Saturday, November 29, 2008

Back to the ocean






I made it back to the west coast in time for Thanksgiving, and what a lovely thanksgiving it was! On my way, I saw Meteor Crater, which was made about 50,000 years ago, by the impact of a meteor... Its a really big hole in the ground, with really nicely shaped rounded sides. Then I drove to my brother's house and had thanksgiving with him. I'm now lurking around the LA area for the next week until tuesday the 9th, when I fly out to Costa Rica. I'll be there for 3 months and come back in March.
I'll try to keep the posting updated, but I haven't figured out if I'm going to bring my computer or not, and if I don't, I won't be posting pictures...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Transformation

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Santa Fe










I've left my heart in Santa Fe.
The city is nice, and the surrounding countryside is quite beautiful. I climbed a mountian, Baldy santa fe, which is 12,600 ft tall, and the sunsets around here are breathtaking.
Before I got here, I was driving through New Orleans and Texas, where I stopped to see some hurricane damage, including a beached boat. Its pretty impressive.
Texas wasn't much to see. Desert. There's a lot of that around here. I went to Los Alamos, and that was pretty cool. I saw a cactus that looks like a cowboy coming up the hill...
I also met some people hiking that were really cool.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

LAUNCH!!








up, Up, UP she goes... Riding on a pillar of fire...
Initially it was dark, with the moon casting some glow on the clouds, and a beam shining up from the pad on the shuttle... thirty seconds to go I hear, twenty, someone says... 8, 4, 2... The treeline lights up, getting brighter and brighter, the entire sky lights up, like the sun rising but so quickly, a few seconds have passed, but there is no noise and only a brightness in the air. Then a small lightning bolt burns itself into my eyes, clearing the trees now, and it spits a long beam of flame, up she goes... Up, faster now, beginning to arc to the east, and now the ground starts to quiver, the sound comes washing over us, shaking my lungs a little. My eyes are burned from the spot of brightness, still rising over the clouds. Punching through them now, getting smaller and smaller and quieter. To the east.
The other pictures include my visitors for this part of the trip, Alan, and Danny and Aimee. We went sailing on an Islander 32 that Danny wanted to look at, and it was great. Sailing in the Gulf of mexico is really nice.
Here is a launch sequence, all 30 second shots...

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Launch Day!

Today is the day. Its like Christmas. I wake up and my stomach quivers. I'm very excited. The launch countdown is still on...
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pre-Launch

Its time for business now. I'm in Tampa, waiting for Danny, Aimee and Alan to arrive from seattle, so we can go out to Cape Canaveral to watch the shuttle launch on friday (hopefully). But in the past couple days, I've had a few little adventures.
After going through Miami and Palm Beach, I went west to Lake Okeechobee, and spent a night on the banks there. The next morning I went to the beach again, to Fort Pierce, and ended up spending some time there. I felt like I was moving around too much, and I had time to kill, so I just stayed put for two days. I surfed with a little kid, fished a little bit with some old men, and had a nice afternoon in a park talking to two college age kids who were traveling by bicycle around the country.

Then, today, I worked my way northward up from Fort Pierce to Cape Canaveral, and into the territory of government control. And then I got myself into trouble.

So the shuttle is off a long ways away from view, but I wanted to get a view of it, so I drove around a little bit trying to find a spot I could see her sitting on the pad. Unfortunately, there are no hills, so I can't see very far, so I decided to climb a light post to see.
And then the cops came out of the woodwork. I get down from the post, and sit in my car for about two minutes, and up pulls one, then two, then FOUR federal police officers to tell me what a bad person I am, and how "normal" people wouldn't do that. Well, I think climbing things isn't illegal.
I was impressed, however, that they did not try to make me powerless. The sherriff from a while ago was a big asshole, intent on making me feel like I had no rights, but these guys didn't seem to need to make me feel that way. They did write down a bunch of information on me, though, so I wonder if finding a job will be tough later on, or if I'll be wiretapped or put on some federal list. Hopefully it won't interfere with international travel.
The whole thing reenforces the idea in my mind that if I want to do anything not "normal" I need to do it secretly, or unseen by the public. Don't climb a tree or lamppost if people can see you. don't camp if people can see.
Personally, I think that is the wrong way to live. I feel like I don't want to have any secrets. I don't want to have things hidden away, because if someone finds out it changes their view of me, because living in the public view keeps me ethical, and I hate lies.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Keys

I'm still in the Keys, suprisingly. I figured that I would have spent a day here and drove away, but in fact I stayed a day, then camped last night, and stayed another day and I'm staying in a place that this guy I met is renting, and we'll see about tomorrow. I hear there is a hurricane coming, so If that's the case, then I might want to stick around to see that...
I've been doing a lot of diving here, and I am really impressed with it so far. The water is nice, though not quite as warm as I'd like, and its clear, and there are a ton of fish in the water.

(ok, I'm not in the keys anymore, I'm in West Palm Beach, but the internet cut out and I have to resume the post here...)

I went down to the keys on wednesday, expecting to only stay for a day, then drive out, but it seems like the road is downhill going in, and uphill going out, because I was inclined to stay a while. I spent two nights, one in a park, hiding from the authorities, and another in a house of a guy I met. Its terribly expensive down there, but I managed to get away without spending much at all. And I did some snorkeling, which is fabulous down there. I have a new task: Get a boat down in the keys (or the carribean) and sail around for a while, living on fish and lobster and coming ashore every once in a while. Its cheap to anchor, its great fishing and snorkeling, and I could absolutely stay for a while.
But its too much paradise, potentially. I've been addicted, and once you get something good, you want more. So the initial wonders of the undersea got me enthralled, but then the beach life reared its head. Everyone there is running, it seems, though many have forgotten exactly why. Most of the people have wonderful stories about how something great almost happened, but for some reason, it didn't. And for the most part, it seems that the short end of the stick is passed around to nearly everyone.
So, of course, there is a lot of drinking. I don't mind drinking too much, but I don't know what to do in a bar, so I tried to stay out of them, but they come to you. Alcohol is everywhere: in the boat, in the houses, around the barbecues, in the car, and in the water, or waiting for you back on the sand. And maybe drinking is a great way to relax and enjoy the area, but I say its already phenomenal. drinking (I think) makes it worse, because everyone ends up wasted and doing things they regret and holding a short stick's end.
So I ran. I ran north, until I got to Miami, and then hid in Biscayne National Park. I camped in a mosquito infested spot and then drove today to Miami Beach and to West Palm Beach. I decided to get a hotel for the night because I wanted to get a good nights sleep and take a shower.
Now, the keys are not a terrible place, I want that to be clear. They are a beautiful place, its just that unless you work really hard, paradise makes you miserable after a little while.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Everglades (and south Florida)

After Nationals, I've gone down the coast of Florida, from Sarasota to the Everglades, and then on through to the Keys, and now I'm in Key West. I camped two nights in the Everglades, and I might go back again tonight, because it was easy enough. It gets dark here at 6, so there isn't much time to hang out in the evening when camping, so maybe I'll get a room. On the way down to the Everglades, I had a run-in with the fuzz, and they taught me that I can't stop anywhere and cook lunch, because thats off limits. So the moral is that I should go hide somewhere when I want to cook.
I've seen Alligators, held a little one (in a controlled area, of course) and then I touched a wild one on the tail. He wasn't expecting that, I reckon. I've seen a bunch of cool birds, like Wood Storks, Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, Herons, and some hawks. I also saw some neat trees, but I don't know all their names. I went on a airboat ride, and that was nice, but I think it was a tad expensive for what it was. I spent tuesday night in the wild, so I didn't hear anything about the election until wednesday morning pretty late, but that is good. Getting my news the next day is nice, sometimes. Today, (wednesday) I drove down to Key West, and visited the southernmost point in the continental USA, and went for some snorkeling on the way. The water is so clear it is great. I saw a Barracuda, a big one (for me) but I can't quite be sure how big. It looked 3 feet long, but it might have been less, because of the magnifying effect of the water. Anyways, I decided to get out after that. I got some video, but its shaky.
So from here, I think I'll try to find a place to camp and then head up the coast tomorrow to find some surfing. Then I'll try to make it to Charleston by this weekend.




























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