WP_20130906_003 This site is a collection of my travel writing, short stories, and photography.
You might also find an occasional review, musing, or rant. I write when I have something to say, whether it is daily or monthly. I received so much great feedback on my Alaska trip report that I am currently rewriting it for publishing. Once that is finished I will start posting my Costa Rica adventures.

Category: Blogs

SWATTED in Lake Stevens

copsTonight I was sitting on my computer, writing on my book. Mikayla was sitting at the table doing her homework. Curtis was playing Call of Duty and doing a livestream with a bunch of his fans, he’s a professional gamer and is on the tail end of a huge contest. His buddy Tyler was playing next to him. Sandi was up watching TV. It was a typical evening. Until our house was surrounded by a SWAT team.

I first heard the sound of a megaphone outside, like you see in the movies when there is a hostage situation. I ran upstairs and looked out the front windows. Across the street were a bunch of cops in the neighbors front yard, one of them had a megaphone and was saying something but I was too wound up to understand a word he was saying. I ran out the door to take a look and saw the street swarming in flashing red and blue lights. Police cars lined the road both up the street and down it. I ran back in the house, something bad was happening out there.

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Category: Essays Movie Reviews Musings

Introduction:

“Her” was directed and written by Spike Jonze and stars Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. I give it 5 golden nuggets (of five). It set my brain on fire with ideas, something I totally did not expect.

Her

140103-her-e1388768346761I wasn’t impressed with the “Her” teaser trailer. A movie about a guy who falls in love with his phone? It was a unique approach but I doubted it could be pulled off. I was wrong. I wouldn’t even have considered it had a good friend not vouched for it. That would have been tragic. I think it is one of the best movies about love ever made. The kind that makes you ask questions. My favorite had nothing to do with love and stems from a question asked by Samantha, the computer.

“Are my feelings real or just programming?”

This question is loaded with gunpowder and my mind exploded when Samantha said it. She is a computer program, artificial intelligence. She is not human and so the obvious question is whether or not Theodore is in a “real” relationship. Of course he isn’t, right? He’s in love with his phone. And the reason that he can’t be in love with a phone is that it cannot think independently, it cannot be objective, it is not a human. It is a computer program. But why did my mind explode? Continue reading

Category: Short Stories

Introduction:

This story comes from a dream I had while reading “Escape from Camp 14.” In this book, Shin tells his story about being born in and then escaping a North Korean prison camp. Heartbreaking and fascinating, I was thinking about how despite the cruel treatment, Shin misses the prison camps. If Shin, now a free man, longs (to a degree) for the horrible environment of his youth, what does that say about me? It led me to think about how some of my young expectations, hopes, and dreams turned against me as an adult. Then a dream gave me some ideas for this story…

Dream Carnage

The father tapped the bottom corner of an ornate frame, a touch so light that any reasonable person would call it pointless. But it satisfied him. He stepped back, fingers stroking his chin, and turned slowly, panning the room for another flaw in his otherwise perfect arrangement. Square, round, and oval picture frames passed under his searching eyes, each protecting precious moments snapped, cropped, and bordered with care and precision.

His gaze held on two boys, his boys, standing proud in green uniforms. Sashes slung over their shoulders were covered with small round badges. But, most important was the patch on each left breast: an oval bearing the iconic red, white, and blue symbol of a bald eagle. The American Dream. Sharp talons gripped the tree, holding fast in an unyielding pose demanding honor and respect. With outstretched wings, the eagle stood high for all to see, for all to admire.

The father was unconscious of his sudden deep breath and of the way it made the buttons on his shirt strain. Nor did he notice how the corners of his mouth tightened and fought his unconscious efforts to both smile and suppress it at the same time. He was aware, however, of of an image from years past, floating up from his deep mind. A similar picture of himself, framed on his own parent’s living room wall.

Three little girls pulled his gaze two frames to the right where pink and yellow frill of spring dresses competed with bright smiles for his attention. Wide eyes reflected the excitement of their cradled baskets full of colored eggs and candy. Continue reading

Category: Travel

Day 22: There’s No Place Like Home

This is part of a series of posts regarding my motorcycle trip to Alaska. The story starts here.

WP_20130906_003Despite Mike’s comments last night, he didn’t act too surprised at the lack of blood, mangled body parts, and wolf skat in our campsite. Instead, he found me snoring away, dreaming safe and warm in my triple layer sleeping bag. I opened my eyes to my last morning with Mike’s big face hovering above me.

“Hi-yo Silver, Away!” he bellowed out with a grin and pointed to breakfast, waiting on my pannier.

Except that is a lie. Not the breakfast, but the “Hi-yo Silver, Away” part. I told it to spice up the story (yes, like garlic).

“All good stories deserve embellishment.”
Gandalf the Grey

WP_20130906_007That is my disclaimer so when I’m on Oprah talking about how Sean Connery captured the Haines Strangler, Oprah and I will still be friends when she finds out the truth (that in Haines, Mike chased a squirrel out of his tent with his Sean Connery accent). That’s how stories go in the midnight sun, where the men moil for gold. Some Artic tales need a little help from Gandalf to make your blood run cold.

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Category: Travel

Day 21: Whistler, BC

This is part of a series of posts regarding my motorcycle trip to Alaska. The story starts here.

From Mike’s Journal:

“My motorcycle had become my shrine, my place of worship, my yoga mat. The noise of my convoluted life was drowned out by the gentle hum of my bike which allowed me to see myself from a new perspective.”

DSCN0991A gorgeous day welcomed us and as I packed my tent, I wondered if this was the last time I’d break camp. Would I sleep in my own bed tonight? When I fired up my Tiger and the GPS told me we were only 500 miles from home I thought it was likely.

I was excited to get home. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved this trip and if I would keep riding until I Argentina if I could. But was scheduled for three weeks, I had to go back to work, and I missed my family. I think that my subconscious, in an attempt to spare me from the despair of a dying vacation and the brutality of my awaiting cubicle, makes a transition back to the real world at the end of a journey. No matter the length of my trips, whether three days or three weeks, by the end I am ready to be home. My mind was shifting gears. Throttling down. It was time to get off the bike.

We could easily make 500 miles in one day. And even if we had to ride into the night, with home on the back side, that wasn’t a problem. A dry bed. A garage to welcome my tired steed. A place where rain, tents, and campground dinners were not part of the routine. With no effort on my part I was guaranteed a soft, warm bed and a great meal. This idea became the toy my mind decided to play with as we zipped down the road. Continue reading

Category: Travel

Day 20: Lake Meziadin to Prince George

This is part of a series of posts regarding my motorcycle trip to Alaska. The story starts here.

From My Journal:

Today was a long, boring day. Got up, packed up, rode out. Rode and rode and rode. 400 miles in 10 hours. It was mind-numbing, tedious, and arduous. I thought I would go insane. (Continued)

UntitledOpening with a spoiler that concedes the entire day is going to be rather dismal is not the best writing tactic. You might think my goal is to set expectations low to relieve my need to excite, dazzle, and thrill. Strangely, that is not the case. A brutally boring day, as it turns out, had plenty to offer.

When I crawled out of my tent, however, I didn’t know the day had dealt us a rather plain hand of cards. I still had my sights set on excite, dazzle, and thrill.

We rolled out early, expecting another brilliant performance by the Cassier Highway. My GPS locked in and said 900 miles to home, which surprised me. I could load the family into the truck and 900 miles later be in Alaska? I decided to talk to the family about taking a long 4 day weekend to drive up and back. With the Cassier Highway being so awesome, most of the journey would be packed with wildlife and gorgeous scenery. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Two wrenches jammed into the spokes of each tire brought this fantasy to a screeching halt. Continue reading