Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Summer in Review and The Next Big Thing; Africa!

There is only one way to begin this post: LIFE IS GOOD.  

To get to the point in just over a day I leave for Africa, where I plan on spending 1-2 years traveling.  The year began on the the beach in Thailand, then on to India, then to Nepal, then Home. Once home, I decided to keep traveling and had wonderful trips in Oregon, the San Juan Islands, Northern California, Hawaii, Alaska and finally Montana. I'll be celebrating this new years in Cape Town, South Africa!

I mentioned this briefly in my post on my Montana trip, but let me lay out the full story this time.  On the very first day of my 6-month Asia trip, I met Chris from South Africa and we ended up traveling together for a week in the Philippines.  We got along very well, and discussed traveling together sometime in the future, but at a time totally unknown.  Upon my return from that trip, I decided I coudn't go back to a 'normal life' and that I wanted to sell off most of my things and travel the world for a few years. Because I'd never been to Mexico or Central/South America, I was planning on beginning there this winter.  As it happened, while visiting my sister in Montana Chris messaged me on Facebook and asked if I wanted to go on a 4x4 trip through Africa. Naturally I said 'YES!!!' and my next adventure was born.

Right now here is what the trip looks like: I have a one-way ticket to Cape Town, where I will meet Chris and we will spend New Years.  Shortly after, we will head to Namibia for a week or two where we will stay at a friend of Chris's in Windhoek, returning to South Africa for a primer course in 4x4 driving and repair.  Shortly after that, we will be meeting with a fiend of Chris's, Weon (a friend of Chris through scuba diving) in Durban and from there we are planning on spending a FULL YEAR driving north towards Cairo.  Along the way we will pass through Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, and possibility more.  Both my travel partners are scuba instructors, so I will be getting a full setup of  my own and we will be doing a lot of diving.  Along the way I am hoping to meet my new friends Carley in Mozambique, my friend James in Malawi, army buddies of my Tweak3D friend Andrew in Djibouti, my friend from elementary school Jonathan somewhere and maybe more! Assuming we spend a year on this trip, that would put me back into Winter back home in Seattle, and while I love winter, if I don't have a job or something else lined up, I just might spend another 5-6 months on the road. One of my priorities back home in the States is still to live up on my buddy Johnny's place on on Shaw Island, so if I spend a year and a half in Africa, I can arrive in the spring/summer and have a wonderful time living on Island and helping my friend start his farm. That's the theory at least.

So with that background, and excluding the already mentioned trips this summer to Oregon, Shaw Island, Hawaii, Alaska and Montana, let me give a quick recap of my summer back home!

Shortly after deciding to sell off much of my posessions in order to travel the world, it was time to sort through everything and decide what to keep and what to get rid of. This was ended up being the 'donate' pile from going through my dressers.

The beautiful wedding of my friends Kevin and Jamie.  Not only was this the first wedding of any of my friends, it was the first time in a year and a half that I actually got a haircut, haha.

With summer going strong, rope swings were important for keeping cool and having fun.

Visiting my cabin at Snoqualmie Pass with my grandmother Farmor and my mom.

A beautiful evening at Carkeek Park in Seattle.

This was the 'free room' where I stacked all the things I was trying to give away to friends. Here we see Sam getting excited about free wax paper!

While friends are critical, family is just important and I was able to see my family fairly regularly this summer.  This was a memorial event for my grandfather 'Pa'.

My good friends Chad, Sam, Dan and Kelty togeher for one last time before I began taking my place apart. 

My (triplet) brother and sister in town, laughing and looking ridiculous.

Sorting through years of paperwork.

And giving things away on the sidewalk. This was great people watching, I saw middle aged women trying on wigs and using an old jump rope of mine, crazy looking guys taking things just for scrap metal and much much more. While no one took the couches, everything else I tried to give away was taken within hours. Not only did it help me, but I'm sure it put smiles on more than a few faces.

A medieval themed costume party.

And my place finally emptying out. I lived there for around three years and it was wonderful, but all things come to and end and it was time.

My parents were kind enough to let me move in with them which was a wonderful help to me.  While it was a major change to go from my own house to a single room, it was very good for helping me simplify my life.

A rainy Seattle day.  This was an event for the beginning of the end of the Seattle Viaduct, my favorite piece of road in the city.  Part of it was being torn down, and the whole thing will be gone soon so the city put on an event where you could walk up on the road.

By October, winter was beginning and my dad and I went up to Snoqualmie pass for my first ski of the year. We hiked up the Hyak (now known as Summit East) area for a few runs, and I had an absolute blast.

A night of bowling with friends.

Now this day marked a full year of my wearing flip flops. They have become a sort of icon of my travels, and a constant subject of discussion. I bought my first cheap pair in the Philippines the first full day of my trip, and wore those through the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and my first day in India. This pair in the photo I bought while traveling with Nick an Ellen in Cambodia because I was worried about my then flip flops falling apart at any moment. These got me through two months in India, a month and a half in Nepal including 3 days of hiking in the Everest region, then 6 months in the states. I am still wearing them today, and they have seen everything from the sandy beaches of Maui to the snowy mountains of Washington State. I'm looking forward to seeing how far into Africa this pair lasts me, and then  I have a replacement already set aside that I bought in Hawaii. Flip flops, important business!

Another party with friends, this time with the Fremont crew.

My cats Jack and Sven, exploring the outdoors for the first time in their lives. As a result of this, I'm beginning to believe they prefer the indoors.

Carving pumpkins at Halloween.

My first day of cross country skiing, at Cabin Creek with my dad. 

And my first day of dowhill skiing, at Stevens Pass with Sazzy, Elliot and Hunter.

At this point, the Africa trip is coming up soon and it's time to prep.  Because I'll be needing many passport size photos for the many visas I will be getting, I had about 60 printed out here in Seattle to bring with me. I also got the book Dark Star Safari about one man's Cape to Cairo trip, and my International Drivers Permit.

Another day of downhill skiing with friends at Stevens Pass.

The day after Thanksgiving, we had a 'friends Thanksgiving' where Kelty injected with butter and deep fried a turkey. Needless to say it was absolutely delicious and one of the best parties of the year.

With Christmas coming up soon it was time to get ready. This is me helping my aunt Karen and uncle John decorate their tree.

At the Jay-Z and Kanye West show at the Tacoma Dome. A great performance.

Being Christmas time, my brother came to town from California, so the two of us went shooting. Good old American fun!

Shortly afterward, the three of us and my parents went up to our cabin at Snoqualmie Pass to spend the night.

I had to return to work for Thursday/Friday, but that will be my last day of actually having a job for the foreseeable future. I've said it before, but working for John at Seattle Tree Preservation has been great. I like the work an John has been great accommodating me and my schedule as I've been traveling.  I'll miss the guys, but everyone including the boss is supportive of my trip so that is very nice.

Christmas is officially in full swing.  Here the family is on Christmas night sitting by the tree, the fire and opening gifts. 

That same evening, my friends and I have an annual Christmas event at the Blue Moon Tavern, a Seattle institution.  We have a white elephant gift exchange and it's probably the largest friend-gathering of the year.  This year was especially good for me for two reasons: I missed last year because I was in Thailand, and it was a great opportunity to see tons of friends just before I take off.

One new thing on this trip is that I bought a GoPro Hero2 camera. If you don't know what these are, just watch this video here. I plan on using it mostly for scuba diving, but I know it will come in useful for documenting all kinds of interesting parts of our trip, and will certainly be a new and interesting element to the trip and to the blog.

With just over a day before I leave, I suppose it's time to start packing huh? My Asia trip was a total backpacking trip, but this will be very different.  Most of the time we will be traveling by 4x4, which will allow much more flexability in terms of gear, so as a result I'll be bringing a big more on the trip.  I don't have my full list done up, but I'll have more than a single t-shirt, that's for sure!

Well, that's it for now. My next post will be from Cape Town, South Africa and I can't wait! I don't know what internet access will be like on this trip, but the whole time I'll be taking tons of pictures and video, and will be updating the blog as much as possible.  

Stay tuned, and I hope the new year treats you all well!