Category Archives: Planning

Halfway Round : Collected Phase 1 Posts

I decided to cobble together all the posts I wrote while traveling last year into a single page (sorry, multi-page code is broken). The blog always lists the most recent post, so if you weren’t reading along from the beginning it can be pretty difficult to navigate through and find all the pieces-parts of the trip.

Round-The-World : Phase 1 (

I have made no edits to the posts themselves. Cleanup, elaboration, and grammatical fine-tuning still remain goals of mine. Just not today. Also, weighing in at a little over 30,000 words, I have not re-read the collected posts start to finish so I don’t know if it flows or is a herky-jerky narrative experience. Consider yourself warned.

All that said, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed experiencing and writing it.

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day too 🙂

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Filed under Adventure, Personal, Photography, Planning, Round The World, Travel, United States, Writing

Friday the 13th

Today was supposed to be my ceremonial departure date. Originally it was supposed to be Friday the 13th of April, but I needed to be around to be the Best Man for my oldest friend who was getting married on 7/7/7 in Sioux City so I pushed it back, luckily there was a Friday the 13th in July as well.

You see, many significant things have happened for me on Friday the 13th: Graduation from High School, first overseas trip, and a few other things that have become foggy with time. I also kind of like bucking the unluckiness of the number but maybe that trend is drawing to a close as I will have seen both Friday the 13th’s pass without significance this year.

I’ve had a little trouble getting my head back into the trip since Summer went back to Portland. I miss her, a lot. This stop on the trip will be the single longest period of time I’m in one place for the duration of this journey – probably the longest time I’ve been in one place for a number of years – and it’s in a place full of memories that I don’t remember. I’ve been away for 10 years and have had an entirely different life during that time. I may have grown up here, but I feel the seeds that were planted grew into who I am because of my life in Portland.

I’m turning that lack of focus around now. I’m fighting my mind from becoming idle and spinning off down dark roads. I’ve got my maps back out, I’m consuming gallons of coffee in my old Sioux City haunts, and I’m adapting to the new initial European destination. I need to turn this time into opportunity, study my Russian language materials, fight my way through more European history, catch up with old friends, hang out with family, interview my grandparents, sleep…

So where do I go?

Since my original plan of Spain/Morocco/Portugal/France/Germany has been dashed and I’ve lost a full 30 days of summer weather I’ve been trying to reorient my path through Europe. Do I try like crazy to make it down to Spain to participate in La Tomatina, then run back up to Paris to see my Fiancé? Do I skip Spain until the winter months and explore Northern Europe before the snows come? Spain and Italy would have the best weather in the winter months; also they have a Carnival season that I just found out about. I’d only known about it in connection with Brazil. It isn’t something we celebrate in the United States but has a long history throughout Europe.

Tidbit: One theory on the origin of Carnival comes from the Latin “carne” (meat) and “vale” (farewell) as it is usually the last time of feasting prior to the fasting season of Lent.
No matter what I do, I will miss the International Regatta of Bathtubs in Belgium. (No, I wasn’t planning on attending, but after I found it I thought it would be fun.)


“More of a lark than a serious competition, this event is open to seaworthy bath tubs of all classes, from all nations. The exact rules are vague, but vessels can be of any design – seemingly the more bizarre the better – and there must be at least one bath tub providing buoyancy. Motors are strictly forbidden, so is the deliberate sinking of a fellow competitor. Prizes are awarded by an impartial panel of judges for speed, technical endeavour, beauty, novelty, and representation of the town. Even for non-boating visitors, Dinant, with its onion dome tower wedged between the river and a cliff, is sufficiently picturesque to be worth a visit. The annual “La Regate des Baignoires” makes it doubly so”

Ideas are welcome, I just booked my Hostel for Antwerp, so I at least have a place to get my land legs back for a few days, and then it’s off to explore the continent.

Anyway, happy Friday the 13th! I hope it is lucky for you.


Filed under Europe, Planning, Round The World

Points Of Interest

I have lots of maps and lots of guidebooks. They are all very good at what they were designed for but also very specific. Trying to tie multiple regions together without flights on a grand scale, in a way that makes sense, is not easy. I’ve been looking for a way to map out potential routes without much luck. Many mapping sites become useless when you start looking at locations overseas and I’ve found that many of the “Web 2.0” travel sites have mapping and route planning, but none of them work like I would like them to, yet.

Google Earth has been invaluable in trying to understand the relative placement of cities, countries, etc… and until recently Google Maps (just the site, not the many one-off hacks) would only let you do single destination driving directions. That has changed with a recent update and now Google Maps will let you have as many destinations as you want in the US (however, add in something like “Grand Canyon” and it will break down). I’ve been playing with the “My Maps” function of Google Maps a lot in the past couple days and have added in most of the places I hope to visit and a rough route has taken shape. Right now anything past the USA is uncertain, so there aren’t any route lines to any of the locations.

The list of locations will probably grow and I hope to adjust the map with real travel information as I go, so take a look and let me know if there are some places I should plan to visit that I don’t have flagged yet.

Google Map: RTW Rough Pre-Plan 1


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Filed under Planning, Round The World, Travel


As I’m sketching out some of the sites I would like to see on this adventure I’ve come across some amazing hotels. Some of the locations are seasonal so it might depend on my ability to be in a certain part of the world at a certain time. Like the Ice Hotel in Sweden which is only open from November through April because that is the only time of the year when it is structurally sound. The hotel is made entirely of ice and reconstructed each year out of over 3000 tons of ice and 30000 cubic meters of snow. You sleep comfortably on a bed of ice, snow, and reindeer pelts in a brisk -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees F).

Ice Hotel

Then on the opposite end of the continent there are the Fairy Chimneys of Turkey. A 1500 year old complex of caves that were once used for wine making as part of an early Byzantine monastery.

Fairy Chimney Inn

All points in between… Unusual Hotels of the World is a semi-comprehensive collection of the eccentric to the truly bizarre where lodgings are concerned. I’ve found a great many hotels I’d love to stay at here in the United States if I had the time and the money (most are expensive, in the $250-$350 range).

Regardless, any of these places will be an experience and a nice change from the multi-person dorms I will likely spend most of my nights in.

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Filed under Adventure, Planning, Round The World, Travel

The Road Ahead

The van has received its check up and some new tires. All signs point to it being a very reliable cross country vehicle. While I miss the WRX I’ve really started to like the van. I still catch a huge amount of flack about owning a “Van.” Lots of jokes and comments, but then everyone says “I used to own one like this” or “My family had one like this.” Yeah they did, and they dug it.

The gas mileage is absolute garbage and I imagine flowers wilting as I cruise by but it is a means to an end. I’m really looking forward to piling six other people in it and heading off to the Redwood National Forest then to Vegas. That will be a hell of a road trip and only the beginning of my cross-country, round-the-world adventure.

There is a little concern about heading East alone after 2 full days of Vegas-ing. I’m not sure how far I’ll make it before I decide to pull over and curl up at a rest stop with a large bottle of water and sleep.

There is something about driving a vehicle that is meant for long road trips. Every time I get in it I envision the 7000 mile route I plan to take. There is something about a vehicle that large that just feels like freedom. I haven’t even taken the sleeping bag, camping stove, dehydrated camp food, or fishing pole out of it since the time Summer and I took it camping. I guess I still like the feeling that if I wanted to I could take a turn somewhere, head off in a direction, and have everything I need.

Except maybe enough gas…

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Filed under Planning, Random, Round The World

I own a van.

I chuckle every time I look at it. It’s huge. Driving it feels like I’m rolling down the street in a school bus. But it does run well and has all the pieces parts I was looking for in a cross country vehicle. Now to begin the sad process of getting the Subaru ready for sale…

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