August 25, 2003

Madison to Chicago

Avery spur of the moment decision prompted me to get up on a sunday morning...

A bit earlier than I would have hoped, after what is now a very hazy night out at the pubs...With a promethean effort, I hauled my butt out of bed (oh the joy of a real bed!), splashed some water on my face, slurped down a cuppajoe, and hit the road.
An hour and 15 minutes later I found myself in Harvard Ill, my bleary eyes focusing (gently) on the local water tower, which boasted the slogan "Home of Milk Day." With romanesque fantasies of the endless fun and certain debauchery that arriving on Milk Day wouls have provided, I boarded the Metra for Chicago, chi-town, second city...I'm hoping for a serendipitous adventure roaming the halls of the Art Institute, viewing all the wonderul things I know nothing about. OK. Enough pontificating-here's what the Journal says:
---the train ride:
Slept about 1/2 way (damn hangover) until a very boisterous spanish family sat behind me, followed by a very vocal group of high school girls and a mother with all of her friends kids in tow. sheesh.
~insights so far: very few things can compete with the vocal power of an upset two year that kid had a set of pipes; I found it extremely satisfying to exact my revenge on all of these over-loud, self-absorbed intruders on my hangover, by letting go a few horrendous hangover farts into the little train car.
---Made it to chicago! now where the hell am I?
---Sitting in the Monet room: the haystack series to my right (beautiful), and "waterlilies" in front of me. So far what has struck me the most was a painting by Ferdinand Hodler (swiss) entitled "Day (truth)" in which a young woman stands naked, on a rock in a waterfall, parting the clouds with her hands. She has amazingly strong, confident and wise blue eyes. This painting really took me in, and put me in mind of the kind of human being I really admire: someone who has discovered their personal strength and uses it to bring beauty and truth and justice to the world around them.
---The rest of the museum experience blurred into a slow moving procession of Monet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Picasso, Pisarro, and countless portraits, landscapes and depictions of Jesus looking ever so put upon. I took in what sculpture and artifact, ummm, stuff that I could, but it's not interesting to me, so there ya have it. My hangover is taking over so I'm gonna get some lunch, and people watch.
---man is everyone in a hurry.
---I asked around for directions, and after a bit of foot-thinking, decided which route would actually get me back to the train. On the way I met Thomas, a homeless vet with a serious and untreated broken leg, which he displayed eagerly; Herman, another homeless gentleman, with whom I swapped stories about meeting rich assholes in Los Angeles; Mike and Chris, a nice couple that were in a wierd daze that I coudn't place as either drugs or trauma--it turns out that they had just witnessed a horrible hit and run accident minutes before--; and two lovely german girls who's names I didn't get.
---Part of the trip back to the train was by the Chicago "RiverBus," a quaint (dinky) little boat that runs between a couple major stops along the canal thingy. After waiting an increasingly nervous 45 minutes I discovered that I was at the wrong spot to be picked up, and had to flag down the captain as he was pulling away from the right spot that I was hurlting toward (I'd say running but I'm too hungover to be that coordinated). Soon after boarding I realized that we were going the wrong way. A bit of smiling and conversation got me a promise that eventually and in time for my train, I would be at the train station. As usual all worrying was in vain, for I was a solid hour I got the ride for free! Man I hope this luck in connections continues on my big trip!
---back on the train home. not much has happened to tell, tho my mood lifted considerably higher to hear a gentle voice behind me in the train staion observe "Man is everyone in a hurry!" I told him I had said the same thing just a couple hours earlier and we shared a good laugh and great conversation---he advised the following, which I feel I should impart--'don't drink canned beer. and always wipe the bottle mouth before you drink bottled beer. ' He worked in a beer distribution warehouse. 'nuff said. Think I'm going to pass out for the ride to Harvard (dreams of Miss Milk Day flit across the brain).

Well, it was a pretty good trip for a day trip. I got to see a lot, and definitely would reccomend the fun and cheap public transportation around Chicago, not to mention the amazing Art Institute, and the many other magnificent museums to be found close by. This was probably my 30th trip to Chicago, and everytime is a new and exciting experience. Jesus I sound like a travel agent.
until next trip...

Posted by Colin at 03:35 PM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2003

Last 10 Days

the last 10 days have been my warm up run...not too eventful, but a great lesson in traveling...

The last I posted I believe I was still in MN just after my sisters wedding. The next day was a short trip to Madison WI--my home town and home base for a bit, a short nap and then a long all-night drive to Warren PA. The trip has been smooth and fairly uneventful, which is a bummer for me and at first I thought that it might have been a better time if it had gone another way. However, as always there is a lesson to be learned.
The first three days were camping and fishing in the Allegheny Nat'l forest. The grounds we stayed at were largely unpopulated, and we even got a chance to do some backwoods camping. Not much wildlife to speak of, unless you include the family from NY that we had to endure late into the evening in the site next to us at Kiasutha campground. The family argued over literally everything, and the grandma went on and on, in a voice the bears must have been running from miles down the valley, about how badly she needed an enema. Serious. The fishing wasn't so hot, mostly cause the water was too high and also cause I forgot my fly reel, flies, and line, and had to dent the budget to get my fix.
The next couple days included a trip to Niagra Falls--oooh i love being a tourist!---which was actually pretty fun. The tours and such were what is to be expected, and I loved all the people that we met in the beer garden and the skylon bar (we wisonsinites can't pass up a good bloody mary). The most interesting part for me was watching the tourists. There were so many cultures represented there, it was like standing in a river of swirling colour and smell, and the sounds of all the different languages danced around my ears softly and pleasantly. At one point I just stood in the walkway and let the people flood around me, enjoying a moment of juxtaposed stillness.
The lesson part came at the back end of the trip. I'm usually a fairly patient person, but I started to notice that I was getting annoyed with my travel partners tendency to plan everything. Now let it be known that I've known this guy for almost 10 years, and we are great friends, so it was no big deal, really. But in my experience it has always been best for me when I plan little, and travel spontaneously just as much as I do follow some sort of itinerary. When I plan everything, and stick to it, I find that I'm concentrating more on what is coming next than where I am at the moment, and therefore am not really enjoying where I am. It kind of feels like I'm only getting a glimspe of the reality that is there in front me, and then running off in chase of the next place and time. For the last four years or so I've sort of trained myself to exist in the moment whenever possible, so it's a bit tough for me to follow a loose itinerary let alone a step by step plan. I really didn't know what to say about it, so I left it as it was and triend to make the best of it. As soon as that decision was made I realised that it was me with the problem the whole time. Everyone travels differently, and has their own little quirks and such that can make a travel relationship difficult. But I needed to realise that it was my trip as well, and there's no way to control the way another person thinks or acts, so just make the best of each moment that you have, and appreciate it for what it is...I was able at many times to enjoy each moment, and the trip has turned out to be a great success, and I believe that he and I are better friends for this journey.
So, as we are packing to head back to WI, I feel really positive about this trip, and am thankful for such a wonderful lesson...not to mention the wonderful people that I have met, and the hospitality that was given to me---(thanks Jim, Betsy, Dave, Sue, and for certain--Jeff). I also have to add that I played the best golf game I have ever played yesterday, with an ending score of 86, and a great birdie on the par five 18th hole.

Posted by Colin at 10:55 AM | Comments (1)

August 07, 2003

road trip

I think I posted about this...but it's worth telling again. This story keeps me going when things start to go the "wrong" way.

Leaving Arcata was extremely tough. Not by any means because it was hard to leave the place emotionally, it was friggin near impossible to physically leave the place intact. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. My day pack, fully loaded, was stolen along with my vintage and precious camera; I went through three buyers on my car, each of which had some complication or other and I finally had to leave it at a friends house, hoping he'll send me money someday; My ride fell through to the airport in Portland 3 days before I was to leave; My apt. was a shithole and we lost the deposit ($750.00!!); etc etc etc...But threre was something that kept me going. It's a pretty simple story, but I'll not forget soon.
About three or four years ago I was living in Los Angeles and I got offered a role in a realy fun play back in Minnesota. It would pay pretty well, and I would get the chance to finish my degree. However, My last day of work in L.A. was three days before my first day of work in MN. And I needed my car there. Sooooooooo, it was road trip time. I loaded up my Honda with cd's, a monster thermos of coffee, and a big bag of herbal reinforcement. I had about 65 hours to get to MN, so it was going to be straight through. Holy lord.
The first 12 hours were pretty mellow. I stopped in the middle of the Mojave and toasted Jim Morrison with a heavy bowl (after which I was forced to wait about an hour before I could drive again). I stopped in Albequerque for about a half hour before I was kicked out of a little parking lot by the gas station guy. I have to say it felt good to be speeding away from some redneck yelling something about damn hippies etc. Felt like I was a kind of rebel or something. Back to the Kerouac days when the beat kids would drive that route and get harassed in the same manner.
The next 20 hours were pretty hairy, I was getting tired and my eyes weren't cooperating as they should have been. Aaaannnnd it was night again, aaaannnnd right about then a couple lights came on in my car, aaaannnnd my cd player broke. I was almost out of gas, in all respects, and I was pulling into the armpit of America: Oklahoma City. If I can go the rest of my life without ever being there again, I will be all right.
I wasn't at the gas station 2 minutes before I was harrassed by a couple of redneck assholes, minutes later I was approached by a couple teenagers who wanted me to buy them beer, and minutes after that a couple of cops harrassed me some more for talking to the kids who wanted me to buy them beer. That's my ten minutes in Oklahoma City. I had been thinking about staying, but with that welcome, and the over abundance of bass booming suburban white kids (nothing scares me more than a stupid kid with nothing but time and angst on his hands, coupled with an affinity for bad rap music and something to prove), I was on my way again. It has been 34 hours since I left LA.
Now, here I was, back on the road, just out of the armpit and almost to the nipple, no cd player etc etc etc...So I decided to turn on NPR to relax a little and maybe get stimulated enough to keep going.
The moment I turned on the radio I crested a decent sized hill, and in the distance was a huge, and I mean huge thunderstorm. Lightning everywhere, and the blakcest of black skies. And to my absolute delight...the announcer on NPR said, in a soothing quasi-british dialect "For the next hour and a half, we will be exploring the fiery sounds of Rokmannanov's thrid piano concerto..."
I'm not sure how many of you are famliar with it, but you can go and rent the movie "Shine" with Geoffry Rush to get an idea. It's a wonderful piece, complex and exhilirating.
So I sat there for about an hour, watching this monster storm and listening to a monster composer. That experience alone made the whole trip, the 46 hours that I drove to MN, the month I spent there, and the 32 hour drive back to LA (took a different route that time!).
Just another reminder that no matter what, just keep going and it'll all turn to the positive and beautiful. Though please, I do not recommend driving long trips like that, and I just learned that a lot of states make it illegal now to drive more than 12 hours straight. And, disclaimer aside, rock on!

Posted by Colin at 08:35 AM | Comments (1)

August 06, 2003


Hi. This is me. If you're curious, feel free to continue. if not, read it anyway cause I'm taking the time to write it and you might see something interesting. maybe.

Hi! let's get goin...I'm a 27 yr old actor from, ummmm, welll, let's say Wisconsin. I was born in NC but I claim Madison WI as my home town __GO PACKERS!!!___. I left Madison a little while back to go to college in MN, and after seven years of thrilling, ummm, actually by thrilling I mean terribly boring and depressing, academia, I moved to Los Angeles to be a movie star. L A was fun, and I can't wait to get back...but things were going to well to quickly and I got way ahead of myself and decided to run off to Northern California to be a hippie and get away for a while.
I'm going to write a paragraph here about the town I lived in, Arcata, because it really played a significant role in my development as a human being. Arcata is a wonderful place to relax and heal. It is not a wonderful place to grow as a human however... It seems that one has to agree to be errr, well, small I guess is the right way to say it. To live in a town where almost everyone is socially conscious, and extremely leftist, is interesting and a good way to learn about other peoples social tendencies...but try and connect with a person and you're SOL. I really dig meeting and sharing with people, and I was miserable there. Never really felt that alone before. I can't say that I didn't have any friends at all...there were a few people who I had fun with and still care for greatly...but nothnig like what I have everywhere else I've lived. Stoners are hard to get to know, really...and most people are so into their metaphysical worlds that other people's experiences are threatening to their realities. Experiencing this really shook me as a person, and I feel like it made me stronger, but left me missing something...a spark that I used to have. the natural beauty is unparalleled in the U.S. as far as I'm concerned, though it's beauty is soft and elusive, which, in truth, really sums up the way I felt about Arcata. Always mellow, always soft, always a misty haze around everything and everyone. Reality just a bit out of reach...The actual challenges that this time in my life presented me with are among the toughest I've encountered yet, and holy lord am I glad to be out of there.
Luckily for me, one day a friend suggested that I check out this website called So I did. And from there this whole trip idea came to me like an inspiration from Lombardi (may he rest in peace). I've always dug traveling and have been more of a backpacker than anything else for most of my life....but man oh man, this RTW has been waiting for me. Anyone who has been on the boards over the last year and reads what I post and remembers it knows what I'm talking about, but for the rest of you...this trip is my thing.
AS for now...i'm kickin it and rarin to go. I have less than three months to travel around the U.S. and get things done before I bail the country and get a chance to test my mettle...and for the first time in a couple years...I think I found my spark again...

Posted by Colin at 02:08 PM | Comments (3)

August 01, 2003

Here we Go!

Well kids, this is how it begins...It's been a beautiful trip so far and I haven't even left yet...

For about ten or twelve years I 've had this yearning for an adventure. A journey that would test me as a human being and educate me in the same realm. In most everything I've done so far, this feeling has been by my side pushing me forward and through. Now it's time to make it a reality.
It's been about a year or so of planning, and putting affairs in order and just getting out of the "mainstream" american work work work deal. It took a good nine months just to get everything in my life working towards the goal of a long term travel adventure, and another four or so of working, studying, and just plain hanging in there. All of that time, sitting in my increasingly barren apartment, the idea of taking off was just that; a faint ghost of a thing in the back of my mind. It's so easy to forget, my friends, the freedom and the joy of just going. Just putting it away and going. My energy level is peaked and my heart is bursting with happiness this morning, just knowing that the first step is taken, and I'm on my way.
For the next few months, I'll be running around the United States, visiting family and tying up all the ends that need tying. I would like to share with whomever decides to read this, this time of preparation and anticipation. If you're out there and reading, please send comments and ideas and thoughts. We are all here for an adventure, and I don't know about you, but I think that adventures can be scary as well as wonderful, so I know I'll be hoping for a bit of inspiration from other travelers, as well as anyone who cares.
Today is August fifth, counting down two months and eight days till the take off overseas: November thirteenth.
So, I left my last stationary home in Arcata CA yesterday, found a last minute ride to portland, and, thanks to the kind people at the IYH, an excellent gentleman named Tyrone, an unnamed woman reading John Grisham, and our friend Sean I found myself in NE Portland OR staring at the Boots Bus. Here I was, just yesterday a timid data entry worker, now a determined and resourceful traveler (I'll take seconds on the delusions of grandeur, thanks), and in the embrace of the world. Shortly after I recovered from the slight shock of actually looking at the BootsBus etc. I was half in the bag and sharing stories on Sean's porch. Nothing ends a day like a few pints of bitter and good conversation....
I must sing my praises for Sean. The level of hospitality I received here at the Boots house is inspirational, and humbling. To see a person who loves travel so much that their whole body lifts and lightens at the mention of the word is a gift I'm very thankful for. Thanks Sean, and thanks to all the Boots crew who unwittingly helped and supported. Oooh yeah, and while I'm at it, thanks to Cari for the ride and the lunch and good talks!
So, one hour and counting and I'm off to my next stop: Rochester MN, to see my sister get married. Oh lord get the kegs ready cause here I come!!

Posted by Colin at 05:09 PM | Comments (6)