitant to submerge ourselves in the filthy brown-water rapids.

Will I raft again? Yes
Will I raft here again? No. The Vermillion river is probably more suited as a booze cruise rather than a real rafting experience. Although, I can think of better Booze cruise locations as well.

Vermillion River lovers send your hate mail to