Posted by: commapen | March 8, 2011

Flinging down an ice chute in Latvia

All ready to fling myself down an ice chute.

In February of 2007, I spent 3 nights in Riga, Latvia and had a great time.  One of the surprise experiences I had, was that I got to go down a real-life bobsled!  I took a bus to the nearby town of Sigulda, paid my money, sat between the driver and another tourist, and had the ride of my life.  What was it like?  What can you expect?  Here are some bits of advice.

1.  I did not pay a tour company for the journey.  Diga and Ric, owners of Homestay, a brilliant bed and breakfast in the Mezaparks neighborhood, arranged the trip for me.

2. The person driving the sled is a member of the Latvian Bobsled Team.  Don’t be surprised if the other passenger riding with you is wearing a Christmas Tree costume.  Latvia is known as a stag party destination for British tourists.  I was at a casino later that evening talking with an English chap who was part of a large stag group.  As he left the blackjack table, I said to him “Have a great trip!”  He said that he planned to not remember much.  Riga is trying to move away from this party reputation and appeal to a broader audience.

3.  Be ready for a short, very bumpy trip.  Some people compare it to a roller coaster ride.  When I am on an actual roller coaster, the ride is smooth and I know there is no chance that I am going to fall out.  My bobsled ride, however, was quick and bumpy, and I always had the thought in the back of my mind that I could crash.  It was the best thrills I was looking for, and it was the best thrills that I got.

More information about my Latvia visit is coming soon.


See me in the Pribilof Islands!

I like exploring. This has been a point that I have covered in this blog before. If I am not able to explore by hopping on an airplane someplace, I will explore on the Internet, looking for discoveries from all over the globe. One day, I was on the net, looking for an online radio station from the most far-flung location in the USA that I could imagine. I found a listing for a radio station on St. Paul Island, Alaska, a blip on the map in the middle of the ocean. I clicked the link, and heard one of the closest definitions of “community lifeline” that I have heard. They offer music, news, community announcements, and up-to-the minute weather reports, an important service for the crabbers and fishermen in the surrounding waters. I figured that if any public radio station needed my money, this is the one. I sent in $25, and received a KUHB coffee cup and t-shirt. After researching even more, I decided that I want to add St. Paul Island to my “bucket list” of places to visit in the future.

If you have ever watched “Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel, you have seen St. Paul Island as a stopover point for the Time Bandit, the Northwestern, and the rest of the fleet. St. Paul is one of the four Pribilof Islands, marooned in the Bering Sea, 300 miles from Alaska’s mainland. There are three main features of these islands: the treeless, wind-swept tundra; the millions of seabirds filling the skies; and thousands of seals and sea lions crowding the rocky shore. The northern fur seal, in particular, is one of the reasons that the United States negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million dollars. Today, St. Paul Island and St. George Islands are home to a total of 684 people, most of them Aleuts.

If you would like to donate some money to KUHB like I did, their website is In fact, if you want a great adventure, you can visit and have the experience of your life, the type I would like to have someday.

Have you been to the Pribilof Islands? Would you like to visit someday? Please leave a comment below.

Posted by: commapen | January 2, 2011

Vacation’s All I Ever Wanted

Out in the woods

“All you ever want to do is escape!”

This is one of the things Dassy says to me when my mind wanders away from the “here and now”. I do admit that roaming around this planet is one of the favorite things that I like to do. Like many kids, once I figured out that there was a world outside my house, I wanted to go out and explore it. I learned the things necessary to go out; learn to walk, learn to tie my shoes, bring my jacket. On a family outing to Seaside, Oregon, I heard sea lions and wandered out on my own to find them. Without bothering to tell my parents. I didn’t even bother to bring money with me for the admission. They found me just before they decided to get the cops involved in the search.

One of my first vacation memories was when my family got in our truck and drove to Disneyland. We had all the sorts of experiences that tend to stick with a kid; the sunshine, the palm trees, the amusement park rides, Mickey and Donald, fresh oranges, Mom’s sunburn in San Francisco, spitting outside the back of the truck in Mount Shasta City. From then on I would dream about all sorts of trips. I would gather timetables from travel agencies and the airport and plan out imaginary trips to anywhere. To avoid interaction with other kids, I would go to the school library, read, look at maps, and dream.

As soon as I got a job and a good amount of vacation time, off I went. New Orleans, D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Calgary, Montreal, Quebec City, you name it. In 1995, I went to Hong Kong and Singapore, in 2001 it was Jamaica. Most of these trips were done on my own, with limited human interaction. I wonder what sort of different opportunities I would have had if I was more sociable. I suppose that events happen the way that they are supposed to. My first trip to Philippines in 2005 was my “moment”, when it all started to come together. Now I am a bit more reluctant to waste any more time. I want 2011 to be the best year ever, for my health, my creativity, my relationships.

Did you get the “travel bug” when you were young? Do you use travel to avoid interacting with other people, or do you use it specifically to meet other humans? I would love to hear from you.

Posted by: commapen | December 26, 2010

We are visiting Siquijor in 2011!

Coral Cay Resort

Coral Cay Resort - 2006

Big plans for Dassy and I. We are planning on visiting Siquijor, Philippines from October 22nd to November 6th. Hopefully we can extend the visit to November 8th, however that depends on whether I will be able to get the time off of work. It has been almost 5 years since I have been to Siquijor, and I look forward to seeing Dassy’s family, staying at the Coral Cay Resort, attending the Cang-Apa Fiesta for the first time, and otherwise enjoying the magic. Hopefully we can see a few more sights in the Philippines while we are there. More details to come!

Posted by: commapen | June 28, 2009

Introducing Catherine

A very important part of our lives, currently residing in Siquijor. I shall tell more about her later. My sister-in-law is the one bathing her.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Introducing Catherine“, posted with vodpod

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