Friday, December 28, 2007

Swimming the Caribbean

My Dutch friend Alex and I decided to take swimming in the Caribbean to a whole new level. We swam about two and a half miles to a small, rocky windswept island off the coast of Isla Margarita on Wednesday the 27th, two days after Christmas. The island can be seen way off in the distance in between us. To see a few more photos that show the island and the beach we swam from click on this PHOTO LINK. It was an amazing adventure. To look at the distance we traveled look at this Google map.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Margarita-46th Birthday

This is an Island paradise here on Isla Margarita in Venezuela. I am thrilled to be here in Venezuela on my 46th birthday. The picture below is looking onto Playa Caribe, about a half hour walk from where I'm staying in Juan Griego. Please take a look at the photos I have uploaded for some more "visual storytelling

The reason it has taken me almost a week to make another blog entry is because I was having to contend with an issue related to my financing of these travels. It appears that I have finally gotten this issue sorted out, thanks to a "little help from my friends". I will go into to more detail in a future post, but for the moment suffice it to say that I landed in Venezuela with limited cash dollars in my pocket, believing that utilizing bank machines would not pose any problems. The nature of the "problem" gets to the root of much of what ails the world and as I said before this will be explored in a future post.

Paul, husband of Yvonne, gave me a Cuba Libre and wished me a happy birthday. Hank and Yeon from Holland just came back from out on the town and also wished me a happy birthday. Hank and I had a long conversation about the state of the world. We both agreed that America and Europe are both in trouble for a whole host of reasons. To have understanding beteen people is such a miracle. I am grateful for all of those people in my life that work to increase understanding amongst all people.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Venezuela-Settling In

I have arrived in Venezuela, the epicenter of the Bolivarian Revolution. Settled in very nicely on the island of Margarita. away from the main population center of Porlamar in the relatively undeveloped area of Bahia do Juan Griego. There is a wonderful assortment of fellow travelers and ex-pats from Europe in this island paradise. The Hotel Patrick has become a base of operations for me and besides a great group of people they offer free use of a computer with a fast connection. Most of the inhabitants of Margarita have pretty strong feelings about Chavez and were relieved that the constitutional referendum did not pass. I am glad I chose to come here fist to give myself an opportunity get oriented. I plan on staying here until the new year and then heading over to Merida for more intensive language training. That's all for now, adios!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Venezuela Departure

Leaving this morning at 9:30 (december 13) for a short three hour flight from Miami to Caracas, and then a short layover for another short flight to Isla Margarita. This is a modification from my original plan to spend a month in Caracas getting oriented. One of my roomates dissuaded me from this notion, convincing me that Caracas is a VERY challenging place for a variety of reasons. I'm happy to have a new plan.

One of my roomates is letting me borow his laptop to write this post. The buildup of housing for the rich is phenomenal. This building frenzy, as in San Francisco, is all vertical. This trend of gentrification has been happening in American cities for many years now, but here in Miami it's extreme. South Beach is a modeling capital and models are everywhere, adding to the surreal quality of this ultimate party place.

I lost a blog entry yesterday after spending a full two hours working on it. I pored my heart and soul into this piece of writing, and needless to say, it distressed me greatly when it evaporated into the ether. Same kind of feeling as when I lost my camera in New Foundland. The loss initiated a powerful conversation with my two roommate's, one from Switzerland and the other from Spain. We ended up staying up till 4am talking about the state of the world. We all agreed that as a film, the Matrix does a good job illustrating our current predicament. What are each of us willing to do for Freedom? Is the addiction to our own comfort so strong that we will watch others suffer? Is it going to take a war for people to wake up and see that they are being manipulated? America is still the cultural leader of the world. People from all over the world still want to come here because of the economic freedoms here. Nevertheless, Globalization continues its relentless consolidation of power.

It's an interesting time to be going to South America. We shall see what I discover. Till next time.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tampa-Day 2

Tampa is proving to be very interesting. Yesterday I swam about 3/4 of a mile in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico at Siesta Key. My friend Dennis and his wife are owners of a "Thyme for Dinner" franchise in Sarasota. I got to see a very interesting business where the general public gets to save all the hassles of shopping and clean up for making nutritious meals by visiting the store site and assembling their meals on location and then taking them home conveniently packaged and ready to be served. Think of it as TV dinners except that all the ingredients are fresh and prepared by hand.

The Tampa Bay metropolitan area has roughly 2.7 million people and is adding about 97,000 residents per year. I can see why people want to live here as the weather is warm and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are glorious for all manner of recreation. But the Tampa Bay Area was largely built up in the age of the automobile and is very car dependant. It's common, as it is in many places in American suburbs for neighbors to NOT know their neighbors. People generally keep to themselves here but it still seems odd to me that the people are not friendlier and more open considering the paradise they live in.

There is a burgeoning New Age community here in the Tampa area. There are many places to go for Pilates, Yoga other movement classes. Dennis's wife is a financial planner in the Socially Responsible Investing movement. The Unity Church is popular here and I will be going to here a sermon from a highly regarded Unity minister in Clearwater on Sunday.

I spent the better part of today playing traveling agent and making all the last minute arrangements for my December 13th departure to Venezuela from Miami. I'll drive with a rental car from Sarasota to Miami on Monday. A few days in Miami to take care of any last minute trip preparations and to visit the Miami Beach area where I lived for roughly two years in 1988 and 1990.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Arrived in Tampa last night and got picked up at the airport by a beautiful woman named Linda D. Howard who took me to St. Petersburg for a Landmark Forum Seminar being led by my friend Dennis. Dennis is a friend from my Burningman camp, and I am staying with him in Sarasota for a couple/few days before pushing off to Miama. Linda is one of the particpants in the seminar, and Dennis had asked her to pick me up as he was prepping to lead the seminar. Linda has a 16 year old son who just started attending a very expensive military boarding school. She explained that she had a coversation with him about poor grades and gave him 6 months to improve or be shipped off to boarding school. She told him that it was her responsibility to do everything in her power to make sure that he is a contribution in the world. Linda is a testament to the fierce protective love that a mother has for her child. It was great to see Dennis and he introduced me as Peace Mechanic which is my playa name. A playa name is a sort of nick name that captures the essence of a persons identity. The name Peace Mechanic came to me after seeing an art instalation at Burning Man in 2006 called Eyes Wide Open: March of Lost Hope, which was itself inspired by the Quakers American Friends Service Committee, original Eyes Wide Open exhibit that displays the boots of American soldiers killed in combat along with a memorial for Iraqis that have also lost their lives. Tampa is already proving to be quite an adventure in itself, more later.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Plantations, Music and "The Tables"

Yesterday I visited three plantations, 30 minutes outside New Orleans on the famed River Road along the Mississippi river. My friend Sam and I went for a guided tour of one called The Laura Plantation that was incredible. River Road was the Silicon Valley of it's day with more millionaires than anywhere else in the world in its heyday. Plantations, mostly Creole, stretched both sides of this mighty river for 70 miles. The land they occupied was narrow and long, with Laura going back 3 1/2 miles but only having 4/10's of a mile in width. This was so each plantation could deliver it's goods onto the river for transport, sugar in the case of Laura. The guided tour was extraordinary and history came alive in a profound way. Creole Plantations were not the same as the Anglo plantations. There is something about the Acadians and the role they played in settling Canada in and around Nova Scotia and there later exhile by the British that had them playing a huge role in making New Orleans what it is today that fascinates me. Something of a mystery in my blood line is becoming known to me. I will write more about this later.

Two nights ago I went into the French Quarter with a 27 year old Canadian traveler named Matt.We walked the raucous Bourbon Street on our way to Frenchmans street to checko out some live music. Bourbon is about as sleazy a walk as you will in America. Frenchmans street is where the locals go and is home to some very nice clubs like Tipitina's and DBA. Many clubs along it's few block have no cover to listen to incredible music. We delighted in our sampling of venues and after reveling is Jazz and such we ended up at a club called Check Point Charley and were very entertained by a group called Sick Like Sinatra.

The hostel has an outdoor patio area where folks gather and socialize. It is called by some of us affectionatley "The Tables". The most interesting people cycle through this place and stories of adventure and discussions of everything and anything take place at all hours. I will write another post to describe some of the characters that color this world.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Orleans-Vietnameese Seminarian and the Judge

Worked out for my second time at Loyloa yesterday, and I continue to be impressed with this instititution. Never have been a big rooter for any college sports team before, but now have a special place in my heart for Loyola and will cheer for them in the future.

I asked a well dressed stranger for directions last night and after a bit of navigational advice, he said "come on, I'll give you a ride." We hopped into his SUV and talked about New Orleans post Katrina (he was in the court building through the storm and did not leave until a week after the storm hit.) We also discussed politics and my upcoming trip to Venezuella. This eternal optimist calls himself a "Goodwill Ambassador" and told me to call him if I ever needed any help. Turns out that Dennis J. Waldron is a Judge in the Criminal District Court of the Parish of Orleans. Nice to have friends in high places and even better to know that people of position and authority are willing to help a total stranger.

Entering many establishments like Jacques Imos Cafe or Juans Flying Burritos you will see a sing that says, "Be Nice or Leave". This, in so many ways sums up the attitude of New Orleans. People here are open and talk to strangers. It is similar to how I found the people in New Foundland to be.

I walked the lenght of Magazine street past it trendy boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, antique stores and bars. The best section is inbetween Loissianna and Napoleon street. I happend upon a coffee shop called Puccino's where the Uptown Chess Club had taken over most of the tables with probably about 30 games of timed chess being played by young and old alike. It was so heartneing to see, not sure why, just made me feel good.

Oh yeah, after I finished my workout, I had a great conversation with a Vietnameese semianry student who is n New Orleans to study at Notre Dame. He came to America as a 28 year old in 1993. Most of Vietnam is Buddhist, but he was baptized as a baby. He asked me about the Concupiscence of the Flesh and we had a very interesting discussion about the Good and Evil. It is intersting to note that of all the severely damaged zones in New Orleans after Katrina it was the area of East New Oleans dominated by Vietnameese that rebuilt and returned to normal far faster than anywher else.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Orleans-Loyola

After more than six weeks on the road, I have finally gone for a swim. Loyola University is a short distance down St. Charles Avenue from where I am staying in the Garden District. The friendly folks at Loyola gave me a one week pass to use their sports complex, including Olympic size pool for $21. Swam a half mile and worked out with weights. I asked over at Tulane about using their pool, but they were not nearly as welcoming. The Jesuits run this place and I really appreciate their emphasis on helping others. I was thinking about why I identify with those who; live on the margins of our society, the kids at risk or any folks on the planet who are oppressed and struggling to make it. It struck me that was me when I went to high school . For a variety of reasons which I won't go into for this post, I really struggled in high school and ended up in a coma for two weeks when I was 18 after a car accident. I was a pretty unhappy person at that time and fortunately had a loving family to support me in my recovery. Many people don't have that loving family and the notion that for us who do have this great blessing, we need to help others less fortunate. This is somewhat akin to the notion of Noblesse oblige which is also very strong in me. Loyola also lets the public use their computers for Internet access at the library for free also which is where I am making this post from. Non-Students have to get out of the library by 9, so I gotta run for now. My flight for Venezuela in in December 14th from Miami. I will leave New Orleans on the 5th to meet up with one of my Burning Man friends in Miami. I am flying out of Lois Armstrong airport on Southwest for $99. Oh yeah I went to a club called the Maple Leaf and saw the most amazing brass band called Rebirth, they are AMAZING!

Monday, November 26, 2007

New Orleans-Thanksgiving and ...

There is much to be grateful for, no matter where you are! On Thursday I volunteered at the Convention Center for Sheriff Marlin Gusman's 33rd Annual Thanksgiving Day Feast. I served, stocked, cleaned and visited with those who came for meals and also those who volunteered. It was quite a scene, and at times it seemed that there were more volunteers than folks who had come for meals. The convention center is enormous and there was probably more than a thousand people there with some very talented musicians playing their hearts out up on an elevated stage. Problem was that the music was so loud it was an acoustic assault on the senses. All the volunteers were given aprons that had the Sheriff's name and those who came for the meal got a canvas bag that also had the sheriffs name on it with socks, beanie, ramen and other items. The political leaders got up and congratulated each other and then gave $20 to the oldest meal attendee present, a 96 year old local woman. It was great to see so many volunteers coming out to help those less fortunate, but it was sad to see so much money wasted.

One of the volunteers I met is Robert Lee Grant who is making a documentary film for PBS on an Alice Water's inspired Edible Schoolyard Project at Samuel J Green Charter school in New Orleans. I hope to visit this site later in the week.

I met a father and daughter who had fled on Saturday before Katrina hit on Saunday. They lived in the Lakeview neighborhood on Lake Pontchartrain that was flooded by 8 feet of water. They lived outside of New Orleans for one month in a single house with 6 other famlies. The father told me that there were 17 kids and at that moment his 12 year old daughter produced her iPhone and brought up a picture of her and 16 other children on the screen. She gave me the phone and I enlarged the picture with a quick finger movement and asked her to point herself out. Nice to see that technology has matured to the point that the touch screen graphical interface with intutive finger movements actually works as promised.

New Orleans is betting heavily on Charter schools to help bring up those children who have NOT had great schools to attend. It's the age old question of the rich and poor. The KIPP model seems to hold great promise for academic success amongst those of lesser means. All those on the front lines working to help children everywhere deserve and need more support.

I will be here another week maximum before heading off to Florida. South America is calling.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Orleans-Volunteering

New Orleans has captured my heart and I will be staying for at least another week.
On Saturday I volunteered at the New Orleans Mission to help with a Thanksgiving meal provided for those less fortunate. At this meal I talked with another volunteer named Michael Wong who is planning on buying a home here in New Orleans to continue helping New Orleans
less fortunate. Michael has his onw non profit called Bikes for Indonesia and is a member of a Christian church called The Gathering. Many people would agree that much of the recovery of New Orleans can be attributed to efforts of a great variety of faith based organizations. Michael was certainly very down to earth and made no efforts to prosletize, he is simply advertsing his faith through making a difference. I will be volunteering again at the Mission this Thanksgiving and also will look at some volunteering at local schools. I am at the library now and they only let you use the computer for one hour at a cost of $3. The place is packed and there is clearly more demand than supply. I'll sing off for now and wish everyone a great Thanksgiving. Those of us who can afford the luxury of traveling have much to be grateful for!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Orleans-Settling in

Enjoying myself immensely here in New Orelans. Yesterday I went out to Loyola to update the blog, but today I finally found an Internet Cafe in the French Quarter. It's striking how pervasive the open wireless networks have become with people traveling with their laptops, yet how very scarce the Internet Cafes are where you can use a computer with Internet access. I am staying at the Marquette House in the Garden District and the variety of people I'm meeting is rich. There is a great cross section of the world from international travlers, to Americans who have come to work post Katrina, to vagabonds and tramps of various ilk, and to folks like me working on their own version of the "Great American Novel". The Vintage Trolley system just started operating again this past Sunday and it's been a pleasure riding it all over the city. Spent time in East New Orleans yesterday and it was similar in some ways to Lower 9th Ward. The devastation here was tremendous. I saw a large two story gutted apartment complex that was simply fenced off, I'm told because the mostly Hispanic laborer's that came to New Orleans after to Katrina to find work would stay on the second floor of these units and the fence was constructed to keep them out. Nearby, the amusement park Six flags lies desolate
like some sort of Ghost Town. Many of the homes in this area have been bought by the Vietnamese community after they started to the area in large numbers in the 70's-80"s. Now many folks from Latin America have come after Katrina and to say that there are racial tensions would be to be putting it mildly. What everyone agrees on is that back in the 80's the Crack epidemic took a deathly toll on the inner cities of America and the burgeoning political power that the African American population was beginning to have through massive voter registration was brought to a viscous end.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Big Easy is now the Hugely Difficult

Arrived in New Orleans two days ago and it looks like I will stay a few more. I spent Yesterday walking around the city, with much of my time in the 9th Ward, more specifically in the Lower 9th Ward, where the worst of the damage caused by Katrina and the resulting broken levee's can be witnessed. Walking over the St. Claude Avenue Bridge into the 9th Ward is to bear witness to a scene of almost total devastation. If you watch the first few minutes of this You Tube video you can get a sense of the destruction shortly after Katrina hit. Shockingly, the area still looks very much the same, more that two years later. Surprisingly, after spending many hours walking through this post apocalyptic landscape and talking to a number of folks engaged in rebuilding their destroyed homes, I left feeling inspired and very hopeful for the future. Some of these residents have been here for six generations and their deep roots to this place clearly do NOT allow them to be uprooted in spite of all the obstacles placed in their way by the government, insurance companies and unscrupulous people of every kind. Much of the rebuilding that has taken place has happened through neighborhood associations, non-profits like Common Ground, church groups such as Mennonite Disaster Service and simply caring individuals who have come to help. New Orleans is a perfect place to see the future of America. Most Americans now acknowledge that, as a nation, we are in trouble, and post Katrina New Orleans demonstrates much of what ails America, with racism and classism getting top billing. The notion that the American Empire is in it's twilight is not mentioned by our so called leaders. However it is clear that the abundance of natural resources which helped America to boom after WWII have been mostly used up and our productive capacity has been significantly outsourced with the American population becoming more a nation of consumers than producers, with a resulting indebtedness. Many Americans are simply fighting to make ends meet. A sad fact that tells this story is that Walmart has now become the largest employer in the United States. The "White Flight" from the inner cities that occurred after World War II and which dramatically accelerated in 1957 when President Eisenhower enforced the Supreme Courts 1954 school desegregation order left the inner cities with a mostly poor black population with corresponding lousy schools and ample opportunity for a myriad array of social problems is clearly represented here New Orleans.The process of Gentrification that is now driving the prices of real estate to astronomical heights in places such as San Francisco is also happening here in New Orleans. One of the homeowners in the lower 9th Ward that I talked to Yesterday, said that she and her neighbors had been talking about seceding. I asked her if she meant New Orleans? and she replied "No, just our block!". I was intrigued by her answer and think she may be on to something.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New York "Ground Zero"

Note: This post was written two days ago , but because of a computer glitch, it did not post.

Finally made it to witness the gaping hole left after more than 6 years when two jets crashed into the World Trade Towers. My overwhelming feeling walking around this hole in the ground was sadness and anger. Sadness at how this event was used by our so called leaders to eviscerate our constitution and proudly proclaim how "Big Brother" is going to protect us and avenge those who perpetrated such a murderous act. Getting off the train last night at Penn Station I was shocked to see large numbers of uniformed military personnel carrying big guns and multiple police (Amtrak-Local) all over the station. Video cameras are everywhere. A Korean woman whom I met on the train observed that the place feels strangely "Unstable"and I agreed that the difference was striking compared to any big city in Canada that I visited.

I've had so many experiences on this trip that I have barely scratched the surface with through this blog. Getting time to be in front of a computer has been a challenge. Went to B&H to see about buying a new camera but the one I lost has gone out of production and the closest one they have doesn't suit me, so this will have to wait to Florida. A guy I traveled with to NY took some pictures of us on the train so hopefully he will send them

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Montreal to New York

Shhort layover here in Montreal (abuut one hour) and then catch the 9:10AM train to New York.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dorchester New Brunswick

Been exploring my roots by going back to the place where my mother went started first grade at 6 and left at 16, all grades in the same schoolhouse!! Latin, geometry and French included. This has been a high point of the trip in some ways because of the "Maratime Hospitality" afforded me. As soon as I arrived the locals got on the phone and started calling around for any people who might have known my Mom or her dad. Truly amazing how generous these people are. I am also fascinated by history and this region is rich from its preeminent location for ship building back in the 1800's to the establishment of the prison as Canada underwent Confederation. Learning more about my Mum's past has been very rewaarding as it has been showing me better who I am. I am very much Canadian in many ways. When I arrived in Dorchester last night I was surprised to see a town that was much smaller than what I had imagined from what my mother had shared with me in the past. I learned that in recent years the population had shrunk due to out migration to to the neighboring towns of Moncton and Sackville. The older generation have stayed, but the younger folks have left for jobs elsewhere. The primary employer in Dorchester is the Penetentiary where my granfather, John McPhereson Grant was a guard, eventually rising to the rank of "Head Keeper" (Head Guard). A retired guard of 25 years took me around the town today and showed me everything there was to see. They call this "Maratime Hospitality" and it is amazing. I have to catch a train to Montreal in about half an hour so gotta go, more later.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gros Morne-Face of God


I just returned from a spectacular set of hikes in a national park called Gros Morne, OH MY GOD!!!, there is some of the most spectacularly beautiful land I've ever seen. Driving through a town last night I saw a huge fire that had me pull off the two lane route 430 Trans Canadian Highway at Rocky Harbor (Pop. about 900). There was a fire truck and a refreshment stand with kids playing and everyone having a grand time. This immense bonfire was to celebrate Guy Fawkes day on November 5.

I will be departing New Foundland today for Nova Scotia. I leave at about midnight from Port aux Basques. Only about a week left on my rail pass, so I will be spending little time in New York or New Orleans to get myself to Florida by the 14th.

I have had no luck with my camera being returned to me. I will do a blog entry that encapuslates the lost pictures when I get a chance. From now on I will upload the pictures as often as possible to avoid losing such precious cargo again. Before I left for Gros Morne I ran into a woman at the local radio station who confirmed that they will be doing some public service announcements for my lost camera. Have not totally given up, but on the bright side I certainly got to know and intereact with the people of the town of Cornerbrook very intensively and found them to be nothing but incredibly helpful. That certainly did my heart good and I am leaving New Foundland with a certainty that I will be returning.



Thursday, November 01, 2007

Disaster Strikes-Landed in New Foundland

Nobody is hurt, but my camera has gone missing. It has all the photos since I started on the train after Vancouver. It's the strangest disappearence, as if it was just evaporated out of existence. My camera is an important tool of mine, but it's the pictures that might never be shared that's causes me to feel the greatest concern. I have spent the better part of the day searching for the camera and now have a computer generated "Lost-$100 Reward" flyer to replace the handwritten signs I have already placed earlier in the day. Hopefully I'll get lucky and somebody will turn it in. Anyways, it is a good reflection on how important picture taking is for me and has been an opportunity to meet a great many of the folks here in this town of Corner Brook. Will be here for a day or two before pushing down into the states. Keep up the good thoughts that the camera, or at least the memory card comes back to me so that I can update this blog with many wonderful photos of this adventure.

Adjustments to Blog-Anyone can Post Now


I changed the default setting so that now ANYONE can post a comment to this blog without having to have a G-Mail account. Sorry for the confusion on this, I am learning this stuff as I go along. Also, for the time being their are three emails addresses that are functioning. Please send me email at anyone of these three. I will work out getting this simplified and down to one primary account after I get down to Florida.

Looking forward to hearing comments from more people~don

Ferry Information

I am on the MV Caribou, an ice breaker and Canada's largest ferry. It plies the route I am traveling now between Port aux Basques Newfoundland and North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
A Newfie that I'm friends with says that sometimes in the winter when it's frozen over, the ship has to break through the ice. That sometimes the ice is so thick, that the ship has to back up and pick up momentum to ram the ice and then it's front goes up into the air and crashed down back into the water through the ice. He said that all of this is happening while the boate is also being moved laterally by the effect of the tides. He siad it's pretty scary and lot's of folks are pretty "blue around the gills". Anyways, Newfoundland has a population of 300,000 and you could fit all the other Maratime provinces (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick) whithin it's land mass. Lot's of land, not very many people. They love the Premier of their province whon they affectionately call "Danny Millions" becasue he made a heap of money in business and apparently is a politician with integrity, who would of thunk? Thought that was an oxymoron.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ferry to New Foundland

Arrived in South Sydney, Nova Scotia, at 9:20 tonight. Met Paul, a 30 year old Newfie chef on the bus, and learned that the 7 hour crossing by ferry for New Foundland departed at Midnight. Newfies are great to spend time with. Excellent story tellers and very experienced im many practical ways. I got off the bus to see if I could get a ticket on the ferry and before finding out, instinctively went back to the bus that was almost leaving with my bags still aboard. The driver said "Let's go Mister!". My original plan was to stay in South Sydney for the night and then explore Cape Bretton in the day. I have been told that the drive around Cape Bretton is spectacular. Arriving in South Sydney, I became convinced that this was NOT a very desirable place to spend the night. There are many fireworks to be seen in Sydney to celebrate Halloween, and it is true that Nova Scotian's in general to really get into dressing up for this particular day, moreso than I have witnessed, even in San Francisco (which is saying alot) but hanging out in Sydney on Halloween night seemed very depressing to me. Catching a cab back to the ferry terminal was no problem, but it did set me back $24 Canadian dollars. The taxi driver said the their dollar was now worth $1.05 against the US dollar. He told me how the steel mills all closed down in 2000 and that he had put 30 years in. He said that he had a good pension of about 60% of the $45,000 a year he used to earn working at the mill. A fixer upper house around here costs $35-40K, but the onwer of a coffee shop in Truro told me she had just bought a nice house up in Sydney for $8,000. He told me that this was probaly down a spell from the city where all the coke plants use to be and is somewhat of a toxic zone, but that people still live there. Anyways, I am on the ferry now and it will dpart at midnight and arrive at 7am. I will catch up with some of my previous adventures and post some new pictures when I get a chance.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Arrived in Halifax Yesterday around 5PM. Hiked up to the Citadel and walked around it for a specatcular view of the city and it's environs. Staying at a hostel downtown and meeting quite an assortment of folks from all over the world. Will write more when I get a chance.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Montreal Rocks!

This city knows how to celebrate Haloween! Hiked up Mont Royal, absolutely spectacular.
Meeting amazing people all along the way. Off now to Halifax, got to catch the train shortly. Montreal is truly a remarkable place.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Who Are You to Not be Magnificent?

Wow, got a nights sleep and a shower and am feeling rested and refreshed. Off to Montreal at 11:30 this morning. Toronto is nice but want to make it to Halifax. Will write more when I get to Montreal.

Arrived in Toronto

I have arrived in Toronto after a truly remarkable journey across Canada. Visited my cousin Deb near Kamloops. Got to Jasper and decided to stay on the train headed East. The Canadian Rockies are spectacular. Very eventful trip across Canada from Vancouver. Met the most amazing assortment of people. It's 2:27 Saturday morning and I will add some pictures and tell a some stories of my time since leaving Vancouver, till then~don

Monday, October 22, 2007

October 22-Gambling and Hockey

I am leaving Vancouver in the morning at 7AM to head towards Jasper, but I will be taking Greyhound and doing a bit of a detour so that I can see one of my other cousins. Making these travel arrangments occupied my time such that I did not get to play pool with Jack, but we watched the Vancouver-Carolina hockey game and I get quite and education about a sport I knew relatively nothing about. Jack used to be quite a hockey player in his day, so it was good to hang out together for the game even though Vancouver lost.

I was suprised to learn that the train to Jasper that goes to Montreal only runs three days a week. Along with the fact that I only have 30 days on my rail pass I have been having to make some adjustments. Marge and Jack have been champions helping me out to make sure I get to see as much of the clan as possible. Two of my other cousins, Nancy in Dawson and Rick in Quesnel, I will have to see next time I visit.

Today Marge and I took a bus ride along with some of her other gambling friends to the River Rock Casino in Vancouver along the might Fraser river, where I watched timber being floated down to the mill. It was nice to be have the bus ride to get to know Marge better. I played some BlackJack and enjoyed myself immensely.

I am grateful to have this amazing family of compassionate and loving souls to help me "Along the Way". I probably won't write anything until I arrive in Jasper this weekend.

Spokane/Vancouver October 18-21

Greeting from Surrey, British Columbia,

It's Sunday night, and I'm just getting a chance to get caught up on this blog. I'm staying with my my mother's brother, Jack Grant and his wife Marge in Surrey, a short distance from downtown Vancouver. It's been raining a steady bit for the past day or so. The picture at right is of me on a bridge over the Spokane river. This brought back memories of when my brother Steve brought one of my other brothers, Jeff and and I to "Expo 74" for the Worlds Fair. More than 30 years later I still vividly remember flying over the Grand Canyon at the still standing IMAX theater a short distance away.

After crossing this bridge I met up with Steve and my parents. We enjoyed a nice dinner together at Moxie's and turned in early. I got a bed to myself and Steve bunked with his youngest son Garrett. We watched the movie "Transformers" and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Friday we spent most of the day on the Campus of Gonzaga, attending classes, going to an openhouse reception and later in the Evening watching Steve's oldest son play in an intermural soccer game.
We ended up meeting Mathew's girlfriend and her parents at the soccer game and then we all went for a nice dinner at Spencers. Mathew is now 21 and he ordered "Moose Drool", which I had to try, it's quite good actually. After dinner my brother and I joined Matt along with Kelly and her dad at Jack and Dan's, the famous sports bar near Gonzaga.

Math showed me the place he shares with 6 other Gonzaga students, definitely a bachelor pad!

I packed up my stuff back at the hotel and said good bye to my mom. Dad and Steve took me to the train station and said our good byes. Fortuneately I got a two seats to myself and was able to fall asleep pretty shortly after pulling out of the station at 2:45 in the morning. Icaught a connector bus to Surrey from Seattle because the next train to Vancouver did not leave for another 17 hours. It was a short trip of only a few hours and I kept to myself, nursing a bit of a hangover from the night before. Jack picked me up and we got caught up with Marge and went out for an "OcotoberFest" celebration that the folks in his housing association wer putting on. It was delightful to be fed an authentic German meal and get to hear "War" stories.
Today Judy (Jack and Marge's daughter) and Dave came over for lunch and we had a great time getting caught up.
We headed over to Visit with Sue and Dave and both kids were there along with the newest grandchild. Time for me to go to bed. Tommorow I'm going to the casino with Marge and then playing pool with Jack afterwards.

Definitely going to simplify this blogging activity. It has been taking an inordinate amount of time to get these posts up. I have uploaded my photos to Googles Picassa site and hopefully this will make adding pictures to this blog easier.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday, October 16-18 Oakland to Spokane

Hey All,
Departed Jack London Square in Oakland and a had quite a sendoff from the guys in my mens group, parents and the lovely Minia from my Burning Man family. Thank you to everyone who came out and sent me off like a "Rockstar!".

On the journey I met two great guys whom became my traveling compatriots on the way to Spokane. Jared is only 18 who just graduated high school and wants to travel to Africa. I gave him a copy of Richard Bach's "Illusions". Isa who works in Pittsburg CA, and is a webmaster for a Hip Hop organization called Words-Beats and Life. After two train journeys, and a bus ride across Oregon, we all arrived in Spokane, Jared to see his dad and Isa his brother who is getting married. It was great traveling with these two as they made me feel more hopefull for the future. I hope they read these words.

I am writing this from a gaming store called Merlyn's on Main Street in Spokane. Sitting next to me, I struck up a conversation with Terry, aka Maximlliano. We talked about the price of gold and the the current economic situation and I shared with him the website called the "Daily Reckoning". He told me about, "Nomads United" a group of horse riders coming up from South America to the Rainbow Gathering in New Mexico. Check out their website. Terry goes back and forth bewteen Mexico and Spokane. He is another adventurous soul. It was a challenge finding a computer with Internet access to update this blog. Kinko's wanted $12 an hour and the library would only allow 15 minutes of use, unless you get a library card and then you can only use the computer for 1 hour on any given day. Merlyn's has got great spirit and they only charge $3.24 an hour. Across the street is Rocket Cafe and I'm happy to say I found two of the niceist places in Spokane.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Zero Hour is Approaching!

Great to hear from my Burning Man Friends, Kali and Minia. I visited Sundance Coffee shop and said goodbye to my friend Meagan. She is one of those people that is friends with everyone. She is also in a "Moped Gang", which I think is very cool! I gifted some of the material possessions I was no longer using, knowing that she would put them to good use.


Hi All, It's Tuesday, October 16, and I depart on Amtrak tonight at 9:38, headed towards Canada. I bought a 30-day rail pass for Canada and the U.S. for $638.10 (AAA membership and off season pricing). Some of my family and the guys from my mens team will be seeing me off at Jack London square in Oakland. My first stop is Spokane Washington, where I will get to visit my Nephew at Gonzaga. My next stop will be in Vancouver where I will visit my Mom's family, the Grant Clan.

Traveling the America's

Hi All,

It's Tuesday, October 16, and I depart on Amtrak tonight at 9:38, headed towards Canada. I bought a 30-day rail pass for Canada and U.S. for $638.10 (AAA membership and off season pricing). Some of my family and the guys from my mens team will be seeing me off at Jack London square in Oakland. My first stop is Spokane Washington, where I will get to visit my Nephew at Gonzaga. My next stop will be in Vancouver where I will visit my Mom's family, the Grant Clan.