It’s Monday morning and I take a few moments to think back on the weekend that had just passed. At about the same time my supervisor walks in. She asks, “Anything exciting happen this weekend that I should know about?” This question was clearly in reference to the facility that I work at as a teacher/counselor, but I thought it would be funny to rifle off a series of not-so-usual events that occured during my short abscence between Friday and Monday. I end my ridiculous list with, “oh you mean here at work.. I knew that.” We all got a good laugh which I don’t think is such a bad way to start these dreaded Mondays. “Did that all really happen?” I’m asked. That’s when it re-occurred to me (because I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now) that if I don’t start documenting at least parts of my life in better ways than all these fleeting Snaps and apps I might loose the details along the way. You know, the details that make for a good story so it doesn’t end in silence or with your buddy sarcastically saying, “good story bro.” No one likes lame stories. But I can’t guarantee there wont be 1 or 2 along the way.
So this is what I hope to do with some of these stories, lessons, articles, chronicles or whatever you want to call them…
A chance to exercise some retained highschool literacy skills. My non-fiction life is pretty fun! I think I may write about it!
Make myself accountable to keep progressing in all pusuits and areas of life.
A chance to reflect on, remember and document some of my life in what I hope is entertaining and enlightening reads for you. Or at the very least, me, when I’m old and senile.
Practice conciseness and effectiveness in speaking and writing. We all author our own lives. And most of us publish it in one way or another. Personally, I’m on a journey to live purposefully (to live on purpose and with purpose). I hope to make some discoveries along the way and pass them on.
Based on where I currently am on my Journey to Somewhere, I foresee covering the following topics:
Life: isn’t that what this time here is for anyways! Livin’! I suggest you do some.
Travel: we all love it and can’t seem to do enough of it. I do my fair share. Allow me to recap it!
Self-discovery: the journey of discovering thyself 😉
Home Renovation: my current, and major, home remodel with assistance from friends and all possible resources. Much love to them all.
Music: Good music only! and the journey as a performing musician in the acoustic/rock band The String Theory Duo.
Business: my startup company, and journey through entrepreneurship. DreamBoardCollective. A for-purpose lifestyle brand making a positive impact in the world through board-sports.
Wedding: Wedding planning for the big day when i get to marry the absolute best chick I know. She’s awesome! We should probably start planning babe.. Love ya!
Skateboarding & Snowboarding: the activity, the culture, the mindset, coaching, the youth, and the future of the sport.
Philosophies: podcasts, books, reviews, thoughts, and ideas worth sharing
Health and Nutrition: without this we have nothing.
In hindsight, it seems I’m going to be discussing a number of areas. Both interests and obligations. That’s quite alright, I’m trying to make sense of it all while keeping it balanced and in check. We’ll see how it goes, hence the open-ended title of this blog. A Man on a Journey to Somewhere. In a nutshell, things learned from experiences had.
There’s a lot of moving parts right now and there’s no reason but to keep them moving in the right direction, right? Right.
A quick reminder to myself and others: it’s ALL a process and it’s going to take time.. unfortunately. This isn’t something you haven’t heard before. But try your best to embrace the chaos that life brings and keep moving.. Forward.
A little over a week ago something very unique happened. A syzygy of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. These short 2 minutes and 32 seconds will forever leave an indentation on my life and everyone else’s lives who sought it out and were fortunate enough to witness it. Everyone who did will agree that words cannot completely explain what occurred during the 2017 Total Eclipse on August 21st. Some words that I’ve heard people use and would share in using are… Breathtaking, otherworldly, spectacular, awesome, beautiful, trippy, bizarre, spiritual, awe-inspiring.. The list goes on.. However, The troubling thing about these adjectives we eclipse-goers have used to describe “Totality” to others, is that the words mean practically nothing to them, they have no context. Whereas for us, they are loaded with a mix of feelings and emotions that take us back to this peculiar spectacle. Unfortunately those feelings can’t be transferred and are even difficult to be communicated. So what I’ll try to do here is create some context to this celestial event by deconstructing everything that happened and then reconstruct it in a manner that makes some sense to you and me. This is at least something that my “Eclipse Crew” did, comprised of my brother, 2 good friends and myself; and everyone else for that matter as we remained literally star-struck and dumbfounded drifting back into reality.
I’ll start by sharing some facts and create a bit of backstory that adds to the wonder of the Total Solar Eclipse that I think most people miss out on.
First thing, the word TOTAL. This means that the sun is TOTALLY obstructed by the moon. Not 94%. Not 99%. But 100%. This does some incredibly unique things that I’ll get into shortly. (physically, sensorially, and viscerally)
The last time a Total Eclipse shadowed any part of the United States was in 1979 when it went through only part of the Northwest.
The last time it crossed the country was in 1918.
The path of TOTALITY is no more than 70 miles wide, meaning if you are not underneath the shadow of the moon you will not be able to observe this phenomenon with the naked eye.
The path of Totality of this 2017 “Great American Eclipse” crossed the entire country from Oregon to South Carolina, likely making it the the most viewed Total Solar Eclipse in human history!
Monday morning’s sunrise in Crossville, Tennessee was a great start to the day. I crawled out of the tent around 6am and had my first daylight look of our campground. It’s always interesting to see where you ended up when you setup camp the night before. The horizon was bright orange and pink with nothing yet in the sky but the beaming planet of Venus. So huge, like multiple times larger than your typical star. I enjoyed this for a few minutes and then went back into the tent knowing the encroaching morning heat would eventually get us all up.
We all rose for the day and Connor helped us get started with some strongly brewed coffee right out of his french press. Alright.. not too shabby for a morning of camping. We prepped some food and got cooking on Jake’s portable burner. Totally stoked for the day, we put some food in our bellys and threw frisbee with our friend Robin, the “frisbee ambassador to the world,” before it started getting too hot. We put up some shade around our canopy tent and kept cool while endulging in some cosmic pre-gaming. No desensitizing, mind-numbing alcohol included in this pre-eclipse ritual however. Why would you ever want to “dim the lights” on something this AWEsome.
At about 12 noon, an hour-and-a-half before totality, the partial phase of the eclipse began. The sky was clear and the sun incredibly bright. With the sun at it’s peak of the day it was impossible to even glance up at it without the specialty solar glasses. We spent the next hour or so listening to music and being in-and-out from under the canopy. The time outside the tent was spent lying on the ground glancing at the eclipse and watching the clouds get wisped up by the light tropospheric breeze. While looking through the glasses the eclipse appeared very flat and 2-dimensional at this time. For anyone who experienced the partial solar eclipse around the country knows what I’m talking about, not to thrilling so far. Until you think about it a little further perhaps. The black moon was beginning to obstruct the bright orange disc in the sky. As the moon made it almost the whole way across the surface of the sun the light began to bend around it’s spherical shape giving the moon some dimension. The light emitted from the remaining crescent of the sun also began to bend having the appearance of being magnified into curved neon light bulbs running from pole-to-pole. All the daylight that we’ve had up to this point now began to diminish. Even the temperature was drastically falling at this time. Roughly 10 degrees. 90° and sunny to 80° and no sun is a huuuge difference. The day sky and everything around us took on that weird orange haze that you sometimes get just moments before sunset. It was as if the saturation, contrast and sharpness dials were turned way up on the real-life monitor. During a normal sunset the sun is setting over the horizon, of course. This takes roughly an hour as the sun gets lower, less intense and then fades away below the horizon. On this day, the daylight became incrementally darker every couple of moments that passed. As you looked around you could actually see and feel the shadow of the moon sweeping over you. The way your eyes perceive this is really strange because you actually witness the sunlight receding as if it were on a dimmer switch clicking down from one setting to the next. You can both feel and see this happening which for a moment has you looking over your shoulders like your a character in some scary movie trying to catch a glimpse of the spirit or shadow flying past you in the room. The excitement built right up to the last moment before Totality. I could feel it in the pit of my stomach. Exactly the feeling I get just before plummeting over the initial drop of a rollercoaster. We weren’t the only ones. The crickets ceased their chirping and the birds were no longer in flight. The last site just before Totality was a bright flash of light, the Diamond Effect. This burst of sunlight beams around the surface of the moon bouncing off its mountains and craters along the way. And then… darkness. It’s now safe to remove the glasses.
“Whaaat? What in the world?¿?” I think this is all I kept saying…
There it was, the moon perfectly suspended in front of the sun. 400x smaller than the sun but also 400x closer. It perfectly blocked out our familiar Star and produced this unreal glow in what was just the daytime sky. What in the world.. worlds.. universe is happenening?
It was kind of like a video game when you’ve reached the ultimate achievement right at that moment when the moon clicked directly into place. Not too long ago we were looking at what was practically a 2-dimensional replication of the sun and moon in the sky through our opaque glasses. Then for a moment some 3-dimension as the curvature of the moon appeared. And then, it became 4-dimensional as the glasses came off and the moon lingered there in all its glory with the glowing atmosphere of the sun radiating outward and around it, called the Corona. I say this is 4d not only because the moon seems immensely closer when the glasses come off and your looking into a part of space that you’ve never seen and most people never will, but also because of the emotions that are felt with this perfect alignment. For me it was the feeling of overwhelming joy that raises your arm hair and gives you chills. Perhaps like the feeling you get watching a movie when the good guy finishes on top after overcoming endless obstacles. Or better yet, the feeling you get inside when you’ve done something especially nice for someone else and made them feel important. In this case. I felt like I just did the most generous and selfless thing that I could do for more people than I ever have. It’s unexplainable. How can this happen when I have done practically nothing but just stand there in awe? I don’t really have the answer to that. But I think it’s the feeling of unity, or when you’ve tapped into and connected with forces larger than yourself. With laughter and tears running down my face I took my eyes off the moment of Totality and embraced some of my other surroundings. Some of the best were looking at my brother and friends since they too had mind-boggling-smiles from ear-to-ear. Jake says, “I’m really glad to be here seeing this with you guys.” We all agree, and same with everyone else as there’s cheers of excitement all around. We all couldn’t help but turn a circle and look at the horizon. A 360° glowing sunset at 1:30pm on a Monday afternoon. Wow. And in the sky an enormous Halo (yes like the video game), and a connected feeling to something greater than us, sure, kind of like the Na vi people in Avatar if you catch my reference. “What in the world?” Yes, it was indeed wild. I took about 20 of those mystical seconds to try and capture it with the camera I had previously setup on a tripod. 3rd rock from the sun, 3rd times the charm. With definitely a longer shutter speed than I needed I was able to capture a photo of this moment, in this case it clearly says more than 1,000 words. Someone from a far shouts the 30 second countdown and we all turn back to the sky with our solar glasses in hand. And then, just like before, a burst of light, and we drift out of Totality. Everyone is ecstatic. A wave of daylight returns in just seconds as the moon slowly continues off to the left side of the sun.
Time to move on with life now I suppose..
We all had a couple remarks immediately following the eclipse but it seemed to take some time, practically the rest of the day, for us all to settle the physical, sensorial, and visceral happenings both inside and outside of ourselves during those 2 minutes and 32 seconds. Fortunately for us we were staying one more night. We signed the book that was getting passed around the campsite and would eventually return to the farm owners. We passed it on meeting some other people along the way. Everyone else we spoke with seemed to have very surreal experiences as well. As we fumbled over words trying to explain it to each other we were not at a loss being that we all shared a similar feeling inside. We talked about some loved ones back home that weren’t able to experience it, but hopefully that will change 7 years from now. We exchanged information as pretty much everyone packed up and was getting ready to make their drives back to Georgia, Rhode Island, DC, Canada and im sure some other places. I’ll share some of the pictures that they were able to capture and generous enough to share.
We returned to our campsite grateful, humbled and slightly more at ease ready to enjoy the rest of the day and night. Some food, coffee, drinks, conversation and frisbee to polish off the day with the crew. I’ll never forget it fellas.
I capped the night off with my first photographs of the Milky Way Galaxy. It was a nice chance to contemplate some things while sitting alone out in the empty field. I can’t help but think about and still feel the feelings I had during those eclipsed moments. I also can’t help but look at it as a preview of what my life, and maybe the world CAN be like. The importance of autonomy, a connection to each other, our environment, and experiences. And to have awareness, concern and good intentions toward it all. I guess that’s kind of been my intentions thus far. But now it’s engrained a little deeper in my belief system that this world can and will be improved by us opening our eyes, thinking for ourselves (instead of what we’ve been led to believe), doing good for each other, and doing something about it.
Like I said, this is just my breakdown and recap of what happened on August 21, 2017, but it wouldn’t be how it is without others input and involvement in sharing together this experience.
Feeling so small in the universe is quite humbling. It reminded me how insignificant all the superficial buzz around me can be. You may have heard that traveling is good for your mind, right? This is because you are opening the door to different experiences. You may have also heard that your “insides” tends to reflect your “outsides.” That being said, if your outside, your life, your experiences, are small and crammed, so too will be your mind. It will be fixed. But on the contrary, if your space is open, and you are growing, and you are in vast spaces, this allows your mind to expand. Being present and directly underneath this cosmic event at just the right time in the universe is by far the biggest thing I’ve ever witnessed and the most humbling experience I can currently imagine. However, it truly is amazing how meek you can be made to feel by the cosmos, but also how connected you can feel in a moment. This provides a sense of relevance and significance that we all need in life. That our existence matters. As open-ended as everything remains I’m still very grateful for this life and the chance to PEACE all the pieces together in what makes the most sense regarding these seemingly unanswerable questions. I will precede on this Journey to righteousness. I hope you do the same.
IRELAND ☘️ We landed in Dublin and collected our belongings. Was time for the journey to begin. Customs was a breeze, but it turned out the car rental required a little more detail. Add extra insurance (because Ireland has one of the highest crash rates in the world), add an extra driver (ME, because my future father-and-law hasn’t driven a stick shift in some 20 years), and then hear-out the agency representative on the extra driving tips (since everything is quite different in Ireland.) Some examples of this:
Every vehicle is diesel, standard transmission is the norm, and you drive on the opposite side of the car, and road. Not to mention, roads are freakishly narrow once you get off of the M and N roads. M roads are motorways, similar to our interstates. N are national roads, similar to our highways. R are rural roads. These roads are super narrow and use only a single solid line to separate traffic. These roads have NO shoulder and you blindly round turns gripping the steering wheel to hold the lane. Sure, you may run into some trees and brush along the way, but as long as you avoid the rock wall to your left and near head-on collision to your right you’re safe. The L roads are the most narrow of them all. These local roads are essentially one-lane roads with opposing traffic. Get ready to slam on the brakes at any time to allow passing. Say yourself some Irish prayers. Try to get off these roads as soon as you can. I would say the best way to sum up driving in Ireland is: Super sketchy initially and then really fun. Like go-kart fun. It was a completely new experience sitting on the right side of the car and shifting with your left hand. Something I’ve always imagined what it would be like.
Our first stop was at Joyce’s Craft Shop where we needed a restroom break and Maurissa bought a ‘lovely’ (as they say constantly in Ireland) bracelet that had a piece of Green-Irish granite in the center. Michael Joyce, the owner and salesman explained that his family couried all the granite that goes into pendants and sometimes counter-tops, such as Mick Jagers ginournmous kitchen. We continued along our route and stopped into Mannions in the town of Clifdon for a bite to eat and our first Smithwicks Irish Ale. Our final destination was another pub in Galway with some live music as pictured in the end of my ‘Travel Itinerary’ post. This followed our arrival to a cute little cottage in Headford, of Ballycurrin.
It sat tucked away between a crumbled castle of the 1200’s and a restored one next to the Lough of Corrib, the largest lake in Ireland. Gabrielle who manages and lives in all the properties shared some history about it being burnt down in the 1920’s. It is presumed that the English land owner actually burnt it down out of fear that the IRA would have burned it down otherwise. This is during a time of turmoil between north and south Ireland. South Ireland was pissed that despite winning their war of independence against the Brits they still weren’t being treated as independent. Their heavy taxation didn’t affect north Ireland like it did south Ireland so this was a period of civil war. The IRA was out to retaliate and did so throughout the land until finally Ireland was granted as their own State. Good for them (in an Irish voice)!
The next morning we walked down to the water and did a nice little photo-op with the lighthouse. We passed around the camera as we climbed in and around the tower. It was a dreary morning but we expected there to be some of these and weren’t particularly bothered by it. We drove into Galway city where Maurissa had her eye on the original Calladaugh Store as one of our destinations along the way, established in 1750 by Thomas Dillon. You have likely seen this symbol before. The hands representing friendship. The heart for love. The crown for loyalty. Maurissa naturally got one to replace an old one of hers. We decided I ought to try out a ring as well. In the end, we bought each other rings 😉
After some tastey sandwiches I drove us to the Cliffs of Moher on a cliff-side R road. Hoooweee! That one was sketchy. But we made it and it was really something to see. The fog rolled in and out which just added to the Irish feel of these cliffs. So many photos held captive in my camera right now. We drove into Cooligan for the night and stayed at a thatch-roof cottage. It was really quaint and apparently built for little-people as Maury and I ran into the doorways on a number of occasions. I built a fire in the also tiny wood burner and got ready for bed but threw in some coal to supplement the heat from the logs.
The next day we packed up and drove to Cork which is actually where me ancestors are from. Me mum’s maiden name is Connolly. We didn’t get to explore that too much, but that’s what ancestry.com is for I suppose. I did buy a Connolly crest in one of the shops. We went to the Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. A small Irish, priest-looking man at the top of the tower helps to lower you over the side to kiss the stone. Reason for this was unknown to me. I had just heard its something you do. Ha! Kissing the Blarney Stone is supposed to give you the gift of eloquence. I haven’t stopped talking since.
For example. On the way out we walked through the Poison Garden. I turned the corner and spotted something vaguely familiar. Half jokingly, I shouted, “that’s cannabis!”… it was! Clearly not poisonous but it is kept behind bars for obvious reasons.
For lunch we stopped in Queenstown to the Titanic Restaurant. Pretty neat to put yourself in the place of the people walking onto the pier and onto the Titanic for the new world. “All Aboard! Final stop”… well we all know how that story tragically ends. 800 of 1600 people on board died on that voyage. Where we drove to next was my favorite place yet, and definitely ever to stay. A restored 1200’s castle. Similar story to the cottage a couple nights prior with it being burned. However, it was burned by the IRA. Our host Sean owns the castle and surrounding property where he works as a dairy farmer. Four generations ago his great great grandfather was a butler for an English Lord who fled during this tumultuous time. His g-g-gfather was locked in the guest house while the estate was lit on fire and then let out to watch it burn. Turns out it worked in his favor. He was able to acquire the couple hundred acre property shortly thereafter since it became relatively worthless to the Lord. Fast forward a few generations and Sean, the Irish, cattle-milking, castle-visionary entrepreneur is giving us a tour of his castle, the Wilton Castle, that his family has been investing a lot into. We were the only ones staying there that night.
We we looked around the castle and the details were not lacking in any way! They were actually just doing a photo shoot earlier that day in order to update their website. One of the props was a bottle of wine which he insisted we have. We all shared in it as he gave us the full tour of all the castle suites. Stunning! It’s amazing how just hours sooner we were shopping at Aldi and deciding what to make for dinner considering we might have a shared kitchen and dinning room based on the pictures and the enormity of the spaces. We were most fortunately wrong and the entire place was ours (or should i say Auer’s) for the stay. Sean accomadated us by starting a fire in one of the two fireplaces. With bayleys (actually where some of Sean’s cow milk goes) and coffee we walked the grounds around 10pm to take advantage of the rest of the daylight. Ireland is far enough north that they have about 16 hrs of daylight in the summer. Maurissa and I cheffed up a tastey dinner and we all relaxed fireside until going to bed in our massive castle rooms. Not sure how many times I’ve typed the word ‘castle’ now. But just one more… CASTLE! 😝
In the morning Sean and his son cooked us a fantastic Irish breakfast. I love these people. So warm and friendly. Even after starting their day with milking their cows and other farm chores they let themselves in and got started in the kitchen. We had a nice opportunity to get to know them and assured them that any person we know planning a trip to Ireland in the future will be told about the castle. It was sad to go but after a few more pictures and farewells we were on our way to Dublin.
We had an apartment in Dublin but unfortunately by this time I had come down with a pretty wicked cold. It was trying to take hold of me since we left the cottage on the first night thanks to our host being slightly ‘too green’ and refilling the 2-liter water bottles that have been used by god knows how guests. So nastey! It occurred to me when I opened the water bottle and smelt the bacteria covered rim of the bottle I had taken from our bathroom. Sorry for that description. I thought it was a new bottle. Apparently refilling water bottles is not uncommon in these Air bnb’s. Travelers beware. Pretty ticked off and pretty sick I made the most of Dublin. A lot of hustle and bustle in this City. We passed the facebook building a couple of times and then went to the Guiness brewery and got the whole tour.
Really really neat to see the beginning of Guiness and get the tour, which seriously had the feel of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The brewery was started in 1759 by Arthur Guiness when he signed a 9,000 year lease at St James Gate right on the water way that comes from the Wicklow mountains. They have remained in the same location where they have grown into an international brewery. Good thing, they have 8,742 years left on their lease. The tour ended with a lesson in pouring our own Guinesses and left to enjoy them on the top floor. The 360° glass windows was a beautiful lookout where we could see the steeples peaking above the rest of Dublin. We left the storehouse and got a bite to eat at a pub where an excellent music session began. They sat in a corner booth with two old style radio microphones that picked up on all their voices and instruments. Slide guitar, lead steel guitar, rhythm guitar, harmonica and a mandolin for a few songs. Their sound was incredibly balanced as it came through the pubs’ PA system.
We walked into a lively area of Dublin and I bought the makings for some Hot Totties. This has been my cold remedy now for some time now. Works fantastically. I did wake up feeling significantly better. We packed up, checked out and headed to the airport to begin the next leg of our journey. We were curious how many miles, or in this case kilometers we drove. Between Maury and I we drove just under 1,200 kilometers. Not too shabby for a few days around Southern Ireland.
An enormous, giant, can’t believe it all worked out, THANKS to Maurissa’s mom Maureen for days and days worth of planning our tour around this big, beautiful, green, over-sized island, Ireland ☘️ and Maurissa for copiloting and co-recapping where we were before, during and after all stops along the way.
It’s the morning of… what day is it now? Saturday, July 8th 2017; and we’re just getting started. Amazing how quickly you can quarternavigate the world and arrive here in Ireland. Land of the Green and Home of driving on the wrong side of the road. The last couple of days have blurred together thanks to piggy-backing a week of July 4th celebrations and working some strange hours. Sleepless nights followed by pulling an absolute-all-nighter to end the week. I haven’t done that since taking finals at SVC in 2010. Slightly different scenario this time around. The night spent ‘cramming’ was instead the cramming of my medium sized suitcase which would posess my life’s belongings for the next 17 days. Maurissa got a head start on packing and I was stuck packing around my schedule. She periodically woke up and witnessed my attempts to close my suitcase as if I were trying to resuscitate it with downward thrusts. Ha! It eventually zipped.
Work I should go. With a Holiday soon to begin. Who can complain about that.
I expect this to be quite the journey over the these next couple weeks abroad
The itinerary looks like this
We flew WoW Airlines which worked out great at $90 a flight to Iceland. Will be using them again to travel across the pond for sure.
✈️ to Dublin, Ireland
^ along with some PUBS and everywhere in between
cruise to: 🛳
Katakolon (Greece ports)
Best way to end some 48-hour day. In a pub, with some music, and my favorite Irish Ale. Cheers all
I’ll journal and upload some pics along the way. Gonna be fun😄