Travel Deal of the Century?!

First, let me say I have no commercial connection to anyone or any company. If there is ever an ad on this website, it is put here by WordPress, not by me. That being said, I stumbled across a deal today that I am still finding hard to believe but I thought I would share it. If anyone has anymore info, feel welcome to put it in the comments.

There is a company called Megabus doing business now in the US. Apparently they are only east of the Mississippi River. They advertise reclining seats, bathrooms, and Wi-Fi onboard. Right now they are selling tickets between major hubs for $1 or in some cases $5. Just to check, I booked a seat from Memphis to Atlanta. The estimated travel time was listed as 7 hours 55 minutes. The price was $1.00!

So, I don’t know. Anybody else have any info on this company? I had never heard of it until today. I am hesitant to list a link to their website because of the nature of the non-commercial agreement with wordpress but it is easy enough for anyone to look it up who is interested.

Peanut Butter Delirium

My advice to anyone traveling to the United States is not eat anything at all. If you must eat, bring a picnic lunch with you from your own country. I know that is a little harsh but hey, it is a whole lot better than experiencing what I am going through right now which is: nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache.

These are the classic symptoms of Salmonella infection. Not fun stuff at all. Symptoms last from three to seven days. How did I get it? Look at the picture to the left.

I love good peanut butter. I discovered early on that it is possible to live for weeks, maybe even months, on nothing but crackers, peanut butter and water. It is quick and easy. If you don’t get the “Natural” kind, it doesn’t require refrigeration so it can be carried around in a backpack. NOTE: I’m not saying this is nutritionally balanced. I’m saying you won’t starve and you can keep functioning.

When I was a kid and we were really, really poor – way before there was such a thing as food stamps – the government used to give out “commodities” to “poor” people. One of the things that was always included in the handout was peanut butter. Most of the time we didn’t get commodities because my dad didn’t believe in handouts. He was kind of a “What! Me take a handout? I’d sooner let my kids starve” kind of a guy. But when we did get some, I remember that peanut butter! It was loaded with saturated fats and oils but it sure was good. Anyway, that is how my addiction to peanut butter began. It was the government’s fault.

Now that I am a bit older, my tastes and diet have changed somewhat. I read labels before I buy and I steer away from products that contain ingredients I can’t pronounce. I go for the more “natural” products.

Which brings us back to the picture above. What is the biggest word on that label? “NATURAL”! The ingredients list says it contains peanuts and 1% or less of salt. That’s it. No where does it mention SALMONELLA. And, really, I guess if you got right down to it, salmonella is natural, right? It’s just not natural for human consumption.

Be that as it may, it turns out that my jar of peanut butter is “suspected” of containing salmonella and it was recalled two days ago – about ten days after I bought it and about three days after I opened it and ate a good huge peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Oh, hey wait a minute – the banana! That’s it. Bananas come from one of those unclean Central American countries. Yeah, it must have been the banana.

 

The In-Between Times

View from my hotel room in Banos, Ecuador

I’m sitting in a house that is half empty and half mine and, mentally, I’m only half here –  if that much. In-between times just suck.

Basically, I am taking care of all the details that are necessary to complete a successful time trip from here to the closing date for the house. That date is the 29th of this Month, just eleven more days. I know that the trip, the journey, is supposed to be the most fun. So far I’ve been dealing with everything pretty good but this one is beginning to wear just a little.

No matter how detached I try to be, watching my stuff leave by the pickup truck loads makes me a little bit queasy. It is kind of like going into shock very slowly. It is not getting rid of the “stuff” so much as it is turning loose of a sure, settled way of life.

 

This was what was left of my garage.

On February 5, 2008 my house, and everything in it, was completely destroyed by a tornado. And I was in the house. I was buried underneath it in the rumble but I wasn’t really hurt. Three of my neighbors were killed so I was extremely lucky.

Still, it was traumatic. One minute I have a home, clothes, things I had accumulated over a lifetime; the next minute all I have is the clothes I have on – and they’re soaking wet, and it is freezing cold, and it’s pitch dark, and it’s raining down so hard it’s almost like being underwater.

Now, that was truly a case of shock. By the time I came out of it, I had bought a backpack and a plane ticket and I was in Ecuador. Oddly enough, I don’t remember much about the time “in-between”. It pretty much is all just a blur. I remember being in Panama. I remember seeing the Panama Canal. But I don’t remember getting to Panama or leaving Panama. It is sort of like watching a movie in my head that has a lot of missing pieces.

This time though the movie is running in slow motion. Everyday is an endless stream of details (did I mention I don’t do well with details?) In a crazy way, being hit by a tornado was easier. At least then I didn’t have to hassle with buyers, real estate agents, plumbers, carpenters and other repair people. And, it gave me this nice little cushion of “shell shock” that kept me insulated from the irritating in-between time.

Richland Memories

Being old(er) really has it’s advantages. One of them is that I’ve got time off when everybody else is at work. That is a real asset when I feel like getting away by myself in the woods. That lets me take my trips on weekdays.

Here in Arkansas though, it can’t be just any weekday. Timing is critical. The best time for a trip into the woods is in the fall, just after the first frost but just before deer season starts. Go into the woods before the frost and you become a meal for ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, and gnats. Go after the deer season starts and you just might get shot.

No matter the risk though, it is worth it.

…and I can never see that rock that is just slightly left of center in the above picture without remembering the first time I did go to Richland. It wasn’t fall. In fact, it was a hot Arkansas summer day. It was in the early 1970’s. A friend of mine made me a hand drawn map so I would know how to find this spot because it wasn’t on any map. I spent three glorious days swimming in that pool and stretched out on that rock. The water was sweet and good to drink. I had fish for supper every night. I didn’t see another soul or hear a single human made sound other than my own for the entire time.

The last time I was there it was on the map. There were “established campsites” with picnic tables, porta-potties, barbeque pits, screaming kids, and heathens riding ATV’s. I didn’t see any fish. I drank my water from a plastic bottle.

Detaching

The house is sold. Closing is on the 29th. Most of the furniture is sold. A lot has been accomplished over the past few weeks. Still got a lot of logistics to juggle in the next couple of weeks. Time here in Mountain View is getting short.

No matter what happens in the future, I know I’m going to miss my house. It is a beautiful space. It is snug and warm in the winter when it is cold out. In the summer it kept me sheltered from the worst of the heat and sun. It has been my safe space; my ship that carried me through time for the last few years. Now though, it is time to move on.

One of the ways I tried to fit in here in this little town was to run the computer on election days for the county. Today is a special election for school board members. I didn’t vote. It seemed kind of pointless. I don’t really care who wins. I don’t even know who is running.

About six o’clock I will walk to the election office, get the computer set up for my last time, plug in all the tapes, cards, and other magnetic media from the voting machines and let the computer do its thing. For the last time I will know that at least there was one election that was honestly counted by a totally disinterested party.

 

Adventures? Hey wait a minute…!

While out muddling about today, someone asked me about leaving town. We talked a bit and I explained a little about my plans to travel around the world. When we parted she said, “I hope you enjoy your adventures.”

Later, as I was thinking about it, the true meaning of her words dawned on me. Then, like a mis-quote from “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” I thought,”Adventures! Adventures! I don’t need no stinkin’ adventures.” I just want to travel, meet people and see stuff.

So, I don’t know. If your idea of an adventure is ziplining on the highest zipline in the world, you won’t be reading about it on my blog. I don’t want to skydive and I don’t want to hang-glide. I sure as hell don’t want to bungee jump.

I can just see me bungee jumping. There I am sailing out over some shear drop, trailing a line behind me, going down, down. Then, I hit the end of that line a 150 feet down. SNAP! The only part of me that would be jerked back up would be my legs. The rest of me would just keep on going until I landed with a big splat on the rocks below. Not my idea of an adventure. More like suicide.

An adventure is a disaster you survive with only a couple of manly scratches. It’s not voluntarily being dismembered or having your spine separated into several pieces.

No friends, neighbors, kinfolks, and others who have stumbled on this site through lucky chance, here are the facts. I’m 63 years old. I’ll be 64 in January. I’ve been pretty much sitting on my butt for three years. Getting off my butt – that is going to be an adventure.

For an old guy who has been sitting around for a few years I guess I’m in pretty decent shape. But not like I used to be. Once upon a time, six or seven years ago I did hike from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim in July, in temperatures up to 125 degrees. In 14 hours. That is true. It is also true that I lost all my toenails and had blisters on my heels as big as a – well really big. Now that was an adventure, sort of. But that was then. This is not then. Know what I mean?

So I don’t want to bore anyone but here’s the deal. My idea of an adventure now is not going to be the same as it was even ten years ago. Right now, my idea of an adventure is surviving a plane trip to Guatemala in coach. If I can manage that then I will see if I can get from Guatemala City to San Pedro by bus – but probably not a chicken bus if I can avoid it.

Then, I intend to spend somewhere between 2 – 4 weeks in San Pedro taking Spanish lessons and seeing the local sights. After that, it will be on to Xela for another month or so of Spanish lessons and seeing what is to be seen.

While I am waking up the mind learning a new language I’m going to be attempting to get the old bod back into some kind of shape. I don’t think there is a gym in San Pedro but I know there is in Xela so I’ll be using that when I get there.

After Xela, the plan gets a little hazy. Probably Mexico for a month or so, then Australia. After that Southeast Asia, China, Russia, India, Eastern Europe, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Spain, and then where ever.

The plan is to go slow, usually stay in one place at least a month at a time, with no limit if I’m liking it but to keep moving on. Eventually I intend to circle the world. It might take years. And, I’ll be eating better and just in general, getting out, breathing air, talking to people, and living. And this is what my traveling and this blog is going to be about.

I intend to find out if there is more to life for an old(er) man in today’s world than living in the states on social security, in government housing, eating pot pies, and watching the idiot box every night.

For me, the answers to those questions has to be a resounding YES! It is going to be “yes” because I am going to make it so. I don’t know about anyone else, but that sounds like an adventure to me.

 

Creeping out, trying to Chill

My House

Here I am, sitting in Turner’s Coffee Shop in Mountain View, Arkansas. I suspect this might be a little taste of what life will be like on a day to day basis soon. Sitting in a coffee shop, using a computer. Not creeping out.

I still have a home but I can’t go there right now. The buyer’s home inspector is there doing a “home inspection”. This is a process where the buyer pays an housing systems expert to go over the house and identify all current and potential problems. Then the buyer looks at the report and can then decide whether they want to go ahead with the purchase of the house.

Really, it is an opportunity for the buyer to change their mind if they want to without losing their earnest money. Whatever. The part I don’t like is having a bunch of strangers in my house, unsupervised. Invariably the buyer and their whole extended family will come over for a look-see knowing I’m not there. And, the inspection takes a minimum of three hours, plenty of time for someone to go through everything in every drawer in the house. Just the thought of it creeps me out.