Thursday, May 31, 2012

Coming of Age in Alaska

So after a long, drawn-out, 18-month stint of unemployment¹, I am employed again. And not just anywhere, but on a cruise ship in Alaska's Inland Passage, on a ship that starts and ends its cruises in Vancouver. I leave first thing tomorrow for Juneau. My contract is for 8 months. Barring any total surprises, I'll be there until the end of the tourist season in September, then I'll be sent somewhere else.

Since I expect to be really busy, I don't think I'll have time to keep a real blog, so I'll be publishing to a Twitter feed instead. You can follow (or just occasionally glance at) me at If you're not familiar with Twitter, all you really need to do is just click that link once in a while to see what I've been writing.

As for this blog, I still hope to finish it some day when I'm not having all my time eaten up by a big job like this one or that panicked any-time-not-spent-job-searching-is-totally-wasted feeling. There's only about six entries left, some of which are especially good.

But anyhow, who knows what kind of wacky adventures, big surprises, and such things I'll have?

Let's close for now with a relevant-enough image that I swiped from Google Image Search that happens to look a lot like Blogger's "Insert Image" icon:

¹Not accounting for 2.5 months at the summer camp, freelance gigs, or a few temp jobs.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Grand Samoan Adventure Grand Finale Part 5: Past the End

I awoke the next day after an incredibly good night's sleep to see that The Last Morning had come to Falealupo. I had breakfast with a very nice German couple that had been staying in the fale next to mine. They had spent the last several months working in a factory in Australia and were now exploring the South Pacific at the kind of super-slow pace that I would have loved to have gone by. They deserved it. They were spending quite a few days in Savai'i, and were going to get to do everything.

Spending the night there had been a deal- 60 Tala, or about 26 US Dollars, for the night, plus dinner and breakfast. Thing was, they only took cash, which was fine, because I had made a point of getting extra Tala the day before. Thing was, I only had a $T100 bill, which was fine, because they had change. Thing was, the change they had was only in small bills, so after the payment for the night and a few basic supplies,¹ I got around $25T back in $1T coins. I was blingin' for the rest of the day.

Anyhow, the taxi driver came and we were off on another day of exploring!

There was a lot of driving through beautiful Savai'i, a bit of wondering if I should have seen the very Western tip of the island, which is now all made weirder by the fact that its no longer the End of the World, but as it turned out, its probably better that I didn't go. More on that later. But for now I was heading onto the second half of that giant loop of road surrounding the island.

First up was the Pe'ape'a Cave. Pe'ape'a (pronounced "Pay-uh-pay-uh") are small bat-like birds that live in caves, also like bats. But they're not bird-like bats, they're bat-like birds.

Anyhow, the pe'ape'a live in an underground lava tube cavern. Like you might expect a cave in a tropical rainforest to be, the place was incredibly damp. The guide, who happened to share a name with my sister, led me down into the Earth.

Inside were a few lights, and a few pe'ape'a. They made clicking sounds in the darkness.

Pe'ape'a make nests, which look an awful lot like this:

"Where are your friends?" she asked.

I didn't quite understand. " American Samoa? And I have plenty on the mainland, too." She still didn't quite get it. A little more working with her limited English skills revealed that she was asking why I was traveling alone. The reason had been because this trip had been a last-minute spur of the moment kind of thing, and everyone else had to work, of course. But I guess Samoans don't travel alone much. I felt kinda lame.

Anyway, it was a pretty small cave, so we made our way out. And when we got back to the surface, I was told that I had to pay extra, because I had taken pictures (?). No matter. Just a way for me to dump more of those $1T coins.

The next stop was some fun at Raci's Beach Club, a resort that has things like snorkeling and sea kayaking. And they turned out to be closed, because it was Monday. Yeah. See, they wanted to take advantage of everyone else being closed on Sundays, so they were closed on Mondays instead of Sunday. Yep. Onward!

So I stopped at Jane's Beach Fales, a nice little resort of fales. The taxi driver had another group of tourists to pick up, but would be back. I had lunch at the restaurant/bar there and then relaxed on the beach. And it was good.

A great view of the water. And a bunch of pole-things that I don't quite see the purpose of.

After more maxing and  relaxing, the taxi driver (whose name  I really wish I could remember) pulled into the nearby parking lot. I brushed the sand off of myself and went on to the next part of my Adventure.

¹Samoa is a "Don't drink the water" kind of country, so I had to get at least a whole day's worth of bottled water. There's even a restaurant in AmSam that bears that name. "Don't Drink the Water," not "Bottled Water."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Thoughts on Turning 26 1/2

Today I turned 26 1/2 years old. I swear that someday
Someday I'll get outta this basement and travel to a magical, far away place
Where the sun is always shining and the air smells like warm root beer
And the towels are oh so fluffy!
Where the shriners and the lepers play their ukuleles all day long
And anyone on the street will glady shave your back for a nickel!


Real post coming soonish. No, I don't know where I'm going next, if it will be that magical or faraway, but I can say that I'm currently being considered by one potential employer that would fit the bill.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Moving that Line

So it seems that there is no tomorrow in The Independent State of Samoa.™

Also, I guess that this means that every world map/globe is inaccurate once again.

UPDATE: Got this from our good friend, 93KHJ reporter Monica Miller, who was on the scene at the time of Samoa's experiment in time travel:
"Just returned from Apia town clock and still feeling euphoric. What with the sirens wailing, cars honking and people shouting in elation when the clock chimed at midnight. This lasted for a good half hour. There was noone around when we arrived at 11:30 pm then at 11:45 a small crowd started gathering. Within minutes there was a cue of cars flowing through the town clock roundabout. And then at midnight, there was non stop noise. So glad I was a front row spectator at this historic event."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grand Samoan Adventure Grand Finale Part 4: The Edge of the Earth

So after I got back on the ground, got over the edge to kiss it repeatedly with gratitude to be alive, and climbed into the cab, I decided to stop by Moso's footprint.

I can sum up everything about the footprint pretty darned quickly:

1. It's a formation in the lava rock vaguely in the shape of a right footprint.
2. The legend is that the giant Moso put his right foot down here, straddled several hundred miles of ocean, and then put his other foot down in Fiji, where there is a rock formation shaped like a left footprint.
3. This legend is the only redeeming thing about it.
4. The woman who happens to have the footprint in her front yard charges five Tala just to look at it. This is the worst deal in the South Pacific.
5. She needs to stop letting her kids run around the yard naked. Seriously.

So off we continued to the end of the world. I hopped back in the cab and we came up to the awesomely creepy remains of a church that had been blown apart by a hurricane many years earlier.

The driver asked if I wanted to stop and take a look at it, and I said something like "Sure, there's still plenty of time before we get to the sunset at the end of the world." And he said "Sunset? Okay!" and kept driving right past it toward the area where you can see the Last Sunset. His English wasn't that great, and I was too tired to explain, and plus it was raining and...yeah.

We arrived at Falealupo Beach Fales. After I determined that there was in fact someone actually here to set me up with a fale, I and I thanked, paid, and tipped the taxi driver and arranged for him to pick me up tomorrow morning. And he was off. Then I remembered that I wasn't quite at the very end of the world. I was more like a mile from it, not even quite at the end of the road. I tried not to let that bother me.

For anyone wondering what a fale is, it's one of these:

A traditional Samoan hut with no walls (though rolled up woven mats were hanging from every side). This particular one had a nice little mattress pad laying on a hardwood floor and even a tiny little bit of electricity (one bare lightbulb and I think one plug). It's all cooled by the sea breeze, since it's on the beach. The fale I was on was only about 30 feet from the water and had a nice view.

Hey, quit HOGGING the beach! Geddit? HAHAHAHA!

The main reason that I had picked this particular beach fale place was that it was at the End of the World. For those of you who can't remember details from the beginning of a blog story that I started almost a year ago, it's called that because this is the last settled place before the International Date Line. Thus it's claim to being the last place where the sun sets every day.

As I stared out over the water, it was bizarre to think that this was the edge of the world. That's it. No more, except water. The end. Fin. Well, unless you count that last mile or so that I could have gotten the taxi driver to take me to. But I had been too out of it from exhaustion at the time

Entirely due to my being a fan of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book series, I packed a towel with me on this particular trip, almost as a joke. And now I had something to lie on top of in the sand. I put on my new lava-lava (that I had bought from someone selling them at the passenger waiting area for the ferry) and did just that, since it had stopped raining. Life was good. And dinner was to be included.

And then the sun came out. Life got even better.

I walked around, including a little ways into the water, and took some pictures. I've always been a really obsessive picture taker. As in taking dozens of pictures in a situation where anyone else would take just one or two. And I had a revelation, here at the End of the World. Why was I always taking so many pictures? Because I wanted to hold onto some of my favorite moments. To try and preserve them as fully as possible so I could go back to them whenever I wanted. But what I was really trying to do was to hold onto the past, to try and fight against the inevitable passage of time. And no one can ever do that. And maybe it's the same obsessive desire to get the absolute most out of life while I can that was bugging me about not seeing the very edge of the island.

Oddly, I've gone down to an almost-normal amount of picture-taking since then.

The Last Sunset came, and it was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that a couple showed up just to see it and left as soon as it was done. I took a billion pictures of that sunset. Dinner was served, and I took a picture of it, too.

Mostly to fuel discussion of what it was. Other than good. And why they served me coffee just before bed.

The Last Sunset went, and it was still beautiful. And darkness came, and that was okay. While brushing my teeth, I noticed that the pump for the water had stopped whrrrrr-ing and that the water pressure was really low. A quick chat with the owners revealed that the power was out for the whole village, that this was totally normal around here, and that it should be back on in about two hours. Eh, maybe I'll just go to bed.

The moon was beautiful, and bathed the whole beach in moonlight. The beachfale owners were having Sā, which was nice. Someone had gone around and distributed candles and matches to each fale, since the lights in them weren't working. I lit mine for as long as I needed it, pulled down my mosquito net, put out the candle, and fell asleep pretty quickly.

Can't see any fire hazard here, nopenopenope.

What a day I'd had. I'd seen black sand beaches, posed in front of the giant Taga Blowholes, traveled through the pouring rain, slipped across the rainforest canopy walkway, wasted money on Moso's Footprint, and seen the Last Sunset from this amazing Beachfale.

I slept well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm back!

So I'm back from working at the Summer Camp That I'm Not Allowed to Name. It was very exhausting but very rewarding. I also have a part-time film-related job coming down the pipe soon.

Until then, enjoy this 1930s travel reel by someone who really hated Fiji but really seemed to love Samoa.

Oh, and you could always click the button to view it in fullscreen if you don't like to watch your videos with the rightmost quarter-inch cut off. Or you could always just click here.