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The Year of Traveling November 30, 2017

Posted by shaunphilly in Personal.
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This has not been a year I’ve written very much, and yet a lot has happened. 2017 was the year of traveling, for me. Today, I’m not going to get philosophical or anything. Today I’m just going to talk about the places I’ve seen this year, and share some pictures.

I wrote about going on the road earlier this year. This Spring, I found out that the job I had been working at was downsizing, and the office was being shut down. I was the Sr. technician on site, and I had only been there about a year, and suddenly I found myself looking at having to find new work. So, with an upcoming severance package, I decided to take a road trip. And so I did that.

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Atop Green Mountain, Colorado. Looking down on Black Canyon

I hit the road at the end of June, and had no specific plan. I had camping gear in the back, food in a cooler, and my Prius on a blacktop of potential. I went to lots of places, but I spent the most time in Colorado. The photo above was from a very long clime in Gunnison National Park, in the Western part of Colorado where I spent most of my time. It’s about 8500 feet above sea level, and also quite high from the floor of the canyon in the distance. I sat up there for a long time, and just watched and felt genuinely glad to be alive.

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Me, in Salt Lake City, unshaken after camping in Colorado

It was astoundingly beautiful, and only one of many places I saw on my road trip. I saw Cleveland and Vermilion Ohio, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, camped in Oklahoma, drove through Kansas (where I saw a giant replica of a Van Gogh painting, standing around 50 feet tall), Couchsurfed and camped in Colorado, had a drink in Salt Lake City (where I also saw the Temple Square), stayed in San Fransisco and Portland Oregon, and came back through Idaho (Boise was great, and has a lot of Basque influence on food and culture there), Omaha (Nebraska is beautiful), Kansas City (where I may or may not have met a nice girl on Tinder where I found a place to crash for the night), then back home. I saw many more places in between, and am so very glad that I saw them all, and feel like I have a better feel for the immense size and beauty of this country. Colorado was my favorite, by far, but my friend (who I used to babysit when he was a child) introduced my to his wonderful hippie community in Portland, where I helped repaint some street murals and played guitar and drank beer until late into the night with his friends.

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Marilyn with some friends from grad school, in North Carolina, where we stopped along the way to SC.

Then, after I returned home, there was the eclipse. I took my partner, Marilyn, down to South Carolina with me, and we camped in the path of totality, and it was astounding. The camp ground was so overbooked, that they started renting out parts of the lawn and grassy areas next to the road to people to set up camp. And so with a fire pit, lots of beer, some people from Georgia and South Carolina as neighbors, we partied for 2 nights and watched an eclipse which was much more amazing than I thought it would be.

None of the pictures I took did it justice, unfortunately. But (as you can see) I did take pictures this summer, and the one below is my favorite of all of them.

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Copan Lake, Oklahoma.

This was next to Copan Lake, in Oklahoma, near a little town called Dewey, where I had a wonderful lunch and talked with some lovely locals who owned a cafe/bar/theater where they hosted some interesting shows and movies. I have many pictures of the sunset from that evening, many which I thought of sharing here, but this tree, on the way back to my campsite, caught my eye and it ended up being my favorite picture from the summer.

 

Home. Moving. Planes.

I was gone from Philadelphia for three weeks, and was glad to be home. Then, I moved to to my new apartment on Baltimore Ave. Living alone, for the first time ever, with my birds, my guitars, and my many books. But I would have to wait to unpack, because my traveling was not yet over. Having moved my stuff in, and gotten a few things unpacked, it was time to get on a plane.

I thought I had been traveled out after my road trip and seeing the eclipse in South Carolina, but then Marilyn had a business conference she had to go to, and invited me to meet her in Vienna. I decided to fly to Prague, spend a few days there while she was at her conference, and spend the weekend with her in Vienna. All I can say is that I absolutely loved Prague, and would recommend it to anyone who likes old European cities with lots of history, and also likes beer and amazing food. I love me some Goulash!

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Prague, from a lookout tower west of the old town

I walked for hours in Prague and Vienna. In Prague, I discovered a Belgian beer bar that, when I arrived, was having an anniversary party with of the of the Belgian brewers (from Gulden Draak, specifically) there helping celebrate the bar’s anniversary. I found some Americans in a place called the Prague Beer Museum (a pub, really), where we attempted to talk with two guys from Ukraine via Google translate, because they only spoke Russian. I had a drink at Hemmingway’s while in Prague, on the recommendation of someone who I thanked immediately, because the cocktails were great. There was also a Sex machine museum, which was fascinating. I have many pictures I want to share from there, but here’s my favorite:

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Yes, that’s one sexy bear.

In Vienna, Marilyn and I ate Schnitzel and spätzle while drinking very good beer while I tried to remember how to speak German. We saw the Jewish museum, which had exhibits about the history of Jewish culture, persecution, and influence on the local business culture of Vienna over the many centuries. The natural history museum there is astoundingly large, and makes the Smithsonian look tiny in comparison. We could not see all of it, in the few hours we were there. I played a little Ingress in both towns, because uniques are a thing, but I was much more interested in looking around, than down at a phone.

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Marilyn gets her first corset at the Ren Faire

Back here, in Philadelphia, there was protesting (because our president, and the awful people who are in control around him are doing awful things), seeing friends (my friend bought a big house in South Philly, near the Italian market), bike rides (they’re just great), and the Renaissance Faire (kilt’s are necessary, of course) among many other things. There are new and ongoing relationships with the lovely people in my life, and there are, of course, birds chirping contentedly behind me as I write at my desk.

Most importantly this year, there is a sense of all the shit of a few years ago being healed, even if not forgotten. The last year or so has been full of nights without nightmares, constant emotional turmoil, or even thinking about those things the vast majority of the time.

I am, without a doubt, happier, healthier, and more confident in myself, life, and my personal future than I have even been at any point in my life. Trauma and pain have a way of healing and teaching, and I am not only a better person for having lived through it and also having learned from my own mistakes, but I have a greater perspective from which to see the world around me clearer.

Life, in short, is good. And I’m happy. How was your 2017, so far?

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