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Friday, May 29, 2009

Phoenix to LA

My journey has begun.

My friend Michelle spent the whole day with me on Monday, helping me pack everything into the rental car, giving me moral support, & helping me make decisions about what stays in Phoenix & what goes with me to California. I'm so very grateful for that day.

On Tuesday morning I left Phoenix to drive out to San Diego to stay with my friends Sharon & Joon for a couple of days. It is always good to see them. Their daughter Jada is growing so fast! My friend Amos did the drive with me & then flew home to Phoenix on Wednesday. It was so nice to have the company for the day.

On Thursday morning, I left San Diego for Desert Hot Springs, where my friend Sunny currently lives. She's working at the local VFW for now tending bar. Imagine the reaction I got when I told a room full of Vietnam vets that I was going over there to teach English. They all wished me luck, saying they were glad it was me & not them.

Now I'm in LA visiting with my brother & sister-in-law. I'll be here until Monday night, when I fly out of LAX for Ho Chi Minh City. In the meantime, I'm tying up loose ends from here: cancelling the utilities at the house, paying bills, & making last-minute purchases at Walgreens.

The hardest part of all of this for me has been the goodbyes. I'm thankful for the strength of others in my time of weakness. There's just one more goodbye to make before I leave for the other side of the globe. Then I can look forward to the next hello.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fremont Saddle

Michelle & I went out to the Superstitions this morning to hike Peralta Trail.

When my dog Justice died in 2006, I took his ashes up to Fremont Saddle by way of Peralta. When his brother Otis died in 2008, I did the same thing. The hike is relatively short with beautiful scenery all the way up, & the saddle offers an amazing view of Weaver's Needle. It's the perfect spot for contemplation, & for spending time with the ones you love.

I wanted to visit Fremont Saddle before I leave for Vietnam, & invited Michelle to go with me. Dense fog & rain sprinkles surrounded us all morning. It was an enchanting reflection of my emotions, as I said goodbye to my two canine friends & their beautiful resting place.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


The time to leave Phoenix is drawing near. For the last several weeks, I've been organizing yard sale items, packing things to take with me to Vietnam, & scanning old photos & memorabilia into my computer. In the meantime, I've also been having lunch, coffee & beers with friends as I say goodbye to each of them. That has been the hardest part: saying goodbye.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very excited to start my new adventure as a world traveler. It's what I've wanted to do for so long now. I'm finally cutting my ties with conventional life to live a life of a vagabond. I just wish I weren't doing it alone.

My father was in the military, so I grew up moving around the globe. We stayed two years here, three years there, ten months over there. I wouldn't trade the experiences that I gained as a child for anything. But every time that we moved to a different place, I had to say goodbye to my friends, people that I had grown very attached to. When I was little, it didn't matter too much, but it got harder & harder as I got older. I remember throwing a tantrum at the airport in Thailand when I was eight years old. We were on our way back to the US, but I didn't want to leave my friends in Bangkok, & told my parents that they could go home without me. It didn't work.

Over the years, I've continued to move around, leaving old friends behind. I've had almost no contact with my friends from high school or college. When I left Ohio in 1996, I left those friends behind as well. I have no idea where any of them are now. It was just too hard to stay in touch with snail mail & long distance charges.

So now, as I prepare to move yet again, I'm fearful that I will lose contact with all of the wonderful amazing people that I have met in Phoenix, the people who have played a part in shaping who I am today. That's why I'm so grateful for the internet. It will be much easier to stay connected, no matter where I am in the world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thermostat Wars 2

The Thermostat Wars have begun again. The roommate wants the thermostat down, I want it up. The problem is that we live in a split-level house, & the thermostat is on the middle floor. The roommate likes to set the thermostat at 76 degrees, but it's actually five degrees cooler downstairs, making my room a chilly 71. I wake up in the middle of the night freezing. On the other hand, it's five degrees warmer than what the thermostat says upstairs in his room, so he's suffering at a sweltering 81 degrees. No wonder this style of home is not popular in Arizona.

The good news is that I won't have to pay for all that air conditioning this year because I'm leaving Arizona & transferring the utilities to his name. This summer he can set the thermostat at any temperature he likes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Online Yard Sale

I spent most of the day today taking photos & listing things for sale on Craig's List. Unfortunately, there's no way for me to post a link to all that I have up for grabs, but since I'm selling just about everything I own, I'm sure you can imagine what the selection is like. If you're in need of something specific, let me know - I may just have it for you.

The final everything-goes-or-it-goes-in-the-trash yard sale is happening Sat & Sun, May 23rd & 24th, 7:00am to 2:00-ish. My crap will be out on my front lawn (well, my front gravel pit) one last time before I leave Phoenix for good. Come take a gander.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nails Nails Nails

I'm in Tennessee right now, visiting my parents before I head off to the other side of the globe. My mother had a nail appointment yesterday with her Vietnamese technician (surprise). I decided to tag along to see if I could get some more information on living in Vietnam. One of the employees sat with me the whole time my mom was getting her nails done & told me all kinds of useful things about life in Vietnam.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ape Index

I'm going to spend the whole day today working the portable climbing wall for Ape Index the rock climbing gym in Peoria. We'll be over on the west side of Phoenix at an all day concert that includes bands like Night Ranger, Bullet Boys, & Skid Row. Rock on, dude.

Friday, May 8, 2009


What a great idea! But at $360 it's a little cost-prohibitive.

I would love to have something like this for my trip to Vietnam. I won't be able to take many books with me, & I'm not sure how easy it will be to get books in English while I'm there. Plus, it fits right into my 100 Thing Challenge because I would be able to carry thousands of books on one device. They've improved on the first version by making the image more like reading an actual page; it's not back-lit like a computer screen but "inked" like a real book. Plus you can type notes right into the file - & I love to mark up my books.

But the Kindle has so much more potential. I prefer to wait for the features that I'm sure must be coming: a color screen for books with color images; touch-screen capability to be able to scroll & "turn" the pages with your finger tip; being able to write on the screen with a stylus so that you can scribble notes on the page or do the NY Times crossword puzzle right on the device. & most importantly, I'm waiting for the price to fall under $100.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Now that I know that I'm going to Vietnam, I'm putting tons of stuff in the "yard sale" pile. Things that I thought I might keep - gone. I'm amazed that I could have so much crap! I'm also packing up all of my cool weather clothes, which I will leave with my brother in Los Angeles along with some family memorabilia that I've been carting around for the last 15 years.

Still, I'm finding that I need some things for my new life in Vietnam that I don't have - like shoes. I found these at Big 5 yesterday for $25. They're like Keens, but made from the material that Crocs are made out of. They're perfect for the hot, sticky, humid weather of Vietnam during the rainy season. I call them my Wannabees.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I just found a flight for $613 from LAX to Ho Chi Minh City! I'm looking to leave from Los Angeles the first week of June. I'll be driving out there from Phoenix so that I can drop off some things with my brother before I leave the country, which means that I will probably leave Phoenix the week of May 25th. I have a ton of stuff to do before then!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Michael's Birthday Weekend

It was my friend Michael's birthday on Monday, so to celebrate, we decided to spend the weekend in southwestern part of Arizona.

On Saturday, we drove south to Bisbee, Arizona by way of Tombstone. I had been wanting to check out both towns for years now, but never made it down there.

Amazingly, the whole town of Tombstone is one big tourist attraction. They have closed off the streets so that you can walk down them as you might in the times of Wyatt Earp. We saw the famous site of the shootout at the OK Corral, but skipped the fake gun fight in favor of lunch.

After lunch, we set out for Bisbee. It turns out to be an old mining village that has converted itself into a quaint little tourist town with all kinds of shops to buy all kinds of crap in. Luckily, we got there just as the stores were closing, so we didn't have to spend much time shopping. Instead, we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant & then found St. Elmo's, a great dive-y bar with a local blues band on the bill.

We stayed the night in Bisbee at the High Desert Inn, a house turned hotel right in the middle of town. The owner was gracious & recommended the Bisbee Breakfast Club for the next morning, where Michael had pancakes & I had the oatmeal.

After breakfast on Sunday, we drove out to the Chiracahua National Monument. We decided on the 7.5-mile Echo Canyon to Heart of Rocks loop, so we could see all the funky rock formations. After the hike, we went in search of a campground outside the actual national monument, but within the Chiracahua Wilderness. The quiet camp site was next to a stream, providing a tranquil soundtrack for a restful sleep.

The next morning, we packed up camp & headed up the mountain on Morse Canyon Trail. Little did I know that we would be climbing 2400 feet in 2.4 miles. It was a beautiful trail, but I was glad when we finally turned around to head back down the switchbacks. By the time we got back to the car I was exhausted & looking forward to a shower, which was still a four-hour drive away.

On the way home, we stopped in Willcox at the Plaza Restaurant for an early dinner. It was your basic truck stop greasy spoon, but the staff was pleasant & the coffee fortifying before the long trip home.

Thanks, Michael, for a great weekend!

Friday, May 1, 2009

See Ya in Bisbee

Now that my departure from Phoenix is eminent, I feel like I have to squeeze in all those things that I always said I would do but didn't - like going to Bisbee. My friend Michael & I are heading down there this weekend to check it out. We'll stop in Tombstone along the way, another thing I've never done in the 13 years that I've lived in Arizona. Then we'll spend Sunday & Monday hiking in the Chiracahuas. Monday is Michael's birthday for those of you who have the where-with-all to wish him a happy one.