Dec 10, 2006:
So… How do alcoholics celebrate Christmas? Of course! We all dress up as Santa and go on 1st annual Santa Pub Crawl! Six Santas who all staggered around Downtown Pasadena using witty lines like:
“Do you want to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what you want for Christmas?”
“Hos Hos Hos”
The night progressed through six or eight bars, or so I am told, but I really only recall a few scattered thoughts after the first four or five, but I do have pictures. We got ourselves into an Uno game at one point and at another I believe I molested a woman who wanted her picture with Santa. The night was a roaring success and next year the tradition will grow!
My brother did manage to pass out in some bushes and fall asleep on his bathroom floor for the entire night.
I got up at 7am the next day still drunk and drove to work… that was a hard day.
Sometime in early December 2006:
The great man Ferris Bueller once said “Life sure moves fast, if you don’t stop and take a look around once in awhile, it’ll pass you by.” (least I think thats the quote) This last month has been a blur of busy (nice alliteration, huh?).
I have been working almost nonstop for the freelance Technical theater company I left last year. In the last month I’ve done some form of work on American Idol, A touring Disney show “High School Musical”, “Last Laugh” for Comedy Central, and The Nutcracker (It is the Holidays). I’ve also shot a wedding for my friend Jeff, done some family portraits for my ex-co-bartender Sami, been talked into learning to dive and do a documentry about the California coast next spring, and even began writing the first chapter of my book on the John Muir Trail (which I am hiking with my 50 year old mother next summer). Kind of excited about the book idea, two perspectives from two generations, crossing 220 miles of Sierra Nevadan (?) wilderness, throw in some pictures and the lack of alcohol and I my be able to follow through on something.
Jammed into the month was also three Thanksgiving dinners in a row; Thursday at my Sister’s mother in laws, Friday at Moms, Sat at Dad, I even managed to choke down a killer turkey sandwich on Sunday. I have also been riding my bike, Moanahh II, pretty consistently trying to get back in shape after that summer of debauchery so I’ll be able to hike the Andes next month.
Last night I went to a Christmas party at my old bar and caught up with all the ladies, got a slight buzz, but made it home safe. It was good seeing some people I haven’t seen since my going away party, and it got me motivated when people I didnt even think knew this site was around told me how good some of my pictures are. Probably the reason you get an update this morning.
Mom has finally come around and doesn’t really think I am running away from life anymore. Which is huge, seeing as it took me an entire year to convince her.
Bad News: My blog Just ran out of upload space today, I wasn’t able to get all the pictures I wanted on this post. I am going to request more server space but if they wont let me have it, I may have to start “Mom Says I’m Running Away, Part Deux”, which is a bummer because I am up to 90,000 hits on this one. That number even amazes me, who is not easily amazed.
One more bit of news for those of you photo techies like me (namel you, Randy) out there, I sold my 70-200 f/4 which I found pretty useless in all conditions except bright daylight which makes for awful pictures anyhow. It had become a 1.5lbs brick in my bag that was never being used. Instead I upgraded to the much more expensive and much heavier, 3lbs, 70-200 f/2.8 with image stabilization. I have already fallen in love with this piece of glass and can’t wait to travel with it. The stabilization makes it work like a beauty and I can get away with about 4 stops less light than the old lens. The only thing I am dreading is trying to pack it into my bag and figuring out what will have to get left home (probably my underwear).
Anyways, Life is going well, January 2nd and a huge Buenos Aires steak is around the corner, and Ill try to keep everyone updated until then. Be excited with me people!
And I’ll leave you with this picture of “Rob the Lush”, notice the cup labeled “Robbie” that my departed grandmother made me 15 years ago. I think it makes this picture magical.
Day: 102+2 (Not a travel day, but too funny not to share with the world)
(Turkey April. 2006, I needed some picture)
So yesterday I was riding a bicycle in the parking lot of REI just minding my own business (test riding a replacement for Moanahh), when some guy in a Tahoe quickly backs out about three feet in front of me and I slam into the side of his car moving at a pretty good clip.
Needless to say I cleared the handlebars of the bike, crushed the lower half of my body against the back of his car/bumper and landed using my shoulders, elbows, knees and right pinky as brakes on the pavement.
Think Waynes World where Waynes ex-girlfriend hits the car while Wayne and Garth play hockey.
When I came to my senses there was a rush of people coming out of Chick-filet to see if I was alright, all gathered around me like squaking hens asking me questions over and over like my adreniline that was throbbing through my veins would let me think anytime soon.
“Are you all right?”
“Should we call 911?”
“Are you all right?”
All I could say is “Could you guys be quite for one minute? Just give me a second…”
It took me a minute, but my self inventory quickly resulted in nothing seious; a little blood, some scrapes and bruises, and possibly a broken pinky.
“I think I’m ok…”
“Are you sure? We could take you to the hospital.”
“Hell no.” I replied. “I don’t have insurance, and I dont want that hassle.”
I staggered to my feet head spinning and laughed a little laugh, which I think stunned those around me. I had just spent the better part of the last 3 weeks riding a Bicycle 500 miles to San Francisco with no problems, through winding mountian roads and windy windswept beaches up PCH with cars wizzing by and now I get hit. In front of a Chickfilet, ten minutes from home…
The Chick-filet manager helped bandage me up and I took the driver of the Tahoe into REI to help explain the situation of their brand new bikes front end looking like it had just been run over. The front rim and the forks were all out of wack. They took it into their bike shop and took a look at it , came out and told the driver and I not to worry they could fix it. I’m starting to love REI. The absolute best part was the salesman who wanted me to try out a few more bikes. I thought about it, but instead told him: “I don’t really think it’s my day to buy a bike.”
The world sure has an odd sense of humor.
The adreniline kept me giggling all the way back home, I couldn’t believe a car had just hit me. I think Moanahh must have laid some bad mojo on me.
Surprise! I’m in NYC
So, I lied about taking a tour through Ireland in order to surprise my family on their vacation in California. When Jake, who was supposed to spend the summer with me in Africa, canceled on me and my sister started telling me about the four bedroom house that the family had rented on Newport beach for two weeks I got to thinking about rearranging the elements of my trip. When Jasper was started telling me, while we were in Turkey, about his bicycle trip around the US I was sprung on the idea. So don’t you all worry out there I am not done traveling by any means, just redirecting my trip slightly.
The new, and Uber-tentative, plan is three night is New York, followed by in Newport for two weeks chilling out with my family and a few friends (Hey it’s my trip, and who wouldn’t want to spend two weeks on the beach somewhere with some damn cute girls?) until May 21. Then spend one week at home(during which I probably won’t blog; this being a travel blog I can’t justify time at home) for three reasons, Aaron graduates college on the 27th, my birthday is the 28th and my Dad’s two week vacation doesn’t start until the 29th. Then on May 29th (the day after my 27th birthday, so I’ll be hungover) Dad and I are going to set out from Santa Monica, heading north on bicycles along PCH, to camp and ride the coast. Dad has two weeks off then he’ll head back while I spend the better part of another month after that working my way up the coast to Canada. From Canada I may take a train across the country and make my way to the east coast, for a possible visit to Maine. I’ll get back to California somehow in the middle of the summer, and spend a few days at home.
Probably early August I’ll book a ticket to Costa Rica and spend at least a month, possibly six weeks in Central America learning to scuba dive and hiking the rain forests. After Central America I still haven’t made any definite plans but I will still be traveling and have made a promise to be in the Philippines in December and New Zealand in January. Please don’t fret about your favorite traveller stopping, half the fun of a trip like this is to change what I feel like doing at any moment, that is why I didn’t book the around the world airfare in the first place, even if it would have saved me money.
This morning I had to make my way to the airport for my flight to NYC where I am going to spend the next three night with my friend from college, Jandiz, and her roommate (and my sisters 7th grade boyfriend) Hector. I had 27.10 euros left and since I was leaving the continent I didn’t want to withdraw any more, so I had to budget so I could eat, get to the airport, and still have enough for a few pre-flight Guinnesses (Is Guinnesses a word?).
I started with a little internet (2.15 euro) to get yesterdays blog up and the day before’s fixed.
I ate a big Irish breakfast; sausage, bacon, white blood pudding, black blood pudding, a fried egg, mushrooms, roast tomatoes, and toast(10.45 euro).
I had a couple of bus options to get to the airport, I could take the special air bus, which was fast and comfortable but costs 5 euro more, or take the local bus which was 2 euro. Which was for Rob seeing he had plenty of time? You bet your ass! (2 euro)
I arrived at the airport, stuffed, with twelve and a half euros in my pocket. As long as the beers were 4.15 euro, or less I could enjoy three, then constantly get up to pee for my seven hour plane ride to New York. The plan sounded great. I got in line to check my big bag and a nice middle aged Irish man came up and let me know he was going to do a complete random search of my bags for safety reasons. I don’t think he realized I had important drinking to do or he would have never picked me (he is Irish after all), but I went along with him and told him all about The World Tour, where I was going and doing, and all about my blog. He completely unpacked my bag, having me show inside of all my lenses,checking out my computer, rummaged about my clothes and then when he was completely satisfied he helped me repack everything, took me to the front of the check-in line and asked for my blog address! I was impressed, at home they would have spread everything across the airport, all the time telling me not to talk, then left me to repack and wait in line all over. I grant Irish airport security two points!
After my big bag was settled I still had about three and a half hours until my flight, it had been raining so there wasn’t anywhere to hang out outside and kill time today before the airport, so I headed into a coffee shop to get this entry about the revised plan written up before I started in on my Guinness mission.
They cost 4.20euro a pint!
I’m short 0.10 cents
Two pints later (and about 40 minutes) I am still short 0.10 cents for my next pint, but I remember I still have some change from and assortment of countries in my daypack. I go a rummaging and what do I find? My perfect ten cent coin. The world is revolving around me today. Now if only my flight is this easy…. Oh, yeah I still have a couple of Akbar’s magic sleeping pills! The flight will be simple and come New York I should be ready for anything.
After a couple of Akbar’s magic pills, the flight was uneventful and I landed a mere six hours later at JFK. My friend from college, Jandiz, is letting me crash at her apartment for a few days and she had given me google worthy directions on how to make it from JFK to here house near 52nd st. and 9th ave. I took the Airtrain from JFK to Jamaica station then switched to the E train and headed into Manhattan. When I got to her place,no one was home so I gave her a call. Turns out she was still at work but another friend of mine from college, Megan, had a set a few blocks away. I hiked over there and hiked back, got into Jandiz’ place put my stuff down and showered.
It was only 10:30 and since Jandiz wasn’t supposed to be home until midnight, I went out to walk around and see whats so big about The Big Apple. After about 20 blocks I settled into a Thai restaurant for some noodles and salad and headed back to the apartment, exhausted, but excited to see my friend who haven’t see in like 3 years. I sat on her couch and checked my email and bank accounts then just passed out. 30 minutes later I am woken up as the front door unlocks and Jandiz comes in to find me asleep on her couch. I wake up and we get to talking (and watching the Lakers game) about her job, my trip, pictures, the world, New York, and what we have each been up to for the last half decade. The night flew by and before I realized it, it was three in the morning and I was going to sleep.
It was a long ass day, and going from and Irish Breakfast to Security Checks, to Budgeting for Pints, to Flying across the ocean, to figuring out the New York train system, to wandering the Big Apple at night, to falling asleep to conversation with an old friend, really kind of takes it out of you.
Yellowstone National Park, August 2005.
It’s getting down to the wire and my toes are wiggling. I wake up every morning expecting I will be somewhere else. It has been kind of crazy lately, all of my friends want to go out and individually celebrate my leaving, so needless to say I have maintained a buzz for about 5 days strait.
Yesterday I moved out of my house which I lived in for the last two years and moved all my things into a closet at my moms house.
Only two weeks left.
For those of you interested I wrote up a general budget for the first year of my trip. I hope to spend about US$18000.
Switzerland/Italy 21 Days @ $70/Day $1470
Eastern Europe 90 Days @ $40/Day $3600
Eastern Africa 60 Days @ $30/Day +$700 for Excursions $3200
India 30 Days @ $30/Day $900
S.E. Asia 75 Days @ $25/Day $1875
Philippines 30 Days @ $40/Day $1200
(I added more than I thought I’d need for the Philippines because I am staying with Joanna for a while and she really enjoys partying and living it up )
Austrailia/N.Z. 60 Days @ $50/Day $3000
This leaves me about $3500 for plane tickets from Europe to Africa, From Africa to India, Short hops around SE Asia, SE Asia to Austraila/NZ, and a Ticket back to California. I have already bought my one way to Switzerland and am not including that in the $18000.
Laughlin,Nevada. January 3, 2006.
For those of you wondering on how I am packing for a trip like this.
Oh how to choose? And what should I bring?
My main bag: After trying out countless bags I settled on a Kelty 3100 cubic inch (50 liter) bag. I have packed it a few times and it feels like everything will fit with a little room left over.
My small bag: Just a generic green Jansport school bookbag. Although they don’t actually make these anymore without any padding (which I didn’t want, because I want everything to fit in my big bag) and to get one I had to trade a new backpack with my friend Ed for his gym bag.
Camera: (for you camera geeks out there like me) Canon 5D, a pair of batteries, battery charger, 4GB compact flash card, 17mm-40mm f/4 zoom, 24mm-105mm f/4 zoom, 70mm-200mm f/4 zoom, 50mm f/1.4, 15mm fisheye, 580ex flash.
Laptop: A little Sony Vaio and power cable, 13 inch screen and it weighs only 4 lbs(1.8 kilos) plus a little more for the cable, and fits perfectly in the hydration pocket of my bag. Also have a Compact Flash to PC slot adapter card.
Ipod: A 60GB Ipod thats primary purpose is a backup harddrive for my pictures but has the added bonus of hours of musical entertainment. It comes complete with another wall charger and usb cable that I get to carry along.
Security: I have a Pacsafe, which is a wire mesh net/bag that can be used to lock up my gear, and a couple of padlocks and luggage locks in order to lock the zippers on my bags when I feel it may be needed.
Shoes: A pair of Merrell slip-on walking shoes that are comfortable and stable yet at a glance they can pass as semi-nice. I am also bringing my favorite pair of sandelsflip-flops (Actually the second pair of the same exact style, because the first pair seemed to have disappered on New Years morning when I woke from my drunken stupor, I drove home with no shoes on). I know everyone swears by Tevas, but I know that the one thing I would have the hardest time without is my flip-flops, I literally where them year round.
Clothing: My favorite pair of jeans, a pair of lightweight Northface outdoors pants, a pair of black Dickies (which after the Eastern European winter is up will most likely be replaced by a couple of pairs of shorts), swim trunks, 5 t-shirts, a long sleeve shirt, a long sleeve hooded fleece, a older warm winter jacket (which will also probably be given up somewhere around june), 6 pairs of boxers, 3 pairs of socks and a beanie.
Everything Else: A small pocket led flashlight, small compass (so I don’t get to turned around in confusing cities on cloudy days), eyeglasses, a years supply of contact lenses, bottle of lens solutiuon, sunglasses, toothbrush, toothpaste, electric razor and cable, comb, deodorant, and my leatherman.
Everything above fits nicely on my back at about 33lbs (15 kilos), about 10 lbs more than I normally take, but I am attemting to live the dream and become a travel photographer so the extra gear I see as a needed evil. Anyways, I’m a big guy, it shouldn’t be to bad. In the past I have seen 100lbs girls with 60lbs bags, I will get over my suffering.
I have often told people “I’m going to take a trip around the world” (well, ad the slur and speed of my Californian dialect and it sounds like “imgonnatakeatriproundtheworld”) the most common response to this is “Do it while you can”, “Do it while you’re young” or “I wish I could do that” and I always feel like yelling at those people “BULLSHIT! Anyone who really wants to can sell their house, sell their car, quit their jobs (SAS Production Services and Islands Bartender), give up the comforts of the day-to-day American syndrome, and live out of a nylon sack for years on end with a little effort and planning, and yes this includes those of you with children or you who have a few years on you.” But normally I just shrug and mumble something along the lines of a “yea….” and begin to tell them of my plan.
My name Is Robert C Paetz III, I am a semi-well-traveled 26 year old who has tried to see the world in mostly two week stints for the last 5 years. My first trip alone was for six weeks through Europe when I was 21 (which was also my longest trip to date), followed by a couple of two week trips each year to all over Europe and Central America. Needless to say that traveling in such short spurts really left me wanting more and always dreaming of that huge trip, especially when I talked with all the Aussies who where taking entire year long tours of the world. So a couple of years ago I devised a stratagy to find the money for such a trip; buy a house in a booming real estate market, hold it for two years and sell it. Needless to say my foolhardy plan actually worked, and so well that it got me out of debt and set me up for my goal of a trip around the world, on a tight budget, with a little left over to invest.
Origanally I had thought about a 6-8month trip, yet after reading about more and more places that I just “had” to see I have finally settled on a 22 month/6 Continent plan. I know, I know it seems like a long time to leave my life, but I just see it as living my life. Even if my mother says I am just running away (hence the name of this blog) from a real life and my inability to maintain a commited relationship (which is only because I haven’t found the right girl, Mom).
So… Drumroll……The Tenative Plan (which is always open to change and/or suggestions from you or anyone I meet): I will begin with a week in The Switzerland just snowboarding and taking it easy, followed by 3 months working my way north through Eastern Europe (Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Moldova, Chech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, possibly Moscow). From there I will fly into South Africa, spend some time on safari and travel through Nambia, Botswana, Mozambique, and Tanzania, for roughly 2-3 more months. Next I am on to India for a month or so then into Southeast Asia until christmas, Which I hope to spend with my friend Joanna and her family in the Phillipines. Around New Year 2007 I will be moving through Austrailia and New Zealand, with some possible stops in Fiji, Somoa, and Guam. Near the one year mark I will re-enter the US, and try to crash for a week with my friends Jessica and Adam in Hawaii. Then its on to home, for two months of R&R, possibly a little work, and most importantly my mothers 50th birthday party(which my older sister, Sarah, informed me i was not allowed to skip, no matter where I was). During this two month period I have to do a little physical training for the next part of my adventure, A Walk Across America ,with some possible hitch-hiking across the desert (come on people, I am way too white to spend that much time in the sun). I hope to accomplish this feat, which seems slightly overwhelming to me, in four months from May 2007 to September 2007. In late September 2007 I will fly into South America try to better my Spanish and visit Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, hoping to be home sometime in early 2008. WHEW! It is exusting just writing it all out, but now that I have publically stated it I feel better, like there is no turning back or I might let down my avid readers, Which so far I think just includes my Grandpa. Thanks for the support Grandpa!
So… How about A Little About Me. As I said before I am 26 years old; born May 28, 1979. I grew up in Riverside, California which is on the outskirts of Orange County, which is in turn on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I am a suburban boy who grew up in a family of four children which had parents who enjoyed doing “things” but where always on a tight budget (there were four of us!). Now “things” might sound funny to some of you desktop travellers out there, but that is what my parents enjoyed. It could be anything from car shows, to fairs, to hiking, to boy scouts, to picnics, and pretty much anything else that came there way. Curiosity in everthing and the want to always do something just because it is there is a family trait handed down to me in parts from my parents. From my father I got a reckless attitude toward life and the ability to make the best out of any situation, mom (who still thinks I’m running away) was the one who got me addicted to travel in the first place, by taking us out of elementry school and making us camp in every campsite in the western United States. So I hope she is ready to take the blame for this worldwide galavant that is about to take place.
I graduated from college in January of 2002 with a B.A. in Theatre, which lead me to take some classes in cinematography at a UCLA extension program which lead me to become an avid photographer about three years ago. My pictures have come a long way since then, thank God, and I now have the drive to capture the world digitally so one day I can decorate my house with pictures of everywhere I’ve been and just sit in a rocking chair and talk about the good old days (How’s that for a retirement plan?). In the past eight years I have had jobs as a forklift operator, Old Navy cashier, scenic carpenter, theatrical electrician, flyman, scenic designer, cinematographer, waiter, gaffer, cameraman, bartender and once in a while I even get paid for taking pictures.
Anyhow, I am slightly long winded, but I hope you enjoy my blog. I plan to make a new entry everyday, or at least get one posted for each day I am gone, possibly letting them build up if I enter a “N.I.Z.” (No Internet Zone, to quote Erik Trinidad).
If I actually have people reading this, Post Comments, and let me know you exist, but either way I will continue plugging away at this blog because it gives me a sort of quote “job/mission” for the next two years, well that and continuing to bartend for all of the people I meet in the world.