Part 1: Adventure prep.
Once upon a time I wanted to get better at surfing.
"Hmm," I thought, "if I'm going to learn how to not suck at surfing, I should probably start kinda small and work my way up to the harder waves. There's no sense in going straight to Costa Rica or anywhere else with world-famous waves if I don't even know how to stand up! Nah, I need to practice keeping my balance and staying up for longer than half a second." So I looked up "best places to surf for beginners", which led me to the legendary beach of Waikiki, Hawaii!
...so I went to Hawaii! (^that's a photo of Waikiki beach and the crater which I will mention^)
My plan was to leave on Sunday morning, which landed me on Oahu in the late afternoon, and come back on either Tuesday or Wednesday (depending on how flights looked). I spent a few hours the week before going over the logistics of the trip, and I discovered something pretty fr*ckin' neato: I can go surfing in Hawaii for ~$80 a day.
Check this out:
1. Travel - flights: free, public transport: $2.50 to anywhere on the island
2. Lodging - Hostel: $36 a night, two blocks from the beach
3. Food - Street food/grocery store food: ~$20 a day
4. Surfing - Moku boards: $20 for a half day (which is plenty), one block from the beach
...and that's pretty much all you need!!!
I couldn't believe how cheaply I could do something like this, sooooooo I'll probably (*cough*definitely*cough*) be doing this again before my free flights dry up.
Part 2. The Trip.
I left on Sunday afternoon and was the last person to get on the flight, which was pretty scary.. if one other passenger or someone with a higher flying priority than me decided to come... yeah.
I made it to LAX, had a layover for a few hours (not long enough to grab In-n-Out, tragically). Then I made it onto the Hawaii flight as the second to last person. Once again... scary, lol.
I rode the bus from the airport to the hostel, where I procured rations for my stay. After asking the hostel manager about good places to sleep in a hammock, I decided getting mugged by one of the 200 local homeless people wasn't worth $36 for an extra night at the hostel. The manager agree with my decision.
I picked up Hawaiian sweet rolls and P.O.G. juice from the store, then saw a girl with a glowing hula hoop and we talked as we walked toward the beach. I sat on the beach and inhaled my rolls (not a drug reference, btw) and watched the waves. As I was throwing away my empty P.O.G cans I saw Grace (hula hoop girl) walking back along the promenade. I hailed her, attempted (unsuccessfully) to peer pressure her into drinking "2X Your Recommended Daily Amount of Vitamin C!" and chatted about life on Hawaii.
We ended up hanging out the rest of the night as she tried to teach me some hula hoop tricks which I gracefully proceeded to fail miserably at. We met a guy who was walking along the beach juggling for exercise who lived on a sailboat with his wife. They had spent over 60 days at sea traveling from some place near New Zealand to Hawaii where they now lived (apparently port fees are cheaper than rent).
Grace became my official guide of the island. I went surfing in the morning for a solid 4 hours while she was at yoga. Then we met up at a FREE LEI MAKING CLASS which really brought out my inner thug:
T H U G L I F E , I N D E E D .
Afterward, we hiked to the top of the crater nearby. It was supposed to be a 45 minute hike, but we ended up getting up in a solid 24 minutes. I blame it on the fact that my body was still acclimated to the thinner air of mountainous Utah.
We finished off the night by eating street tacos, watching a lady dance the hula at a nice resort (which I had to smuggle my street tacos into, btw).
Grace was pretty cool, and I definitely felt like we were supposed to meet and become friends. I think it's funny how I can end up in a totally strange place, by an awfully improbable sequence of events and happen to be in just the right place to meet a cool person. There was literally a 10 second window where I just happened to cross the street to find myself walking behind some girl with a glowing hula hoop... I almost didn't talk to her, cuz she had her headphones in... I almost didn't see her again as she walked past me on the beach.... It's crazy how little coincidences like this happen. It's times like this, when something nice happens by a sequence of unlikely coincidences, that I can see God's hand in my life. It really strengthens my faith.
WHICH REMINDS ME OF A STORY.
Part 3. A Story I Didn't Plan on Telling
Once upon a time I was going to New York by myself for the first time.
I wanted to go somewhere before I started school again, so I decided to catch a late night, red-eye flight to New York and go hang out there for a day. Now, naturally, I was nervous. Not only was I going to a hᴜցе, Ꮷаｎg℮rංuѕ ϲɪtｙ ... I was going complｅt℮lｙ ɑlonｅ! Yeah, I was freaked out a little. BUT! I was going on an adventure, and nothing was going to stop me! So as I was driving to the airport I said a quick prayer and asked God if he would protect me and help me overcome my anxiety.
I made it on the flight, and as I was walking down the plane, trying to find my seat, I saw this lady that look remarkably like my mother's best friend, a wonderful lady who we loving call "Aunt Diana".
Here's what happened:
Me: hmm. That lady looks a lot like a wonderful lady who we loving call "Aunt Diana"
Me: oh, here's my seat
Me: shoot, wait, this isn't my seat! I'm one row in front!
Me: omg, I'm never traveling alone again
Aunt Diana: ...ben?
Me: ....diana? Wait...auNT DIANA???
A list of facts:
1. Diana was traveling to meet her son in New York
2. Neither of us had any idea the other was going to that same weekend.
3. We just happened to leave on the same night.
4. We just happened to be on the same flight.
5. We just happened to be sitting next to each other.
6. SHE JUST HAPPENED TO BE AN EXPERT AT VISITING NEW YORK
(seriously, she showed me an app I can download that show me all the free bathrooms nearby)
I was so over my anxiety by the end of that flight, I frickin' talked to so many strangers that trip. I stopped off at a Starbucks near Times Square to charge my phone and became friends with two girls from Chicago, I somehow became friends with two other random ladies who were there too. To this day I'm facebook friends with 4 random people I met in New York. They occasionally like my posts, and Nedin has an adorable cat.
Moral of the story:
God is aware of our fears and anxieties, and He wants to help us get over them.
Flights looked better getting home on Tuesday, so I left in the morning and ended up getting stranded in LAX. I decided I'd rather sleep in the Seattle airport (plus flights looked better from Seattle to SLC in the morning), so I jumped on a flight to SEA and slept on the floor (on my travel blow up mattress that I always pack). I got back to Salt Lake and discovered that my car (which I had parked in a sketchy part of town in the parking lot of a hardware store next to a Taco bell just to avoid paying for parking) was completely fine and not broken into. yay.
Once upon a time I wanted to go into the film industry.
"How cool would it be," thought I, "if I could make professional movies and be a part of this exciting and creative industry!" So I thought about who I knew who might help me get connected to the film making scene and suddenly remembered, "Hey! I totally know a guy!".
As fate would have it, I happened to bump into the guy just a few days later. Bruce Wing (not to be confused with Bruce Wayne) is a family friend and a prop master/flim producer. He's a friend of my family, and totes gave me ginger ale and ice cream when I would visit his home to collect fast offerings as a deacon. He told me he was working on a film covering the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio. He told me he'd talk to the cameraman and see if they could use an intern.
And so it was that I managed to finagle my way into free catered meals for a week.
Here are some of the pictures I took:
I was the "assistant to the first assistant cameraman", which means that I would set up monitors, grab lens cases, and fetch a Dr. Pepper for the 1st AC whenever he wanted one. It was actually perfect, because I would help set up the camera equipment, then as they were rehearsing I had nothing to do, allowing me to take pictures of the perfectly lit scenes before we started rolling.
This resulted in some amazing pictures:
It was a great experience, and I'm glad I went for it, even if it did involve calling in "sick" for work, missing a full week of school right before finals, and long, rain-filled, 12 hour days of manual labor. Funnily enough though, the two main reasons why I'm glad I had this chance are:
1- It made me realize I don't want to be a freelance filmmaker.
I had a long talk with Bruce while on set one day. He told me about the downsides of his line of work: you don't ever have a steady schedule, you have no company benefits, you are always looking for work etc. Basically, there is no consistency or security in the freelance film making business. I noticed that most of the workers on set took everything very seriously - too seriously, at times. They didn't seem like they were having fun, rather, they were enduring this hard week of work, knowing they'd be out of a job if they made a mistake.
I'm not about that life.
I'm glad I could be a part of making that film, because it made me realize I wanted to do something more consistent and reliable for the rest of my life.
2- Also, one day for breakfast we had these apple-stuffed french toast things that were ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Seriously, it was almost work the whole experience just for those!
3- And I had the opportunity to take some of the best photos I've ever taken:
I loved the colors of this girl's costume and eyes, so I pulled her aside as she was leaving and asked for her pictures.
The lighting was set up so perfectly on this shot. The horse wasn't even a big part of the frame, she was just chillin' in the background!
I was surprised by how many people I knew on set. Not only did I meet a girl that turned out to be my cousin, I also saw Bud, a friend from Dixie. He was a miner for this scene, and I yelled his name while he was waiting with his fellow extras, allowing me to get this shot.
Once again, perfect lighting.
It was a good experience, but I'll probably never do it again.
...well, I mean never again after I go to Costa Rica with Bruce to film a movie trailer. :)
This only counts as Adventure #2.5, cuz it I just stopped by Washington D.C. for a few hours on my way back from NYC.
Main reason I wanted to go? Cherry blossoms.
And to see my friends dog.
And my friend.
I used to work with Paige back in the day. She's a photographer too, so we walked around and obtained sick shots of each other.
Here are pictures:
Adventure 2.75 - Getting Home
Now getting back home was tricky.
I timed everything so that I could make it back to the airport in time for my 4:30pm flight back to SLC, but then Paige offered me a lift to the airport. I accepted, seeing how the airport was only 15 minutes away by car. What I didn't consider was the 25 minute walk to her car.
I get to the airport, and I couldn't check in because my flight was in 29 minutes (the check in cut off is 30 minutes). I talk to the Delta lady, and she prints off my ticket in the most agonizingly slow manner.
- Fortunately, I got my seat request ticket!
- Unfortunately, the line for security was the approximate length of the Mississippi river (during the fall, when it's slightly shorter than usual).
So I missed my flight... I arrived at the gate just in time to see the plane taxiing to the runway.
- Fortunately, I had a back up flight! I would catch the 4:50 flight back to NYC and connect to a 8pm flight back to Utah!
- Unfortunately, my backup flight was delayed for 5 hours, rendering my desired connection impossible to make...
- Fortunately, I noticed that a flight to Minneapolis was boarding nearby!
- Unfortunately, that meant I had to go to Minneapolis...
Jk, that wasn't a problem. I quickly checked connecting flights at Minneapolis, listed myself for the flight (and the connection back to SLC), printed off my seat request ticket and hopped on the flight!
I eventually made it back home.
I only had to pay for two days of parking.
Yup. That's right.
I made a super amateur travel video!!! (eeeyyyyyyo)
I recently impulsively bought a "DJI Osmo Mobile" which is basically just a fancy selfie stick.
It's sick, man. It keeps your phone steady, so you can shoot video and make it look not lame and shaky, and stuff.
But anyway, I went to New York for the day.
This is actually the third time I've flown to New York just for a day. Do I recommend just visiting for one day only? No. There is so much to do see in New York, there's no way you can do it in a day. Why do I go for just one day then? Great question. I have compiled a exhaustive list of my rational for going for 24 hours:
So there you have it. Go just for a day -- Save about $200.
What to do in NYC if you're just there for the day:
Here's what to do if you are flying to JFK International Airport
I'll probably add to this list as I return. This is what I've done each time I've been. To be honest, I'm a bit over the super touristy stuff, and want to explore the museums and parks a bit more. Next time I'll go I'll likely rent a bike to the Brooklyn Bridge and visit Battery Park.
Please leave a comment if you've got suggestions of things to do!
First, and most importantly, that picture of a burger happens to be THE BEST burger I have ever eaten. EVER. IN my LIFE. It even beats the exotic "wild boar meat" burger that I had in a rustic pub in a remote town in England. After taking a bite I could do nothing more than repeat the word "dang", repeatedly for a full 20 seconds. It was like I had just tasted a nugget of golden ambrosia from the Greek Gods. Eating this burger was like waking up on a tropical beach after toiling for 35 years in the coal mines of North Dakota. It was like drinking plain water laced with a few trace tablespoons of LSD.
It was wonderful.
Anyway. I went to Portland.
I had spring break this week, which gave me a chance to quench my insatiable wanderlust. I convinced my brother to come with me to Portland, Oregon to see a concert.
Here's what happened:
Part 1- Arrival
1. We flew to Portland.
2. Instead of going to Multnomah Falls with a friend of mine, we visited the Rose Garden.
3. There weren't any roses because it's March.
4. We walked around, ate chips(fries), bought a book, ate the burger.
5. We walked to the concert.
Here's where things get fun.
Part 2- The Concert
1. I was told to put away my camera because DSLR's aren't allowed
2. We took our seats which were literally the worst seats possible (balcony, back row, off center).
3. After the first opener, Saint Motel, I suggested we move and find better seats.
4. We snuck past the guard and ended up on the lower level, much closer to the stage
5. I started taking pictures, hoping no one would see.
6. They did.
The Guard dude who was overseeing our section started approaching us, causing me to panic a bit and feebly attempt to hid my camera. BUT THEN <plot twist> it turns out the guy was also a photographer, so he said I could take pictures, but only if I sent them to him! SO I TOOK LOTS OF PICTURES AFTER THAT. It was pretty good timing too, because that's when Brendon Urie (Panic! at the Disco) started playing a song on the piano right in front of us!
After taking lots of pictures, and right before the concert ended, my good friend Tyson (the guard guy) indicated that I should bring my camera and follow him. I was a bit worried, hoping he didn't decide he was actually going to confiscate my camera. BUT NO. He actually escorted me up to the front of the concert right next to the stage! I took about 100 pictures in the 80 seconds that I was down on the floor. :D The last picture in the above slideshow was when the dumped a ton of confetti on the crowd, making it really hard to get a good picture.
It was such a great experience, and I'm super glad that I happened to move to the same section as Tyson! It's funny how often weird things like this seem to happen.
Finishing up the trip:
Part 3- That Night
1. We grabbed some Thai food
2. We tried to catch the metro back to the airport, but realized that we missed the last one, and would have to wait until 4 am for the next train.
3. We decided to catch an Lyft instead
4. We walked/ran ~2 miles to a nearby highway because it would be cheaper from there.
5. We made it to the airport, and played piano at 2:30 in the morning.
6. We slept on the Portland airport floor.
Part 4- Getting Home
1. Some facts: a) Standby travel is unpredictable b) Portland airport is hard to escape.
2. We didn't get on our first flight.
3. None of the other flights back to SLC looked any better.
4. So I caught a flight with Alaska airlines to Burbank.
5. I later figured out that I was not actually going to Alaska, and Burbank is actually in California (I was surprised by how green "Alaska" looked).
6. My brother caught a flight to Boise, Idaho and made it home from there.
7. Someone missed their connection, so I made it on a flight back home from Burbank.
So there you go!
One adventure down, many more to come.
Last week, I decided to quit being responsible and travel the world.
While I was exaggerating a little (I still want to finish school and have a career and a mortgage and life insurance etc.), I really am going to take a break and experience life a bit more.
I now present a list of my concerns and ambitions (but not in that order):
I'd imagine that these concerns area actually pretty common among people my age. There is a lot of uncertainty, and us mere mortals usually fear change. I think this is where my faith helps me. I truly believe that I have a Heavenly Father who knows and loves me. This means that He wants me to enjoy life and improve myself. I guess I just need to trust that the changes that I'll experience will be positive!
I. Am. Finished.
Today, I decided to drop out of school and travel the world.
...Ok, I guess I've been considering this for a while, so it's not like I decided this spontaneously. Naw man, I've actually got plans.
See now, my lovely mother works for Skywest Airlines, which gives me a fairly unique chance to fly (pretty much) for free anywhere within the western hemisphere. SO GUESS WHAT I'M GONNA DO??
I'm gonna take the semester off and finally take advantage of my flight benefits.
I just spent the last two hours networking with other travel aficionados, plotting my rise to the top of the travel videography social circle.
This. Is. Happening.