Advertisements

Author Archives: Zach

Chacos – The World’s Greatest Shoe

9e0474e306f1fcf19fe4c8bac2d32a01--my-boyfriend-my-birthday

There is no debating it, the people at Chacos have put together the worlds greatest shoe.

Some of the best uses for Chacos are:

Hiking:  They really grip those rocks and don’t move around on your feet.

Backpacking:  Super durable and maintenance-free.  Your feet stay omfy and dry fast after you get them wet.  It’s also great to not need as many pairs of socks, which always smell and are hard to wash in the sink.

At the salsa bar:  Great for showing off those gringo dance moves.  The chicas will be muy impressed by your super style.  They come in several styles and hundreds of colors.

On the bus:  Throw on some socks under your Chacos for those air conditioned rides and rock that classic dad look.

Church:  That’s right, Jesus would have worn them on the pulpit.  Birkenstocks? Yeah right!

walks-on-water

Jesus rocking an early Chacos prototype.  Disclaimer: Walking on water not recommended

In the rain:  Chacos are super-waterproof and grippy even in wet conditions.  However, if you’re planning to go hiking in the rain with deadly snakes and flesh eating fungi, think twice!  Just don’t do it with any shoe.

 

Chocos in the jungleThis hike full of poisonous plants and animals is not recommended for Chaco-wearers.   This picture is from the day I got a weird rash all over my hands and feet.  Most of my fingernails and toenails died, peeled off, and looked really stupid for the next few months.

They retail for just under $99 or 3000 Thai Baht or 0.02 Bitcoin and you can get them from REI or anywhere that sells outdoor gear.  If your local store doesn’t have them than you really just need a better local store or figure out how to use the internet for things other than selfies.  So why don’t you stop wasting time here and get out and buy some killer sandals??

Save

Advertisements

Singapore – The Prize Jewel of Order in Asia

It had been a long time coming but we were finally out of the country.  We sold all of our stuff in sunny San Diego, California and packed what was left in our tiny Prius and left it with my family in Arizona.  From there we downsized to backpacks and left with one-way tickets to Asia and no plans of when to return.  The feeling of liberation was unbelievable.  I had forgotten how much joy I could get from so little; a bag of clothes, a few books, some cameras…  Forget the constant struggle to work with no end in sight and the urge to consume, consume that pulls us all deeper into the system (“American dream”).  We were over it.

Taiwan-5

So we had a quick night’s layover in Taipei, Taiwan, where we got to eat once and stay in a hostel and that’s about it.  Taipei Youth Hostel and Capsule Hotel was space age with sliding Star Trek doors and computerized toilets.  There was hope that a typhoon would hit us and force us to stay a few more days, but the weather went north and left us with just a rainy night.

Taiwan-2

Taiwan-3

Rambling in search of street food

Taiwan-4

Pork rice and fried tofu

Sleep was hard, our internal clocks always urging to us to wake up.  Before we knew it it was morning and we were back in the airport.

Five more hours on the plane and we touched down in Singapore, Asia’s model city of cleanliness and order.  We purchased three-day unlimited metro passes that were good on a variety of public transport options.  It was so easy to navigate and the metro and buses were some of the easiest and cleanest we have ever seen.  We soon met some friendly cartoon characters posted on all of the train cars reminding you how to not be a jerk as part of the Singapore Thoughtfulness Campaign–Stand Up Stacy, Bags Down Benny, Move Back Martin, and others showing off their perfect traveling etiquette.  We soon arrived at our CouchSurfing host’s apartment.  She wasn’t there but we met her children and her helper lady who showed us to our room with a view of the city.  With Singapore being so expensive having a Couchsurfing host was a life saver.  Our stomachs were grumbling so we headed out on the bus then the metro to the downtown area looking for a food hawker center, which is like a food court which serves all the delicious things at affordable prices.  Unluckily for us the entire downtown was sectioned off for the Formula 1 race, one of the biggest events of the year.  Huge track walls blocked all the major streets and it was a pain to find a way to cross it.  Eventually we found an awesome food center under a shopping mall where we had our first of many, many delicious meals of the trip.  My chef brain was going crazy with the new smells and layers of flavors.  I couldn’t wait for more.

After eating we went to look at the skyline.  The Marina Bay Sands hotel with its three towers and rooftop garden connecting the buildings was definitely dominating the view.  There was also the brightly and colorfully lit Merlion that looked over the bay, watching over the city.

Singapore-8Singapore-6Singapore-4

For our first night we were tired though so returned home pretty early.  Sleep was again rough; jetlag is real folks.

Day two was a busy one.  We had purchased unlimited metro passes for three days at a cost of $30 Singapore.  When you leave you can sell back the card to get $10 back.  Our first stop of the day was for traditional Singaporean breakfast, kaya toast.  This is sweet coffee along with soft-boiled eggs and toast.  The toast has butter and coconut (kaya) jam on it and you dip it in the eggs after you put soy sauce and white pepper on them.  It was delicious of course.

Singapore-14

Our next stops were our first of many temples on our journey.  We went in Hindu and Buddhist temples that were near each other and the toast shop.  You take off your shoes at the front and make sure you dress appropriately, females especially.  The Hindu temple was my favorite with its intricate designs and wall paintings of the various deities.

Singapore-18

We walked and walked and metro-ed too.  Our next stop was Little India where we found The Teka Center, a food hawker center near the metro station.  Hawker centers, like food courts, are THE place to get food in S.E. Asia.  There are usually at least 20 stands selling various things and your senses go crazy.  We got some biryani that was spicy spicy and roti canai (stuffed pancake) with bananas and we were in heaven.  It started raining hard as we ate so we slowed our chewing to make it last through the storm.

Singapore-23Singapore-22

Singapore-26

Little India’s main street

Singapore-25

A stand selling temple offerings

Our next destination was the Islamic area, Kampong Glam.  The shops were selling amazing textiles and we listened to the call to prayer from a massive mosque.

Singapore-27

It was refreshing to see all of the religions existing peacefully alongside each other.

On the way back to take a nap we saw signs for a jungle trail in MacRitchie Reservoir Park and couldn’t resist.  It was weird being in the city one second and feeling so far away the next.  Signs warned of wild boars so we were slightly on edge.

Singapore-31

Singapore-29

A lot of rules for the trail, like everything in Singpore

Our Couchsurfing host was home when we got back so we got to chat about her experience as a French expat in Singapore.  She was a personal trainer which was very popular in Singapore because apparently everyone wanted to be good at sports but no one was.  She had been there for seven years and her two children had no real memories of France.  It was their home now and they didn’t plan on leaving.

After napping we headed back into the city.  We had to see the Supertree Garden and the nightly light show.  We passed through the base of the Sands and what was probably the most extravagant shopping mall we had ever scene, exceeding even things in New York and Las Vegas.  The joke was that shopping was the national sport of Singapore.  It was more fact than fiction.  We found the exit to the mall and walked through some cool lighted bridges in the impressive Botanical Gardens before posting up under one of the larger Supertrees.  The Supertree Rhapsody was a 15 min long light and music show that played at 7:45pm and 8:45pm nightly.  They played show tunes and the lights were very impressive, definitely the coolest thing that we saw in Singapore.

Singapore-34Singapore-35Singapore-33Singapore-32

With the expense of daily life in Singapore, we had only planned two nights there.  We spent most of the time jetlagged but still found time to enjoy ourselves.  There are many, many more things to see, and we hope to someday go back there, maybe next time with a little more funds in our pockets.

Stay tuned for our ventures into Malaysia!!!

Solar Town – The Great American Eclipse

IMG_2722

Driving into Solartown

As soon as we entered Oregon we could tell that this thing was going to be huge.  Every car was loaded down, tents and coolers strapped to the roof.  The Great American Eclipse, as it was being called, was turning small towns across the nation into giant festivals with fields full of thousands of campers.  Several years before, a few farmers near Madras, Oregon had noticed that the eclipse would pass right over their fields.  More than 5000 campsites were sold just in those fields, with other farmers hosting similar events nearby.  We arrived on Saturday in the evening; the big event to happen Monday morning.  The place was already a mad house and I believe we took the last available space, with many more people circling for spots.  Solartown was the name of our event and Solarfest was happening in the town a few miles away.  We were already super efficient and competent campers so we had ourselves some chuckles at everyone struggling with their new tents.  The town was simple with portapotties and free showers, along with a variety of food vendors that we never sampled because of the long lines and our tight budget.

We had fun meeting our neighbors and even got to hang out with our friend from home Kelly, who ended up being camped in the next field over!

IMG_2733

Check out Mount Jefferson in the background!

IMG_2729IMG_3335

We made a short video about our experience so you can get a taste of what it was like.  We didn’t actually get a shot of the eclipse happening because we didn’t really try to.  We wanted to be fully present.  But you can see Solartown and see our reactions to the wonder!  We both cried when totality happened.  There was nothing that could have prepared us for those moments.  If you ever get the chance to witness an eclipse, DO IT!

Subscribe to our Youtube channel here!

Cuba Highlights

Here is a long-overdue short video from our travels through Cuba in January 2017. Cuba was one of the countries most devastated by recent hurricanes. They have been largely skipped in the international aid effort and the United States makes it nearly impossible to help them in any way. We are researching ways to help and will report back if we find something legitimate. Please comment if you have any ideas!!!

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel and stay tuned for more videos!!!

Crater Lake National Park – Clean, Clear, Deep, and Blue.

 

Entering Oregon was something we were super excited for.  Carrie hadn’t been there yet, so it was her 44th state.  We found a free campsite in a quiet spot on the shores of Klamath Lake and set about relaxing for the afternoon.  The sky was again smoky from distant forest fires which created a cool haze.  After dark we had to escape into our tent because the mosquitoes were intense.

It the morning we got an early start and made our way north, passing through beautiful empty spaces.  Getting close to Crater Lake National Park we passed many cyclists racing up to the lake.  It looked like a fun ride, but grueling.   Our first view of the lake was very impressive.  I had been here before as a child and enjoyed it then just as much.  My family tells me stories of how I talked about it for weeks.

Dirtbag life-133

Dirtbag life-131Crater Lake was created almost 8,000 years ago by the collapsing of a volcano.  It is the deepest lake in the United States, at 1,949 feet deep.  There are a couple of beautiful islands, Wizard Island being the most prominent.  We drove around to the north side, which took a lot longer than expected but was a stunningly beautiful drive.

Dirtbag life-135

We parked at the top of the Cleetwood Trail, the easiest way to the bottom.  I had also heard from my father many times about how he had to carry my brother and I back up this trail after the whole family went to the base.  It was much easier now with full-sized legs.  There trail was just over a mile one way and we were quickly at the bottom.  The water was icy cold still even though it was August, but Carrie just had to get in so she cliff jumped off an awesome rock.  You’ll see it in the awesome trip highlights video we are making!  You can never complain about blue blue water and rocks, no matter how cold.

On the way out we joined the traffic headed north for the big event.  It was eclipsing time and we were pumped.  Stay tuned for stories from Solar Town

 

 

Lassen Volcanic – A National Park Forgotten

(Note: This post and the last one are out of order because we forgot while writing that we went to Lassen before Mt. Shasta .  Oops!)

After fighting traffic jams of rented RVs in Yosemite, we were ready to get away from the crowds.  DO NOT GO TO YOSEMITE IN AUGUST!!!  We had learned a valuable lesson and the smoke was choking us out anyhow.  Leaving a few days early, we headed northward and decided to use our extra few days to check out the lesser-visited Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California.  The drive in was through beautiful forest and we were so happy to just not be in a cloud of smoke anymore.  This was a terrible year for wildfires and it had affected our trip greatly.  We found an awesome campground just outside the park and set up for a relaxing afternoon.  Our Prius (Rock Crawler) was packed full of fun toys to keep us entertained while camping, from slack lines to hammocks we were well stocked with fun.

Dirtbag life-98.jpg

In the morning we drove into the park.  There were very few people, but a few of the major attractions were closed because of the amount of snow still covering the paths.  We saw a random geyser on the way in and could smell sulfur in the air.  The views were insane and we were relieved to see that the hike up Lassen Volcano was open despite there being snow taller than me around the parking lot.  The hike was steep and relatively empty when we started.

Dirtbag life-101

We’re headed up THERE!

Dirtbag life-102Dirtbag life-103

At the top there was still tons and tons of snow.  We looked into the crater and saw some adventurous snowboarding ladies whom were about to ride all the way down after hiking to the top.

Dirtbag life-105Dirtbag life-106Dirtbag life-107

Seriously, don’t come here.  It’s terrible and there are bears that eat Europeans and have learned how to open RV doors.

Mt. Shasta and NorCal Hippies

After climbing around Bishop, we made our way through to Yosemite National Park which we were super excited about.  However, once in the park we realized that all our plans had to be thrown out the window because the Yosemite Valley was full of smoke from nearby forest fires.

Smoky views on day 2

We spent two nights camping and doing what we could (not much so we caught up on some work) but then decided to cut our loses and head for northern California where hopefully the air would be cleaner.  The drive was beautiful and we covered some new territory that we had been looking forward to for a long time.  In the shadows of Mount Shasta we drove around looking for free camping.  We were hoping to find a spot at the free campground near Crystal Lake but they were all full.  Finding space would become a battle for the next few days with everyone on the west coast traveling through on their eclipse-bound road trips.  We were doing the same so couldn’t be too mad, so we jumped in the amazing lake and felt instantly better.

Refreshed, we drove a few miles away into the forest where there was lots of free dispersed camping.  We found a nice spot near a river with lots of grimy hippy kids.  These were like the people we are used to seeing sleeping on the beach in Ocean Beach, San Diego, so we weren’t too bothered by them.  After being there only a few minutes a Forest Service ranger pulled into the area and about 10 of the hippie bums casually walked off into the woods, warning us as they went that the cops were here.  Eventually the ranger came and walked through our camp, telling us to we might want to camp elsewhere.  We didn’t find anyone threatening and kept to ourselves as did they.  Our only complaint was that their drum circle that lasted til 2am.  They were actually really good musicians, we just weren’t into it at the time.

Our free spot

The next day we payed for a campground with showers and laundry and enjoyed Lake Siskiyou by renting a stand-up paddleboard for the first time ever.  Shasta was beautiful in the background and we hoped to come back later to hike the mountain.

Lake Siskiyou

Zach is waaaaay out there SUPing!

SUP selfie!

On our last day in the area we hiked the McCloud River Trail, an easy, scenic hike which takes you by three different waterfalls, each with its own swimming hole and cliff jumps.  We didn’t end up getting in because the cold mountain water was just too frigid!  We couldn’t do it.  It was great just to stick our feet in and admire the powerful waterfalls.

Upper Falls

Middle Falls

Lower Falls