Tag Archives: travel

Life as a fictional character.


I don’t know which is harder to endure, sitting still and watching life fly by in a haphazard whirlwind of confusion or getting on your blistered, war ravaged feet day after day and traversing towards that mysterious goal you set out to accomplish. I don’t know which is more heartbreaking, remaining stagnant where you stand, hoping for something to come your way to lift your spirits or leaving what is familiar, what is safe and what you know will be there when you open your eyes the next morning. I cannot bear to stand these quandaries.

Sometimes I wonder if every human is confronted with perpetual crossroads, if the decisions we have to make are merely a cosmic joke told by the Grand Jokester to keep things interesting, or they actually mean something important and are not to be taken lightly. I always felt that my life is akin to a never-ending maze of sharp corners and wicked speed bumps followed by tumultuous alleyways and finally rounded off by a series of burning rings that I must jump through. I don’t mean to be dramatic. I don’t mean to sound as if my life is harder than anyone here in the audience and to be honest I am not even voicing a trivial complaint. I think it’s alright to question the cosmos once or twice. Hell, the only bad question is the one that’s never asked.

I guess it would be nice to saunter down that smooth, cobble-stoned walkway once every few months or so, just to be reminded that life doesn’t always have to be a sharp kick in the ass. The first twenty-nine years of my life I convinced myself that hard times make you tough, make you strong and that it will put hair on your chest. I usually welcome those moments when I go face-to-face with the gods and clash my sword against their shields and listen to the metallic ring of victory. But there are times I don’t wish to do battle because I do not want to put up a fight.

I am thirty now and I am tough. On a good day I am strong, and there is too much hair on my chest, I shave it once and awhile but it grows back thicker and will itch like something else so I let it grow ginzo style because I know women love hairy men.

Please do not misunderstand where I am trying to come from. I don’t want an easy life. I never wanted the path of least resistance because without some of the trials and tribulations I would not be the man I am today. Personally I don’t envy those boys and girls who never know what it’s like to have hardships. It certainly gives you a much better perspective on adulthood and you’re more apt to appreciate the things you do have in this world.

They say it’s about choices. It’s all about choices and nothing else. What about circumstances? What about luck? What about all that bullshit I hear about parents abandoning their children? What about poverty? Disease? Handicaps? Addictions? Are not all these factors somewhat involved with the so-called choices we make? I can’t sit here and write to you people and tell you I have stood my ground and avoided stupidity like one avoiding an avalanche. Because it would be untruthful and it would contradict the mission that has been ingrained in my heart to help those suffering.

I make dumb decisio’s every day.

My point is I want to be at peace with myself. Even for one week. For one week I want to roll out of bed with gusto and smell the flowers and all that malarkey. I want to throw open the bedroom door and inhale deeply and whistle my ass into the shower. I want to have breakfast with a beautiful woman who thinks I am the greatest creature in the universe. I need the life that Lyle Lovett was singing about when he croaked over cream in his coffee and flour tortillas and Sunday mornings and how his chick knew him better than anyone else. That’s the life I secretly wish for.

But I am a fictional character. There is a curse to those of us who sit down and scribe our thoughts and musings and tell tales of grandeur. When you spend most of your time inventing worlds of make-believe and the entire goings on involved with said world, you can accept your talent and bask in the god-like glory of being the mastermind behind every masterpiece your nimble fingers create…or you can become depressed because the lives you invent are not reality. They are figments of another place and another time, and if you dwell on them too long, you may wind up sitting in a padded room while brutish nurses feed you horse tranquilizers and your hair grows old and grey. By that time no self-respecting American women will have you.

Yet there is a certain glory to it all. There is a sense of accomplishment and peacefulness. There is a part of me that loves to create and to fantasize and to make pretend. I guess this is what helps me stay young and sane and in-tune with my Zen-like nature. As someone who fabricates stories I have many characters running around the confines of my skull and they are all pushing and shoving and vying for position. Each one serves a purpose, each one was created at a certain low point in my life, and sometimes they cannot be found when I am in dire straits to help assuage those hard choices I mentioned earlier.

I think this is where most of us writers go awry and become unfulfilled. We spend hours upon hours pretending to live in the stories we write. We daydream about living out the lives we give our protagonists and all the while neglect our own realities. I won’t speak for all of you, but I know that when I come to a proverbial fork in the road, I will shut my eyes and seek advice from someone I created, yes I am fully aware of how it sounds, but I don’t care, because I know some of you will understand where I am coming from. I think most people do this type of meditation but are too afraid to admit it.

I travel often. I am what they call a drifter, a hopeless wanderer, a man who searches when his heart cries out for something new. I drove across America last year and spent three months on the road. I loved it dearly and managed to come up with several wonderful ideas for novels. Adventure makes me feel whole. When I feel my feet sinking into the sands of monotony I pack my meager belongings into boxes and move on. I will be leaving my residence shortly to regain something I had lost over the past several months. I will take those characters with me and they shall comfort me when darkness creeps over the vastness of earth and eclipses the sun.

Forks and crossroads.

They can be friend and they could be foe. But it’s just a matter of perspective. Isn’t it?    


Delilahs vampires.

Authors Note: I watched “Interview with a vampire” a few weeks ago and decided to write my own vampire thriller, due to its length, I’ve decided to break it up into two or three parts. This is part one and was written entirely on my phone because my computer is no longer working. The second part will be published sometime this week. I hope you enjoy, feel free to leave some commentary! Music to read by: “Voodoo” Godsmack.  

Rain fell in a hostile sweeping motion, causing the frightened stranger to seek shelter underneath a rickety lean-to left over by some previous nomad. Thunder rumbled and followed streams of lightning across the midnight sky. Ominous clouds engulfed the heavens, leaving the moon stranded somewhere in the atmosphere without a chance to comfort his weary soul. It was a cold rain and it soaked into his thick, unforgiving skin. His body ached in remembrance of his king sized mattress and his spine was erect from both fear and dismay.

Howling erupted from somewhere he could not see, his eyes opened wider and his ears moved to the haunting sound of wild animals lurking in the background. The thought of being eaten alive by carnivores with ferocious, razor-sharp teeth made him yelp aloud. He smacked his hand over his mouth and tried hard not to scream for fear of summoning the wicked creatures closer to his shelter.

It was a cold rain and it was an eerie, horrible night to be stranded in the woods. The wind played the tall pine trees like a harpist stroking the strings of his beloved instrument. But this was not a peaceful, relaxing tune. The world around him echoed and cried and he remembered the old Irish folklore about banshee’s ascending from hell in order to warn of impending doom. The storm was ruthless, leaving nothing exempt from its unstoppable power.

He cursed underneath his breath and swore to kill someone at the car rental agency. They promised “great cars at affordable prices”. But they had given him a lemon on four wheels and it had broken down a few hours after leaving the lot. The family had untold millions and access to whatever they wanted, but since he was yet to be “made”, he was on his own as far as comfort was concerned.

When the howling commenced for a second time, he pictured flesh being torn from his bones and wolves dragging him into their cave as they feasted on his scrawny frame without a second thought.

He was a wolf. A predator that stalked the streets in search of easy targets. The organ pumping blood into his veins was rock solid and filled with a murderous agenda and an appetite for everything unholy. Like the animals that stalked the dark forest surrounding him, the eyes in his sockets were empty, void of life and only satisfied when the scent of prey drew near. The family had sent him on a mission, if successfully accomplished, he would finally earn his stripes and receive the respect he deserved.

The target was a former Capo turned FBI informant who fled Chicago several months earlier and had been located deep in the Adirondack mountains in New York. It was an easy job and he didn’t mind getting his hands dirty because the rewards were worth it. But things had turned south quickly. He wasn’t in New York for more than a few hours before his car died in the middle of nowhere. The dirt road leading to his destination was a swamp, the rain and fog was too thick, and once the engine began to stutter and stammer and give in, he decided to abandon the small hatchback to its fate. With the hope of finding a nearby town, he began to hoof it.

Mother Nature had other plans as it bore down its wrath upon him. When he came across the lean-to, his boots were saturated and his mind played terrible tricks. Doubt crept up his legs and overtook his senses. Exhaustion, fear and respite from the rain took its toll and he began to drift off into sleeps soothing release.

By the time he came to, the monsoon had dwindled into a friendly drizzle and the morning sun was rising somewhere he could not identify. The world was hidden under mist, he stepped back onto the road and attempted to gain his bearings but it was to no avail. The howling had ceased and he hoped the animals had moved deeper into the vast territory and found another target to spy on.

The silence was deadly and it began to haunt him. No cars, no humans, no fast food. Just a jungle of nothingness and a date to keep with a former mobster. He was very punctual when it came business and he hated to disappoint the family. This was his opportunity, nothing would come between it.

An hour into his nature hike brought little in the way of civilization. The mud roads turned into sloppy pavement, he thanked the gods for this as walking became less of a burden. He was drenched. His new boots ruined, his cell phone was waterlogged and the anger, that terrible, piercing anger was slowly pushing his patience further into oblivion.

Then he heard the sound of hoof beats echoing through the air. Turning around, his ears tried to pinpoint the exact location and a spring of hope began to materialize in his mind. He stood very still while the noise grew closer and closer.

“That’s a fucking horse, it’s gotta be.”

Through the ghostly fog a giant beast began to come into view. It was pulling a small cart  and its driver was shrouded in a heavy cloak. The horse was jet black with ripped muscles and long snout that undoubtedly exhaled fire and brimstone as it tore into the ground that it trampled.

He stood on the shoulder and waited for the caravan to come to a halt. As it drew nearer,  all he could distinguish was the old person holding the reins. Its head was bent low and hidden by a hood. Grey, stringy hair flowed from underneath, its hands were ancient but in control of the monster that pulled it. The person underneath the cloak appeared thin, and a large wooden box sat unmolested in the rear cargo bay. A familiar chill ran up the young mans spine as the sinister apparition came to a stop ten yards away from him.

The horse and driver remained quiet. Not a breath could be heard, nothing moved. The fog seemed to grow thicker as the seconds ticked.

“Hello there. My car broke down about ten miles south of here, do you know if there’s a town close by with a payphone?” The murderer attempted to communicate with the odd human in front of him.

“This is private land, why have you trespassed? This is not a place for hitchhiker’s.” Came a raspy, emotionless reply.

“Like I said, my car broke down. I don’t see any trespassing signs, and this is a public road is it not?”

He deduced it was the voice of an old woman. Knowing what was at stake, he was prepared to take the necessary steps to keep things from getting out of hand.

“Who are you and why have you come? These woods are not to be trifled with. I can assure you there are things here that go bump in the night. Take heed of my warnings child, turn away now, go back to where you came from.”

With that warning she made a strange clicking sound and the horse began to move once more. His blood pressure started rising as he stepped closer to the buggy.

“Take it easy, I’m stranded in the middle of nowhere, can you at least give me a lift? I have money.”

A gut wrenching screech emerged from the driver seat as she laughed at his proclamation. This caused his belly to flip with unease, his anger, that devilish anger, was giving him bad thoughts about the old coot staying warm under her wool overcoat.

“I don’t know what’s so funny but-”

“Money! Alright young man, I shall give you sanctuary if you are in dire straights. I hate to see you end up like so many other hitchhiker’s who dare venture out here alone. You are brave aren’t you? Yes very brave indeed. Come, come up here and join me.” With a wave of her bony hand, she beckoned him.

He had yet to see her face, it was still hidden underneath her hood. He stood a moment and contemplated the offer.

“What is your name woman? And before I climb aboard your ship, I want to see your face. I don’t normally ride with strangers, but these fucking woods are creepy as hell and my legs are tired.”

“You wish to see my face? Very well, my name is Delilah and these are my woods. I don’t get many visitors, it could be nice to have supper with such a strapping young man.”

Delilah slowly put the reigns down and grabbed the rim of her hood gently and pulled it back. To his surprise, her skin was soft as porcelain, her grey hair now shone with a beauty he didn’t recognize earlier. Even her hands seemed less wrinkled.

But her eyes were solid white. No pupils.

The man standing in the muddy road gasped and looked away.

“I know what you’re thinking boy. I was born blind and my eyes are sensitive to light.”

Usually one to make quick decisions, he found himself at a loss and wasn’t sure if he should get on board with a woman who at one moment appeared to be ninety years old and the next, thirty. But he had people waiting for him to complete a task. He needed to get to a town fast, he chalked it up to exhaustion and a terrible night in the woods.

“Are you coming or not? I have no qualms about leaving you here to fend for yourself. This road is seldom traveled, you’re lucky I stopped. But alas, these woods are alive and to leave you alone would be akin to manslaughter.”

“How did you know I was standing here? If you’re blind, how did you see me?”

“I see many things. One needs only intuition, and a loyal horse.” She answered softly as she cooed at the animal.

He found himself attracted to her. A sudden rush of punch-drunk emotions left his guard weakened. He stepped carefully across the broken down road and stopped to admire the beautiful stallion and its flowing ebony mane.

“Are you a gypsy?”

When she laughed she sounded like a young maiden, not like the gaggle of an old dying crow he had thought he heard a minute ago.

“There hasn’t been a gypsy in these lands for a hundred years. I am just a widow, a wanderer who found a piece of earth to settle on. You inquire about much, fear not child. You are in good company, Brutus is a marvelous horse and will not fail to deliver us safely to our destination…I cannot say the same for your automobile.”

He snickered and was obliged to agree with her. He thought about going back to the car and setting it ablaze but lost his train of thought when a flock of ravens flew over his head. They appeared out of nowhere and settled atop a large evergreen, squawking and pecking each other for a better position on the branches.

The woman tilted her head into the air. Her thin, pinkish lips opened slightly. Her face grew tense as if the birds were a bad omen.

“We must leave now, the journey is far and the weather is not on our side. If you wish to come, I suggest getting in. If not, leave now. Go back to where you came from, this is no place for strangers.”

“Why are you frightened? You’re afraid of these woods aren’t you? What did the birds have to say?” He questioned with a laugh.

She ignored his mocking tone and clicked her tongue. Brutus began galloping forward, leaving him on the wayside.

“Hey! Wait for me!” He yelled and ran quickly towards the passenger side of the wagon. In one athletic motion he grabbed hold of the wooden frame and hoisted himself into the seat. The grey haired woman said nothing about his performance and kept her eyes on the rocky trail. The hitman turned around to look down the road and noticed the birds.

They were quiet as they watched the two humans make haste. Their beady eyes were lasers. Their sharp beaks, closed. There were hundreds and they all watched him carefully in deafening silence.

—–To be continued—–


Trifecta Challenge: Beautiful disaster

Trifecta: Week sixty-three: Write a 33-333 word response using the word path as your prompt word. Music to read by: “Below my feet” performed by Mumford and Sons. This story is 333 words. 

The man with something to prove cursed under his breath as the six o’clock train pulled away from Grand Central without him.  A boy with bright red hair watched with impartiality from inside one of the cars and gave the unlucky ticket holder a sarcastic wave goodbye. With a weary smile, he returned the wave and flipped the goofy looking teenager the dirty bird. Upon seeing this treacherous act of war the child turned to the person sitting next to him and began to tattle, but the mechanical beast made of metal and all things nightmarish, roared down the track and the tiny spat between the two strangers ended forever.

The next train heading south into Savannah wasn’t scheduled to leave for another eight hours. Mickey closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose and waited for the small, yet debilitating pain, to form in the back of his skull. He took a seat near a family of pay phones and wished he had chosen another path. His way of life, conduct and thought process were affected by whatever drink was placed before him.

“Breathe buddy. Just breathe. You’re going to be OK. ” He chanted to himself in a sing-song way. Jenna had taught him mantras and breathing exercises to help relieve some of his tension. On instinct, he reached into his breast pocket for the flask of vodka. It was not there.

“You’re a beautiful disaster Mickey. I love you, but I can’t tolerate this behavior anymore. The children are growing up without their father, you need to get help.”

Tears formed around the corners of his swollen eyes as he remembered the way she looked when she told him to leave. Dark hair covered her soft cheeks, eyes full of empathy, her heart full of undying love.

The world knew him as a successful author, his children knew him as a successful drunk, and his wife knew him as a beautiful disaster. A spark ignited his desperate heart.

                 


Road Trip: Jimmy Bojangles

Me as Jimmy Bojangles

When darkness creeps in and erases the sun from shining, the coyotes howl and the prairie winds pick up, it leaves me cold and vulnerable to the outside world. Sometimes, when all is quiet and clouds hang gently overhead, I take a moment to wonder how I came to be. How I went from living indoors and working forty hours a week, to sleeping in my Grand Van and camping under the stars in a forgotten part of the world with no money, no home and no employment. The Denver Post is yet to hire me.

I am sitting in a Starbucks in Golden, CO and taking a moment to rest. Over the past forty-eight hours, I have filled out and hand delivered over thirty applications for work. They range from cooking in sushi bars, cleaning toilets, gas station attendant, hotel janitor, barista, pizza maker and even a marijuana “packer” at one of the many Medical Marijuana stores here in Denver. I should join the circus, because most of my time on earth has been spent juggling one thing or the next.

I will pretty much do anything at this point to keep from losing my mind. Being free and unburdened by work is fun for a time, even relaxing. But I’m a man in need of something to fill in the hours between hiking and backpacking and dodging mountain lions and rock slides. Since I enjoy crap like this, I need more money to get to these places and since money doesn’t grow on trees, I need to find work.

Jimmy Bojangles is the wandering man inside of my soul. The guy who lets loose and sticks his thumb in the air when cars come flying down the highway, he smokes Pall Malls and wears funny looking hats. He walks proudly in torn jeans and hiking boots. The walking stick he carries has crossed many lands, has seen many places, and when the end of it juts into the dusty earth, it sends small plumes of visible smoke all around his feet. He’s a good man, a wise man, a sad man, this Jimmy Bo Jangles. Without a destination, he makes his own path for others to follow. Without a home, he lays his weary head on the grass and looks into the heavens for signs of life. He is a solo man, cursed to spend the rest of his days wandering the planet in search of something greater than himself. No one wants to be him. People shake their heads and shield their eyes and tell tales about him. None of it true. He is misunderstood, this nomad, this Jimmy Bo Jangles.

I think we all have a bit of this guy inside of us. Just waiting to be released and given the go ahead to take the controls for a while. Many people wiser than I keep him locked away, only to come out when life gets too burdensome, never to be taken seriously, they keep the adventure hidden inside. They know better because they are sane, or too afraid to step outside the circle of comfort.

I have nothing to lose. When you are trying to find a mate, this can be devastating to your case. Women want homes, and cars, and money and protection. All of which can be purchased from that thing which doesn’t grow on trees. When you spend your life making terrible choices, guess what happens? Bad shit happens.

All of these things can be rectified. Nothing is unfixable as long as you are still breathing and not six feet underground somewhere. I am trying harder than I ever have in my life, to become something worth looking at in the mirror, someone worth being proud of. I spent most of my life living vicariously through Jimmy, taking risk after risk and throwing caution to the wind without worrying about consequences. I am deeply saddened by this. But I’m trying and pressing forward and conquering the fear of failure which has haunted me for so many years.

I am watching a young, mentally challenged employee clean tables and sweep the floors. She has a smile on her face which could light up a dark room. What is my excuse?  What is your excuse? Who am I to whine and moan and cry unfair? Who am I to blame the Dealer for dealing me a crummy hand when some people cannot function normally? It’s all a mess, this world of ours. Where is the justice? Maybe the next life will be kinder, gentler, worth living.

My friends, my readers, I wish you all a great holiday weekend. There is nothing wrong with living adventurous, seeing new places, making new friends, leaving your mark on history. I am trying to accomplish all of these things. But I guess I have to grow up a little, fix a few things, and make smarter decisions. The outdoors are a wonderful place to find yourself and to discover the inner depths of who you can become with a little spirit. But man, I can really use a shower.


Road Trip: Grease Monkeys and hot dog water.

Sometimes people ask me what I think heaven must look like. I would usually say something cliché about fluffy clouds and gold paved streets. Trees line a gurgling, crystal clear river all the way towards the Throne of God. I think there are millions upon millions of angels and departed souls singing and shouting and banging their tambourines all night long. I bet there is a never-ending buffet with all sorts of delicious foods and cocktails being served by smiling angelic beings. I am sure there are pools and flowing waterfalls, pearly gates and everlasting life. Free Starbucks for everyone. No hatred, no sadness, no greed. Eternity in a nutshell.

If you are looking for heaven on earth, I suggest driving through the Rocky Mountains. Start in Grand Junction, Co and drive West on I-70 for two hundred and seventy something miles. I can assure you its rugged cliffs and dragon like scales jutting out from earth will leave you in an ethereal state of mind. Streams of water cascade down from the mountains and flow over rocks and around tree stumps, horny squirrels mate under the shade of small bushes. Blue skies and wild flowers put the whole picture in a frame to hang on your wall. I’m sure I saw the ghost of Bob Ross sitting quietly on a boulder with his easel and paints talking to himself. I could be wrong because I was too busy keeping an eye on the road. My brakes were making funny noises, I was sure the oil was depleted because I couldn’t get the Grand Van to go over fifty.

Before I left New York, I had some “mechanic” at Wal-Mart change the oil on my ride. He told me there could be a minor leak. There was no leak. He didn’t help the situation either. I know nothing about cars except changing a flat or putting in water or Antifreeze. I can turn the key and put the transmission in drive if I have to. I know how to screw on a bolt. He does not. He put the oil pan bolt on crooked or something along those lines.

While chugging up a hill towards Frisco, I was too concerned with conking out and careening down the side of a cliff to really enjoy the scenery around me. I figured this is where the rich and famous hung out yadda, yadda, yadda. All the pretty people gather here and drink champagne and toast their millions, blah.

Anyway, I entered the fairytale town with gusto and a resolve to get my baby fixed. Found a cool little auto shop called the Grease Monkey and was greeted by a friendly chap who was in the process of helping some other wanderer. I always feel a bit foolish when it comes to mechanical stuff, even more so when the person is trying to explain things to me. I just stand there with my hands in my pockets, shaking my head up and down like I have any clue as to what’s being told to me. The nice guy started telling me about bolts and pans and what have you, I smiled and agreed. I think he knew I was clueless.

It was a bit chilly in between the mountains, so I grabbed my Orange County Choppers hoodie and walked a spell while my van was attended to. It’s August, but everyone in town was wearing long-sleeved shirts and some wore winter hats (a little too much in my opinion). Before I walked away, I grabbed a bottle of water from my cooler and took a nice, long chug to quench my parched throat.

Now, two days earlier I had cooked some Franks over an open fire and thought I had secured the rest of the dogs in plastic wrap. I was wrong. The bag of hot dogs mixed and mingled with the melted ice to create a lovely aroma of, I don’t know, crap. Unbeknownst to me, I grabbed an open bottle of H20. The juice invaded my Poland Springs and ruined the whole experience. I spit it out when I realized I had been poisoned by my own ineptitude. Some of the locals watched with fiery indignation and turned their snooty noses in the air. Even pet dogs turned their snouts skywards, dreadful New Yorker how dare he!

I don’t have much to say lately. To tell you the truth, I’ve been on edge the last few days because I’m in a rather interesting quandary. I won’t get into specifics, but I hope everything works out the way it’s supposed to. Let the wind take me where it wants, keep my eyes on the prize and move forward. When you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, your body kicks into survival mode and everything around you moves outside of time. I think I lost it a bit yesterday, but it’s all part of the adventure. When you leave the comfort of a home for the great outdoors, or a van, you tend to remember how blessed you are.

The past seventy-two hours have tested and tried my mind and soul. I may have snapped, but I believe in that old saying, whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. My apologies to the people who had to listen to me complain, thank you for hearing me out. Thank you for being there.


Road Trip: Chewbacca drinks soy milk in the Land of Enchantment

Tucumcari, N.M
Photography by Gabriel

Authors note: I am on a road trip across America! Please leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible! Music to read by “Return to Innocence”  by Enigma

The first thing you notice when you enter New Mexico is the sky and how the entrance to heaven must be found somewhere along its horizon. Blues mix and mingle with the greens and browns of the hilly earth. Wooden sticks with sharp barbwire zigzag across the landscape in no specific order. I assumed they marked boundaries, separating one homestead from the next. Black and brown cows litter the red ground beneath their hoofed feet.

Mirages are real. I’ve seen a few while driving down historic Route 66, but mostly in the form of Starbucks coffee. I started to lose it when I crossed over the Texas/ N.M border. When I say lose it, I mean I began to crack. I had just hit the 2,000 mile marker on my journey and the road psychosis kicked in. I started to laugh at nothing, I repeated words over and over, I made sounds like Chewbacca and at one point I pulled over to the side of a lonely road and had a conversation with a cow about the benefits of drinking soy milk. The state trooper who caught the affair was not impressed with my story and kindly asked me to get the hell out of his state and go back to New York. I looked back at the cow and she trotted away. I could have sworn she said something about eating more fiber.

I don’t know what happened to me.  When you’re on the road for long periods of time, things just mesh together. There is no rhyme or reason. When your schedule consists of nothing but survival in the great expanse of America your priorities can change. I poop in rest stops, I eat in gas stations, and I sleep in my Grand Van. I had a wonderful egg and sausage breakfast burrito while traveling through Texas the other day. I had no intention of doing so, but when I went in to pay for my gas, a young lady was in the middle of making some cowboy his breakfast. I had to have one.

It looked sumptuous, so I threw caution to the wind and ordered one. This is in a Sunoco gas station, in the middle of Texas. Before leaving home, I purchased some things from a store called BJ’s…why they decided to use such a suggestive name is beyond me…but they have some really good deals. I stocked up on all sorts of goodies. My most prized is the box full of Welch’s fruit snacks I’ve been munching on for the past nine days. Southwestern cuisine is absolutely worth the drive.

Want a good lunch? Go to any Mexican taco stand or mom and pop diner and you will walk out feeling like a king (or queen) that just had a royal feast. Eggs, tortillas, salsa, cheese, more tortillas and lots of guacamole make me a happy wanderer.

New Mexico
Photography by Gabriel

The roads in New Mexico are endless and the earth is a rainbow of colors. It goes from brown to deep red, to lush flower fields. White rocks jut out from the sacred ground and purple mountains soar above the skyline. If you listen closely you can hear the distant rattle of a snake, if you walk a spell towards open land you can almost hear the ancients sing their sad songs. When you look at the hills, you expect to see an Indian chief standing proudly on his stallion with his tribe behind him. When I walked alongside the Rio Grande River I envisioned the first settlers panning for gold and trying to survive. If you stoop down and put your ear on the red dirt, you can almost hear buffalos stampeding.

Years ago when I was visiting Maine, I purchased some Native American music from local tribes. I still enjoy playing them from time to time. While driving down I-40 at a respectable 60 mph, I put my arm out the window and let the warm breeze rush through me. Soft flutes and melancholy drums played in the background and I imagined what it must have been like to live four or five hundred years ago, hunting for food, forging for edible plants, dodging wild animals, sleeping in tepees.

I think I would have made a good chief, or at the very least some sort of ancient journalist. I’d have my rock slab handy and my paints ready to go. I would sit and listen to young men complain about hunting and how they needed more gear. I would take time to sit with the women and listen to them whine about not having enough water or food stuffs. They would expect me to report it to the higher-ups and I would. I picture riding a horse through deserts and territories to find other tribes, so I can bring them the latest headlines.

I’ve been on the road for almost ten days now. My beard is growing in and my legs are like rubber from driving too much. I started this article two days ago. I’ve driven another seven hundred miles. I feel one with the earth, one with my driver’s seat. I am praying for guidance, wishing for answers, looking to make some sense out of this whole quest of mine. I have miles to go and many nights to sleep under the heavens.  Part of the fun of driving across country is meeting new people and hearing their stories.

I was sitting on a curb in downtown Albuquerque yesterday, listening to a few vagabonds play instruments. The girl was sweet, the guy was definitely stoned and I was sitting there enjoying the whole scene. This is what life is about I think. Sharing a few laughs with strangers over a few beers can teach you a lot about yourself. Tells you what you are made of. Tells you what’s in your heart.

The Land of Enchantment is a beautiful place filled with mysteries and ancient history. The rocks cry out and sing sad songs. The mountains stand guard over people as they sleep. The skies light up and welcome you into its presence as you make your way west.  I could have sworn I saw John Wayne standing in the distance beckoning me to give up my fears, hand over my doubts and just let go. Be blessed everyone and until next time, adios.

New Mexico
Photography by Gabriel


Road Trip: Eating Arby’s in Arkansas

Authors note: I am on a road trip across America! If you comment I will reply as soon as possible! My internet access is limited, also I had a hard time uploading pics to this particular blog so you will have to use your imagination! Enjoy!

I offer my sincerest apologies to the good people of Arkansas. While mapping out my itinerary several weeks ago, I decided to breeze through your state without looking back. Now I’m happy I stayed for a few days or else I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hike Mt. Nebo, or catch a breathtaking sunset over Little Rock as I crossed the Broadway Bridge.

Overlooking the Arkansas River and surrounding valley, Mt. Nebo rises over one thousand feet in the air. To reach the summit, you have to drive up a dozen grueling switchbacks. I love my Grand Van and I believe she loves me back, but after all the twists and turns and huffing and puffing, she was not happy with me. When we reached the top I gave her some extra coolant and patted her hood lovingly. She seemed to let it go.

When you stand on the ‘Bench Overlook’ gazebo, you notice how the earth and sky come together to form a masterpiece of unspeakable beauty. The deep blue from above collides with green from below and somehow makes everything terrible in this world seem trite and silly. To just sit and stare at creation is probably the most underrated hobby of all time. Looking over America from the top of a mountain can change your life. Or at least calm your soul and make you think about your priorities.

I was just about finished with the curly fries I purchased at Arby’s when I noticed how grand life is. Well for one thing, Arby’s should be on every street corner in this world (who doesn’t love a good roast beef and cheddar sandwich with a side of curly fries?). I’m on the open road with nothing but the wind at my back, the sun setting before me and mountains to climb on each side. I have a few bucks in my pocket and some survival gear. My camera is strapped on my shoulder and my walking stick plunges into mother earth when I swing my arms. What else can a man really ask for?

The Bench Trail is a four mile loop around the mountain which I proudly conquered in just about an hour or so. I brought along my backpack filled with random gear I probably won’t ever have to use but made me feel safe nonetheless. I’m a huge fan of Les Stroud and I watch his show Survivorman every day of my life. I wanted to be sure that if he had come along with me, he would have been proud of my pack. I took my compass, fire starters, emergency poncho, rope, bug spray, whistle, energy bars, three bottles of water and purifying tablets (just in case), some duct tape, pocket knife, extra socks, first aid kit, needle and thread, snakebite kit, maps and my notebook and pencils. Seems like a lot for such a short hike but you never know what you can encounter.

Speaking of wild encounters, the day after hiking Mt. Nebo I drove for several hours and decided to pull over for some shut-eye. I made it to a Wal-Mart parking lot and tried to rest but the heat was unbearable. All of a sudden the wind picked up and World War II broke out in the sky above me. Lightning shattered the heavens and rain pummeled my van. I was awestruck by the performance.

The next day I was speaking to one of the locals and I mentioned the storm, apparently I had caught the tail end of a tornado and never knew about it. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Although I felt no fear, I would rather not be stuck in a massive tornado whilst sitting in a van. I laugh because I would have been out there with my camera lickety-split taking world-class photos and sending them to the guys and gals at National Geographic.

Once I was finished playing storm chaser, I continued my drive down I-40 into Oklahoma City where I was greeted with friendly faces and one hour parking limits. What a scam! While I am running around snapping photos and pretending to be a world traveler, I’m worried about getting a ticket. It’s the same in every major city I guess.

I thoroughly enjoyed Oklahoma. Between the friendly people and Native American museums, it was a city worth checking out. Plus I always wanted to visit the OKC Memorial. I am sure most of you remember the terrorist bombing which killed many innocent people, including children. It was a sad experience. I come from New York. I understand their sorrow.

Sometimes we need to drop our guards in order to relate to one another. We put on this macho ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’ façade when most of the time we’re not. Like I’ve said before, we are creatures in need of companionship. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for help. There are forces in this world that would have us believe this is a weak character trait. I think we are at our strongest when we come to the realization we need help. When we are down, the only place to look is up.

Walking along the reflecting pool, I took a moment to honor the dead and I promised God to help the living no matter what the cost. Funny isn’t it? How we say things like that. No matter what the cost…I think back on all the times I put my own comfort in front of the needs of others. This is a habit I am trying to break. We are supposed to love people. If you expect to feel love for strangers all the time you will be disappointed. This is the point I would like to make before I wrap this up; you don’t have to feel love, to show love….take it easy guys and until next time, chow.