Transcribed from my notebook:
“blastoff January 9th 2015
I can’t see the lines too well because my personal light doesn’t work. I am sitting in seat 33C of American Airlines flight 253 LAX to Kahului, Maui. Oh Boy! It’s me, mom, pa, Kasey (sister), & her boyfriend, Mike. We will be staying at Napili Sunset (NW side of the island). It should be a funny time on account of the last time I was here might have been 12 or 15 years ago, and we’re staying at the exact same beach front property as we did way back when.
When I stop to think hard about what I remember about those trips, my memories center around the animals – big banana slugs in the mornings and super loud slippery frogs at night.
I remember the surf too. There’s a reef or sandbar about 100 meters off the beach that prevents the waves from getting too aggressive. I remember the sets rolling in and lapping up onshore without ever really breaking. They were good size waves, but they never took shape. My brother and I, along with other tourists and locals, would charge down towards the water, throw our Victoria skim boards out on the wet sand, hop on, and glide into the rollers that never really broke, and then flip. Flip forwards, flip backwards, just fling yourself up there and see what happens.
I’m sure a lot has changed. Small things. Things that I won’t realize have changed until some small trigger pings my childhood memory in just the right way. On the other hand, I’m sure a lot hasn’t changed. Still sand, still surf, still sun -> Still the same Jay? Yeah.. Sure. I don’t know. Maybe.
Parts are super similar. The game has changed, but the rules I set are the same. My skim board has become my car, and the beach is now the country – but it feels familiar.
fling yourself out there and see what happens.”
I’m playing with the idea of posting a picture of my notebook along with a *nearly* verbatim transcript, and giving the reader the option of which to read, or to read both to compare. My writing comes out a bit choppy and searching, but I think there’s another layer being communicated when I show you what I actually wrote.
I’ve been visiting Glamis for 15 years and a lot has changed.
But a lot hasn’t – still oceans of sand, still wild people driving crazy expensive toys, still finding dust in my ears and nostrils for week. But a lot has changed. There’s more regulation: more sherifs, no fireworks, and speed limits near the Glamis Beach Store.
Regardless, here’s a couple of pictures from the weekend. Nothing too profound here, just trying to get back into the swing of posting regularly.
My brother and I recently installed desert gas tanks to our dirtbikes, and they gave us another 40 miles of range. We rode down across highway 8 to the Mexican border. Hard to say exactly how many miles that trip was, maybe 100 mi (?). Offroad GPS may be the next thing on the list for us.
We plan on going back out this next weekend for a quick trip. Yeehaw.
The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.
I lost a friend to suicide recently. It’s a hard thing to deal with. I’m afraid that how I feel will offend our mutual friends, but it feels good to write about it, and usually things that I honestly feel good about, produce good.
I am not upset that he is gone. I saw him maybe 3 times in the last 3 years and talked to him on the phone even less. We always got along great, and we had a blast living together sophomore year UCSB. Nicest guy there was. Excellent on a skateboard too. But there is no wooshing vacuum in my life now that he has past. But there is despair.
What breaks me down is knowing how crumby he must have been feeling and for how long. That such a kind, well-meaning guy could feel so isolated as to end his own life, knowing full well the emotional crater it would leave his friends and family. It tears my heart to pulp.
Written below is something I wrote during my road trip last September. It does something to capture my perspective on how mixed up things can get.
September 4th, 2013:
“My fire is burning low now. Partly because I didn’t manage it well, and partly because Bryce Canyon sold me wet wood. I didn’t need the heat, it was just to pass the time. Plus I lit the thing in one match, so I can’t complain.
I am in no short supply of thoughts tonight. There is lightning on the horizon. No thunder. I can see that there is action happening but the message is muted by distance and diffused by the topography.
I’m not sure what I was expecting out of this expedition. I did my best to convince myself that this quest wouldn’t change my ways or my outlook on things, but I am one stubborn fellow when it comes to being moved from an idea. It’s really fascinating to me how far I can swing in one day. Today I looked at the greatest expanse of earth I have ever beheld. The placard claimed that the mountains in the distance were 150 miles away, and, taking that to be the truth, I estimate that I could see for 100-150 miles for 270 degrees of the panorama view. I stayed there for 40 minutes jumping from rock to rock, and taking pictures, some in clear self-satisfaction as you may see eventually, and some in precise reverence of the natural forces on display.
And yet here I sit, 3 Pabst deep, trying to find console in an article that come tomorrow, I will most likely feel too embarrassed to publish.
There’s really nothing too miserable about my situation at all right now. But that only lends evidence to my condition of emotional polarity, regardless of setting.
When I do my best to objectively observe, I see that I am viewed as more emotionally stable than the average, and, if I use myself as a metric, it makes me ache to think about all the second-guessing and destructive negativity we, everyone, must carry daily. This is all getting a little wishy-washy, I know. These are the things that were distilled in my heart and condensed in my mind, and I advise you run it through your own filter before consumption.
Still no sound from the lightning, but it does make for one hell of a show.”
Frequently Asked Questions on Suicide:
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Thank you for reading.
This is what happens when you send an engineer to do some thinking on ethics.
It’s my selfish goal to have as little stress in my life as possible. Some would argue that minimizing stress goes hand in hand with minimizing effort/productivity/challenge. But for myself, 9 times out of 10 the anxiety and disgust I feel after a good long period of apathy stresses me out more than whatever temporarily stressful thing I was avoiding in the first place.
Anyways, this post is intended to be about how I treat others, not how I treat myself. Below you will find my handy Stress vs Behavior diagram.
I came up with this during some left brained work last Thursday. My goal was to find a way to be kinder. If you want to do something and do it well you should first learn to enjoy it.
For example: Want to learn to surf? Learn to enjoy the process of learning how to surf first. Otherwise the frustration or embarrassment will rob you of the opportunity. Similarly, want to diet and exercise better? Learn to enjoy the sense of accomplishment of good health rather than fear the guilt or judgement of failing to diet or exercise. (Author update: I’ve been surfing 3 times in the past 3 weeks and it’s still somewhat frustrating and embarrassing, but I am getting better. And as far as the diet and exercise you’ll have to take my word on it that my most successful periods were due to that mentality because my current state of diet and exercise is not doing too much to support my case. I digress.)
Learn to enjoy being kind to other people. I’m trying to avoid seeing it as a chore or giving myself a mental slap on the wrist when I loose my cool. I take pride in the idea that I am moving toward a more relaxed and flexible future, one restrained freeway hand gesture at a time.
Sorry for the unnecessary suspense. I arrived home safe last Saturday evening. I’ve been catching back up with things and recalibrating to my normal operating conditions.
Friday morning I set out from a campsite just north of Monument Valley. There was a Airstream caravan where I stayed and I caught a few sunrise pictures.
I took off through Monument Valley. I don’t have much to say about it except that its a little depressing driving through Native American owned and operated Navajo Country. It’s no exaggeration to say that its pretty much a different country. Nonetheless,
Drove on through to Glendale, AZ to hang out with a friend from UCSB. I Arrived there at around mile 1,650. It was nice to hang out with anyone besides complete strangers. I had a great time reconnecting, and we beat the heat with cold beer and conversation. The next day I buzzed the I-10 straight on through to the Golden State. I was tempted to stop off at Joshua Tree National Park just to make it a round 7 national parks total, but the torrential downpour put a damper on that right quick.
So thats all for now. 1 guy, 4 states, 6 National Parks, 8 Nights, two dozen mosquito bites, and 2,000 miles.
High Desert, the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the Roadship Element. Its 8 day mission: to explore strange new scenery, to seek out new life and novel personalities, to boldly go where ever I feel like.
Captain’s log, Earth date: 09.6.02013
Yesterday, I entered a spectacular curiosity of nature located in the Southern Utah quadrant, sub-sector Moab. The away team party of one, yours truly, was discharged with the directive of observing the environmental conditions and documenting in detail any social or geologic phenomena of scientific importance.
Upon arrival, I located the indigenous population. They were worshiping what appeared to be an archaic form of warp-gate transportation. They took turns exalting the gate, individually or in groups, while those waiting took photographs to use as evidence of the worshipers dedication. I observed from a distance at first to avoid disruption of the ceremony.
Eventually, they became accustomed to my presence to the point where I could approach their gathering. They spoke various dialects which appeared to be derived from latin root. I was able to discover that these beings were not natives, but travelers from distant worlds on a pilgrimage to this sector.
Despite the language barrier, the pilgrims were cordial to each other and to myself, and soon they offered to document my exhalation of the stone gate. I obliged immediately to avoid conflict.
After accepting me as one of their own, one outspoken pilgrim described another gate deeper within the territory. From the parts of his description that I could make out, it sounded like a gate of equal or greater peculiarity. After reapplying solar radiation resistance formulae to my exposed skin and, ingesting a liter of di-hydrogen monoxide, I set off on my quest for the ruins of this grand warp-gate.
While following the directions to the grand gate, I came across these strange inscriptions made by the ancient natives, masters of the warp-gate lands. My tricorder dated these petroglyphs to between 1650 to 1850, Anno Domini.
After continuing onward for 1.7 miles the native’s recommendation proved true, and I was astonished at the breath spanned by this decaying warp-gate structure. At 300 feet in width it could have easily accommodated a small steller-cruiser. I stood dumbfounded in sheer disbelief.
I found this to be an excellent point to reflect on my journey thus far, and after great debate, I have decided to return to Starfleet HQ and report back my findings to the High Counsel (or maybe just my friends and family).
Every step, every mile driven, every sector traveled will bring me closer to home base.
Captain James R. Zantos – out.
What a rush.
Canyonlands National Park encompasses the merging of the Green River and the Colorado River and the massive canyons carved by each.
There was a 100 mile off-road trail known as The White Rim Trail that looped the park and got you right up close to the inner canyon cliffs. I was crazy tempted to take it, but it was already afternoon, I only had 3/4 tank of gas, I was alone, excuse #4, excuse #5.
It’s something my brother and I will come do some day. It looked like a full-on experience. Shown below are the switchbacks into the inner canyon.
I opted to go as far south as the pavement would take me and then hike the trail to the point where the rivers intersect. Its not actually where they meet but its as close as you can get without entering the lower canyon. I have never seen more of the earth at one time.
The view was said to be 150 miles to the mountains, and it wrapped 270 degrees around the butte I hiked to. Massive. My shouts echoed for 4 seconds or so, and it sounded like they slung around the canyons the way a hockey puck swings around the backboards behind the goal.
I felt tall spirited out there.
Now to Arches National Park.
I made it to Capitol Reef with enough time to have camp set up before dusk.
I met a curious man from the campsite across the road from me. He was a sun-beaten flower child with a silver pony-tail and moderate potbelly. He casually watched me deploy my rig for 15 minutes before coming over and striking conversation.
His name was Ken. He was camping out of his VW pop-up van. With thinly veiled pride, he explained that he had recently retired and set off to do what he knew he wouldn’t regret – Travel. Since late June he had driven from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, up through the Carolinas through to Illinois then over to northern Colorado then down to southern Utah.
Drawing on my limited experience, we swapped Utah travel advice for a while. He said it made him happy to know that someone from the younger generation was traveling the way we both were. He said that it’s a shame that young people can get “wrapped up in cubical jobs and have the life ooze out of them”. I didn’t mention that not only do I have a cube job and that I work in the sometimes socially/politically/environmentally questionable oil and gas industry. That little fact didn’t appear to have a place in our conversation.
Then we wished each other safe travels and shook hands.
This morning I drove the park scenic trail leading south from the Capitol Reef campground. The asphalt eventually gave way to sand, silt, and rocks.
It was a fun little rodeo until I came across a small stream through the trail. About 6 miles from the last car I saw at the pavement turnaround, I decided to turn tail and head back.
My mom would be proud; my dad would remind me “you do know you have 4 wheel drive, right?”
Canyonlands National Park in the cross-hairs now.
Out of curiosity, I stopped off at the Escalante Petrified Forrest State Park. I was skeptical at first, but the $6 entry fee wound up being worth it for sure.
The colors of the petrified trees were a bizarre kaleidoscope of yellow, orange, red, and an opaque grayish blue. The part that stood out most to me was how strange it was to see rocks shaped in an organic way. The bark texture, tree rings, and branch knots of the petrified trees stood out in stark contrast to the volcanic rock and sandstone surrounding them.
I Arrived at the park just after sunset. After snagging the last spot at Sunset Campground, I threw up camp and made some pasta tomato sauce broccoli.
While cooking I met some Chicago guys who lived in Salt Lake who were doing a similar trip as mine but in the opposite direction. They were friendly until I offered them some beers. It’s moments like those that remind me that I’m in the promised land of Utah country.
Acting on some advice from a local I met at the general store, I set out for Bryce Point the next morning. The view did not disappoint. I snapped a handful of shots for myself and an equal number for the foreign tourists who were there too.
No joke – if you want the euro experience, but don’t want to shell out the cash for a plane ticket, visit a national park. You pretty much only hear english from park employees.
Leaving Bryce’s Point I made my way towards Peek-a-boo Loop trail. Unfortunately the trailhead was closed, so I opted for The Hat Store trail. It wound up being a surreal formation with pillars of sandstone capped by hard rock boulders.
The whimsical nature of the scene – all I could do was laugh an exhausted man’s laugh and contemplate if the trees and animals realized the absurdity of it all.
Off to Capitol Reef. Which is neither the capitol of anything nor a reef by any stretch of the definition.
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