Thursday, March 13, 2014

New Zealand!

5 days. New Zealand. Two weeks of hiking my way around one of the most beautiful landscapes this world has on offer. I'll surf uncrowded waves against a backdrop of cliffs and snow capped mountains. I've already got my route planned, though I will be tracking the swell as the day gets closer. A cyclone is due out of the north and will make landfall early this weekend. Fortunately I will miss most of the flooding and wind, and arrive just in time for the offshores and well over-head waves. As the swell passes, I'll head south in my rented camper-van surfing various breaks around the north island, before I ferry across Cook Straight. The south island is majestic, and as some may already know is where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed. Think big mountains, beautiful waterfalls, ever changing weather and relative isolation.

I'll be bringing my camping gear as sleeping in the comfort of a camper-van isn't really my style. When the waves die, I'll find myself a good trail head and head out for a few days with my pack.

This will also be the first iteration of my gear check for my year in South America. I'll get a feel for what it's like to backpack with a surfboard, which I expect to be a fair bit more challenging than what I'm used too. I'll also quickly discover gaps in my gear as it has been some time since I've hit the trail. All of this will be done from the relative safety of a first world country. Unfortanately, I lost a lot of my outdoors equipment during the move to Bahrain. It's been rather expensive stocking back up, but here's the list so far:

  • Osprey Aether 70 pack
  • Kelty rain cover
  • Paha Que Solo tent
  • Kelty Cosmic Down 20 degree bag
  • Self inflating iso mat 
  • Coleman mess kit
  • Ultra-light camp stove
  • Asolo boots 
  • Various rain gear and clothing
  • Quicksilver 4/3 wetsuit
  • JBS custom surf board
  • Wool socks x2
  • Sunscreen (Zinka)
  • Weatherproof matches
  • Match case
  • Magnesium striker
  • Cuban cigars
  • Xikar cutter
  • Nikon D7000
  • 50mm 1.4 nikkor
  • Tokina 12-24mm
  • Nikkor 70-300mm
  • Manfrotto tripod
  • various filters
Anything I'm missing? Suggestions? Leave a comment and save me some misery on my trip! 


Thursday, March 6, 2014

And in the mean time...

...A few shots from my weekend in Oman last month.
Nizwa spice and dry goods market.
I spent a poorly planned long weekend in Musqat and some of the surrounding country side last month. Most of it was rest and relaxation and I definitely did not even scratch the surface of what this surprisingly verdant country has to offer. I did venture to the small town of Nizwa, where the old market still exists and the Bedouins come down out of the mountains to trade livestock, fire-arms and even swords. All in all the experience made me regret going off the cuff, because I feel that I missed out on a lot. Word to the wise: when dealing with a short trip, do your research in advance. I'm thankful for the valuable lesson on short trips. Next time I'll know before I go.
Mountains guarding the interior of Oman.

The symmetry of this hall caught my eye as I was passing. I was able to achieve a little more contrast by converting it to black and white.

This guy got paid to sit still, but of course did not earn his money. He immediately abandoned his cage of bunny rabbits as soon as my camera came out of the bag.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Back to Patagonia, and other places.

As the title of my blog indicates, I have been for the past 11 years what, in this age of high speed internet, television and virtual reality, can only loosely called a "sailor". I have "sailed" the world's oceans and many of its seas as a part of the United States Navy. It sounds big when I write it like that, but I will have you know it is very, very small. It is not adventurous, nor is it glamorous. Most of what I have done has been of little import, and that which could have been remarked on never will be. I have spent most of my time in front of a desk, editing spreadsheets, creating power point presentations and managing to the best of my ability the people and assets that are assigned to me without support or appreciation from my employer (the U.S. Government and it's people).

But, I must first be thankful that I was provided with an opportunity that many were not: A steady paycheck that allowed me to live a comfortable life. While so many friends and loved ones have struggled to make ends meet, I have complained about a job that provides me with a home, with a car, with medical benefits and endless job security. But it is far from satisfying and far from rewarding on any grand sense. The old cliche applies here: "Just because you are alive doesn't mean you are living."

So, I have chosen to make a new life. Simpler in many ways, and grander in many more! I am leaving behind a steady paycheck, status, authority, and certainty for a big adventure.
 On January 6, 2015 I turn 30. That same day I am going to walk out the door of my mother's small farm in West Virginia with a backpack on my back, a pair of sturdy boots, a tent and a surfboard.

I'm going to South America, and I'm not coming back for a long time. I've saved some money (thank you again, steady pay check), I've paid off my debt and I am simplifying my life. I'm saying good bye to certainty. I'm going to be hungry, cold, wet and frankly quite often smelly. I'll probably run out of cash way faster than I thought and get stranded somewhere ridiculous. I'm going to hang out with vagabonds, and probably be subject to theft of valuable and important equipment.

I'm going to climb snow capped peaks, trek across glaciers, wade through icy rivers, surf untouched coastline on waves that are too big to be surfed alone. I'm going to go barefoot for weeks, learn Spanish and Portuguese. I'm going to witness the sun rise over vistas that stir the soul, and I will photograph them in the hopes that they inspire some one else to give up their day job.

Along the way, I'm going to be a friend to everyone I meet. I'll do my best to step out of my comfort zone to help those in need. I'll smile as much as I can, and stay positive so it is easier for those I meet to do the same.  It's not enough to live for my own enjoyment, so I should share the joy of my opportunity with others in whatever way, small or big. "...if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." 

I sincerely hope that someone can derive some appreciation from my future entries here. I will start slow and begin detailing my plans and preparation, that may helpful to some if not interesting. I'll include my packing list, itineraries, routes  and thought processes. Writing it all down will help me keep it straight, and might provide a lesson to others.

I'm open to any and all thoughtful advice from those who have an experience to share.