Wednesday, August 22, 2007

breaking in the camera

I was outside working on the Cruiser tonight, replacing the stereo (more on that tomorrow) when the sun decided to take a peek at the underside of a brewing storm lying across the valley before setting behind Antelope Island. I managed to snap a few pics from the middle of the road. A very brief but spectacular end to the day.
(click on the image to enlarge)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Stop to Smell the Roses

There is a dilemma I often struggle with that reared its ugly head last night. Well ugly is not the right word. There are far worse things in this world than sitting out in the desert, underneath an ink black, cloudless, sky during the Perseids meteor shower. But the dilemma is one of not being able to enjoy the experience because I am focusing so much on taking notes or photographs.

So last night I was playing with my new camera, trying to capture a few of the phosphorescent green streaks filling the night sky. After about 40mins of failure and frustration I realized that I was missing out on the main reason I was out there, to enjoy the annual heavenly phenomenon. I left the camera sitting idly on the tri-pod, lay down on the tailgate of my cruiser and spent the next hour just enjoying the show and the warm desert night.

I hope that by the time I get home from Ushuaia balancing the documentation and the experience itself will be second nature and I won’t need to concentrate on one or the other. A lot more to write about from over the weekend but that will have to wait because I have to get ready for a conference call.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

stickers coming soon

So how about my friend Adam? First he hooks me up on a deal for his Canon 20d. Now he whips up this bad boy for me. The official Expedition Americas logo. Okay there might be one or two subtle tweaks but I am very happy with it. Time to get busy on stickers and hopefully a hood black out. Excellent work Adam. Thank you.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

i'm going to die

Expedition de Muerte? That is what the nurse providing my vaccinations led me to believe this morning. Yes I realize it is her job. Yes I know she needs to be extra cautious. But come on, will even breathing kill me along my route? I was there for my shots. I was there to get my yellow fever card to allow me to cross borders. But I had no idea the ‘consultation’ would be ‘everything you see, eat, drink, touch, feel, swim in, or get stung by will kill you.’ The four needles and stiffness in my arm were all I really wanted. The literature she passed out will be valuable however when she proves to be correct and I’m trying to diagnose Malaria through a hazy fog of its symptoms.

I’ve also added two ways to subscribe to my blog so you can be notified when I post updates. RSS (which I really don’t understand but I know people use it) and email. Let me know if you’re having issues with either.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


Five hours. Five hours to sort through bags of clothing. How does a single 32 year old man have five hours worth of clothes to sort? I won’t even mention the number of shoes I own. I’ll just refer to it as ‘dozens.’ Yes with an ‘s.’ Nine pair of Birkenstocks I believe. None of which have been worn in 5 years except for the fabrication sandals I used to build the bumpers and roll cages for my cruisers. Those made it to the trash a few weeks ago. So really 5 hours! Fortunately the Pads and Giants are in extra innings.

So the 5 piles consisted of one for the trash, one for donation, one for the clothes I want once I get back. Another for the clothes I need to wear before I leave and finally one for the clothes I’ll need for my trip. As long and boring as this process was it was also quite cathartic. I guess those Air Jordan IVs? I had lying around since 1992 weren’t as important as I thought they were. Except of course to prove that my feet have shrunk 2.5 shoe sizes since my Sr. year in high school. I blame it on the afore-mentioned Birkenstocks. Tomorrow, I begin to ditch all the things in my ‘junk drawer’ and the junk box, junk backpack, junk Rubbermaid. Needless to say this trip will have numerous tertiary benefits. Ditching 15 years of crap is just one of them.

As the FJ40 parts also begin to diminish the reality of selling Althea is starting to hit home. I’m not sure I’m emotionally prepared yet to get rid of her. She’s just an automobile. A bunch of steel, painted with multi-hued primer and paint, some petroleum and rubber can’t really be that important is it? Well she is far more than that. She is the genesis of the majority of my close friendships that I have now. She is the source of 95% of my mechanical knowledge. She is hundreds of hot sweaty hours in Ratio, with my friend Ryan, rebuilding axles, welding and grinding on roll cages, bumpers and sliders. She is Cat Canyon, the Rubicon and Upper Helldorado. She is the afternoon Bush and I spent tearing her down to a frame. She is more than a bunch of parts assembled in Japan over 40 years ago. She is a salient figure in my life since I picked her up on my birthday back in 1998. Very little remains the same since that day. She and I have both evolved. She is far better than when I found her in that backyard field in Murray. I like to think I am as well. I guess I now realize I’ve been so hesitant to post her for sale. Maybe if I start using the word ‘it’ instead of ‘her’ it will be easier. I’ll try that.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Oh Remember Remember...

…the 5th of November.

I think one of more difficult things about my trip will be writing on a consistent basis. Especially before the trip begins. What is there really to talk about? I need to write faithfully for my own benefit. Eventually the steel trap I’ve always used to impress others will weaken to a rusted, pitted and fatigued trap. Documenting my trip via this blog will be essential for my old age reminiscence. Is that even a word? How about for aiding my ability to reminisce? Much better.

So I’m going to step up to the plate today and knock one out to the warning track. Instead of documenting the 16 cds of Spanish lessons I’ve ripped to my ipod, or the Canon 20d I picked up from my friend Adam today, or that my adjustable control arms and panhards have been delivered to be TIG welded I’m going to take a bit of a digression.

Guy Fawkes was introduced to the American pop culture through the Natalie Portman led V for Vendetta and thus I’m stealing a quote from the beginning of the film. But I’d like to take this discussion back a few years earlier. There are two very important dates missing from this exhaustive Wikipedia page…

The first being a red letter date in science, 1955. The second, 1965, a very sad day for naval aviators everywhere. A few years ago my friend Ryan and I were sitting down to an egg-cheese burger and jam band tunes from the juke box at Kitty Pappas Steakhouse in Bountiful. I began to talk about Doc Emmett Brown’s flux capacitor as I’m want to do. Ryan then realized that ten years to the day LT. Duke Mitchell, father of LT Pete ‘Maverick” Mitchell died in a fiery ball over the Pacific. So why the hell do I care about an imaginary technology that accelerates a Delorean from 88mph into the time warp continuum and the fictional father of a fictional fighter pilot whose only claims to fame are playing beach volleyball in Levi’s 501 jeans and taking Polaroid’s during a 4g inverted dive with a MiG28. Well since that day November 5th has always been a long running joke between the two of us. A special day from two amazingly cheesy movies from our teens that can’t help but take us back. The fact that November 5th is the first Monday after HP’s EOY 07 and the perfect day to start my trip is just an amazing coincidence and positive omen. Tonight after Lorena’s huevos rancheros this coincidence dawned on me and I chuckled about it all the way home.

Why Back to the Future? What is it about that movie? Well I’ve spewed this rant before but why not give it another shot. Back to the Future, the original, OG, not the sequels, is a perfect movie. Does it have flaws and editing mistakes? Yep. Does it expect us to suspend our disbelief? Absolutely. Are there waaaaaay too many questions in this paragraph? Are you sure? So how is it that Back to the Future is a perfect movie? Because it accomplishes it’s goal and leaves nothing to be desired.

For those of us born between 1971 and 1978 I defy you to stumble across Marty McFly on USA or TBS at 1am and not watch it for at least 20mins. It can’t be done. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE knows about the Delorean and the Flux Capacitor. It is like saying ‘up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, a, b, b, a, select, start’ it is a part of our generation. We all remember the way Michael J Fox could kick his Veriflex skateboard up from the tail and catch it. We all tried to perfect that move. But what truly makes Back to the Future a perfect movie is the concept. They had to clone and stereotype two very distinct years. Looking back from 2007, the 1985 Hill Valley, is perfect. Pepsi Free. Tab. Huey Lewis. The paisley cuffs on the jeans. The first Nike Air shoes. The Walkman. The JVC video camera. Dave’s Burger King uniform. The list goes on and on. However, for the Toyota loving nuts there is one simple and quintessential icon from 1985. Need I say ‘check out that 4 by 4.’ Marty and Jennifer up at the lake in an EFI, solid axle extended cab 4x4 Toyota mini truck. The only year that combination was offered and a goldmine if you could find one today. Nothing defines 1985 better than that truck. Because of the need to stereotype 1985 we can all look back through the authenticity of the sets to a time we all lived through. Plain and simple. It keeps you entertained, you get to laugh at bizarrely entertaining Crispin Glover and watch Marty light up the “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance. Solid stuff.

November 5th, 1955. November 5th 2007. I feel honored to share the date. Oh and anyone reading this essentially just eves dropped on a typical dinner conversation between me and ryan.

an enormous dork,