Wonder and Wander

Wanderers

Do You Wander?

I have been back in the San Francisco Bay Area for about 3 months now, but my recent road trip adventure stills plays on repeat in my mind. I witnessed endless plains of unmarked beauty, played around in Nebraska/Iowa/Chicago/Amish country, hung around cliffside lakes and waterfalls, learned that Missouri is for the birds, got an education in Kansas, explored a red clay wonderland, and woke up to a glorious morning on lonely salt flats. I even made the ultimate detour and ended up bringing my goofiness to Danish country where I met some fantastic new friends, experienced the tranquility of the countryside, visited a free town, and experienced an airport refugee camp on my return trip. That was quite an excursion and I still didn’t see everything I wanted to.

Now that I’m back, I’m hunkering down and finishing my book, BOX. The road trip helped fuel the creative juices as I was in a period of stagnation and inertia being stuck in San Francisco. I’m very close to finishing a pre-edit draft of the book by month’s end. Hopefully, it will be ready to show to the world in early 2015 as I work on prepping it for final edit and publishing. Don’t forget to sign-up for the mailing list. Exclusive clues to solving BOX will only be available to subscribers.

Next year, will be an interesting year for me as I wind down this project and look to ramp up others. I’m even thinking of doing something out of character for myself…actually celebrate my birthday. I’ll be turning 40 and I want to treat myself to the great Golden Eagle hunt of the tribes of Krgyzstan. I figure I’m not getting any physically younger (I’m still mentally 15) and should take the opportunity to see some more remote parts of the world before my body decides it doesn’t want to play nice anymore. Even if that happens, I will always be a wanderer and I encourage all of you to be the same. The wonders of the world are all out there waiting for you. What are you waiting for?

Wander and wonder forevermore.

– Just Rabbit Today

 

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Bonneville Mudway

cropped-end-of-the-road-at-paradise.jpg

Dreamy Bonneville

[Turn on 1080p HD in full screen for the video. Trust me.]

I spent the final leg of my journey westward pushing through northern Utah and Nevada. I didn’t get a chance to stop the first time through the Bonneville Salt Flats because I was on a speed demon schedule to get to Nebraska. On the way back I decided to treat myself to one final night out in solitary nature and take in a personal sunrise. What I got still has me in awe to this day.

Some of you may be familiar with the Bonneville Salt Flats. It’s where the famous Bonneville Speedway is where they set vehicular speed records during the dry season. I came back during the wet season so I didn’t get to careen across the salty desert floor. It was basically a giant mud trap when I got there, but still gorgeous all the same. I felt like testing my newly found time lapse video skills and set up the tripod for the night while I slept in my car on the side of the only road in and out of the flats. It was fairly cloudy, so the sunset was hidden behind cloud cover, but still awesome to be a part of just the same. In the distance were whirling dirt devils blowing across the lonely field of salt. After sundown I decided to turn in for the night to wake up early and catch the sunrise. I figured I would get the same massive cloud cover in the morning. As I woke up and groggily stumbled around outside, I noticed a thin layer of water had taken over the entire region. It created a magnificent reflection of the quiet and desolate landscape. I couldn’t help but stare like a dumbfounded fool at the absolute beauty of it all. After several minutes, I came to my senses and quickly setup the tripod to capture what has to be one of the most epic sunrises I have ever witnessed in my 39 years on this great earth. As the sun slowly began to ascend, the reflection on the water created a double sunrise like two bright diamonds pushing their light into each other. This was the perfect epitome of what my trip was about; to be in solitary beauty with the world around me. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift to end my trip.

Thank you Mother Nature.

– Rabbit In Gracious Gratitude

 

Moab Nomad

My Road

Just Me And The Road

As I inched closer and closer to the golden west coast, I decided to take one more swipe through Southern Utah to see what I had missed the first time through. It turns out I had missed nothing…glorious nothing. The road had become an empty wonderland, just me and unbound nature as far as the eye could see. No city lights or city folk to plague my way. No fast food chains or cheap ware stores dotting the horizon. No large tankers filled with the infernal noise of loud families and obnoxious drivers. Just the sound of my tires gripping the endless road to remind me that even I was an intruder in this pristine landscape.

I would typically share my route, but this is one of the few times where I ‘m going to keep mum on my secret drive. A man has to be able to have some solitary places that are sacred only to him or at least as few others as possible. Sorry, folks. Them’s the breaks.

I eventually made it into the city of Moab, famous for the nearby Arches National Park and other lesser known sites. I found a local hostel, The Lazy Lizard, and decided to spend a few days there while I explored the nearby parks and got my hike on. It’s rather apropos that The Lazy Lizard was given such a name. It’s a cozy little hostel where passers through and locals can kick up their feet and relax after a long day of hiking and getting blasted by the sun. It’s also where I met some of the laziest employees ever known to man. I’m still not sure exactly what anyone working there did besides enjoy the copious amounts of food…and weed…that was being shared by guests. This isn’t a knock on anyone there as they did make my stay pleasant and enjoyable. The place is this vortex of anarchic good will, except with great housekeeping. Don’t go there looking for 5 star hotel service, instead you will get an authentic laid back experience and at the same time make some great new friends and hear some great travel stories. Thumbs up for experience. Thumbs sideways for noise control after hours.

I spent most of my hiking days at Arches National Park. Once you reach the visitors center, it’s another 30 – 40 minute drive into the park itself to reach the Devil’s Playground hiking trail. There are a number of other trails along the way that I visited, including the trail to Delicate Arch, but Devil’s Playground was the main attraction. It receives the most tourists. However, if you’re willing to go onto the deeper trails past where most tourists stop and turn back, you will be treated to a landscape like none other I have seen. Perhaps, it was the time of year, but I often found myself alone on the deeper trail and it was bliss. Without all the distracting noise of other people’s activities, I was able to take in the serenity and rustling the landscape had to offer. I often thought to myself it wouldn’t be too bad to hike into the deep wilderness and just remain out there never to return. It was the allure of the wild. A romantic notion for sure, but not easily dismissed.

Delicate Arch was a bit busier, since it’s a major attraction. I had made the mistake of visiting on a Friday afternoon instead of during the week when less people would visit, so the site was being bombarded with the usual spread of respectful hikers and obnoxious tourists. It’s about a mile hike in and I spent half a day there to watch the sun arch over the horizon. As the sun set, I noticed a massive crowd begin to form near the entrance to the area. It was unnerving to me to hear how rude everyone was being towards travelers who wanted a close up shot of the arch. Anytime someone was getting a nice picture in near the arch the crowd would hiss and boo and yell to get out of the way so they could get their pristine shot of the sun setting. It seemed to me to defeat the purpose of the whole experience, but what do I know? I decided at one point I had had enough and trolled the unruly onlookers back by making them the subject of my photos. The subversive nature of my act seemed to register with some as they got my point and settled down a bit. As the sun finally made its final descent I decided to hightail it out of there before the mass exodus. Here’s a time lapse of my day there. Surprisingly, it took 5 hours of photos just to make a 30 second time lapse vid. Make sure you set the video at 1080p HD.

I’ll be making my way back to Moab soon as it holds a special place in my heart…and I suppose I’ll be nice and share some photos from the trip 🙂

– Sharing Rabbit

A Little Bit Of Me Time

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

That’s No Moon…

My road trip lasted nearly 5 months. Driving out east during the spring and summer was a completely different journey compared to driving back west in the fall. It was like driving through two different worlds, two galaxies far away from each other. I’ll admit the summer route was no picnic. I’m not a big fan of heat and, damn!, was it hot out in the midwest. There was the occasional thunder and lightning storm to soothe the sweltering sweat land, but those didn’t happen enough in my opinion. One of my favorite moments was sitting in a parking lot in St. Charles, Missouri and watching a furious lightning storm break all around me. It was massive. It was loud. It was glorious. Unfortunately, I was so in awe that it didn’t occur to me to capture any decent footage of the carnage. Moments like those are forever seared into the brainspace. Fortunately, the summer months don’t last too long out there in the wee wilds and fall was right around the corner. By the time I got back from Denmark, it was time to head back to good ol’ Cali (in case you’re going, “Huh, Denmark?”, I took a short detour to Denmark at one point).

The fall drive was absolutely mesmerizing and gorgeous. Every day brought new color changes in the surrounding foliage and forests. Even the textures of the mountainsides shifted depending on the moisture in the air. It was the drive that I had been seeking. Not to say the summer drive wasn’t spectacular in its own right, but…damn heat! Anyways, as I closed in on the borders of my home (?) state, I happened upon Deeth Starr Valley in Nevada. I drove past the sign, did a cranial double take, stopped the car and drove back to look at the sign and make sure I had seen that right. Yep. I saw right. The sign was even pointing upwards. Had I warped into some bizarro space-faring world? I was half expecting to see a Jawa sandcrawler in the distance. If you squint, you can just make out where they’re building the 3rd Death Star. I think they need another espionage master because misspelling the name of the most gigantic weapon known to man isn’t exactly misleading anyone. So, I guess our galaxies aren’t too far away from each other after all. Stay tuned for my Utah trip post…

– Red Rabbit Standing By

Views Upon Views

Just Hanging Around

Basking in Hydro Glory

Basking in Hydro Glory

That Time I Just Hung Around

I left the flatness of the mid-west and headed into the peaks of Colorado. After a brief night stop in Denver, I decided I needed to get my hike on. I greatly enjoyed driving through the endless plains of Kansas, but I really needed an elevated challenge to get the heart rate up. I should have been careful in what I asked for.

Colorado is well known for its plethora of hiking trails and national parks. I decided to stay on my route and hit Hanging Lake along the way into Utah. Hanging Lake is a gorgeous cliffside lake hidden in the mountains along Interstate 70. To get there, you have to take a vertical 1 mile hike. This isn’t your casual multi-switchback hike. It’s a tough uphill battle from the get go. I had spent several weeks in flatland and my hiking legs weren’t exactly trained for the hike, but I pummeled through it anyways. I paid the physical consequences: altitude migraine and slight dehydration, but it was all worth it for the breathtaking view of the lake and its mossy falls. It was also good to shock my body out of complacency and feel the rapid blood course through my body, reminding me of life’s good graces and lift the shadow of lethargy from my heart.

Hanging Lake is also where I decided to toy around with my first time lapse video. Not perfect, but enjoy.

– Alive Rabbit

Hanging Lake

That Gorgeous and Terrible Hike

 

Danish Trifecta

Christiania Swans

The Third Half Of The Danish

Wonky math aside, here is the third and final post on my random excursion to Denmark. I made it over to Copenhagen by bus to visit friends and ended up getting the executive treatment at the Marriott. Props to the Marriott for providing free everything in the executive lounge, including booze for my friends. Why don’t they do that here in the states? Hmmmm? I definitely needed the royal treatment after walking 3 miles with all my luggage from the bus stop to the hotel. I thought it would be an easy trek, but noooooo, me, in my infinite demented wisdom, thought I could handle carrying around 50 lbs on my back and shoulders in horrible shoes. Good thing I found a random shopping cart along the way to help with the load. Thanks, shopping cart! I love you!

I was only in Copenhagen for two days, so I chose to take a night stroll and see what small beauties I could find in the immediate area. The next day I visited the famed freetown of Christiania located in the heart of Copenhagen. It’s an interesting, experimental city with a storied history. They follow their own set of rules apart from the state of Denmark and even used to have their own currency, but have now started using the Danish Krone. Their is a great deal of controversy over the land and the government has been trying to take it back for many years. Christiania famously supports open sale of cannabis, but in recent years, gangs and harder drugs have infiltrated the freetown which adds to the controversy. My visit was pleasant enough and there was a great deal to see. Unfortunately, the more colorful part of town, Pusher Street, had signs everywhere forbidding photos being taken for fear of criminal identification. I didn’t even try to sneak a pic here or there for fear of violent reprisal. There were definitely shady characters watching me as I strolled through, but left me alone to my touring ways.

It was a quick visit and there was quite a bit wI wanted to see, so Copenhagen is back on the bucket list for a return trip. On my way back to Aarhus, I had presence of mind to not walk back to the bus stop and instead opted for a quick train ride…which almost turned into a mini-disaster as I had to learn how to navigate the station and almost missed my train. Here’s to better planning next time!

– Over Traveled Rabbit

Random Strolling In Copenhagen

A Free Day In Freetown

 

Have The Second Half, I’m Saving The Third Half For Later

I Heart U

Falling In Love With Denmark

[Part 2 of my Denmark trip]

Suffice to say, I fell in love with Denmark. It’s not a hard thing to do. There’s something about the way the country is planned out with cities easily blending into country forest into seaside and back into city that encourages a balanced state of mind. I’ve always found it strange to have to drive out of my way to find a good hike somewhere. I also found the people their to be quite friendly and offering to help a fish out of water whenever I looked lost. Of course, I need to return and spend more time to get a true feel of the country, but first impressions were spectacular. Wouldn’t mind moving there…though, the tax situation is off the charts. Small price to pay for socialized everything. 🙂

I’ll keep this short since I have a whole third half to show everyone. Yes, I know three halves are impossible. For the precise-minded, just think along the lines of man/bear/pig and let it go. The following is time spent catching up with a friend, Thomas, and his little cute one, Isak, my day with a wonderful couple I had the fortune of meeting, Svend and Nita, and their precious little dog, Emma, and some lasting impressions of Egå where I stayed in Aarhus.

– Head Over Heels Rabbit

Fun With The Little One

A Day With New Friends

Lasting Impressions In Egå

I’ll Split A Danish With You

AAR HUS

A Spontaneous Danish Excursion

Here’s the story, folks. I’ve been on the road across America for the past 5 months working on BOX. Somewhere along the way, I hung around the mid-west a bit longer than I had planned.  A few weeks went by and I mulled over the conundrum of how to make a random trip to Denmark happen without a budget for it. I searched high and dry for a cheap ticket. I considered all layover possibilities, but to no avail. But then I had an epiphany. My father travels back and forth to China all the time and has amassed a treasure trove of miles. He is actually a 1 million mile card holder for United Airlines. Go Dad! So that having dawned on me, I asked if I could use some of his miles for my excursion and, voila!, I was able to go to Denmark for a spontaneous detour. [Side note: If you ever want to use a family member’s miles for United, it’s easy to do over the phone. Doing it online is nigh impossible to credit the miles to a different traveler besides the owner of the miles. They really need to fix the online system.]

I ended up grabbing an AirBnB in Aarhus. The place was conveniently down the road to the seaside and gave me the peace I needed away from the busy city. Copenhagen would be later in the week on my itinerary. I already posted about my first day there which was pretty much fooling around with the bus system and finding the local grocery store then taking it easy. Day two, I spent a good chunk of time visiting Aarhus University and Aarhus Central.

Suspicions Arise

You should know by now that you can’t travel with me without getting involved in some kind of mischief and it was no different in Denmark. While I was at Aarhuus university, I went around campus with my GoPro snapping pictures. Evidently, a random asian guy walking around peering into the untouched corners of the university looked suspicious to one of the employees there. I was approached and asked what I was up to. Trying to explain that I find beautiful things in the weird little places that few seldom look always gets surprised looks, but this time suspicions were on high alert because, evidently, the day before someone dressed similarly to me was doing the same except they were hanging around taking pictures near security panels. I also found out that the university had already had 3 bomb threats, but those were all called in by students who simply didn’t wish to take their exams. People are crazy!

After long explanations, I put the employee at ease. The employee finally introduced himself as Svend Soborg and it turned out that he was the long time event coordinator for the school and founder of Klubben Aarhus, the university watering hole. He ended up offering to tour me all around the campus. Svend told me all about the party scene there and I found out that Aarhus University has the highest percentage of partiers in all of the city. Way to contribute to alcoholism! Svend, himself, was responsible for many drunken fests back in the day. It was serendipitous that I ran into him because after the tour he then invited me to lunch with his wife, Nita, and an additional tour of some of the forest and seaside regions a few days later. He also gave me a couple free passes to the ARoS museum in Aarhus. Self pats on back for looking suspicious and turning it into a life win!

– Suspicious Winning Rabbit

Here are pics from the day. More to come in the next post, along with my day with Svend and Nita.

Aarhus University

ARoS Museum

Aarhus Central

Eternally Standing By

Cot tled

Clusterf*** At O’Hare

Well, I’m back in the states and will be posting about my short Danish excursion soon. In the meantime, here’s the story of an asian dude who flew 14 hours to O’Hare airport to find out that his flight had been transferred to another flight 6 hours later, then canceled and ironically put on standby on his original flight, only to get pushed to standby to the next flight 4 hours later while booking another ticket as back-up for an even later flight, and then taking a much deserved one hour nap only to wake and find that he was dropped from standby and all existing flight reservations, and having to explain the situation to the most ambivalent customer representative ever in the universe who tried to blame him for taking a nap without double checking everything even though he was repeatedly assured everything was fine which was why he took a nap in the first place, and then chewing out said lazy representative, well, because angry, then going to another representative who had no problem fixing his issue in less than 5 minutes, and then waiting for the last flight out of O’Hare only to find out that it had no crew because the crew hadn’t flown in yet, and the entire tarmac was backed up, so said asian dude called O’Hare dedicated flight booking line to reserve the first flight out in the morning as yet another back up plan and then learning that his current flight was now a standby situation which was even more frustrating, so much tired and hangry (that’s a word) asian dude decides to take residence in the airport for the night on the many provided cots at the butt end of the airport where everyone is looking dead wasted like a congregation of drunken frat partiers, but much less fun because there was no drunkenness, nor extreme partying, just exhausted travelers spending the night together huddled on their cold cots, dreaming of the salvation of their return flight to cozy homes (car in his case), only to get rudely woken at 4AM because why not?, so groggy asian dude gets a free toothbrush kit and groggily saunters over to the bathroom to take care of the biz only to realize his pants keep falling down and then realizing his belt is in his checked-in luggage, so what does our mighty hero do?, he pulls out the airplane earphones he wisely kept just in case of audio emergency and uses it for pantaloon emergency, after admiring his handiwork he zombie shuffles over to the gate where his flight is…dun, dun, dun…on time and he finds an unopened bag of popcorn just sitting next to him unattended, so he asks around for the owner with no reply and with big grin on face proceeds to stuff his mouth full of puffy, caramel goodness while waiting for his still on time flight and then finally, after 19 hours delayed at O’Hare, he gets on his flight back to Kansas City where it’s cold as a winter shit stuck on the frozen tundra. The End.

 

Improv Belt

– Laidover Rabbit

Danish Nibble

Dodging The Matrix

Dodging The Matrix

Just A Little Tie Me Over

What happens when you get to Kansas on a road trip and get bored? You click your red heels together and end up in Denmark. It’s true. Try it out sometime.

I’ve been here for over a week now and heading back stateside soon. I’ll have plenty of stories to share, but in the meantime enjoy a little goofing around as a little tie me over till my inevitable enormous post with a quadrillion photos!

– World Hopping Rabbit

Goofing Off At The Bus Stop