Did I Accomplish My Vacation Goals?

Before I went to Florida I wrote down a short list of things to accomplish, just to get me into vacation mode. Overall I think I did pretty well. Let’s go through it point by point to be official.

  • Starting conversations with strangers was pretty easy. I knocked this off day 1 in Savannah, and then kept going through the rest of the vacation.
  • Find out someone’s unique philosophy on life. I am going to call this one accomplished, because I did get some good perspective. Think of this: depression is a luxury. I’m not trying to minimize anyone’s suffering, and there are some real reasons to be depressed. But general short lasting depression could be considered a luxury in the sense that you have time to be depressed. Most people starving to death trying to scrape together enough food don’t have time to be depressed. They may think, I’m sad, I’m in pain, but they probably won’t be thinking, “what does it all mean?”
  • Not only did I get to the coast, I got to two coasts, the Gulf and the Atlantic (in Georgia). I also flew over the Gulf of Mexico in a small plane.

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  • So I may take a technicality on the foraging goal. I found a few wild edibles, but I didn’t actually forage any. My cousin has a bunch of bamboo in her yard, and I’ve had bamboo in some Thai dishes. But when I looked up bamboo, turns out there are over 1,000 varieties, and only about 15% are edible. They all may be fine if treated properly, but I didn’t want to take the risk this time. I did however find some edible glasswort on the beach in Georgia on my drive home. I didn’t pick any, but now I know for next time.
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Glasswort

 

  • Got a picture of the sign that warns you to use the historic steps in Savannah, at your own risk.
  • I’m going to use this as my picture of something Florida. Turns out bamboo burns really well. But I think I was being a little prejudiced when I said I wanted a picture of “something Florida”. I didn’t see anything that bad. But I did go to an auction where the specialty item for the night was frozen food. And a dancing, singing, mechanical 4 foot tall Santa sold for over a hundred dollars.

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  • I don’t think I did anything that redneck. I really failed on this front in fact. I could have at least ridden my cousin’s horse without a saddle, or grabbed an ATV for a ride through the mud. Well I’ll be back there in February, hopefully I will get to go mudding then. (I got a pedicure, which is essentially the 100% exact opposite of doing something redneck…)
  • I accompanied my cousin to a horse supply store that is 3 minutes from her house, which she had never been to. But I figured I would use the roller skating rink for this accomplishment: to go somewhere nearby my cousin had never been. I went with her to her friends’ daughters’ birthday party. Roller blade rentals were $3, and after making sure I would not go down hard in a heap, I thoroughly enjoyed gliding around the rink for an hour. It was probably the first time I rollerbladed in a decade.
  • Eating something unique to the area: I totally blew this one out of the water! I tried raw oysters and alligator from Apalachicola, a coastal town on the pan handle. I also tried home made (and hunted) venison summer sausage, and deep fried turkey. I enjoyed all of it, though the turkey tasted the best. I guess it is hard to make something taste bad when you deep fry it in a vat of oil. I still didn’t try boiled peanuts, but I hear I’m not missing much.
  • As for doing some suggestions from the comments, as I’ve mentioned, I ate gator. But I also went to the Pirate’s House in Savannah.

And that is that. It was kind of fun checking things off the list. Maybe I will make up a sort of scavenger hunt adventure to do over the holidays in order to try to capture the vacation feeling while at home.

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Wait, Why Did I Leave 80 Degree Sunny Florida?

I am now back in the desolate tundra that is wintertime New England. It was a great trip. I realized how much easier it is to drive around in most of the country. Straighter roads, fewer people, and you can keep an eye out for the cops from a longer distance. No exaggeration, I saw more revenue collectors cops during the hour or less I spent driving through New York than the entire rest of the trip. Seriously.

From the radio, you would think there were only five songs ever written, two by Taylor Swift. Quite the percentage. But it was a good drive; my Mustang made it, and now has over 230,000 miles on it… time for an oil change. Here are a few highlights from the last couple days of my vacation.

My Aunt and Uncle were kind enough to take me on a trip in their plane up to Apalachicola on the pan handle. I felt like a little kid I was so excited. The only other time I have been in a plane that small was when I went parachuting.

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My Aunt (a lawyer) said they call these doctor/lawyer killers because they are affordable enough, but when you’re busy with work, you don’t get a lot of practice. Her husband was flying this time.

 

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See how legit I am: I even had the headset. (It was really loud without those noise canceling headphones)

 

Flying low, approaching the Apalachicola airport

Flying low, approaching the Apalachicola airport

Hard "likker", or as we would say in New England, Hahhd Likka.

Hard “likker”, or as we would say in New England, Hahhd Likka.

I tried raw oysters (not bad, but next time I'll probably have them cooked)

I tried raw oysters (not bad, but next time I’ll probably have them cooked)

I also tried alligator puff pastry. Tasted like chicken.

I also tried alligator puff pastry. Tasted like chicken.

...might have come from this guy.

…might have come from this guy.

And finally on my drive home near Savannah, I couldn't resist one last stop to soak up the sun. Here is the little piece of paradise where I ate lunch.

And finally on my drive home near Savannah, I couldn’t resist one last stop to soak up the sun. Here is the little piece of paradise where I ate lunch.

Tomorrow I will go through my list of goals to let you know how I did. 🙂

Joe Jarvis’ Bogus Journey

On Wednesday I will be departing the north once more to drive down to Florida for a visit with my aunt and cousin, and to spend Thanksgiving with them. Vacations, especially this year, have been what invigorates me and keeps me flowing with energetic and hopeful blood! And hopefully, this time I won’t have to drive through a snowstorm until North Carolina.

So fully expect my posts when I come back to be better. Better in the almost delusional tone that was presented when I started this blog, fresh off an amazing week in the New Hampshire Mountains at a campground with so many other likeminded and friendly individuals.

In February, I went on my first cruise, which besides Canada was also my first time out of the country. It flicked a switch in my mind. I knew I liked to travel, but I didn’t really know to what degree. Maybe it was the vitamin D, or the magic of the Caribbean, or perhaps those Mexican beers had a special ingredient, but when I returned, I was happier, more talkative, extremely positive, and invigorated!

But that was without being inspired at my core. Yes I love everything about vacationing, cruising, and tropical islands, but the event in June appealed to my base values and worldview. PorcFest (which has nothing to do with meat, it is short for Porcupine Freedom Festival) is like a cross between the annual summit for my political interests, and burning man. It is Woodstock for my ilk, hippies for freedom, survivalists for peace. And strangely enough this political type event inspired me to create a blog devoted to everything but politics.

I already had my politics shtuff going, and what ran through my veins after PorcFest was a life force. There was so much I wanted to do with the information and feelings that came to me over that week! But political avenues are notoriously frustrating and often futile. So I decided to spread my positive energy via another platform: this everything-but-politics blog.

Now I am generally a positive person, and I like to be outgoing. Some might find this shocking, but I am not actually the most naturally outgoing person. So sometimes I need to almost trick myself, or at least set myself up so that my future self will do what my current self wants him to do.

You see, it would be easy for me to think of all these cool quirky things I want to do on my way down, back, and in Florida. But if the only thing holding me to that is… well, me, than the only person I could let down is… me.

Thus, I am creating a list, almost scavenger hunt-y, and sharing it here for my little goals during my trip. And once I tell the internet about my plans, I feel to ignore them would not only let myself down, but others as well.

On the way down I may be like, “Uhg, I don’t feel like talking to strangers!” But if it is on my list, I might force myself out of my comfort zone. And in the end, that type of situation almost always ends with me glad I did socialize, or whatever the circumstances.

This is even more important since I am going it alone this time! Which is also a big step out of my comfort zone; I’ve never taken a road trip this far by myself. But that’s part of growing as a person, busting apart our comfort zones, and experiencing things without our embedded reservations. It’s worked out for me so far.

So here are some ideas for me. Nothing crazy, just got to get my Excellent Adventure juices flowing.

  • Start at least 2 conversations with strangers, preferably during the drive down. (A stranger starting a conversation with me does not count towards this)
  • Find out someone’s unique philosophy on life and compare it to my own.
  • Get to the coast, and take in the beach and ocean. Try to scoop in enough to last me until February.
  • Find a wild edible/ medicinal plant to forage and use.
  • Get a picture of a sign that tickles my fancy.
  • Get a picture of “something Florida”. Need I explain more?
  • Do something redneck. (This should be easy, I’m a hick at heart)
  • Enlist my cousin’s help to check out something close by that she has not seen/ done. (You know, the old, “I’ve lived here for ___ years and I’ve never ___”.)
  • Eat something unique to the area (I’m thinking boiled peanuts, but I could find something else?)
  • Do at least one suggestion FROM THE COMMENTS! (I NEED YOU GUYS TO SUGGEST STUFF IN ORDER FOR THIS ONE TO WORK. DON’T LET ME DOWN).

That should be a good starting point, just to get me out of my shell. If it goes well, then perhaps I will make a new list for week 2 of the vacation.

In addition to checking some of these things off my list in order to cast me into the fray, you can expect some other things over the next couple weeks. Expect pictures of me with lots of animals. These thin pictures of me on the sides and top of this blog; the Alaskan Malamute and the horse are my cousin’s. She also has another horse, and now another dog. And then there are my aunt’s three Akitas, a pig, some cows… well you get the point. I like animals.

And if all goes according to plan I will be stopping by Savannah, at least for lunch. I want to check it out for a second time, since there is a possibility that I will move to the area within a year. Also, my second fiction book (the first is in editing stages), which I am currently working on, takes place in the Savannah area. So I need to do some scoping out for that as well.

I am well aware the tone I present here fluctuates. I feel I can no longer as naturally cast forth good will and life giving energy with such ease as I could on July 1st. But like the cruise, the road trip to Indianapolis, PorcFest, New York City, the road trip to Vermont, and camping in Vermont, I fully expect to return invigorated with the same natural energy emanating that gave this blog birth. And if that fades, well I only have to wait until February for another cruise, to restart my cycle.

I started this blog with Joe Jarvis’ Excellent Adventure. If all goes well, this will be Joe Jarvis’ Bogus Journey!

“Hippie Hole” in Vermont

One highlight from this weekend was swimming in the “Hippie Hole” in Montgomery Vermont. It was later in the afternoon, and the water was ice cold, but I could not resist jumping in, a couple minutes after these pictures were taken. I got used to it pretty quickly and managed to swim around for a couple minutes, and jump in a couple more times. Swimming up the little carved out rock section felt magical, and putting my head under the waterfall was refreshing/ gave me an ice-cream headache.

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You may have noticed I have travelled to a lot of surrounding areas this summer for mini-vacations. That sort of goes back to the purpose of this blog in making sure I enjoy every moment, and have fun with life. Not everyone likes to travel, but I realized after the cruise I went on this February to the Caribbean that going places and seeing new things is one of the things I enjoy the most. I am thrilled to have gotten the opportunity to travel, since February to Indianapolis, New York City, Vermont, and multiple places in New Hampshire, and still have time to explore new places in Massachusetts great for hiking, like the Douglas State Forest, and the Blackstone River. I even managed to visit the old spots too like my favorite local lake.

But hiking, nature, traveling, exercise, cooking, writing, and foraging are what works to keep me energized and happy, not necessarily everyone else. I think its good for people to explore some hobbies or interests and really find their niche in terms of what makes them tick. Having goals, big and small, is a great way to remain positive and steer clear of any ruts. Gaining skills and knowledge, whether for a practical purpose, or just for fun, is also key to loving every moment of life, instead of waiting for the weekend, or a vacation.

Heading into the winter can be daunting, especially in New England. I have another vacation to Florida planned for November to remedy this in part. But it doesn’t have to be that drastic to keep you going strong. Maybe set a goal for something to accomplish this winter, or pick up a new hobby that can keep you busy inside when the weather gets rough. Or perhaps just step back and enjoy the moment, which is also super important to remaining excited about life, in my opinion. I’m looking forward to picking apples, and just got the urge to chop some wood, but for now, I’m going to go outside and enjoy this weather!

Ever Driven Through a Snow Storm in North Carolina?

I’m from Massachusetts, I don’t use the term “snow storm” lightly. This past February I travelled 18 hours driving through snow storms from Massachusetts to North Carolina. It was probably the most stressful 24 hours of my life, because there were moments when I was fairly sure I would die when a tractor trailers going 70mph on an inch of packed down snow passed us in the left lane, while the lanes had shrunk from snow banks by at least a foot on either side.

There were 2 or 3 times when I thought we would be stuck indefinitely, and miss our cruise out of Tampa Florida. I woke up on Wednesday at around 9am, we left Massachusetts at 8pm on that Wednesday, and did not sleep until 9pm Thursday night in Savannah. We were on the verge of tripping from lack of sleep by the time we finished our delicious seafood meal on the river… unless it was all a hallucination at that point?

These pictures are from North Carolina!

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I’m not exaggerating when I rate this as the most stressed out 24 hours of my life. I do have a pretty laid back life in general, and perhaps you are jealous that this was the pinnacle of my worry. But I don’t know that I can convey fully the feelings I had that $1200 may go to waste if we missed the ship. Or that a vacation I’d been looking forward to for 5 months would come crashing down around me, forcing me to wait for the snow to melt in North Carolina. This was a long cold winter, and we hoped to feel some relief by the time we hit Virginia. Instead, we brought a terrible little piece of New England to the south. Yee-haw!

And I’m not sure if you have noticed, but truck drivers are insane. We stopped counting the number of tractor trailers stuck on the side of the road, flipped on their side, and down in the ditches. I tried not to think about it, but imminent death was not far from my mind. But we had a cruise to catch, let’s get our priorities in order!

At one point traffic in the hills of western North Carolina came to a halt, but a stroke of luck placed us just feet before an exit. We decided to take the exit, and wriggle our way through some backroads, since there was no indication that the traffic would begin moving again… until after the cruise ship left.

So we found a nice cut off road and thought (how naive) that perhaps the backroads would be better… perhaps the delirium was already setting in; I don’t think North Carolina has a single plow. Scratch that, I remember almost being run off the road by a team of plowers on the highway. So we hopped onto the back road that would lead to a state highway. Did I say backroad? I meant snow covered field that apparently had a road somewhere in it. Kudos to my sister’s boyfriend for properly navigating the tundra.

The Carolinians were having a ball! They smiled and waved as we passed, they sledded off their roofs, and spun out in their trucks. They stood in the road with their dogs and toddlers as we approached, and rage filled us knowing full well we would never get the car going again if we had to stop. By the way, I cannot express deeply enough my love for chrysler mini-vans after this trip. We borrowed my mom’s to take the trip, and it may have saved our lives, and saved our vacation. Seriously.

Alright, finally, the highway should be just ahead. Oh right, we are in North Carolina, and this is what they call a highway.

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But we counted our blessings; at least we could see where the road was now. Again, Matt expertly navigated the many turns and hills which I cannot believe we made it up, over, down and around.

When the snow finally cleared, it began melting pretty quick. We decided this was a good time to stop for some gas and snacks while the traffic and snow cleared up a bit on the highway. Wonderful woman behind the counter at the store; she was quite concerned for us. We let her know that it would be smooth sailing from here on out: we are from Massachusetts after all. Everyone else was in full crisis mode, banding together for the apocalypse. “Yea we just drove our four wheelers to the gas station cuz, damn, how else were we gonna get here?” Good point… although I suppose you could have just… you know, stayed home. Hey I’d probably be excited too under the circumstances.

But its crazy how something so stressful can be such a fun adventure in hindsight. I know I’ll look back at that trip forever with nostalgic feelings, reminiscent of the multiple near death experiences. And I vowed to make the trip home the last time I ever drive through the night on a road trip. It’s not worth it. It’s dangerous, and terribly exhausting.

But I can say with certainly that when we finally got down to Florida and saw the palm trees, and when we boarded that cruise ship to take us to the Caribbean… I don’t think I have ever been more relieved and relaxed. It’s like when you’re so hungry that good food tastes that much better. It was my first cruise, and a phenomenally good time. I savored every minute, and reminded myself daily to enjoy the moment. I think that helped me retain the feelings I got from the paradise, made so much more potent by the extreme winter weather that followed us all the way to the Carolinas.