East Coast Aerobatic Contest // Northeast

•March 2015 • Leave a Comment

Wheel Pants Not all aerobats Yak! Lots o' Stabs Flame on!

Out of Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City

•February 2015 • Leave a Comment

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City just in time for one of two Independence Day celebrations, and there were Vietnamese flags absolutely everywhere. We were assured more than once that this was not an every day thing, and the flags would be gone soon. Roundabout? Circle? The view from the hotel roomHotel room view All over Vietnam there was graffiti, but Ho Chi Minh City had the most intricate, and the largest, and simply the most.She and her sisters down the block wouldn't stop staring. More Independence decorations.Again, perspective fucker-wither. Batman’s face.I regret only that I didn't stick around for the show. Rented a scooter and got to play in traffic some more. It’s surreal being on two wheels in this kind of crowd.Stuck in traffic We visited the Emperor Jade Pagoda, which was an oasis in the middle of a dense metropolis.Temple guest One way to remember family members was lighting incense for them Another was writing on a turtle. Then back into traffic. Street lights are still new to most of Vietnam, but they are mostly obeyed in the city, and ignored elsewhere.Just pretend they're all gunning the engine and shooting each other sideways glances, waiting for the green. There are repercussions for not obeying.Running into traffic to grab a dude on a scooter and write a ticket for...something. I have no idea what, and I stuck around. And living on two wheels requires planning. By the time it rained, we had planned to park, and were inside a coffee shop watching those unfortunate folks caught in the deluge. The coffee was so strong I grew chest hair before I payed the bill.Problem solvers Interspersed in the scooter and bicycle traffic were one or two cars. What shocked me is how frequently they were Bentleys.Fuckin Bentley ruined my picture of City HallMostly, they were scooters. This is a sidewalk-turned-parking lot outside an office building.
This is a pay lot Ho Chi Minh City at night. The LED flag on the center building was “waving” all night. On the right…HCMC from the ground…is the Bitexco FInancial Tower. We’d be heading to floor 52, home of exactly two things: one bar, and one helipad.
Room with a view But what a view! The single-story unlit rectangle right of center is the central market in Ho Chi Minh City, and is more intense than the traffic. You will be offered pants.The best view of Ho Chi Minh City possible, and its a bar! It’s like a black hole of grassroots commerce.Single-story market of accostomania.Back to daytime. Pretty much anything is legal on the roads, so there are some sweet hack jobs.Big RigLots of hack jobs means lots of parts stores. Here’s a typical scooter parts shop.
Crowded parts shop!I giggled.
YOK YOK YOK I stared in amazement. Cherry picker: $45,000. Rope and pulley: Priceless I was only allowed in the right two lanes.Lane assignments!I found out that Lambretta, much like Land Rover and Jaguar, is owned by an Indian conglomerate.
Dealership! But really, those Bentleys are everywhere.Weird traffic in Saigon I chickened out. Get it?Interesting drinks, too. Not as strong as the coffee.Short Round! Also not as strong as the coffee. In the center of Ho Chi Minh City is a large park, which is constantly populated with people exercising, playing games, or just relaxing. There are sculptures everywhere, running the gamut of styles. We wandered between them, all the while our footsteps punctuated with 20-30 person exercise groups chanting and keeping time.Thumbtack! Dragon Bush. Does not shoot fire. That would be cool, though. Punching rocks not recommended Unless you do it right Then back into traffic. One more night of pacing the shop-lined streets, and it was a 12-hour flight home.Parting shot. The only reminder in Saigon that I was anywhere near the ocean. Labelled as artichoke tea.

Rock Creek Park

•February 2015 • Leave a Comment

The creek is down there somewhere

Madrid, presented without comment.

•December 2014 • Leave a Comment

IMG_0241

IMG_0252

IMG_0268

IMG_0271

IMG_0273

IMG_0293

IMG_0297

IMG_0307

IMG_0319

IMG_0324

IMG_0325

IMG_0333

IMG_0338

IMG_0343

IMG_0379

IMG_0380

IMG_0388

IMG_0405

IMG_0406

IMG_0407

IMG_0408

IMG_0426

IMG_0429

IMG_0448

IMG_0454

IMG_0467

IMG_0468

IMG_0469

IMG_0474

IMG_0483

IMG_0499 IMG_0500

IMG_0521

IMG_0528

IMG_0534

IMG_0539

IMG_0540

IMG_0541

IMG_0544

IMG_0550

IMG_0563

IMG_0570

IMG_0583

IMG_0602

IMG_0606

IMG_0611

IMG_0619

IMG_0626 IMG_0621

IMG_0634

IMG_0638

IMG_0647 IMG_0644

IMG_0654

IMG_0659

IMG_0688

IMG_0693

IMG_0699

IMG_0708

IMG_0720

IMG_0741

IMG_0743

IMG_0745

IMG_0747

IMG_0756

IMG_0760

IMG_0780

IMG_0781

IMG_0792

IMG_0797

IMG_0799

IMG_0806

IMG_0810

IMG_0819

IMG_0828

IMG_0837

IMG_0844

Ride to the ridge, camp, decend, repeat.

•September 2014 • Leave a Comment

Bikepacking!

Vietnam continued: Da Nang, Hue, and Hoi An

•August 2014 • Leave a Comment

I really

really need

a

pilot's license.

 

So we landed in Da Nang, after flying down the coast from the North. This was the area where most of the fighting was, so many decades ago. You couldn’t tell, in town. We only stayed for a minute, before hopping on a bus to Hue. My face was glued to the bus window, only partially because I had forgotten my book in the baggage that now resided in the baggage compartment underneath me.

Skills literally paying bills.

Another impressive feat. But then again, I can't even walk in 'em.

Old-school Chatterbox

And finally, a reminder not to tailgate.

Cool beach town

No good pictures because they always seemed to be around when I wasn't driving, but that's a gas station.

Duct tape canoe Mk2, here are the designs.

Welcome to Huế

Hue was mostly a jumping off point for day trips to nearby temples, of which there were many. Emperors of dynasties past resided permanently behind and beneath giant stones within. We hopped on a scooter, and were guided to three of them in our first day there.

One:

Tomb of Lăng Khải Định

Serious as fuck.

Not so serious.

Ornate almost to a fault

I need to do this at home.

Not sure my room could pull it off, though.

Now imagine this guy

...flanked

This was definitely a view to keep

Elephant not to scale

 

Two:

Loti?

Brick bridges with ceramic tile

I see tiny trees, I get the urge to run at people screaming.

BONSAAAAIII

The gates that lead to the gates that lead to the final resting place of Emperor Tự Đức

There's a picture somewhere of me hanging off the bridge to take this.

 

Three: Thien Mu Pagoda was the home of Tich Quang Duc, famed for self-immolating in protest of the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government in 1963.  The blue Austin can be seen in the background of the photo of him on fire, and is the car he drove himself into Saigon with.

Getting the look down.

OMGSOARTSY

IMG_8927

Rage.

, TX

Not a bad place to throw down for.

Are you sure you want to leave this pagoda?

 

The next day we visited the Royal Palace in the center of Hue. A formidable sight from any angle, it was the location of a significant amount of fighting during the war. Bullet holes and blasted back steel still remain as stark reminders of what once occurred there. The palace is being restored to its original splendor by craftsmen who are doing all of the painstaking work by hand, as it was done the first time.

1000 gallon basin

Resto-mod?

Good as new

Missed!

Didn't miss.

Lotuses just doesn't sound right.

Yard work on an epic scale.

Bullet-riddled wall

A reminder of how quiet it was when I was standing on that street.

That'll stop 'em!

 

Street food was available everywhere, along with 24-hour massage parlors and special deals for guests of our hotel.

Ok, this is really a food truck, Viet-style.

Open all night, unsurprisingly.

Night Rider

This hotel was a good choice.

If a little lawsuit-attracting.

After getting our fill of Hue, we raced a storm back through Da Nang, to Hoi An.

DaNang that's a big storm!

From there, we took a day trip to My Son, a site in the woods that was a temple, then became a Viet Cong base, and was then bombed into the ground.  Parts of it are being rebuilt with different color stone, to show the original shape while attempting to preserve its current state.

Scars on the side of a footpath

One of the few statues left in place at Mỹ Sơn

Enlightened.

Worn details

Cell window

What it once was

Partial reconstruction, giving insight into the old without removing the reality of the present.

I think we lost the serious again.

Nothing much to see here, just a bomb crater, and a reminder not to use national treasures as a base of operations during a war.

Not much to save.

Hoi An itself is as much of a tourist trap as we could find in Vietnam, but still retained a charm not found in the many other such places I’ve been.  It still felt like a sleepy little town on the water, but it never really slowed down, active late into the night and early in the morning.

This is all about the reclining Buddha.

I like lamp.

COLORS

This...made me hungry.

Daily activity at elementary school: sweeping the streets!

No street signs, but different lanterns to denote stores in a shopping district

A different approach than DC's

Juxtaposition

just a shop

just a bike

Corner gas station

The ritzy place down the street

Family vacay

Hội An, tourist trap done right.

This sums up the telecom situation

 

We rented a scooter and tried to get lost, succeeding only in finding a construction site on the beach and a resort hotel with a view of the ocean that brought us back again the next day.

Crazy erosion

I was curious how these boats worked. Just about how I thought.

I just looked it up, and lori is legitimate. Loti it is.

Abu's eyes on the horizon are why hotel guests and employees had a 6 minute heads up. Abu was trying to help an elderly German couple to move up from the beach when he was hit by the wave.

How 2 Citroen (Traction Cabriolet?)

Wood

Brick

That ship is a restaurant.

Night in Hoi An was my favorite, by far.

Hội An again.

Watched this from the comfort of a bar across the water

No idea what happened here, but it was fun.

I knew to jam the brakes on the rental scooter when I saw this lantern, because it meant I was about to pass our hotel.

Scooter wandering, with Da Nang on the horizon

Back at Abu's hotel. They might have thought we were guests of theirs.

WALL IS WATCHING YOU

…and just like that, Hoi An was behind us, and Da Nang was hardly a blip on the radar before we left it, too, and headed further south to Ho Chi Minh City.

Sadly, we missed the explanation of how to use these setups to catch fish.

Yellow thing is the Dragon Bridge. Actually shoots fire.

And So It Went, Part 5: Burning Rubber, Gas, and Coolant

•August 2014 • Leave a Comment

I turned left, away from San Francisco, and drove down the coast as far as Santa Barbara. Then, I turned around and drove back up. I spent a few nights lazily meandering up and down the 1, pulling to the shoulder to crash for the night, then doing it again. I wandered down to the water and napped on the rocks during the day. The days blurred together again, save the hundred miles I drove with a hitchhiking passenger, listening to his life story and plans for the future.

I see why people want to live here

this picture caused me to take my shoes off

My favorite sign, anywhere.

View from my hammock

some rock

You'd think it to go the other way, but Kenya reminded me of this photo.

New buddy.

I could picture the stone spinning the hole into that shape

I left many of these

All beyond the fence.

Namesake

Eye level

New buddy.

Straight down

Gonna skip these buddies.

Velocity!

Teardown

 

Then, one day I woke up and decided I was done looking at the ocean, and I wanted to see some mountains. I turned inland, and drove until the roads turned to dirt. There went another blur of days drinking beer near rushing streams, sleeping in windy valleys as the truck rocked back and forth, and resting the afternoons away in my hammock.

Conquest

As old timey as it gets

No self service, and the gas is more expensive by a dollar?

I don't need to pay you extra for your rust.

King's Canyon

 

Somewhere in the mountains my motor started overheating, and I popped the hood only to be greeted with the spray of steam and boiling coolant from a busted radiator hose.  I fixed the hose, and the radiator blew its top. From there out it was a healthy mix of coasting and driving to get out of the mountains.  I arrived at a shop in the foothills at 4:50 on a Friday, and for a case of beer and $60 cash, 5 guys replaced my radiator in 10 minutes flat. Efficiency is easy when you want to get the hell out of Dodge.

Symptom of distress

Just-post-burning-my-arm

Lunch break on the way down

Beer: solves what ails ya.

 

I decided that the truck had had enough of the mountains, and spent a night in the desert before heading back for another go at the weirdness of Los Angeles.

Next stop: middle of nowhere

You'd think it was the middle of nowhere, except for the nearby town.

 

This is exactly what I expect of LA

American as fuck. This is a McDonalds.

COOKIE

Yep, time to go.

 

One night was all it took, and it was East to Vegas for a night, then Hoover Dam and a straight shot back to my busted bike in Henrietta.

Vegas from Henderson

Fallout 3 map.

Lest ye forget: formerly sea bottom

Desert Desert Desert

D.I.R.

The last of the scenery: Colorado

Now for some nothingness.

Kansas

Kansas

Kansas

I finally got a look at the damage, loaded it up, and hauled it back to DC in a night.

Yeah, that'll slow you down.

Practically dragged it home

Crushing miles.

 

It had been just over three weeks since the race at Laguna Seca, but it felt like a lifetime.

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.