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Waitomo and Rotorua

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I woke up early this morning so I could hit the hotel gym before hitting the road. After packing our bags, Christine and I walked across the street to a small cafe for a bit of coffee and my first internet connection in the last 8 days. We spent the better part of a half hour catching up on emails and enjoying our coffee before returning to the hotel to pack up the car. After getting our bags, and ourselves, situated, we hit the road to Waitomo. The next few hours were filled with winding roads, green pastures, and rolling hillsides.

We arrived in Waitomo around 1PM. Fog draped landscape like a heavy blanket, and it began to rain lightly. After finding that the tours at the Blackwater Rafting company were full, we continued down the road to Waitomo Adventures, where we booked or 4 hour Blackwater Rafting tour.

The tour was amazing! The full tour at the Blackwater Rafting company turned out to be a blessing as the smaller Waitomo Adventures offered a much more personal and fun tour. The guides were great, pushing us to really dig in and explore the caves. We spent the 4 hours of our tour crawling, swimming, and tubing our way through the caverns. This has been one of my favorite experiences of the trip thus far, and I would highly recommend that anyone visiting New Zealand take the time to do it!

After our caving experience, we had a great meal at Curly’s Pub, then decided to drive on to Rotorua. It was pitch black, pouring rain, and the gps had decided that the best route to Rotorua was through winding, back-country roads. Every 3km or so we would take a left turn, then a right, then another left. I was damn near convinced we were going in circles. If you were to draw our route out on a map, I would imagine it would resemble something like you might see drawn with an ethca-sketch. Needless to say, this route took a lot longer than we had originally expected (the pouring rain and the fact that we were doing no more than 35mph the entire way only multiplied this). After about 3 hours of zig-zagging through the dark farmland, we finally came upon a town where I pulled over for a much needed cup of coffee. While in the gas-station, I had a chat with a very nice lady who confirmed that we had indeed taken “the back way” to Rotorua, and was kind enough to give me some rather detailed instructions for the rest of our trip. After about another 45m minutes we arrived in Rotorua, found a motel, and turned in for the night.

The next morning, I once again found myself up before the dawn. With time to kill, I decided to take a dip in the motels thermal spa. This was basically no more than a small tiled pool filled with water from the local hot springs. The water was warm, and smelled strongly of sulfur. There was a sign posted on the wall, instructing users “no dipping, diving, or splashing” to avoid getting some type of meningitis. It displayed a small wave with a smiley face above the water, and frowny face below. The whole thing was a bit comical, and I wish I had brought my camera to take a picture. I soaked for a while; the water felt good and helped ease my muscles a bit.

Christine and I enjoyed a nice breakfast at Capers cafe, then went for a stroll in the Kuirau park (a free thermal park near the city center). After exploring the parks bubbling springs and snapping a few photos, it was time for Christine and I to part ways so she could make her way back to Auckland where she would be catching a flight back to LA later in the afternoon. She dropped me at the Base hostel, and hit the road.

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I was officially on my own now, and the gravity of things were really starting to set in. To combat the initial feeling of loneliness, I played some Mumford and Sons on my iPod and set out to wander about town. I spent the rest of the afternoon poking around the city, picking up some groceries, and finally figuring out how the whole cellphone system works abroad. Later in the evening, I stopped at the Lava bar (part of the Base hostel in Rotorua) where I took advantage of a nightly special they offered: a huge plate of bangers and mash and a pint for only $10! After dinner, I contacted the Kiwi Experience and arranged to hop on the bus in the morning which would take me straight back to Waitomo, before heading on to Taupo. Tomorrow morning is my first day on the bus, and I’m looking forward to making some new friends…

Ordering coffee in NZ and AUS:

  • Filter Coffee: This is just a standard cup of coffee (what you would get if you ordered a cup of coffee in America).
  • Long Black: Double shot of Espresso with water (this is essentially like a cup of normal coffee).
  • Long White: Double shot of Espresso with Foam


Rarotonga to Auckland – Day 7

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Today was our last day in Raro. Checkout was at 11AM, and our airport shuttle didn’t leave til 3:30, which left us with four and a half hours to kill. We decided to head into town for lunch, figuring we could easily eat up two hours this way. We went down to the bus stop and waited for almost an hour, before wondering if perhaps the buses were not running on Sunday. Around this time a taxi pulled over (on a side note this is the ONLY taxi I had seen on the entire island) to see if we might like a ride. We asked him about the bus situation, and he said that he thought they were running but informed us that everything in town was closed on Sundays. We thanked him, and began walking down the road to see if the nearby cafe was open instead. The cafe was closed, as was every other business we passed, so we decided to head to the resort where the wedding was held, as the restaurant there was sure to be open.

The restaurant was indeed open, and to make things even better it was happy hour, which meant two for one drinks. We enjoyed a nice lunch and an even nicer view of the ocean, colored a spectacular shade of blue by the cloudless afternoon sky, then walked along the beach back to our hotel. We spent the next few hours relaxing on the beach and reading while we waited for our shuttle.

After arriving at the airport and checking our bags, we walked over to the security checkpoint (everything before this point is outdoors). Before crossing through the security line, I noticed a small line forming to my right in front of a window labeled “export tax.” A bit confused, I walked over to the window to ask the lady what the export tax was for. Apparently export tax is a tax you pay simply for having visited a location. It’s as if to say “thank you for visiting, we hope you enjoyed our island, now shell out $55.” One might imagine that pumping money into the local economy for a week was enough, but one would be wrong. $55 is no small fee, and this honestly was a bit of a slap in the nuts on the way out the door. Once the tax was payed, a the sticker announcing the fact was appropriately affixed to my ticket, I made my way through security,

In order to board the plane, we had to walk out onto the runway. This is a familiar scenario when flying on a small prop-jet, but a bit of a strange case when boarding a gigantic 777. I parted ways with Christine, who somehow had found herself in the first class cabin, and found my seat in the back of the plane. Apparently I was seated in the crying baby section, having 8, yes count them EIGHT babies, all crying, within 3 rows of me. Then there was the guy across the aisle of me who apparently bathed in Hugo Boss cologne, I’m not overstating this, within five minutes the back of my throat and nostrils burned from the smell! The couple next to me were the saving grace. A lovely pair from somewhere in New Zealand that I couldn’t quite comprehend through her thick accent. I was prepared to deal with all of these minor annoyances, that is until the guy ahead of me very forcefully slammed his seat into full recline. Now as I’ve said before, I have a small love affair going with New Zealand Airlines; however, their seats seem to recline much farther back than any other airline I’ve ever encountered. This would seem to be a plus at first, that is unless you’re the guy behind the guy with his seat recline. So sitting there, surround by screaming children, choking on Hugo Boss, and now with a crotch-full of seatback, I decided it was time to move! I said G’Day to my mates in the adjacent seat and found a new seat in the very back of the plane. I’m happy to report the rest of the flight went quite smoothly. It’s also worth noting that we crossed the international date line, so while we left Rarotonga at 5:30PM on Sunday, we arrived a few hours later at 8PM on Monday. Kind of a weird feeling..

We landed safely in Auckland, made it through security, managed to find a rental car, and made it to our hotel incident free (minus one minor ding of a traffic cone), all while driving a mazda-3 with a right-handed steering wheel, WOOH! Tonight also marks my first internet connection since I left the states 7 days ago. So for now I shall sign off and prepare to catch up on emails…

Rarotonga – Day 6

Every Saturday there is a large farmers market in Averua (the capital city of the Cook Islands) on Rarotonga. Being a huge fan of farmers markets, this was an opportunity I was not about to pass up. We waited for the bus into town, and once again were scooped up at the last minute by a passerby headed in our direction. This time he was a very kind old man driving a small pickup truck. We hopped in the back, and had a beautiful ride into town. The farmers market was absolutely packed! It appeared as though the entire island had turned up (and that probably isn’t too far from the truth). We spent the next few hours poking around the various booths, and sampling various foods. I had a pork roll with apples and gravy which was pretty damn amazing. After the farmers market, we made our way back to the hotel where we spent the rest of the afternoon doing a whole lot of nothing..

Rarotonga – Day 5

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Today was another extremely lazy day. I awoke rather early, thankful to find that I was not hung-over from the wedding party last night (thank you B-12). The entire day was juggling act of napping, reading in the hammock, and strolling the beach. In the afternoon we wandered down to a neighboring resort where there was rumored to be a large octopus living under a rock not far offshore. Armed with tortillas, we made our way out into the water and began tossing little near places where we felt an octopus might like to hide. We never found the octopus, but we did see loads of fish, who greedily ate every bit of tortilla we presented. On the way back to our hotel, we were joined by one of the local island dogs (there are scores of them wandering about the island). There was nothing particularly special about this dog other than the fact that he loved to fish, and by fish I mean jump into the water, attempting to pounce on every fish he saw. He was never successful, but it was fun to watch nonetheless. I nicknamed him “Kingfisher.”

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Rarotonga – Day 4

Today started with another morning run/yoga/swim session. I woke around 7 and hit the beach straight away. I once again ran all the way down to the black rocks, and quickly plunged into the ocean; the cool water was a welcome relief after brisk the run down the beach. After completing the second half of my loop, I hopped back into the water and began poking around the reef to see what I might find. I saw crabs, rather creepily, crawling vertically along the slick rock-face to my immediate left. There were a number of fish, none of which I could name, but they were quite beautiful up close. I also saw sea-urchins, sea-cucumbers, and a number of large starfish in a shade of dark-blue that I have never seen before. After about 30 minutes of wading around, I came upon a rather open area in the reef. The water was clear and only a few feet deep. I plunged my head into the water and began to swim. At this moment (not being able to see a thing with my eyes shut), I realized that I have never been able to swim with my eyes open. I’ve had contact lenses since I was 12, which was an obvious preventative, but even before that, I had never been able to open my eyes while under water. It always puzzled me how people could. I mean, I realize that our eyes are essentially covered in salt water, so logically it shouldn’t be an issue, but the whole concept was just very foreign to me. I had lasik surgery over a year ago, so the contacts were no longer an issue. I was officially out of excuses. Without a moments hesitation I plunged into the water and forced my eyes open. At first there was a very minor sting in my eyes, and everything was very blurry, but I could see! I popped my head up for a breathe, then dove back down for round two. Things looked a bit as they would if I was not wearing my contacts (before my surgery), all fuzzy and out of focus, but I could make out shapes and colors, this is cool! I spent another 15 minutes or so working on my new found ability before hitting the sand and finishing my run I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon lounging in a hammock underneath a palm tree, reading Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, and taking in the day.

Around 3:30 I through on a pair of khakis, a light-blue linen shirt, and my flip-flops, and started my walk down the beach to the neighboring resort where Jay and Amy’s wedding would soon be taking place. I arrived at their bungalow about 15 minutes later, where Jay quickly trained me in the art of the “Painkiller;” I had offered to play bartender so he could relax and  focus on more important things. After a few drinks, we all made our way to the beach where the wedding was about to begin. Christine handed me her wide-angle camera, and asked that I snap a few shots as Amy made her way down the aisle (I accidentally left the camera in Manual mode which resulted in a large number of blown out pictures, oops).

Just before Amy made her way down the aisle, the sun peaked out from behind the clouds, casting a single ray of sunlight down on the ceremony, and creating the most picturesque backdrop that you could possibly imagine. The ceremony was beautiful. Short, laid back, and beautiful. After the vows, we all made our way down to the sand, where Christine happily snapped pictures of the newlyweds, along with the entire wedding party. It was fun watching such a great group of friends, sharing in such a memorable event. Once the photo-session wrapped up, we all made our way over to the dining area, where we shared a great meal, heard some great toasts, watched fire dancers performing the sounds drum circle, then danced the night away under a star-filled sky.

I know I’m probably getting a bit repetitive here, but I really can’t say enough, what a great, welcoming, and kind group of people they were. At one point I found myself chatting with Jay’s mom Inga (or Ingred, I’m terribly embarrassed, but I was never able to catch her name with 100% certainty). Here was a woman with stories. She’s in her 60’s, still running marathons, and full of more energy and life than just about anyone I have ever met. So in the middle of our conversation, she says that I simply must come visit her and her husband in Santa Monica. How they have a home right on Ocean Avenue, and they would absolutely love it if I came to visit, and even if their not home, there will be maids there watching the house and that I should feel welcome to simply come and stay and enjoy their home. Now, keep in mind that I have only just met all of these folks 4 days ago, and have only had a few brief conversation with Inga, and even less with her husband John, yet here she is inviting me to come visit them at their home. It was very touching, and I honestly hope to have the opportunity to take her up on that offer someday.

Before wrapping up my post, I have to give a shout-out to Liz and Chad, one of the funniest, and most well-suited couples I have met in a long time. I wanted to give a plug to Liz (aka Gossip Whore) who is a celebrity gossip blogger for yahoo: omg.yahoo.com These two kept me laughing for most of the trip, and I hope that we are able to stay in touch!

Rarotonga – Day 3

Today I awoke to the first blue skies I had seen since departing San Diego 3 days ago, and I must say it is a much welcome change! The rain finally took its’ leisure and decided to let the sun shine through for a bit. It’s incredible how drastically the temperature can change with just a bit of sunlight. WIth nothing major on the itinerary for the day, Christine and I decided to head back over to the beach on the opposite side of the island for a second round of oceanside dining followed by a bit of kicking back and relaxing on the beach. For those of you who have been following my previous posts, you might be starting to see this whole “kicking back and relaxing” bit as somewhat of a trend; you’d be right. The thing about Rarotonga is there isn’t a whole lot to do. There’s the beautiful ocean, which brings some breathtaking views, beaches for lounging, snorkeling, diving and swimming. Beyond this there’s a few touristy activities you can partake in such as taking a guided 4WD tour through the inland of the island, taking a cruise around the harbor, or visiting a local spa. And that’s really about it. This leaves an enormous amount of time for strolling along the beach, sleeping, reading, eating, and just enjoying the day at the slowest pace you can muster. Forgive me, I’m getting a bit off topic. I almost forgot to mention Lynne.

Having no other immediate means of transportation, we decided to once again take the bus to the other side of the island for lunch. About 4 minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive, and in seemingly routine fashion, a white van with “Hash House Harriers” painted across the side pulled up next to us, and a man with a rather respectable handlebar moustache popped his head out and asked if we’d like a ride. He made the same offer to the kiwi couple posted up along side of us. We greatfully accepted and jumped into the back of the van. Once inside, the man introduced himself as Lynne (not sure how exactly sure how to appropriately spell that when referring to a man, so please excuse me if I’m wrong). After a round of introductions from the 4 of us in the back, I asked Lynne about the Hash House Harriers sign on the side of his van. I have heard about the harriers before, and had seen an advertisement in the local newspaper for their weekly run the Monday after we arrived, so I was a bit interested in hearing more about their group. Apparently the H3 (I don’t think anyone actually calls it that, but I’m lazy so that’s what you’re getting from here on out), is an international group with local chapters in cities around the globe. It’s basically nothing more than a running club with a drinking problem (or crossed with a social club if you wanted to be a bit more polite). They meet for a weekly run (about 5-6km according to Lynne) which reaches its completion at a local pub, where they reward themselves with a few beers and some socializing. Lynne went on to explain that this week he, along with a number of other organizers, were holding a week-long triathlete event on Rarotonga (today being the final day/event). WIth the island having only one main road that is essentially a 30km loop, and some incredibly warm ocean waters, I couldn’t imagine a better place for such an event. Getting back to our ride, Lynne mentioned that he was actually heading the opposite direction, but still kindly drove us all the way to our destination without so much as a though. Mind you, Lynne is not a local islander, he is originally from New Zealand, but has been living on the island for 7 years now. When asked how long it takes to get to get to a point where you can truly let go and get into the snails pace of the island, he smiled and quickly responded “8 years, but we’ll see…” It’s easy to see why people fall in love with the islands. The sense of sincerity, generosity, and overall kindness is enthralling, and truly like no where else I’ve ever been. I can only hope that I will find more places in my life with people who share this sentiment, and place an equal amount of aspiration that I will personally carry some of it with me going forward.

Later in the evening we once again joined the wedding party for dinner at Jacks; a nice seafood and pizza restaurant located on the harbor in town. The food was amazing. Christine had the coconut crusted mai mai (see also Mahi Mahi), and I had the Traders Supreme pizza (sausage, pepperoni, black olives, onion, shrimp, cheese, heaven). Once again we ended up seated directly beside Jay and Amy (the bride and groom). They, along with their entire wedding party, have been so kind and welcoming, that I truly feel as though I’ve known them for years. I can’t say enough times how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to share the week with such an amazing group of people. I truly hope that I am able to stay in touch with all of them in the future.

The Countdown

As my last days in San Diego quickly slip away, I am finding myself feeling surprisingly ambivalent to the changes that are about to, and have already occurred in my life. I suppose this lack of feeling could be due to the major, and rather unexpected, changes and opportunities which have presented themselves over the past few months. Instead of spending my final days tying up loose ends, and preparing myself to sell off my worldly possessions and uproot my life, I instead found myself traveling to Las Vegas, Brazil, and Yosemite, all the while growing closer to a certain someone who has managed to take an even deeper hold in my heart. So much for a leisurely exit from a city that, beyond my friends, held very few ties. It really is funny (see also annoying), how people have a way of entering your life at the most inopportune of moments. I have a feeling that once I plant my ass on that plane, with all tasks completed, I will finally start to analyze/realize/feel all the things that I have simply not had the time to ponder.  I digress..

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Get ready, Get set…

So it’s been a few months since my first post marking, the beginning of my plans to sell my worldly possessions and venture out into the world (outside of the U.S.). As you might imagine, things have been a bit hectic in around here, and I feel as though time has simply slipped past me. At this point I have managed to sell off most of my stuff (see also large furniture, household goods, and everything save the bare essentials and items I plan to pack into my car and take with me upon return from my adventures), but am still holding out for the last possible moment to sell my bed (the most amazing bed ever!). Beyond that I still need to find a good home for Roxy (please contact me if you know of anyone who might be interested), and offload a few more odds and ends. Continue Reading

The Beginning…

Over the past few years I’ve felt the growing resurgence of a very familiar itch (and no, I’m not referring to the type of itch you get from a long weekend in TJ!). The itch I’m referring to is one that can only be scratched by exploring the vast and unfamiliar reaches of the globe. This “wanderlust” is what brought me to San Diego 7 years ago, an adventure that has truly changed my life, and it appears that the time has come for it to take me in yet another new direction!
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The Final Leg

After some weeks of recuperation and getting back into the swing of everyday life I’ve decided it was about time to write the final post of my trip. Many of you have been asking just what happened.. I was doing a pretty decent job at keeping the blog updated, and then, I was home. Trip over, no grand finale, no parting words, just an abrupt stop in updates. Well here’s the story, in all it’s rather bland glory:


My second day in Seattle I once again found myself playing tourist. The day started off rather early, meeting some fellow travelers that I had bumped into at the hostel the night before to embark on some more sight-seeing. We walked along the harbor to the Seattle Underground Tour, but arrived about 5 minutes too late and ended up having to wait an hour for the next tour to begin. We spent the hour wandering around the neighborhood not doing a whole lot of anything, and I stopped and got myself some Jimmy Johns, and tried to explain to my new Aussie, French, and German friends why I was so damn excited about a sandwhich (they apparently had never had Jimmy Johns and since none of them ventured to try it, didn’t really understand). After a bit more wandering and a delicious Vito sub, we went back to the tour office and got in line.  [simage=312,320,n,right,] The tour itself was actually quite great. I never knew what a rich and interesting history Seattle had, and learned more about their past plumbing and sewage problems than anyone would ever care to know (at one point the sewage pipes, which were essentially wooden troughs, flowed downhill from the upper residential areas and were then hoisted above the street level where pedestrians would have to walk underneath them as they went about their days, needless to say creating quite a mess of things).

After the tour I lost track of my new-found friends and made may way down to the aquarium to see me some otters! ..and various other marine life. It’s funny how things that were so very interesting and exciting in your youth can seem rather mundane in your adult years. While a bit boring, the aquarium was still a nice way to kill a few hours. It was late afternoon at this point and I had another hour to kill before the evening harbor cruise I had planned on taking, so I headed back to the zig-zag cafe for another round of amazing cocktails. While enjoying an amazing Monte Carlo I overheard the woman next to me discussing a book she had written called “Thank you for firing me.” As I was on a bit of a soul-searching mission and trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with myself career wise, I decided to very bluntly inject myself into her conversation. She was a very pleasant woman in her early 50’s, and as it turns out had previously been living in San Diego. I chatted with her and her husband for a while, and came to find out that she had written this book after being fired from her previous job and relocating to North-Eastern Washington. She said it was the best thing that had every happened to her and suggest I read her book (which I still plan on doing).

After finishing my drink, I made my way down to the docks to board the ship for the evenings harbor cruise. The views from the boat were spectacular, and I met a very nice older couple who were visiting Seattle on vacation. After the cruise I decided to take a break from the heat and retreated to the movie theater down the street. I purchased a ticket for “Inception” and found a seat in the rather crowded theater. I should probably mention that at this point, after the stop at the zig-zag cafe, and the bar on the boat, I was 3 or 4 cocktails deep and was rather drunk, which is the LAST thing you want to be while watching this movie. After finishing the movie, I made my way back to the hostel and called it a night.

The next morning I awoke rather restless. I had been on the road for almost 2 weeks at this point, and had spent the last week of it playing tourist, which for some reason had seemed to really drain me. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy taking in the sites, but the constant buzz of the city, sleeping in strange and rather uncomfortable places, and spending many hours by myself had taken its tole. After giving it some thought, I packed up my bags and decided to depart Seattle a day early and head to the Olympic Peninsula. I had a nice breakfast with my hostel buddies, packed up the car, and headed to the HUGE REI flagship store down the street, where I picked up some last minute supplies and spoke with a forest ranger about the best spots to camp. With a bit more confidence in the next leg of my trip I jumped back on the freeway and started heading toward the docks where I would catch a ferry over to the peninsule.

To this day I can’t say exactly what it was, but I couldn’t seem to shake this nagging feeling that it was time to go home. Maybe it was homesickness, perhaps loneliness, or maybe a combination of a slew of other things, but I made the last minute decisions to cut my trip short and come home. I was already on the 5-South, the highway that would take me straight South all the way from Seattle to San Diego. I drove 10 hours straight that day and made it all the way to the very Northern tip of California. I pulled into a Motel 6 at around 12AM, and after a hasty checkin, I grabbed a few things out of the car and headed up to my room. Sleep did not come easily that night. I awoke very suddenly around 3AM and just could not seem to get back to sleep. After fighting with it for an hour or so I got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom, the thought being that a nice hot shower might help wake me up and prepare me for the extremely long day I had ahead. I turned the shower on and went to pack up the few belongings I brought with me to the room just a few hours before. Upon returning to the bathroom I was rather surprised to find that instead of hot water coming from the shower, there was still icey cold streams pouring from its’ spout. After giving it a few more minutes I came to the unhappy realization that there was no hot water and I was just going to have to suck it up and jump into the freezing cold water. Let me just say, this was not the best way to start the day.

After managing to regain the feeling in my fingers and toes, I grabbed my stuff and made my way out into the darkness of the early morning. Immediately after closing my hotel door, I saw two men in the parking lot below smoking cigarettes. To describe them as two of the fattest, greasiest, red-neck looking guys I have ever seen just wouldn’t do them justice. They looked like something straight out of the move “Deliverance,” only they would have been the guys that weren’t picked for the movie because they were just too damn creepy. Anyways, I walked downstairs and past the men, trying to shake off the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I crossed the parking lot, threw my bags in the back of my car, and got into the drivers seat, locking the doors after me. I saw the men return to their room and close the door behind them, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I put my head down for just a moment to fiddle with my IPod and try to find some music to keep me awake on the road. When I lifted my head, I was startled to see the two hillbillies standing directly beside my passenger door, one of them with his hand on the door handle trying to open it. I had already started the car, and immediately threw it into reverse, punching the gas and causing the tires to spin out in a loud squeal. It was at this point that I notice one of the men (who I had just seen smoking a cigarette not 5 minutes earlier) was holding an oxygen tank in his left hand. Both the men stared at me menacingly, and without a further seconds hesitation I put the car into drive and tore out of the parking lot.

It was some hours of driving down the dark and completely desolate highway before dawn came and I was able to shake off the very unsettling feeling that the mornings events had left me with. It was now nearing 8AM and I decided it was high time for a cup of coffee. I pulled off at the next town and found a Dutch Bros. Coffee, which I had grown to enjoy during my time in Oregon and Seattle. I pulled into the drive-through and was greeted by a very chipper young blonde who took my order and instructed me to pick a ticket from a bucket she was holding. After having her explain this process to me a second-time (the lack of sleep had left me in a bit of a blur and I didn’t quite grasp the concept of a raffle), I slid my hand into the bucket and drew a ticket. Upon examination, the ticket said “1 Free Medium Coffee,” which is precisely what I had ordered! The girl took the ticket and very excitedly handed my, now free, cup of coffee. I thanked her, and made my way back to the highway with a now hopeful outlook for the rest of the day.

I decided that the only way I was going to make it to San Diego by nightfall was to drive 150-200 mile stretches without stopping, then allow myself a 10 minute break to get gas, pickup some refreshments, and stretch my legs, and over the next 16 hours I did just that. I meandered my way through the rather uninteresting scenery that accompanies the stretch of Interstate 5 from the Northern tip of California to the South. As mentioned, I left the motel around 4AM and made it back to San Diego around 8PM. Needless to say, I was exhausted, but I was glad to be home. I do plan on going back to Washington and spending some time in the Olympic Peninsula as well as making way across and into Vancouver as previously planned, but I think that I will do a bit more planning beforehand. All in all the trip was amazing, and I officially caught the roadtrip bug again, and am already figuring out when I can plan my next trip!