“Why are you going to the Philippines?” A Canadian man inquires of us at a bar in the Tokyo airport. I don’t know what time it is. Five o’clock, perhaps, or maybe noon. Regardless, the traveler is slightly drunk, slurring his words, leaning in a little too close.
“Why not? Beach time, some scuba diving, jungle hiking… doesn’t sound so bad,” Ben replies.
The man snorts, takes a swig of beer. “I don’t know. I spent the entire time there shitfaced. I planned that trip for the wife. And man, the food there is terrible.”
Fortunately, experience and perception are relative. After a week in Dumaguete, we’re placing The Philippines squarely in the win column. Continue reading →
I am writing this from mid-coast Maine, looking out across a sunny lawn surrounded by woodlands outside the house. My hosts, former coworkers from Maine Media Workshops, are all running around campus in the frenetic chaos that governs the summer camp-like atmosphere of the workshops, performing their various duties with surprising efficiency. I, on the other hand, am relaxing in the peaceful sunshine of a summer morning, listening to the birds and chipmunks chatter at each other in the woods. Soon I will head out for a swim, a jog, and perhaps a boat ride.
The tranquility of coastal Maine serves as stark contrast to the bustling, noisy cities I just emerged from. Continue reading →
But when a southern anthem rings,
she will buckle to that sound.
When that southern anthem sings,
it will lay her burdens down.
-Iron & Wine
It is difficult to believe that the Deep South is part of the same country I have called home for most of my life. Sure, there are Home Depots and Wal-Marts and McDonald’s and Starbucks, but the Gulf Coast feels so… foreign. So strange. So much different than the world I inhabit in the Southwest, or that in which I was raised in Oregon. I feel my hackles raise and I am on edge, like I am when traversing foreign countries, in anticipation of the inevitable swindler, hustler, or criminal waiting for opportunity. I feel entirely out of place here; a feeling not unwelcome.
From Savannah, I drove straight around Jacksonville and began my trek through northern Florida. I joined Interstate 10 on the beginnings of its long journey to the Pacific, but then our paths diverged as I took a detour through the piney woods. I find the most interesting sights, people, and places are to be found away from the interstates and their thundering semi trucks, long haul pit stops, and endless fast food establishments. Plus, I wanted to avoid at all costs traffic in any major city, and I was rapidly approaching Tallahassee. So off I went, toward St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge and the Gulf Coast. Continue reading →