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Showing posts from October, 2010

Gear Review: Around the World with the SPOT Personal Tracker

Sometimes when I’m hundreds of miles away from any cell or internet service and haven’t been able to communicate with the outside world, my mom likes to update friends with stories about my exact location:

Gear Review: 120+ Nights in a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2

In the last two and a half years I’ve only used one tent, a fantastic 3lb compact two-person tent from Big Agnes called the Seedhouse SL2 . It’s a little frightening to realize that during this time I’ve spent over 120 nights sleeping outdoors in it, and I’ve set it up and torn it down over a hundred times. I’m not a professional gear reviewer who spends a couple nights in different tents throughout the year, so I can’t compare it from personal experience to other tents – but I can say, from immense personal experience, that this tent will not let you down. Ever. The Seedhouse SL2 is a very simple design with a single aluminum hub pole held together by some sort of magical kevlar or nylon. Toss it on the ground and maybe kick it once or twice and it self assembles rapidly with strong mechanical clicks, reminiscent of a Transformer – I’m not sure exactly why, but this action is always a pleasure to experience and makes the first few moments of setting up camp enjoyable.

Journey’s End

One of the hardest things with any long journey is coping with the end – you feel amazingly free at first, but this quickly turns to boredom. Worse, you may find yourself changed in many ways, perhaps unexpected, and accepting this can be quite difficult. This is the fourth time in the last year I’ve gone through this, each time different. In November, 2009, I returned from one of the most bizarre and thought-provoking vacations anyone can imagine, where I rode a mototaxi thousands of miles across South America (I cannot recommend this type of experience enough). I had already made plans to quit my job, but I think everyone I worked with secretly hoped I would change my mind when I returned – unfortunately for them, this experience solidified my need to experience life at a different level. Immediately after my final day of work on December 31, 2009, I set out on a road trip across the US with the goal of getting the few remaining states in my “all 50 states” merit badge. Sleeping in

The Night Road

The sun flees behind me, sullen, as I pass it by. Night slowly smothers my world, until all that exists is a shrunken cone of light, a feeble token of my unwillingness to fully surrender to the darkness. The smooth dark curves of the mountain road reveal themselves by this light, tantalizing glimpses of yellow and white paint keeping me within the night road’s embrace. Each curve is a new mystery to explore, the road leaning away from the light and refusing to reveal itself. They must be felt, intimately, each meter of the curves coyly unfolding itself under my touch as I slide along it. The sharpness often stabbing, forcing an unexpected response, rapid deceleration followed by careful, thoughtful exploration. Mysterious shapes slide by, tugging at my mind, familiar yet completely foreign. The road consumes my attention, even to consider what lies beyond, in the darkness, is a risk not worth taking. Somewhere above lights in the sky beg to be revealed, but the curves before me refuse


In nearly three months on the road, mostly spent camping and travelling, I’ve had a number of things break or die on me. In some ways it’s surprising, in others I suppose expected. Here’s a quick rundown as of today: Panasonic FS-10 Digital Camera: This little guy was amazing. For the last year, it’s been my main camera and has held up through some serious abuse in South America and Asia, not to mention all the times it came out at parties and whatnot back home. It’s been dropped, thrown out of mototaxis, bounced down hills, frozen in snow, covered in sand, and kept on ticking…  Until I took it out for some pictures on the AlCan and the lense mechanism finally jammed for good. RIP. Sony PRS300 E-Reader: I can’t travel without an e-reader anymore, they are so simple and small and easy to deal with compared to bringing books. This one came all over Asia with me and survived being recharged and partially blown out at a suspect plug at 15k feet in the Himalayas, but finally gave up the g