Saturday, October 15, 2016


Celebrating one year with two double-scoop ice cream cones,
and a pizza.... well, two pizzas... the other one is on the way!
-Uspallata [Argentina]

One year ago, I left Heber, a small mountain town in northern Utah.  Now, 21,429 km[1] later, I find myself outside of Mendoza, Argentina in the similarly sleepy mountain town of Uspallata.  It's nearly 10 pm and I've managed to find my way into a meal from the last place open on the main street of town...  And, they sell pizza AND ice cream!  It really could be almost the same town, or any other town in the US.  And it feels entirely surreal.  It's been a long day, but one that is rewarding.  If nothing else, it has served as a day of contemplation over the last 365 days, each with it's own unique memory.

Ceviche and bikers.
-Mazatlán [México]
It's been an incredible and insane and invigorating journey to date.  And, I believe that I just may have a story for every kilometer along the way.

There has been rain and snow, thunder and gale, sun and clouds.  I have traveled through nearly every climate and ecosystem known to man[2]; through deserts and mountains, rainforests and tropics, jungles and beaches.  The scenery has been stunning and diverse.  The one great lesson has been a constant, daily awareness that our world is absolutely amazing and we are surrounded by natural beauty beyond belief.

Four nationalities cruisin' down the road.
-Villa Union [Argentina]
There have been thousands of people along the way.  There are new relationships and rekindled friendships.  I have seen celebrations and dances and ceremonies.  I have heard, and shared, experiences with people from every walk of life.  Daily interactions have become an opportunity to share.  Woodcutters, veterinarians, herders, drivers, miners, shop-owners, guachos... we all are alike and all have a story to tell.  Hundreds have gone out of their way to help me, most often as a complete stranger.  I have been nothing but humbled and incredibly grateful for the thousands of kind acts shown to me.

Andean condor over Mount Veronica.
-Ollantaytambo [Perú]
But, the greatest story, is the story of self.  The emotions, the challenges, and the contentment experienced have been much more than I could have possibly imagined.  It isn't even possible to attempt an explanation of what this trip has become for me.  An experience of of life-time is too trite of an expression... it has become my life.  A life that I am consciously living and exploring and enjoying.  My only explanation, as poor as it may be, is to say that the lows have been more difficult than I ever expected; but the highs, the highs have been sweeter than ever before.

All this might be summed up in nothing more that to live a life.  May we all go and chase dreams and explore.  In the word of Alfred Tennyson, may we all be "strong in will; to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" and forever, "drink life to the lees"[3].

Momotombo volcano as a backdrop
-Lake Xolotlán [Nicaragua]

1.  That's 13, 315 miles for all the gringos in 'da house.    -return to the story

2.  In 1900, the Russian-German climatologist Wladimir Köppen introduced the climate classification system most widely used today.  The Köppen system recognizes five major climate types based on the annual and monthly averages of temperature and precipitation. Each type is designated by a capital letter:
    A - Moist Tropical Climates: high temperatures and large amounts of year round rain.
    B - Dry Climates: little rain and large daily temperature range. Two subgroups, S-semiarid/steppe and W-arid/desert.
    C - Humid Middle Latitude Climates: land and water masses with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters.
    D - Continental Climates:  interior regions of land masses. Precipitation is not high and seasonal temperatures vary.
    E - Cold Climates:  areas with permanent ice and tundra; about four months of the year are above freezing.

Subgroups are designated by a second, lower case letter which distinguish specific seasonal characteristics of temperature and precipitation:
    f - Moist with adequate precipitation in all months and no dry season (usually accompanies A, C, D climates).
    m - Rainforest climate in spite of short, dry season in monsoon type cycle (only applies to A climates).
    s - Dry season in the summer of the respective hemisphere (high-sun season).
    w - Dry season in the winter of the respective hemisphere (low-sun season).

To further denote variations in climate, a third letter was added to the code.
    a - Hot summers where the warmest month is over 22°C (72°F).  Found in C and D climates.
    b - Warm summer with the warmest month below 22°C (72°F).  Found in C and D climates.
    c - Cool, short summers with less than four months over 10°C (50°F).  Found in the C and D climates.
    d - Very cold winters with the coldest month below -38°C (-36°F).  Found in the D climate only.
    h - Dry-hot with a mean annual temperature over 18°C (64°F).  Found in B climates only.
    k - Dry-cold with a mean annual temperature under 18°C (64°F),  Found in B climates only.
    -return to the story

3.  This is a line from the poem "Ulysses" by Alfred Tennyson (1809-92) from Poems, In Two Volumes (1842).  The word "lees" refers to the sediment accumulated at the bottom of a bottle of wine,  To "drink life to the lees" means to drink all from the bottle, not just the part of the wine that is found without sediment.

IT little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.

Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay>
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me-
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads--you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
    -return to the story