Saturday, November 29, 2014

If Lewis and Clark Lived in Today's Age

Sash along US-95 South, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona
Often times I can't help but compare myself to explorers that trekked across the mountains and valleys of America hundreds of years ago. But somehow, it seems that riding a motorcycle down paved roads is easier, safer, and more comfortable than the way men discovered these lands originally.

Yet, I still feel inspired at the sight of vast landscapes across the American frontier, just as they might have. I still become swallowed up into the fabric of flora, fauna as one of Earth's meager inhabitants. I think of Meriwether Lewis, documenting what he saw into his journals, and can't help but to see myself in the same way, as I write this blog.

But when I read the Journals of Lewis and Clark, I shake my head in wonder at how brave those men were. Even though I experience the same wonder of discovering new lands and new people, somehow what I'm doing feels a lot more easy.

Am I truly just a product of society? How much of myself is natural instinct, versus external influences, versus the DNA of my ancestry?

I watch this little girl named "Sophia", barely a year and a half old, reach for my smartphone and tap the buttons on its screen.  She only did so because the other adults in the living room were busy tapping the buttons on their smartphones too. As a little toddler, nature instilled her with the need to emulate adults. But instead of emulating skills basic to survival, such as digging up roots, or gathering tinder, she was building neural pathways critical for surviving in a technological age.

On the other hand, technological innovation is natural to human beings. It's our brains and hands that make us human, just like stealth and claws that make a cat, or flight and feathers that make a bird. And taking that into consideration, our brains can be influenced by other people, by our surroundings, and the current state of affairs we are in.

Sophia holds my smartphone
It also feels natural to me to open up my laptop, upload photos from my camera, and write a blog post. It feels so much a part of my nature to share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. But things like a computer, camera, and the Internet, are just tools we created to help us live in this day and age. They're really no different than the arrowheads, baskets, and flint rocks that people relied on in a more distant day and age.

I often hear that people today could never survive in the wilderness the way mountain men and explorers did centuries ago. I suppose that's true in that I didn't grow up with up the skills needed to survive in the wild. But that doesn't make me less of a survivor. Our brains were not meant to remain as hunter-gatherers. It wants to take on tougher problems.

That's why human beings built civilizations, engines, and computers. That's why laws get more complicated and why the red tape in Washington DC continues to roll. I think it's also why we have the current political system in the United States. All of these things usher in newer problems and variables for our brains to feast.

I like to think that Lewis and Clark wouldn't know what to do with a Bluetooth headset, Google Maps, or online banking.

Yet strangely, I find myself attracted to the beauty of a desert landscape or mountain range. I still love the quiet of a starry night. There will always be bit of Lewis and Clark in me, even though I don't have skills to deal with the outdoors.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not Letting It All Sink In

honda st1300
Since arriving in San Diego nearly a month ago, and taking up temporary residence in the Banker's Hill community, Sash and I have found ourselves immersed once again in our favorite metropolitan area.

After Sash and I spent the last four months on the road, staying towns no longer than 3 weeks at a time, we're now holed up in a condo for 3 months, enjoying the warm climate while the rest of the country freezes.

She and I both find it difficult to avoid using words, "return", "home", and "we're back".  That's because we don't want people to think that our Road Pickle lifestyle has ended.  We still see ourselves as motorcycle wanderers having started this journey 21 months ago and continuing on today.  We're just renting this condo month-to-month until the end of January.

Yet, our old friends in San Diego all ask us the same question, "Are you back here to stay?"

Banker's Hill is a neighborhood located midway between San Diego's lower Broadway and the famed Hillcrest Community.  It's called that because historically it's where all the rich people lived.  Today, it's more a mixture of single professionals, small business owners, and white collar gays. It's affluent enough to be quiet and quaint, yet millennial enough to welcome scooters and skateboards.

Sash and I look around this neighborhood and notice that Croce's is now here in the area, having relocated from Gas Lamp District.  We were there for a couple of evening outings already, the last time we met up with Jessica, a spiritual healer that Sash became really close with over the past couple of years.

There's also friends Janet and Ringo, whom we caught up with at a cocktail party at Janet's last weekend.

And we had already taken walks into downtown, visited some old hangouts of ours, like Karl Strauss Brewery on Columbia, Knotty Barrel on 9th, and Mission Brewery on 14th.  There was also Baja Betty's on University, Sipz on 30th, and Sash's favorite place to find clothes, Thrift Trader on Iowa.  And there a few more favorite places that I left out because I didn't want to go on and on.

But suffice it to say, it feels so much like home.  Yet, I can't allow myself to let it sink in, because in a couple more months, we may leave it all behind again.

So what does it do to a mind to live in such a transitory state?  How does it affect one's perspective when he or she doesn't allow themselves to create deep, emotional connections?

Perhaps that's a profound difference between Sash and I.  She can open herself up to create those impactful connections, even while moving across the country.  On the other hand, I've always kept those emotions at an arm's length, preferring to experience them in small chunks at a time.  For me, not letting it all sink in feels comforting.

It's when I resign myself to stay permanently in one place, that I feel trapped and dying.


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Monday, November 10, 2014

Slimming Down in San Diego

jogging on treadmill
We've been in San Diego for nearly two weeks now, and it hasn't taken us long to begin a regimen of eating better and exercising more.

When we were living day to day, week to week, from one city after another, we ate poorly and ate too much. On top of it, we were often so busy seeing sights, meeting people, doing business, that we were too mentally exhausted to hit the hotel gym.

When Sash and I left San Diego last June, I was about 179 pounds. A few months later, after we finished up with Sturgis and finally arrived in Longmont, CO, I was 200 pounds. In Longmont, we stayed at a Residence Inn, which has a decent gym, and I was hitting it every other day.

Since then, I'm now on a pace of hitting the gym about 5 days a week, doing mostly cardio for 60-75 minutes, with some moderate weightlifting.

I don't really know what my weight is right now, because the condo we're renting doesn't come with a scale, and nor does its gym. But I'm definitely smaller than I was when we left San Diego last June. I'm guessing I'm 170 right now.

Sash is focused more than ever on eating healthy. She's eating more organics and higher fiber. She also got us both using the MyFitnessPal app, which has really helped us both to track our calories in and calories out. The app has shed light on how many calories I was consuming through beer. I always knew a pint of craft brew was around 250 calories, but the app does a good job of showing you how it sabotages your weight loss efforts.  As a result, I've greatly curtailed my ale.

Is our road trip over?

No, we're just spending the colder months here in San Diego. We rented this condo on Airbnb for 3 months. At the end of January, our plan is to head north through California and Oregon, and spend a couple months across various cities before reaching Seattle, WA sometime around April. Of course, plans can change, and the way things have gone with our road trips, they always have. But we definitely want to do a north-west swing.

I actually have a lot of hotel rewards points, as well as credit card points, so we'll likely take some weekend trips and redeem those in during the meantime.

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About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)