A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about slacklining

A Quiet Week in Baja

A Meeting of Desert, Ocean, and Vagabond

sunny 79 °F

I’m sitting on a table on our bridge deck (our highest deck). My legs dangle in the breeze. I lean back and look up to the rising moon. I have a cold beer in my left hand and my Ipod with select cuts in my right. I’m rocking out to a big moon, and a beautiful Mexican seascape. I’ve got it pretty damn good.

I’m thinking about what I want to write about this week, but I can’t come up with anything. It doesn’t matter. I take a sip of beer and smile. This week is good. I’m doing good. And sometimes, there just isn’t anything to say.

Bonanza Bay Slack-Line Session
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It took me three tries to find the right set up for this line. It was hard to find the right combination of distance, boulders and height to make this line happen. It’s hard to wrap a line around a boulder and make it hold. A taut line on boulders tends to slip no matter how hard I pull the tension. Using a couple of different knots, I finally got the line to hold.

This was the highest line I’ve ever walked. I know it doesn’t look very high, but the landing was sketchy. Should I fall, a small bed of boulders would break my fall. It took me a couple of tries to get comfortable on the line, but I overcame my fears and relaxed. I told myself it’s no different than a low line, it was just higher. For some reason, this line of logic worked, and I walked it.
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The best part of this session was soaking in the cool crystalline waters of the Sea of Cortez afterward.

Orange Whispers
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I love dawn. There’s something proper to sipping a good cup of coffee and watching the sun rise over the waking world.

The Magic of Isla Magdalena
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Isla Magdalena never fails to impress me with its diverse beauty. I’ve written extensively in the past about the finer features of Isla Magdalena. It never fails to provide me with a sense of peace, a sense of place, and a sense of time.

My buddy Paul and I walk across the wind swept dunes to the Pacific side. A fine layer of sand blows over the dunes as thin as smoke. We lose ourselves in conversation, the dunes and our destiny.
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On the Pacific side, I drop my accessories and run off into the ocean. I run until the waves trip me and I fall forward into the water. I love this beach. I love this ocean. I love this place. I time the waves and jump with them hoping for that magical feeling of flying. It’s elusive, but I finally catch the perfect wave. I accelerate as the wave curls and breaks. It seems I‘m better at flying in water than I am in the air.
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I leave fully satisfied and refreshed. To swim in the Pacific is good for the soul.

Sea Lion in Death
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A dead sea lion lay on the sand. Paul and I walk around it, inspecting it. It smells like death. It’s interesting and puts life into perspective. Everything here is temporary, so what the hell is all the fuss about? I don’t know. Neither does Paul.
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Isla Magdalena is home to the dead. The bones of countless animals, and perhaps men, litter the island. I can’t think of a more beautiful place to lie still.

Undocumented Moments
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This week I experienced several moments I can only tell you about. I’ve kept camera mostly tucked away this week. I didn’t want any distractions. I kept my senses wide open, receptive to it all. I was not disappointed.

I saw three blue whales this week. One of which brought its fluke into the sky as it dove away into the wild blue. I was inches away from several gray whales this week. When they breathed, I was blasted in the face with their breath. Some whales expel their breath at over 100 miles and hour. I breathed the same air a whale expelled. That has to be some kind of good karma, right? I watched streaking dolphins glide through black water. They are ghostly, lit by bioluminescence.

My favorite part of the week was realizing I love my job. I’m a mariner, and I work on the sea. Sometimes the sea gets lumpy and hard to work on. Every move I made was difficult. I was at the mercy of the water and the wind.

I worked with my mates and we got the job done, despite the challenging conditions. We ate a late dinner in the relative peace of the crew lounge enjoying the camaraderie of a good days work done well.
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To work here, you need a sense of timing, physical coordination, and knowledge of the sea. It’s an ancient craft, and I’m happy to say it is mine.

Posted by Rhombus 22:51 Archived in Mexico Tagged beaches night desert mexico whales sunrise time photography moons slacklining Comments (0)

A Change of Fortunes: Back in Baja

So Long Winter, Lamenting Minnesota, a Cat and a Slackline

semi-overcast 75 °F

I have severely improved my predicament. I’ve left the icy grip of late winter in the midwest for the hot desert comfort of Baja, Mexico. To put it in numbers, I went from 29 to 75 (f), from freezing rain to warm and sunny. The sun hits my skin as I peel off my layers. It feels wonderful. I am reborn.

I’m in Mexico to w-w..work. Just thinking that word is hard. I haven’t lifted a finger for myself since last November. It’s been a good run, but the time has come to replenish my coppers. I’ve been hemorrhaging money lately (since 2009) and working for a couple of months will help stem the flow.
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The Baja peninsula is one also one damn fine place to play. I can’t wait to immerse myself in a silent desert landscape. I’m going swimming this week. I’m going hiking this week. I’m going to watch the sunset tonight, and I’m going to watch the sunrise tomorrow morning. Overall, things are looking up.

Returning to Minnesota

This past week was good to me. I returned to Minnesota. I once lived in Duluth, Minnesota for seven years. It was odd to drive around my old stomping grounds. I saw places that are familiar, yet unfamiliar due to the passage of time. I drove through a city of memories.

I came to the realization that Minnesota was never really home to me. I grew accustomed to living there, exploring there, and being there. But, I could never love Minnesota the way the natives love their state.

But that’s ok. That’s all part of life’s journey.
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I spent some quality time with my brother Karl and my good friend Curly. It’s great to meet someone you haven’t seen in a year and pick up right where you left off. That’s the sign of a quality friendship. Granted, most of our time was spent reminiscing, laughing and talking about nothing, but it’s all good for the soul.

Map
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My brother has a cat by the name of Map. Map reminds me a lot of Hobbes, of “Calvin and Hobbes” fame. He loves a good sneak attack. Cats love to surprise their prey. I fell victim to his timely ambush several times.
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He’s also a good wrestler. He’ll pounce on your foot before grabbing it with his claw and sinking his teeth lightly into your foot. He’s good about not stabbing too deeply, he nips just enough to let you know he’s there.
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He’s a quality cat.

A New Slack-line
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This week I bought a new slack-line set. I purchased sixty feet of one-inch climbers webbing and a strong one-inch ratchet set. I set up an experimental line in my brother’s yard one morning. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but after a few tries I found the sweet spot. It felt good to get back up on the line. I had a good session despite the cold temperatures. Now all I have to do is get it set up on white sand instead of white snow.

There you have it. One minute I’m sitting on a bus driving north through a dreary landscape, the next minute, I’m setting up my slack-line on a beautiful white sand beach. I think that’s a promising change in fortune. Or is it? We shall see.

Look for more Mexican tales next week.

Posted by Rhombus 12:55 Archived in Mexico Tagged beaches winter friends baja slacklining Comments (0)

So Long, Adile. Hello, Los Pinos!

WWOOFING in El Bolson, The Best Hostel In The World, and Life On The Farm

Many moons ago, I was thinking about what I would like to do in Argentina. Not only did I want to see the sights, but I wanted to make my trip more meaningful than sticking to the tourist trail. My first idea, was to take Spanish lessons somewhere in the country. My second, was to try WOOFING, also known as, working on a farm. I joined WOOFING Argentina (www.wwoofargentina.com). I searched through dozens of farms, and created a short list of those farms that appealed to me. My deciding factors consisted of location, type of farming, length of stay, and language. Then I narrowed the short list down to two farms. I wrote them a query letter, and one farm invited me to help them.

The farm I chose is located just inside Chubut province, about four kilometers south of El Bolson. Bolson is a small bohemian farming city situated in a lush green valley between two ranges of mountains. I heard good things about Bolson during my travels. I arrived five days before I joined the farm to explore the valley.

The Best Hostel in the World

La Casona de Odile is the best hostel in South America, if not the world. There are many reasons for this, but my favorite reasons are its location and the sense of community among its visitors and staff.
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The hostel is located five kilometers north of Bolson on a beautiful piece of property the owners have cultivated into a wonderful park. It is a peaceful place.

The park reeked of Zen. The moments flowed past like the trout in the stream that meanders through the garden.
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1. I sat next to the pond and watched tiny droplets of water plop into the surface of the pond.
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2. I slipped through the plants to find diamond droplets of water on the green plants after a rainsquall.
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3. The sun came out and I hunkered in the shade of the brightly lit plant so I could see the veins and cells of plant. It looked like I was looking at the earth from space, but it was only a plant from inches away. Nature has a way of repeating patterns though out its realm.

When I arrived at Odile, I set about unpacking, getting clean, then making dinner. There was a group of eight people laughing, and cooking dinner together in the spacious kitchen. At first, I thought they were all traveling together by the way they interacted. I later learned that all of them were traveling alone, and had met here at Odile. After I had finished my dinner, they invited me to join their group and try the fondue that they were enjoying. The conversation bloomed, and it wasn’t long before I was firmly entrenched within the group.
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We spent five days exploring the valley, laughing, playing cards, slack-lining, cooking, and eating. Food brings people together, and we spent a lot of time together- eating and drinking.
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This is why hostels are great places to stay. It’s a funny thing about hostel traveling. Good people come and go, and with each new person who arrives, the group dynamic changes. It gets a new flavor. It’s great. But at the same time, it’s hard to say goodbye. I hate saying good-bye.

Gone, but not forgotten:
M and Robbie (Ushuaia), Ben, Stephanie, Camille (Chalten), Phillip (Chalten and Calafate).
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Not quite gone, and never forgotten:
Tharien, Sabrina, Shane, Jelena, Sarah, Cristian, the Staff at Odile (Bolson).

So Long, Odile. Hello, Los Pinos
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When I stepped out of the cab, my host greeted me with a warm two-minute barrage of Spanish. My deer in the headlights look must have been awesome. I had just imbedded myself into an Argentine farm run by a family who spoke no English. Ha! Take that, Thom!

I met my workmates, Cristian (from Chile), and Virginie (from France). Cristian quickly became my savior, as he can speak some English. He took me on a tour of the farm, and showed me the basic operation. Let me tell you, this is one beautiful farm.

The name of the farm is Granja Los Pinos. The farm is productive. It is growing raspberries, potatoes, black currants, walnuts, cherries, apples, flowers, and a vegetable garden. There are three dogs, lots of cats (only one of them is a cool cat), sheep, chickens, and several flocks of loud birds. It is located on the foothills of Cerro Piltriquitron, and has a lovely view of the mountains and surrounding valley.

I’ve been on the farm for four days now, and so far, it is as good as I hoped it would be. On weekdays, I work for six hours a day. The morning runs from 9:30 in the morning to 12:30 pm. We’ll take a three-hour break, cooking a large family style meal that we eat together. The conversation flows fast. I sit quietly trying to understand the scope of the conversation. I understand about every seventh word, but I’m hoping to narrow that down to every fourth word by the end of my tenure here. Then we’ll spend the afternoon working from 3 pm to 6 pm.

The work is easy, and we take a very relaxed pace.

The Morality of Nut Cracking
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It has rained every day since I have arrived in Bolson. When it rains, it is our job to crack open dried walnuts and sort the nuts into two piles- good nuts and bad nuts. At first, nut cracking is straightforward. One person cracks the nuts, the other two people sort them. After a couple hundred nuts, I started thinking about the philosophy of nut cracking.

Cristian told me that, “After you crack 10,000 nuts, you will gain enlightenment.“ I told him that, “If you live in the moment, you only have to crack one nut.”

On the third day of nut cracking, the morality of what we were doing entered the conversation. Cristian asked me, “I want to know what this nut did to be bad.” I didn’t have an answer.

After awhile, I realized that we were deciding the fate of these nuts. If they are good nuts, humans eat them. If they are bad nuts, the chickens will eat them. The humans will eat the chickens. I suppose something could eat the human before those poor walnuts return to the earth.
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Who are we to decide if it’s a good nut or a bad one? Am I going nuts?

A Language All His Own

The most difficult part has been overcoming the language barrier. It hasn’t been a problem with the work, Roly will take us to where he wants things done, and tell Cristian what to do. I can tell what he wants done just by the tools we have and the short demonstration we are given. No problem. But, I feel like I’m missing out on getting to know my wonderful hosts. They are warm, engaging, and fun. However, I still don’t know what they are saying.

At lunch one day, Analia asked me, “Who is Odile?” I told her a rambling rendition of taking a bus from Calafate to Rio Gallegos before riding all night to Bolson where I found the Casana de Odile. Her daughter asked the question again in English. To which, I realized my mistake. I’m not trying to be an idiot, it comes naturally.

The other day after my friends and I had eaten, I eloquently asked, “How much cheese, please?” My friends and I were almost on the floor laughing about that one.

Cristian asked me, “What do you call a small ship?”
“A boat.” I replied.
“No, no, no, a small ship. What do you call it?” He said. I offered other words that mean the same thing.
He then rephrased his question, “What kind of ship would you put on a fire, the osada?”
That’s when I realized he was asking about sheep. Argentine’s use the young sheep for their barbeque dinners, and he was asking if we do the same. We both laughed, and I explained the difference between ship and sheep. For fun, I added chip and cheap to the conversation too.

The good news is that I am improving. Cristian has been giving me Spanish lessons throughout the day, and we will talk about it over tea when the day is done. I have a long way to go, but I’m on the right path. Immersing oneself into the Spanish language is not easy.

On Cold Showers and Leisure Time
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On the first day, I took out my slack-line and set it up between two trees. I showed Cristian the basic steps, and he was soon walking the line. Yet another fish hooked. I think Gibbon Slack-lines should pay me a commission for the number of people I have gotten addicted to this sport.
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There is also a great ping-pong table in the workshop. Cristian and I have been playing each other in the evenings. Last Friday night we played ping-pong, drank matte, and listened to Argentine radio for hours. I like Friday nights up on the farm.
On my first night, I went into our small rustic bathroom and turned on the taps to run the shower. The water that came out was only slightly warmer than a glacier waterfall. I figured I had turned the wrong one on. I turned that one off, and twisted the other knob and waited. The water temperature didn’t change. I really wanted a shower. I exhaled, and started working my body under the freezing water. It was a fast shower, but I felt better.

Afterward, I asked Cristian if we have hot water in our cabin. “Ahh. We could, all you have to do is ask for it. I like cold showers; It’s good for the body, no? Everyday it feels colder.”
I laughed, and then I halfway bought into it. I reasoned that there are people in the world that have never had hot water in their lives. Why should I? This would be part of my challenge- cold showers for 3 weeks.

Two days later, I asked to have the hot water turned on.

Farm Photos.
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I will leave you this week of some of my first photos of the farm. Happy holidays from South America!
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Posted by Rhombus 10:13 Archived in Argentina Tagged gardens flowers hostels friends photography farming bolson wwoofing slacklining Comments (0)

The Falkland Islands

New Island Bird Colony, Hiking Across Carcass Island, Slacklining in Stanley and Remembrance Day on Tumbledown Ridge

sunny 55 °F

New Island
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I fell in love with the Falklands almost immediately. From the ocean, the Falklands appear to be a barren collection of windswept islands. Upon closer inspection, the landscape consists of long grasslands that rise slowly from one side of the island to the other before falling abruptly into the sea below. The wind blows relentlessly from the west, building waves that smash into its western shores in a foamy crescendo.
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Birds are everywhere. The upland geese graze along the hills like docile cows. Long-tailed meadowlarks sing among the tussocks. Turkey vultures glide effortlessly on the strong breeze above the highlands, and penguins, albatross and shags populate the rocky cliffs. These islands are far from barren.
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I stood upon a western cliff of New Island not more than ten feet away from a breeding colony of rock hopper penguins, black browed albatross and blue-eyed shags. There were hundreds of birds along one section of cliff. These birds were mixing in a giant melting pot of feathers and fowl language. The cacophony of three types of birds squawking over the bashing surf was intense.
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The penguins hopped up and down the cliff (hence the name) from their nesting site to the top of the cliff. They were keenly interested in dried grass in which to build their nest. The shags had the advantage with the ability to fly and could gather grasses in clumps from the hillside before crash landing into onto a narrow section of unattended rock. The giant albatross stood watch on their nests. On occasion, they would waddle over the slanted boulders often tripping over their giant webbed feet. While good for swimming, the webbing makes for walking over boulders quite difficult. Imagine wearing snorkeling fins and walking through a pumpkin patch, and you can see the difficulty.
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Besides the din, the cliff smelled much like a bird colony- the pungent aroma of guano wafted through the breeze. I walked the ridge stopping at intervals to admire the variety of birds. For me, the rock hoppers stole the show. This was my first experience among penguins in the wild, and, well, if I didn’t love penguins before, I certainly love them now.
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Carcass Island
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I passed by a line of Magellanic penguins that sat idly on one of the beaches of Carcass Island. They were content to stand or lie down in the warm sand, seemingly at ease. I gave them a wide berth as I passed them, climbing up onto the flat grassy plain fifty yards past the waterline.
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I walked counterclockwise around the large bay at the south end of the island. The land rose steadily from the waterline to a ridge high above me, but I was content to walk the path that straddled the fence line. The owners of the land raise sheep. In the distance, I could see their dirty cream bodies high on the hillside.

The walk was very pleasant. I took my time, enjoying the beautiful landscape spread out in front of me. The afternoon sun was warm, and I was glad I hadn’t worn any heavy clothes. Who knew the Falklands would have such nice spring weather? I sat down in the warm grass to make some quick sketches of the landscape before moving on. I listened to the plethora of birds, and decided the Falklands are a birders paradise. I walked on.
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As I neared the farmhouse, I passed bright yellow thickets of gorse. The gorse plant is an invasive species to the Falklands. If left unchecked would run rampant over the native vegetation. The thickets are incredibly dense; a twisted trap of strong branches and razor sharp needles. I wouldn’t want to try to walk through such a devilish mess. For as nasty as navigating through them would be, to walk around them is quite enjoyable. The bright yellow petals of the gorse are quite beautiful, and they smell of coconut oil. Many songbirds would sit atop the gorse and sing its springtime song as I passed by.
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“It was one o’ them zippidy doo-dah days.” ~Uncle Remus.

Stanley
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Stanley is not a large town, with something near two thousand full time residents. Stanley sits on a long gentle hillside. The homes and businesses terrace downward from the top of the ridge to the water. The houses are a comfortable size and built low to the ground to get out of the wind. The small yards stand in their natural state, with clotheslines strung up for wet laundry. The strong breeze makes quick work of wet laundry on a sunny day.

The central area of downtown is British. It reminded me of images of the quaint British town, full of red telephone booths, small shops bunched together and narrow twisting cobbled streets. I wasn’t much interested in the many gift shops (much to my niece’s dismay). I was on a mission. I was trying to find two trees with just the right distance between them.

Why was I looking for two trees? Because I wanted to slackline. I reasoned that if I could find some trees to set up my slackline, that I might just become the first person to slackline in Stanley, and perhaps the Falklands. There aren’t many “firsts” left in this world. Somebody has already gone to the moon, somebody has already climbed the Matterhorn, and somebody has already eaten over sixty hotdogs. And it was my hope to be the first to slackline in the Falklands.

The problem was I was having a hard time finding trees. There aren’t many trees in Stanley, and most of them belong to the government. I walked through the memorial wood of 1982, but the trees were too flimsy. I also felt it might have been disrespectful to the fallen, or those that loved them. The Falkland Conflict of 1982 is still fresh in the minds of the residents. I was there on Remembrance Day; more on that later.

I walked past the chapel, past schoolyard playgrounds, and all the way to government house. In fact, I was navigating by treetops, hoping that I would find two trees that would suit my purpose. But all of the trees I found were surrounding public or private buildings. I was about to give up.

Finally, I found an empty playground with a telephone pole and a jungle gym the right distance away. I smiled. The warm grass felt good on my bare feet as I took to the line. During my session, a tour bus full of passengers drove by, and the driver announced in full British accent, “And here we have a man walking a tightrope in the park. How very strange…”
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One of the passengers told me this when we later met on the ship. I laughed aloud at my strangeness.

Remembrance Day on Tumbledown Ridge
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I stepped off the bus onto a gravel road right next to a minefield. This was my first minefield I’ve been close to (unless you consider the cross examination I’ve faced from several females I‘ve known). It was slightly unnerving seeing the minefield. Who knew if they found them all? I stuck to the path through the native grasses from the trailhead, and it took awhile before I felt comfortable in leaving it.

As I’ve said, the conflict of 1982 is still fresh, and there were still many reminders of the war all along this hike.

Hiking in the Falklands is easy and enjoyable. The ground often rises along a gradual slope that isn’t hard to climb. It’s not long before you are hundreds of feet above the trailhead from where you started. After making the initial assault to reach the ridgeline, I saw where Argentine troopers had dug foxholes into the damp earth. I haven’t walked through many war zones in my life, but it had a sobering effect on my hike. I kept wondering what it would be like to be here on this barren ridge, fighting for my life.
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The heights of Mt. William jutted out of the ridge at a steep angle. I wanted to leave the group and climb them on my own, but I knew if I ran off to scale them, some other fool would too. While I’m confident in my own ability, I didn’t think most of my fellow passengers could handle what I had in mind. I stuck to the course.

From Mt. Williams I crossed a narrow peat covered valley across to Tumbledown Ridge. I weaved around perfectly circular holes punched in the peat where artillery fire had landed. From there we climbed up the rocks to where the cross stood. It stands to salute the British troops who had fallen in the skirmish.
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The wind howled over the ridge from the west. I could barely stand upright in the gale, and soon sat down to get out of the pummeling. I listened to one of our guides talk about the battle, how the fighting went from high point to high point all the way down to Stanley, several miles away.
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In fact, I really enjoyed the company of one of our guides. Derek’s family has been in the Falklands for over five generations. This is his home, and he is rightly proud of it. I asked him how his family came to the island.

“Well, back then the colonies offered a chance to get away. Quite a lot of us went to Australia or New Zealand, Canada or America, but somehow, we came here… It’s home.”

We chatted for the rest of the hike, enjoying the exercise and endless beauty around us. He told me he was in the Ramblers association, which had occasional group treks to various islands. I asked him what his favorite place was on the island.

“That’s a tough one; each island has its own charm. There are good things about all of them, I suppose. I like New Island. It’s very nice. And Carcass island is very easy to walk on.“ I had to agree. At one point, Derek walked off to gaze over a cliff, and I took this picture of him. Should you find yourself in Stanley and looking for an interesting guide, Derek’s your man.
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Though my visit to the Falklands was brief, I feel I made the best of it. I enjoyed two solid days of hiking, and became the first to slack line there. I hope I make it back there some day.

Our ship has since turned southeast and is heading towards South Georgia Island. We’ve been at sea for a day and a half, and expect to make landfall tomorrow. By all accounts, South Georgia is one of the most beautiful islands in the world, and full of dynamic wildlife. We’ve crossed the convergence zone of the southern ocean. This is where the water temperature drops, and currents between the relatively warm water of the northerly oceans meet the cold water of the southern ocean. I expect we’ll be seeing icebergs soon.
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“Walk On!”

Posted by Rhombus 07:21 Archived in Falkland Islands Tagged landscapes birds islands hiking photography penguins stanley slacklining falklands Comments (0)

In The Raw: Journaling From Alaska to Washington

A Look Into My Travel Journal, My Writing Process, and Photos

semi-overcast 75 °F

I decided for this week’s entry to offer you my journal entries in their rawest form. These entries are the starting point for what will eventually become another thrilling edition of this blog. In a given week, I’ll head out exploring and recap the days adventures in my trusty journal. I’ve been writing a journal since 1997, and have filled up twelve notebooks of a variety of size. The entries are usually a quick recap. I try to write about what really struck me throughout the day. When I have time to write, my journal more thought out and thorough. There are often diagrams, maps, sketches and doodles added to the mix. Using these scribblings for inspiration and facts, I let the writing process flow. Often, I will get inspiration at strange times, and I have to try to remember what it is I want to say for most of the day before I get a chance to write it down. Somehow, the system works, and I'm able to occasionally write something thoughtful and coherent.

I realize I haven't updated my blog in the last couple of weeks. My apologies. I’ve been very busy of late spending my free time getting reacquainted with my slack line, my camera, and my friends. I've been depriving myself of needed sleep in order to enjoy my life, and something had to give. However, I think this small sabbatical has been good for me, but perhaps, not my blog.

The following are journal entries ranging from the inside passage of British Columbia to Clarkston, Washington on the Snake River.

9-10-12 BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
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I’m in B.C. these days. It’s our phase day (deckhands switch shifts once a week giving us 18 hours off in a row). I took advantage by going on a short hike into the thick forests. The moss is quite spongy, and comfortable to lay upon. We found a black banana slug, some shells and whatnot. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I wrote my blog. I ate some cheese and crackers. I also collected a few plants to add to my terrarium. Mostly moss, but another limpet shell pool and the like.
Peanut butter , Honey and Cinnamon sandwich for lunch. Tea with Miss Tiffany. Pretty Beautiful. Pretty nice.
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9-11-12 TO BREATHE
Lido. Sunshine. Coffee. Orca. Watts. Dolphins. Stretch. Then I sat in the shade and exercised my breath. Alternating Nostril, deep, shallow in and out, deprivation, inflation. So good. Then I let my voice flow in a chant and it was lovely. I had all of the air I wanted and my voice was very, very low and rich. Satisfaction.

9-16-12 A FOUR DAY RECAP: POSITIONING, AMELIA, SEATTLE, PORTLAND
Well. Here I am in Astoria again. To get here, I went to Seattle. We dropped off our photo nerds and I went to sleep. I awoke to Amelia in the dining room. We talked, catching up and sat in the sunshine. She brought me a giant burrito from our favorite food cart. We compared notes, we had a good time.
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Positioning was a dream. I love positioning (this is when we take the boat from one port to another without guests). I was working nights, as usual, and hung out with Lofall (my deck partner) in the night. Decent seas. I love a good roll.
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I forgot to mention as we rolled into Seattle, I watched bioluminescent bow riding dolphins. It was AMAZING! Pacific White Sided Dolphins slowly doing barrel rolls in the bright white biofeed. Beautiful. I love the ocean. It felt so good to be back on it, rolling, riding and moving in flow.

9-17-12 CASCADE LOCKS ZEN
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Such a lovely place. A shroud of pines protects me from the sun and wind. I’m in a pocket. Cozy, but breatheable. The carpet is tan of dead grass silky to the touch. Chickadees roll through. Time to forage. In the center of the grove is a picnic table which I’m quite attracted to. So I stop and take it in. This is my second spot to stop. No, my third. My first were a wind swept pitch of grass under an ancient oak tree. Good air forced into me. My second was a slack line session with a lead of forty feet. It was awesome to feel it all. Warm sun, strong wind, slick slack line, freeness of accumulated crap I collected all night. Gone. Smiling.
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I could use one more stop, a visit to a tree I know on the south end of the island. I think I’ll let that one stand as a fine memory of last year. I love seeing the cusp of a shadow. The upper branches of a broad leafed maple are green. Glowing. Beautiful. And here I am.
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“He who understands the Tao in the morning can die in peace in the evening.” ~ Confucious

When I’m this tired, I can stare at anything for long periods. When I’m this tired, my blinks take longer, sometimes several seconds.

9-19-12 PALOUSE RIVER STATE PARK, WASHINGTON
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Well, I’m here again. At the falls, though this time I chose a shaded grove of trees and grass to slack line in, rather than hike around to the falls. It’s nice. It’s quiet. The wind in the trees, soft, warm, and fragrant. Slacklining has been good. So far, I’ve managed to slack line everyday this week. Each time at a different place.
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Yesterday, was at Maryhill. A typical session involves a couple of beers, walking the line, friends, shade and trees. The smoky clouds mute the intensity of the sun. It’s still out, but obscured by wildfires.

9-23-12 SEPTEMBER FLYING
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Whoa. Time is hauling ass. Made it to Clarkston. Three days of smoky skies, friends, slack lining, a bit of work, and walking around.
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On the first day, I went slack lining when I finished work. I went to the doctor who told me I had strained my shoulder. Seems about right. It takes six weeks to heal, and I’m on the 4th week. Ah weel.

On the second day, I visited my old friends Eva, Ada, and Faith. We caught up and hung out at the pool. Eva and I went slack lining. What a fine lady. On our way back to our ships, Tiff calls and I rush off to an antique store and buy a bike. I asked the lady in charge if she had any bikes. “ Just the one out front… or we do have an old one.” I told her I wanted to see the old one. “Really? Ok.” It was an easy sell. It’s a seventies tan cruiser. It had two flat tires, but I can fix it. In fact, I’ve already put on a fixing session. I put on an inner tube, pumped up the tires, adjusted the seat, de-rusted the rims and so on.

It’s going to be a sweet ride.

Day three.
Smoky. Real smoky out. Mountains obscured. I went to the Nez Perce County Fair in Lewiston. It was hot, muggy and smoky. Every type of person you can imagine was there, a walking display of humanity, most of it kind of appalling.
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We went on rides and they were very fun. Part of the scare of these rides is wondering if the contraption they lock you in is going to hold together. Then the fun speed of flipping upside down and screaming. I was having a ball. We went on the Kamikaze, the Zipper, and the Tilt a Whirl. My body didn’t know what the hell was going on. I flipped it, spun it, rotated it, and shook it. It’s sleep deprived, sun baked, dehydrated and sweaty. The tilt a whirl was too much. I felt sick halfway through the ride.

Then we waited a long time for a ride back to the ship. Stupid Purser. I felt like a kid though, exhausted, sticky, tired, and a little sick. Don’t count fat people at a fair. It might depress you.
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Hot shower. Cold Beer. Comfortable bed. Ahh.

Now, you are back up to speed. Look for more adventures along the Columbia River until early November. My plan of riding the Zen flow has already proved very interesting. Instead of leaving this ship in Portland, Oregon, I’m now leaving it in Longbeach California. Big Smile!

Posted by Rhombus 16:59 Archived in USA Tagged islands rivers rainbows friends sunsets canada ships sunrises forests philosophy zen slacklining Comments (0)

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