BootsnAll Travel Network

Moab and Las Vegas

May 14th, 2009

After leaving Monticello, Utah, I drove the last fifty miles to Moab where I was to meet up with Tiphanie (whom I previously met in Nepal) at the Love Muffin (a muffin shop not a strip club or adult themed store). Moab is a very trendy and somewhat hippy or artsy town. It is most well known for its world class mountain biking trails. The downtown is full of outfitting stores and shops offering tours into the surrounding countryside. Arriving at the Love Muffin, I went into the shop and it took me a little while to find her as I haven’t seen her in nearly 1.5 years. After spending some time catching up,  we headed out to do some sightseeing. We first stopped at rafting company to reserve two duckies (single person inflatable rafts) to do some rafting down the Colorado River the next day by ourselves. Then we headed to Arches National Park which isn’t far from Moab. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pictures Added to Website

May 11th, 2009

I have uploaded the pictures for the Southwest Trip. They can be viewed by clicking on the trip photos link which will take you to Flickr.


The Grand Canyon

May 9th, 2009

Wednesday morning I left the hotel early to try to get to Hoover Dam before it got too crowded and too hot.  I took the interstate to its end and then crossed the mountains to get to Lake Mead. Before the dam came into view, I could see the new bridge that is being built to ease traffic congestion on Hoover Dam. The main span is growing from each side and still has a ways to go before connecting. I parked on the opposite side of the dam so I could walk across it. The water level in Lake Mead was very low due to drought so large portions of the intake towers were sticking out of the water. Once at the visitor center, I learned that the elevators were down for maintenance and no tours were being run. I returned to my car and resumed the drive into Arizona to get to Grand Canyon National Park.

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Death Valley

May 3rd, 2009

My mother dropped me off at the airport to catch my flight to Las Vegas. I checked in and made my way through security. I was in line behind an 80 something year old nun who somehow made the metal detector go off.  She was then pulled assigned and gave a thorough scan with the hand wand. My first flight was to Dallas. The flight was delayed but otherwise uneventful. The flight from Dallas to Las Vegas was another matter.  The flight continually hit turbulence and kept dropping. These drops appeared to coincide with my bathroom trips. Cutting cartwheels through the sky, the plane approached Las Vegas flying over Lake Mead. I was surprised to see how close the airport was to the main strip with all of the casinos. The city appeared to have grown up around the airport.

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I didn’t win

March 17th, 2009

Well, I am still gainfully employed in Louisiana as I didn’t win the contest. Thank you to everyone who voted for me and for the other 6,999,999,968 who didn’t I know where you live. Watch your back.

 On a lighter note, I am going to Las Vegas next month on April 24. I plan to visit Death Valley, Grand Canyon, and other places in the area. While this is going on, if some money should accidently fall into a slot machine or on a black jack table, well accidents happen. I am bringing my tent and my backpack just in case all of my money accidently falls on a blackjack table or I see a nice spot in a national park to spend the night. For those of you who remember back in the day, when my blog used to actually be interesting and about travel, I plan to bring the laptop and do some good old fashion blogging. It probably won’t be as exciting as diverting through rice fields in an embassy vehicle to avoid the Maoist rebels or starring in a movie in India but I will do what I can.

Again for those who remember, I couchsurfed my way through Europe on my trip. I have decided to spread the love and have signed up my sofa for couchsurfing. (Not that I am expecting many international travelers to come to Baton Rouge but those are just details)

The house renovations are continuing. My stairs are partially disassembled and will be put back to together again with wrought iron (or maybe aluminum made to look like iron). I will know for sure when I put my weight on it for the first time and see if the railing collapses like a Coke can. I have to start tearing out drywall around the tubs soon as well so I can put up the right material to hold the tile. Fun and exciting stuff. Well I could ramble on but I won’t as your eyes have probably glazed over and drool has made your face stick to the sofa. So wipe your face off and turn off the computer as I am done until next time.


Life Update and I Need Your Vote

February 11th, 2009

The last few months have seen me working on the house trying to build up some sweat equity. So far I have painted, bought new appliances, put molding up, broke a mirror, and tore the fireplace mantle off the wall. Even though I still have months of work ahead of me I plan to move in on February 28. This way I will be able to work in the evenings when I get home.

Recently, I came across a website called Island Reef Job. This is a job with the Queensland Australia tourism board. They are offering to pay someone $150,000 AUD to live on a Great Barrier Reef island for six months and promote the area through blogging and video diaries. I think you may also have to feed some fish. The first selection round consists of making a video about why you would be good for the job. This is where I need your help. People can go view your video and rate it.  The URL for my video is: Please go watch the video and hopefully you will like it and give it five stars. You only have until about March 2nd to do this. (It may even end sooner so don’t delay.)

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Bought a House

December 14th, 2008

There are several momentous first in life. Many people can agree I think that one of those firsts is buying a house. Apart from cars or student loans, it is one of the biggest forms of debt we take on.

After several months of trying, I have finally taken the plunge and bought a house. It a condominium that is part of a fourplex. I was prepared to buy the house in September but Hurricane Gustav came through and caused lots of damage which had to be repaired before I could close. It involved me actually buying a chimney for the next door neighbor to speed up the process. I hope to get this money back through insurance.

The purchase of a home does not mean the end of my traveling desire. On the contrary, it is the first step in a plan that I hope will eventually allow me to travel longer or at least  find work I enjoy more without having to worry about income so much. Post trip after finding a job, my next order of priority was finding a place to live as I have been living in my parent’s home. I finally found a place not for from where I work (as opposed to my parent’s house which is 43 miles away.) The house is a fixer upper so I got it fairly cheap. I probably have two months of work ahead of me before I can move in.  Currently I am having the roof depopcorned so the place is wreck. I am also going in when I can and am pulling down wallpaper. After these two jobs are done, my next step is renovating the kitchen, painting, and putting in new flooring. I have no idea how long any of this will take so it should be interesting.

How does any of this fit in with long term traveling you might ask? If not quit reading as I am going to tell you anyway.  This condominium is in an area between two hospitals, near two major malls, and 10 story commercial building is going up nearby. The area is also built up so there is not a lot of room for more housing. In short, I believe this to be a prime rental area. After I finishing repairing the place I just bought, I would like to buy one or two more to rent out. My biggest financial concern during my last trip was my inability to put away retirement money. With several properties to rent while traveling (including the one I just bought), I can have money going into an equity “retirement” account. I don’t plan to draw an income from the properties but rather put any extra money into paying them off. If I go traveling again, I will have to hire a property manager to watch over them. 2009 will hopefully see me finishing renovating this property and acquiring another one. I do plan to do two trips next year. In the spring, I want to go to the Grand Canyon and in the fall perhaps go to Peru. Stay tuned to the blog, should any fascinating travails happen while renovating the house, I will certainly write about them.

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Surviving Hurricane Gustav

September 9th, 2008

Everyone seems to be discussing statistics and making weekend plans. The stores are full of people loading up on snacks and beer. Is it time for the World Series or the Superbowl? No it’s hurricane season and South Louisiana is about to experience the main event. Hurricane Gustav has been beating up islands in the Caribbean for days and now it’s our turn. Read the rest of this entry »

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Job Found

June 19th, 2008

After leaving my sister’s home in late May, I spent a week in Oregon and Washington catching up with family. From there I flew back to New Orleans where I was met at the airport by my parents who I hadn’t seen in 15 months. After settling in and playing with the Bassett Hound/Labrador Retriever mix next door (look like a Retriever with sawed off legs) so that she wouldn’t bark at me everytime I went outside, I set about finding a job in the local area. After sending out about 10 resumes, I ended up with offers from two different companies. (My trip was on the resume so as to explain the gap in work history.) One was the company that I worked for before I left. They were offering a job similar to the one that I had when I left. The other was from an engineering contract company which would move me around between different sites. So began an agonizing few days of going back and forth about which job to take. I was also trying to decide whether I wanted to return to engineering in the first place.

First I figured I would have to make the decision about whether to accept any of the jobs. While I do take risks in life (the trip), I am not one who likes to exist on a razor thin edge (show up somewhere with $10 in my pockets and hope for the best.) I like to have some sort of a back up plan. While planning for the original trip, I had set certain financial criteria that I needed to meet before leaving and didn’t leave until I met them. I wasn’t broke when I returned from the trip, but I didn’t feel I was in a strong enough financial position to just throw caution to the wind and try to invent a new life doing something completely new. In the end I decided to take one of the two job offered to rebuild my financial strength.

With one decision down, it was time to tackle the next one. From a financial perspective, both jobs were equal in the first year but the engineering firm won out by year two as the increased pay made up for lower benefits.  From a comfort level, my previous employer (from now on P.E.)  won out as I already knew the job and the people I would be working with. My P.E. would also provide stronger job security as engineering firms tend to suffer more in weak business cycles. The engineering firm offered a more flexible work environment with alternate work schedules, overtime pay, and easier access to unpaid time off which would be great if I wanted to do a longer trip.

To solve this problem, I put all my engineering skills to the task and try to quantify what was essentially a values decision in both Excel and mental spreadsheets. In the end I chose the engineering firm. While the pay was better (I will be making 30% more  than when I left), this was not what made me choose them. I have no desire to become superwealthy and I don’t have extravagant tastes. (I won’t turn down an opportunity to put myself in a better financial position if I can though.) It was the perceived flexibility that won out in the end. I am a big proponent of work/life balance. I believe in working hard when I am at work but I also want to be able to enjoy the fruits of that hard work. Starting on June 23, I will reenter the working world for the first time in 16 months. It will be an adjustment, but it will be nice to have income coming in again. I plan to stay at my parent’s home for the next two to three months and then go buy a house. From there the future is open. Currently I plan to continue to travel to exotic locales but just for shorter time periods. My plan for the near term is to try to set myself up so that I have some sources of income that don’t depend on me going to a job site everyday. This way, if I do decided to take another long trip, I can still make money.

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Emotional Outpourings and Future of the Blog

May 17th, 2008

As I sit here in my sister’s house surrounded by scenes of American surburbia, I find that the memories of my trip are beginning to fade as they always do. The tastes, smells, and sounds are starting to dull and are becoming harder to recall. It appears that I will remember my trip not in vivid memories and perfect recall but in flashes of familiarity brought on by what I encounter in daily life (a news story about China, a mountain view, or a movie filmed in New Zealand for example). This doesn’t bring on a feeling of depression that I thought I might encounter at the end of my trip. Rather it provides a bridge and helps to ease the transition between two very different lifestyles.

Now that I have been back in the US for two weeks, I have begun to look for a job and re-establish all the things needed for a “normal” life. I find that it is not as hard as I thought to make the jump back to my previous life. It just goes to show how adaptable humans are and how quickly the exotic becomes the norm. My trip ended at a good time. Towards the end I was the kid who ate too much candy and ended up with a stomache ache. Despite being surrounded by exotic locales and vistas, it was hard for me to feel any of the awe that I had at the start of my trip. My brain and body now needs time to absorb and deal with all that I have seen and been through. I am content for the time being to spend time with friends and family and reenter the workforce. The latter brought on as much by necessity as wanting to feel productive again. All that being said, I am once again starting to feeling a very small kernel of wanderlust.  The roving lifestyle is once again beginning to look exotic and full of promises of new adventures.  Who knows how long it will be before the calls from my backpack become too loud (Central Asia – the “Stans” fascinate me) to ignore and I feel the need to head out again. If I do, rest assured that I will do my best to document for anyone who wants to come along. In the meantime, check back with the blog every few months. As the trip is officially over, I will no longer do weekly updates, but plan to do updates if anything interesting happens in my life (like blog book deals, new big adventure about to begin, things like that). I still plan to do trips whenever work permits and they will definitely show up. 

I will be in Indiana until May 21 attending tea parties, watching Sesame Street, playing My Little Pony and dollhouse, and all the other things men submit to when confronted with a bright smiling three year old face.  These activities will occasionally be broken up with bouts of bug hunting and being used as a private jet (I like to think of myself as a tough fighter plane to make up for the My Little Pony sessions) for flights around the house. I will then go to Oregon for a week to visit other family, and return to Louisiana on May 28.