Showing posts with label home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2012

The sun never really sets

When it all began, I was just another passenger, chasing the sun across the pacific.

As a traveler, I decided not to stop. The odyssey continued as I finally abandoned my past for opportunities and plied my trade as a writer or student or analyst or whatever else could get me in the position to smell jet fuel and know that on the other side of the jetdoor was a world and a world away.  Travel is the journey and the destination, and I do whatever I can to keep the trip alive.

So fast forward, and here I sit.  Twice removed from my home, the hour is late and a dog slumbers at my feet.  I am tired, sure, but is that not the point?  To see so much of the world that you collapse in exhaustion from the beauty of it all?  To know what you have seen and to know that the only thing keeping you awake is the bright shining suns in your past, and the possibility to share that beauty with the world, one way or the other...

The question was never when will it stop.  The question remains, how long is now?   

I ask myself this question when everything is right, and the sun is setting behind a beautiful city to dance its way across the Pacific.  There is a moment, just before the sun relinquishes its control to the night, and that moment is my 'now.'  I can't capture it with my lens, and I can't capture it with my words, but I will always chase it with my life. 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Eleventh Hour

Right Now, Kristin is fumbling with a device called the The First Class Sleeper.  It is an inflatable seat cushion that one must blow up by mouth and than place between themselves and their seat.  She is convinced that in this hideously contrived creation lies retreat from her coach class woes.  I look forward to one thing about this new addition to our travel family of devices and gimmicks - watching her slowly inflate it by mouth in front of a bunch of curious Koreans on our flight to Seoul on Tuesday Morning.

At around noon on Tuesday morning, June 1, while the rest of America eats Quiznos, watches soap operas, or painfully constructs excel spreadsheets, we will be boarding DFW's longest flight, staring an epic journey.

We have been through this all before.  Every trip gives and every trip takes.  The amount of insight and experience traveling globally has afforded to us is a gift.  I have learned a great deal about myself and the world, in the process realizing both the significance and insignificance of our small corner of the globe.  The United States is a rather small, but important, variable in an immense global equation.  This is something that is easy to conceive, but profound when actually realized through interaction.  This is what travel has given us.

The trips have taken as well.  There was a trip in 2008, in which an innocent enough swim with a manatee robbed me of my beard, literally, only half of it grew back.  The area in which the manatee nuzzled my neck will likely never be the same.  Great news for a shaver, but I live my life as a beard man.  It finally began to grow back about a year later, albeit in an altogether different light blond color.  To date, the neck beard region of my facial topography looks a bit like a treasure map, mixing dark and light hues.  Such is the beauty of travel.

Our last journey through Italy and Egypt left me with a partially calcified left lung, in which pneumonia did permanent damage.  We have speculated endlessly on the true culprit to this unfortunate malady, and have decided that our warp speed jaunt up Mt. Sinai to catch sunset likely contributed.  As a result, I will likely never be able to run a marathon, which is fundamentally a good thing.

We have also donated generous amounts of blood to the greedy mosquitoes of West Bali.  But more than anything else we have given, these trips have taken from us a narrow view of the world and blasted it open.  With this blog, we intend to share this with you all eyes wide, words down, and with bright pictures.

I used to want to change the world, but I discovered the world is fine.  I was the one that needed change, and that, the world has given to me.

Enough of that, here is some of our Gear for the trip 

 New Balance Water Shoe Hybrid, I love these shoes, comfortable to jog in and dry fast

 Callpod charger, this great device charges up to 6 devices.  We use it for iphones, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and the ipad.  It saves on wires and only uses up one plug.  Great Buy.

 3 pairs of underwear for me.  Kristin uses the same types.  We prefer Exofficio and Patagonia.  They dry remarkably fast and are super comfortable.

 Ironic Visor, somewhat Hunter S. Thompson

 This small black diamond lantern lights up a room and fits in your pocket

 Obviously Laundry Wash, Badger All Natural Sunscreen, and Psi Bands for motion sickness on boat rides

 Mosquito Weapons and Sanitizers for the frequent lack of soap

 Very Small Beach Towels

 Atomic Aquatics Frame-less Ultra Clear Mask with Oceanic Snorkel.  That mask is the best in the world in my opinion, provided it fits your nog

 Multi-country Plug adapter, head lamp, and external hard drive for storing photos

 Badger Balm.  I like to rub this on my cheeks and on the back of my neck, helps to relax.

 Kata Shoulder Camera Bag

 13.3" MBP and iPad

 Lots of money

 Wrist Wallet, mini moleskin knockoff books and experimental Jet Lag pills

 10,000,000 IDR

 My Pack - Osprey Atmos 65

 This pack is my favorite because it has a netted back, so your back does not actually touch the bag.  Air flows between your back and the bag keeping it cool and dry.

My checked Bag, this thing is a beast, holds a ton and has a removable day pack.

 In my bag

 Ikea Trollfjorden Toiletries Bag ($4.99)

It holds a ton, packs very low, and has a hanger.  Beautiful.

 Clif Bars - a must

 Kristin's Menagerie of bags - far left one is for Tweet

 My camera equipment - Nikon D90 with speedlight, Nikon 35mm, 10-24mm, and 70-300mm

 Canon S90, the best little point and shoot in the game.  This camera blows me away.

I put the Canon s90 in this huge monster for underwater photos

Kristin's shoes, look like something an exotic spaceship might barf out, which is an enormous compliment btw

She designed them herself

Thursday, May 13, 2010

June 1 is the day

June 1 marks the day that we return to Asia.  Are we excited?  Absolutely.  It feels like returning to a long lost love left mid sentence across the world.  I have missed the area dearly, anxiously, from the living seas of Indonesia to the crooked smiles of mainland Asia.  This trip, will be our most ambitious yet.  We will search for forgotten temples in Cambodia, swim with camouflaged cephalopods in the Lembeh Straits, seek out the hill tribes in Laos, and traverse through the splintered Union of Myanmar by train.

There will be gorgeous beaches, and too many flights.  Choppy boat rides and dangerous nights.  This trip will be ambitiously insane in any right.  And yet, I will take the time to tell our tale.  Our adventure will be laid out across the page screaming out from little typed words and big bright pictures.  That is how we have done it around here, and will continue to do.  

This time around, 4 of us will be making the trip.  We have Kristin and I, along with my brother Ryan and his friend Meagan.  I will do my best to keep things entertaining, so you do your best to keep up with the blog.  Hell, tell your friends and their friends, and your friend's friend's mom.  Tell your golden retriever and the opossum that lives in the back yard.  Trust me, no one will think you are crazy.  This is an expensive hobby, and I want more readers.  To say that I do this for free would be a vast understatement, a considerable investment takes place before even one stupid little word scurries out from my fingers and onto this glowing page.

I used to want to change the world.  Now, I just want to see it.  That is either a beautiful or horrible thing, perhaps both even.  In the coming weeks, I am going to post my favorite pictures from some of the places that we have been.  Enjoy the blog, our adventure starts in Vietnam in early June. 


Friday, March 26, 2010

The Story behind Tweet

Born Tweetsworth Herringbone Yellowhead in the Fall of 1993, he was, at first impression, simply a stuffed yellow "Tweety" bird given as a Christmas gift to a young girl.  Since receiving this bird into her arms, Kristin has taken it to bed with her on 99.9% of nights.  An unbreakable bond has been established between girl and bird, and as a result, anywhere she go, he goes.

So much more lay under his emotionless face and pillowed veneer of simplicity.  His background remains a mystery.  There have been whispers that he came from a small town Fair, sold by a crooked magician to cover dental expenses.  Some speculate that he is not from this planet at all.  I heard from an elder Rajasthani Shaman that he lost his arms in a cockfighting match gone horribly wrong on the busy streets of Kolkata.  Regardless of where he came from and why, he quickly made a lasting impression on a blossoming Kristin Dushman.  Boasting an immensely proportioned head, 1 frail leg (the other was gnawed off by a dog), and a complete lack of any features resembling arms, he had a quirkiness about him that belied his true intentions of becoming the biggest hanger-on travel freeloader that I have ever met.

At Sea

Fast forward, and there I stood, at customs in a one room shack called an international airport.  Limon Province, Costa Rica.  We had just landed on a beach runway, and even the local fire department arrived to greet our harrowing descent.  Dangerous vibes.  These are always best experienced after the fact.  I waited in a long line to have my bags inspected.  Kristin and I had just met a few days prior in Panama, and I was about to be treated to my first bird sighting.  Kristin was holding up the line with multiple bags.  In these days, she traveled like mid-nineteenth century aristocracy, with large bags no fewer than three, taking with her blankets, pillows, curling irons, and all manner of unnecessary creature comfort.  As the customs official pulled a large frumpy yellow bird out of her suitcase, a look of befuddled confusion creased across his sweaty Latin American brow.  The act resembled a magician hesitantly pulling a dead rabbit out of his hat.  He knew not what to make of this creature.

And neither did I.  I was familiar with baggage, but this was my first experience meeting a girl that had a large yellow bird.  And he was large, with a head size doubling that of a human being.  The officials joked about it in Spanish, folding him back into his powder blue luggage home.  I was awestruck.  

Getting sun with Friends in Mexico 

Within the next few weeks, Kristin and I begin falling for eachother, and as a result my fate became inexplicably linked with this yellow fellow.  As we planned out first trip together, I remember asking her, "Really, we are bringing that huge thing with us?"  So far, he has not missed a single trip.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Curse of the Bird

Upon arrival home from our most recent trip, I had to seek out medical attention for a number of maladies.  For one, I had difficulty breathing deeply.  Secondly, it seemed as though a flock of microscopic geese with sharp acid coated wings had taken up a migratory route that included most of my upper body.  In the last 4 weeks, I have been diagnosed with Pneumonia, Pleurisy, an ear infection, and a strange digestive disorder that leaves me contorting across the couch, eating no fewer than 5 Activia yogurts per day.  Unfortunately, spokeswoman Jamie Lee Curtis is never far enough from the forefront of my mind, and their jingle seems to loop in my head perpetually.

My kitchen table looks like a meth lab crime scene, with an impressive assortment of pill bottles, syrups, antidotes, inhalers, and nasal sprays.  My newest ailment?  I cannot hear out of my right ear, and I have no idea why.  At this point, the newer maladies become mere footnotes and nuisances.  Since I cannot exercise due to these poor damaged lungs, I am resigned to 2 or 3 walks around the block per day as a feasible and manageable workout regimen.  Such a decline in my active lifestyle paired with little to no retreat in my customary Herve Mons Pave du Nord (cheese) consumption, means that the weight will come.  Thank god I am engaged.  Sorry Kristin.  At least, I have yet to lose my mind, not entirely anyways.

So how did this streak of illness come about?  I have numerous theories on the matter, as I should, seeing that an entire month has lapsed for me to ruminate on the subject.  While scanning my Cairo photographs, I came across one of a bird standing on a sand dune.  Immediately, the moment replayed in my mind, as if on vintage Super 8.  Our guide, Essam, to me, " should not have photographed that bird, Egyptians find them to be incredibly bad luck."  I remember thinking about deleting the picture right then and there, but thought about how ridiculous that seemed, and moved on.  That night, I contracted some sort of food poisoning after dining at Laredo Tex Mex, a pathetic themed Cairo eatery.  A friend of mine told me that American Indians used to believe that each time they were photographed, it took a piece of their soul away.  Perhaps, he theorized, that I now carried the tortured soul of this bird I photographed around with me.

Do I believe this bird has something to do with my illness(es)?  No, but it is worth noting that I hastily deleted every picture of this bird from my SD memory, notebook, desktop, external hard drive, online picasa gallery, and online flickr gallery.  Just in case, I told myself, just in case.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The travels of Justin and Kristin, An Index

Venice 2010  ( 1 )  ( 2 )  ( 3 )
Rome 2010  ( 1 )  ( 2 )  ( 3 )
Cairo 2010  ( 1 )  ( 2
Dahab 2010  ( 1 )  ( 2 )  ( 3 )
Florence 2010  ( 1 )  ( 2 )  ( 3 )
Pisa 2010  ( 1 )
New York 2010  ( 1 )  ( 2

Montana 2009  ( 1 )  ( 2 )  ( 3 )  ( 4 )  ( 5 )
Borneo 2009  ( 1 )  ( 2 )  ( 3 )
Bali 2009  ( 1 )  ( 2 )  ( 3 )  ( 4 )  ( 5 )  ( 6 )  ( 7 )
Phi Phi Islands 2009  ( 1 )  ( 2 )  ( 3 )
Phuket 2009  ( 1 )  ( 2 )
Hong Kong 2009  ( 1 )  ( 2 )  ( 3 )  ( 4 )  ( 5 )

Sunday, February 21, 2010


We made it home safely after a very long travel day that included wind sprints through JFK, suspicious lasagna dishes, juggled (and dropped) slices of pie, and one final Ciao.  Was Italy a great place to visit?  Yes.  Are we aching to go back?  Not really.

We have a different taste palette regarding travel, and with our palette comes a slight bias towards the road less traveled.  Italy is a travel heavyweight.  Most people that visit Europe will, at one point or another, include Italy on their itinerary.  What this creates is a destination that is so accommodating to tourists that it borders on culturally inauthentic, especially if you stay within the tourist comfort zone.  Rome and Venice feel suspiciously like theme parks, while Florence seems to shine on its own terms.  I could imagine that a Florence and Tuscany trip in the early Fall could provide a near religious experience.  I would suggest at least a week and a half, just as the summer tourist season is coming to a close, in Florence and the surrounding Tuscan area.  My suggestion would be 4 nights in Florence, a few in a Tuscan farmhouse, and than maybe a few in Siena, San Gimignano, or Lucca.   If I ever return to Italy, that would be how.

Egypt both wowed and disappointed.  Dahab is on my shortlist for coolest places that I have ever been, while Cairo only impressed upon me a desire not to return too soon.  To be fair, Cairo is an acceptable travel destination, but only for a short duration.  I feel that Luxor and Dahab are probably the best places to visit in Egypt, and I am almost positive that if I saw the entire country; I would still feel the same way. Dahab is especially intriguing because it is a great base of operations to explore both Jordan and Israel.  A great 2 week trip could include southern Egypt (Nile, Luxor), Dahab (Mt. Sinai, day trips to Petra in Jordan and Jerusalem), and then a couple nights in Cairo on the way home to see the Pyramids.

As we get our travel agency off of the ground in the coming months, I am going to use this web page as a vehicle to discuss travel tips and ideas, while slowly separating our content into two categories, narrative and informational.  Whenever I sit down to write the blog after a long day in whatever destination, I am almost overcome with ideas.  I do not know if I should be writing about: what we did, how we did it, or how you should do it.  This creates a maelstrom in my head, and most of the copy that is input to the computer is choppy, rushed, and sadly half baked.  I am fine with our narratives carrying these traits, but as we evolve, I would like to think that we are making ourselves and our readers better with digestible information.   

We both appreciate all of you that followed the website for this trip.  While the numbers did not approach those of our summer trip to Asia, I felt that the source material was also possibly not as interesting.  It is probably no mistake that our readership spiked while in Dahab, a fairly unknown location outside of the circle of the well traveled.  I think people like to read about things that are new to them.  Seriously, what can I say about Rome?  Most people already have a well polished expectation of a place like that, and it is almost redundant to read (or write) about such a place.

This is why I am extremely excited to announce our next trip.  The itinerary is in its final stages, though we are still wrestling with exacting the order.  There will be four of us this time, and we have all purchased our big tickets passing over the Pacific already.  I will give more details later, but will say that it includes Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar-Burma, Sulawesi, Bali, Flores, Malaysia, Bangkok, and more Cambodia.  We leave June 1.  

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Birthday Cake and Neu Travels outlined

I recently had my birthday on October 31, and Kristin, with the cooperation of The Mansion on Turtle Creek Pastry Chefs, went out of their way to create an amazing cake for the occasion.  I was very surprised and felt incredibly guilty about sliding a sharp knife through the delicious globe.  The clouds were made out of a cotton candy type substance and the goboogo plane was shaped white chocolate.  The chefs included white chocolate signposts detailing past journeys and future expeditions.  They used a vanilla and chocolate butter cream filling.

Our next foray into the world beyond our own will lead us through Italy and Egypt.  The trip is a Birthday/Valentines Day/Dating Anniversary gift for Kristin.  We will begin the trip in Tuscany, where we will act like young travel cognoscenti speeding through medieval towns on Vespas or  perhaps we will just laze the days away on a hillside in Chianti, imbibing fantastic wines and naming clouds.  Either way, we are really excited about Tuscany.

We will leave Florence and depart for Cairo from Rome.  After a connection in Cairo, we will land in Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai peninsula.  In this area, we will be staying in Dahab, which is a very laid back town on the Red Sea across from Saudi Arabia.

After Dahab, we have a 3 night stay on the Giza plateau in southwestern Cairo, right at the doorstep of the Great Pyramids.  While here, we will celebrate Kristin's birthday in the shadows of the world's most epic ancient monument, The Great Pyramid,

From Cairo we fly to Venice, and we will spend Valentine's Day in this old romantic city.   Hopefully it will compensate for the inevitable string of Valentine's disappointments that will most likely follow a zenith of this magnitude.

After a couple days in Rome, we head back to New York, and eventually Dallas.  Naturally, I will keep a log of the entire trip on these pages, so stay tuned.  We leave in early February.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Home for a spell

We are home, and it looks like it will stay that way until late October.  As much as we want to set sail again, even immediately at times, home has an irreplaceable quality, and we intend to savor it deeply for the coming months.

Kristin is off to school for her teaching masters, nervous and excited.  She will be finished in about a year or two, and since her classes are online, we are free to move about as we please.

I will be trading and helping my grandfather's french glass company, while tending to the dream.

A whole world is out there just beyond your front door. It is great to live in a country where, at any given moment, you are just a choice, a handful of actions, and a day of travel from the other side of the globe.  Of course, it is not that simple.  We also unfortunately live in a country where the conventional career plan tends to strangle would be adventurers with 2 weeks of vacation a year, student debts, and unrealistic living standards.  I think it is absolute rubbish, and as a result, am probably more likely to end up on a street corner than in an office cubicle.  Hopefully, neither fate is ever realized.  Being creative with one's career is a necessity to sate an insatiable travel appetite in the U.S., as it does not come easily along the paved roads of our conventions.  I hope that in my lifetime, our standards change, and more Americans will be able to take time off and travel freely. I think at least 4 weeks of vacation time a year is a reasonable standard.  As a result, people would probably be generally happier and more productive when they do work.

I feel very privileged to have seen such gleaming pockets of wonder during our adventures this summer.  Before our trip to the far East, a lot of people asked Kristin and I, "Why Asia?"  I do not believe that anyone that read of our exploits will pose that same question to us again.

There is no why and never was, as far as I am concerned.  Luckily, I met a girl that feels the same way, and we are just getting started.  More to come.