Nostalgia and Wanderlust

1 Little stranger                                 2 yellow heart




3 Raining Paris  4 Deserted Street







This is a collection from a blog/artistic endeavor that, in the throes of nostalgia and wanderlust, I have come to spend a good amount of time admiring. So naturally, when they asked people to put together a collection of 4 of their works today, I put off more pressing matters to indulge my own romanticism. So here is a collection of 4 works of art that (I hope) tells a story of chance meeting and unrequited love.

P.S. Check out to see more depictions of Paris, and some artistic realizations of quotes from literary giants!

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February 28, 2013 · 5:02 pm

Tales from Intern Travel: Moonlighting

Making your own trails traveling from lake to lake, and paddling through long stretches of big water make for a long day…about a eighteen hour day to be exact (have you started to notice a pattern?).  As we finally approach the place on the shore that should correspond to the little red dot on our map indicating a campsite, we see boats pulled up on the shore and an erect tent a little ways up from the water.  Damn.  We need to find a different campsite.

The problem with this plan is that it is past seven o’clock, which means most people have found camp and started cooking dinner, if they haven’t eaten it already.  So we move along the lake, desperately looking for those an unoccupied red dot.  No such spots present themselves and the sun is now below the treeline.  Twilight begins to settle into dusk, and the dark blue hue of a night on the water will soon follow.  Ahead there is what appears to be an open campsite with large boulders scattered on the shore.  Everybody begins to speak excitedly and a little louder as we arouse ourselves from the lethargy (and sometimes, short naps) of night paddling. The cacophony created by the contact of our aluminum bows with the granite rock that makes up the campsite’s landing opens up the silence of the night.

Looking upon the boulders that litter the campsite I realize they are not made of granite or any other geological formation found in these lakes, but of nylon, poles and fine mesh.  The boulders aren’t rocks at all, but tents holding sleeping individuals, whom we have surely awoken.  We push off, turn around, and abandon our search for an open little red dot to begin a search for a place to camp.  A few members of the crew unnecessarily dig out their headlamps and turn on their cyclops-esque bulbs.  The night is as clear as the day was, and I am okay with letting the iridescence of the nearly-full moon light my way.


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Tales from Intern Travel: A Tilley Story

Long hard day of paddling. Four Island, Three Island, and the crashing waters of Curtain Falls. Pass by Sunday, Saturday, and into Friday Bay in hopes of finding a campsite deep within the recesses of the cove. From the west shore of the inlet stands the outline of a man stands on a rocky outcropping, behind him a couple tents and a cooking fire. “All the campsites in the bay have been filled!”
“Even the one on the island?”
“That one too.”
C-stroke, C-stroke, C-stroke. Back towards Saturday. All of the sudden the dark storm clouds that have been chasing us for the better part of two hours have enveloped the sky above us. We nearly have to return to Sunday before an open campsite presents itself.

Quick, unload the packs, pull the boats up, find the tarp, and pitch the tents! The clouds are ready to make good on the threats they have been making all day. As the second (and largest) tent is being pitched, winds tear through camp, attempting to take the tent with them. As my crew members struggle to get stakes into the ground, I flip the tent back to the ground and hold it there.

In the scramble to set up shelter before we are hit with a storm, a crucial element is forgotten: the chin-strap of the Tilley hat. While keeping the tent earth-bound, the gale lifted the broad-brimmed treasure from my head and into the woods that was the backdrop for camp.

After the storm abated and the evening cleared (only 10 or 15 minutes after it began), a search for the Tilley began. Sights were set high, low, under logs, and dangling from branches, but the hat was nowhere to be found. I had accepted the fate of my hat (thankful that it was insured against loss by the Tilley corportation), and was thankful that its loss had at least been eventful, when the tan brim and brown bowl of the hat caught my eye. There it lay, directly behind the newly raised tent, and under the nearest pine. I happily returned the hat to my head, pleased that I had now had my Tilley, and a story to go with it.


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Tales from Intern Travel: Bluebs

It was a long day of travel.  It was a hot day of travel. It was a long, hot, hard day of travel.  Carrying canoes and packs across trails that do not really exist is not always easy…especially when that non-existent trail goes up a swiftly flowing creek.  Finally we take a rest part way through a portage.  A small bald spot on a small hill offers us the needed space to set down our canoes.  One of our crew members (and my portage partner) stomps off the trail a little way to be by herself.  The portage has been hard on her: canoes have fallen, and rocks have grabbed at her boots.  The heat is not helping.  As she takes some time alone to try to let the difficulty of the day be expelled from her body in the form of tears, the rest of us take water, and our leader goes to comfort our emotionally and physically drained comrade.

“Look! Blueberries!  I didn’t think they would be ripe this early in the season.”  This call brings us all out of our water-taking stupor.  We all begin to scour the hillside for the little blue gems that have dotted themselves in the green brush.  Michael begins picking with vigor, placing each berry into his hand until it can hold no more.  Then, he stashes them and keeps looking.  Almost everybody else takes a few, eats them, and begin to follow Michael’s example.  I, on the other hand, pick one, eat it, pick another, and eat that one too.  My pattern continues as my crew members’ piles of blue sphere’s begin to accumulate.  I don’t mind because I am basing most of my actions on the adventure of a childhood friend: Sal.  Blueberries for Sal.  Blueberries for Dennis.  Mmmm…fresh picked bluebs.


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The Newest Adventure

When this blog was first started, I was not very happy with the name.  It seemed kind of bland and ambiguous.  Mostly, I didn’t put much thought in naming it.  Now I see that the name allows me to keep the blog and move from experience to experience.  At this moment, this blog is becoming less as I intended it (as a chronicle of my time in Ireland), and more true to its poorly, but aptly chosen name because there always is another adventure.This post will be longer than most that end up, but that is because there is much to tell, and no great way to split it up.

Monday, June 25th I stepped off the last Cincinnati soil that my body will contact for several months, and what a true part of Cincinnati it is…the Greyhound Bus station.  With my prized 65 L capacity Osprey backpack being tossed into the undercarriage of the behemoth bus, I boarded with little to keep me company for the next twenty-two hours of travel except an audio book which regaled Game Six of the 1975 World Series and the Reds eventual victory over the Boston Red Sox, Salman Rushdie’s playful and grabbing prose, a few sandwiches, and hopes of sleep.

Upon arrival in Duluth, Minnesota I was promptly met by Outward Bound staff and taken to the Duluth airport to meet and pick up 27 Intercept students.  These kids that come into this program are at-risk-youth and come with the hope (or their parents send them with the hope) that OB and the Minnesota Boundary Waters will help them figure some things out.  I haven’t been trained, and I’m not on the clock, but my help is needed to entertain and interact with the kids as the come through the arrival gate until all 27 have arrived.

For the next two days each morning starts with a three mile run and a jump in the lake.  Make breakfast, drink coffee (lots and lots of coffee), then on with training.  During training myself and seven other Session 3 interns are stuck in the “student model.”  For all intents and purposes, we are students, but treated a little bit differently with the understanding that we will move on to a bigger role in a couple weeks.  While at base camp (affectionately known as Homeplace) we rock climb, learn paddle strokes, learn how to pack food & equipment, and how to rescue a canoe if it tips.  Day 3 at Outward Bound, we depart for a 12 day expedition into the Boundary waters, which begins with a two mile portage known at Angleworm Trail.

All that happened over the next twelve days and nights is too much to remember and retell.  A few 18-hour days of paddling make a lot of things run together. By the end of it I was bruised, bug-bitten, smelly, and tired; beasts of sea, sky, and earth had tried to take the blood from my veins (leeches, mosquitoes, and ticks); there were emotional breakdowns (none of my own), and days that we had to paddle by moonlight to find a campsite that was not already occupied.  Finally, around 9 AM on July 11th, we raised our paddles (three recent college graduates, one former biology teacher, one military man, one local who had wandered most of her life, one instructor, and myself) touched them to the bridge that marked the gateway to and from the Boundary Waters and paddled a little further down the Kawishiwi River until it dumped out on Birch Lake towards Homeplace to complete our twelve-day, 110 mile journey.  I loved all of it.  As I passed under that bridge, I took the advice of Kurt Hahn: “When you leave here, look back.  Look back, but only look once, and know that you will be back.”

Since returning to semi-civilization at Homeplace, I have continued the learning process.  Whitewater kayaking on the day of return, and high ropes the next day.  A visit to the dog yard, which houses somewhere around 60 dogs that wait and wait, full of anticipation for the day when the lakes freeze over, and they can pull sleds across the snow-blanketed land.  Even on my day off, I hopped into a car at 7 AM to make a drive out to Lake Superior.  On that beautiful day, near that beautiful water, twice I allowed myself to be lowered 90-100 feet over the edge of a cliff so that I could jam arms, legs, and feet into cracks to try to make my way back to the top.  Fingers grabbed ahold of tiny bits of the rock face while I dangled 70 feet above big boulders and the fresh water of the greatest of the Lakes.  A wonderful day off ended with good beer, good food, good frozen custard, and the continued company of good people.  Who knows what the rest of the summer will bring.


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2011 in review (by

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Epilogue: Christmas at Home (Dec. 25)

I’ve been home about a week and a half now.  I have been reunited with family, friends, and Skyline Chili.  I have shared stories, pictures, and gifts.  I miss Ireland, but it is good to be back, and I cannot wait to be back in Bloomington.  I will miss my adventures in Ireland, and I will miss chronicling them as well.  I will always be happy to relay stories about my life and adventures, but this will be the last post for this blog.  I hope you have all enjoyed reading as much as I have enjoyed writing.  Thanks for accompanying me on this journey.  I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas, and you find your own adventures in the coming years.  Sáinte.

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Flying Home (Dec. 12)

It’s been several hours since I left the airport in Amsterdam, and we are now firmly in the middle of the Atlantic.  A couple movies have played, and the journey has not been too bad.  I’m sitting fairly comfortably in the aisle seat with next to an infant that seems more than happy to sleep for almost the entirety of the eight hour voyage.  Despite the relative pleasantness of the my circumstances, the way home has always made me a little restless, and I am about ready to be done with traveling, since I have been in a plane for about six of the last eight hours when I left the dark, rainy, windy tarmac of Zurich.  Somebody across the aisle lifts the plastic shield that keeps the passengers of the plane protected from the air that surrounds them.  Blue and light flood this small space, and I am reminded of one of my favorite things about flying.  No matter how cloudy, rainy, windy, dreary, or dark it appears on the ground, if you rise high enough above it, there is nothing but blue skies, puffs of cloud and sunshine to meets the eye.

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On Top (Dec. 11)

The wind is strong, the air is thin, and the cold is biting, but beneath the white shell of my coat and thick Irish wool, I am warm.  The sun is bright on one side, and a shadow keeps the snow cold on the one side.  I can see for miles, and Dave produces a compass from one of the many pockets that populate his pants so that we can point ourselves South in hopes of seeing the Matterhorn.  Nearly three thousand meters in the atmosphere, and all I see are white-tipped spines and low, wispy clouds that cover a few choice summits.  Eventually we speed down on waxed planks clamped to stiff boots, looking for occasional pockets of powder amongst the runways of ice.  Legs aching and nose stinging from the descent, we climb back into line to pack into a cable car to taxi us back to the top.  I think I like being on top about as much as I like going down.

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Surrounded (Dec. 10)

We have been traveling by train for about two hours.  We have just changed trains for the third time…and this train is going up through a blasted out tunnel.  Finally, the slow paced locomotive comes to a stop, and after struggling with the door for a moment or two, we clamber out onto the platform, and make our way to the parking lot with skis, poles, and boots on our shoulders. “Well Dennis, here are the mountains,” Dave says and points ahead to where the several towering giants raise the horizon by a couple thousand meters.  I just look on in awe and bliss for a while.  Then, I turn ninety degrees and see more peaks. Ninety degrees and more peaks.  Ninety more degrees and there, once again, snow piles upon rock that rises to meet the sky.  I am surrounded.  I laugh, smile and start moving to where we will find our beds, because it is late, the mountains are inviting, so tomorrow is going to be a full day among them.

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