There were few showers, but there are now many flowers. This April, I explored several state parks around Greenville and found a handful of waterfalls. I had the pleasure of navigating the South Carolina DMV to legalize my motorcycle. Despite the complicated process of crossing streets to pay taxes and register a plate, I use the word “pleasure” without sarcasm–the DMV workers were exceptionally helpful. A pleasant surprise indeed. Also, I spent my 23rd birthday with a friend in Durham, NC promoting Ugly Sapling at Zine Machine. And aging somehow bettered my eyesight. According to the eye doctor, my vision improved by .25 points, likely due to less eye strain–now being out of school and on a somewhat consistent sleep schedule. This is more likely due to my incessant gnawing on carrots. Anyway, the month concluded with a 5K color run. For the record, the dyed corn starch is worth a lick. Or two.
This month, I experienced springtime in South Carolina. It was reminiscent of childhood spring breaks to Myrtle Beach–new experiences and temperatures that can’t be felt. During the month, a friend who had exposed me to House of Cards visited and accompanied me to Gaffney’s Peachoid. We, too, were surprised at its existence. At Greenville Tech, I took and passed a motorcycle safety course. On the final day of March, I bought a 2009 250 CC Honda Rebel on Craigslist. Until I acquire insurance, registration, and a license; I will live up to the model name.
Another month has passed. We all know that 2016 isn’t getting any younger, but I’m surprised it’s already March. February was an interesting month for me, as I transitioned into a new work assignment in Greenville, South Carolina. Moving south in mid-winter is a dream to many; and although it was never one for me, the change of pace has been nice. It was a bit short-lived, as the last week of February was spent back in New York. But I’ve now returned to my new routine, much of which was depicted in the following video:
This year I made a resolution to take daily two-second videos. At the end of each month, I’ll compile the clips into a minute movie. By the end of the year, I’ll have a twelve-minute film. The purpose of the project is self-serving: to help catalogue daily experiences and trigger smaller memories with each playback. The act of filming something each day, even if it’s only a couple seconds, challenges me to be mindful. Even if I haven’t done something “exciting,” I’ve been more in-tune with the present and my immediate surroundings. With one month down, I’m curious how the next eleven months will change my perspective.
Six months were up, just like that. I was uprooted from Schenectady, New York and transplanted to Greenville, South Carolina. Good thing I liked to move.
It was a good time of year to make the transition. Winter had been mild in New York–a bit too mild for my taste–and February supposedly offered nice weather in South Carolina. When the time came, my friend Gary–who was relocating to Atlanta–helped me load my stuff into a UHaul trailer and hit the road. It was the first time I had hauled anything with my truck, so I was glad to finally take advantage of the capability. Gary and I formed a caravan en route and communicated with walkie-talkies, making the Friday evening crawl through East Coast traffic bearable. Rather than drive straight to our apartments, we decided to make a few stops along the way. Washington D.C. to visit a friend. Charlotte, North Carolina to grab some Ikea furniture. Ebright Azimuth to summit Delaware.
Late Friday evening, I and all of my worldly possessions capped Delaware. The highest point sat alongside the road, marked by a prominent blue sigh and a wire bench. Before we clogged traffic, Gary and I snapped a picture before the sign. Like Rhode Island, Delaware’s peak was hardly a bump. The juxtaposition of the street-side summit and the previous week’s expedition to Marcy’s icy peak exemplified the true diversity of American highpoints. That’s what keeps it interesting.
For six months, I lived an hour and a half drive from the top of New York. Yet, for this reason and that, I hadn’t reached Marcy’s summit. I didn’t even enter the Adirondacks for the duration of my stay, despite the many weeks of warm, rainless weather. With priorities reassessed in 2016, I aimed for a winter climb and got just that.
Last weekend, I set out with a buddy from work, Chris, to peak Mount Marcy. In the days leading up to our ascent, the region had been experiencing average temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit, with wind-chills down to forty below. Come Saturday, we were prepared for the worst–packing multiple layers, emergency stoves, down sleeping bags, and a mental expectation of spending the night in a snowbank. When we began our ascent at 07:30, we had our headlamps ready for a late evening descent. We were pleasantly surprised. The sky was partly cloudy–lending the perfect mix of light and shadow for wonderful images of the frozen landscape. The temperature hovered in the twenties. The trail required nothing more than a pair of micro-spikes on our boots. The hike was idyllic. By noon, we reached the peak and were blown away by the view and nearly blown away by the dry wind. After enjoying the summit, we leisurely returned well before sunset. Our headlamps were untouched and our thirst for mountains reinvigorated. I look forward to the next adventure.
In 2015, my body visited 31 American states. A good deal of this travel materialized from two privileges: a new day job and a summer adventure. After graduating college, I had a couple months before starting my new job and this window afforded a long trip.
Instead of blowing hundreds of dollars on plane tickets, a couple friends and I boarded a train. Amtrak offered a 30-day, 12-leg rail pass for under $700. With this pass, we could travel basically anywhere Amtrak offered service. The trip we designed was a journey of the Western perimeter. We used our first legs to travel from our various homes in Michigan (Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Detroit) to convene in Chicago. From there, we traveled along the Canadian border to the Pacific and along the Pacific Coast to the edge of Mexico. We then traveled along the Mexican border to the Mississippi and followed the River back to Chicago.
We stopped at the following stations:
Chicago, Illinois (CHI)
West Glacier, Montana (WGL)
Seattle, Washington (SEA)
Portland, Oregon (PDX)
Emeryville, California (EMY)
Los Angeles, California (LAX)
Tucson, Arizona (TUS)
San Antonio, Texas (SAS)
New Orleans, Louisiana (NOL)
Memphis, Tennessee (MEM)
Chicago, Illinois (CHI)
We took some of the finest trains, from the Empire Builder to the Sunset Limited and the City of New Orleans to the Coast Starlight. For the duration of the trip, we lived out of backpacks and camped in a variety of climates: freezing rain in Montana and scorching heat in Arizona. We stayed at a friend’s Malibu beach-house and a smorgasbord of hostels, but spent many nights on trains. It was the longest vacation I had ever taken and surely the most exciting. The trip afforded ample time for writing and reflection. And as great as it was, I surely learned that America isn’t designed for pedestrians (especially for Western tours). The inconsistency of public transit quality from city-to-city and state-to-state, while inconvenient, forced us to explore other means of transit and see places we would not have otherwise visited.
There is no better way to see America than via Amtrak.