25 March 2012

Blog Moved

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Have an awesome day and thanks for reading!


09 January 2012

Utah Day, Colorado Night

I-70 Colorado

Towns such as Vail, the famous ski resort town for the wealthy, probably as well-known as nearby Aspen, are lit for the holidays, aspens and some kinds of pine trees bound in multi-color or all white electric glow.

Smoke issues from chimneys as my mother cautiously drives the interstate, often as much as ten miles below posted speed limits, the shoulders covered with small amounts of freshly fallen snow as we approach Brekenridge, where National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was filmed, as if the hill Clark W. Griswalk, AKA Sparky, sledded down like greased lightning could exist in the suburbs of Chicago.

Half hour ago my feet were freezing as I foolishly wore sandals in the snow we've finally encountered and traveled via US-highway 50 to avoid. Snow was reported along Interstate 80 by my cousin, telling us it melts by day, but high winds may cause drifts.

Less than two hours from Longmont, via the outskirts of Denver, Mother Moon casts her glow through the tops of forty-foot pines though just two hours ago her glow could scarcely be seen over the crests of some of the tallest mountains in the country.

We pass through more towns, trees still lit, icicle-style lights still dangling from awnings, as if Christmas is eternal here in this skiers' paradise.

Earlier in the day we dallied through Eastern Utah, having taken our first interstate in days. I-70 winds through canyons carved by winds and water erosion and highway engineers. Other times we passed near sheer drop-offs. Occasionally the landscape is fenced in, cattle grazing, we wonder if we'll see more headless animals, having already encountered a cow and deer that have gone beyond lobotomy. That's my new phrase for beheadings, jihadists beware. No, not “jingoists”, Mr. Spellcheck.

Here were are in snowy Colorado again, about to head into one of many tunnels carved through mountain slopes when it's not easily possible to build the road along the bends the rivers take between mountain passes. We just have to be cautious of tunnel cannibals. This tunnel has a stoplight. We're at 11,058 feet or so and the radio turns to static.

Mom eats some peanuts as this is one of the more easily-driven portions of the road, the runnel possibly over a mile long as Patty breathes heavily with anxiety in the back seat. The tunnel continues on, further than a mile perhaps. Night skies again as we pass a junction for US-6 West and the roadways dives into the valley at 5- and 6-percent grades, darkness enveloping any visibility beyond. The tail lights of the cars ahead act as guides, pied-pipers leading us with only 92.3 coming in on the radio as more snow is announced and “Closing Time” opens.

I begin to feel emotional as I realize how effortlessly I am writing this, hoping to get back into the practice of writing frequently and keeping up with my blogging.

Sunrise in Fillmore, Utah hadn't happened until after 7 am, when I'd hoped we'd be on the road by. Alas, we had another late start as my father and I enjoyed our free breakfast and I worked on adding a few revisions to my syllabus that are now required by the college. After a sleepless night of crying and whining dog snuck carefully into the motel room we headed onto the road after filling up the family truckster at $3.05 a gallon.

Almost immediately we stopped at an antique store in Scipio as we headed for the merger of US-50 East and I-70. My father bought a 16-inch dutch oven for $35.00 cash, after the “New York” discount of $3.00. With little room in the jeep we placed the oven atop on of the bins of Lego my aunt had acquired.

Onward we traversed through all shades of brown, red, and gray, some layers of rock, black.

Presently the moon's light peeks over a ridge beautifully lighting a plane's contrail.

At one of the first rest areas on the highway witnessed rounded rock formations speckled with swiss cheese holes, my mother referring to them as Martian rocks, for once the caves were not declared bear caves, though one other time the “caves”, mostly scarcely shadowed spaces below short overhangs. My mother has more of an imagination than I.

As my parents used the flushless facilities I ran and leapt down the rock formations that reminded of Sedona, Arizona sans redrock coloration, scrub grew here and there. Always, I think of the original Predator movie when I leap, bending my knees to send the shock of impact harmlessly up my body or whatever it is that happens when I do that. There I took the following pictures.

My mother asks me which path we're taking to Longmont, if it's I-25. Not doing a good job of taking the tone of annoyance out of my voice as I think about how the TomTom GPS will tell her when to turn off and which way to go, I tell her, “No, we're taking US-6 around this side of the city.” Then she changes lanes on a curve as my father tried to water the dog (merely meaning “give the dog water”) and it sounds like he spills it as he curses, my father often being quick to swear in such instances. Yes, I think that's where I get it from, the Old Man, who weaves a tapestry of obscenities which still hovers over Huntington today.

Minutes later we drive over Clear Creek and pass some brightly lit excavation, some sort of heavily-glassed building seemingly built into the mountainside. Dry snow crystals sparkle beyond the shoulders and orange warning lights flash over diamond signs depicting hugely antlered elk, Denver not far off as the freeway opens into three lanes.

At the Sedona-like rest stop I return to the parking area to pee and see about a dozen blankets of “Indian” pottery and jewelry neatly laid out beneath the signs stating “No Vending or Soliciting”. What would people solicit out there?

On I-70, writing this, I find I'm sweating too much and deign to emerge from the cocoon of sweater and jacket, struggling to not elbow my mother, as if I'm molting, Houdini-like. A sign warns truckers to, “not be fooled” about the 4-percent downgrade over the next mile. A runaway truck ramp sign appears followed by one more, with flashing warning lights. My mother scrapes the rumble strip in the shoulder, perhaps preparing to take the ramp. Denver's lights sparkle beyond the mountains in eternal Christmas.

PS: Speaking of eternal Christmas, we just passed a bicyclist safely decked in reflectors, to which I explained, “It's Tron!”

29 December 2011

Roadside Americana as the Hardtravelinghero is Reborn

Driving south I-81 we happened across Johnny Appleseed's Restaurant in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia when we stopped to get gas and pee.

Pressing the button near Johnny provides visitors with a brief history of the mythological Appleseed and a sampling of the restaurant's menu. It was very Wally World but luckily Johnny didn't tell me the restaurant was closed two weeks for repairs otherwise I'd have punched him in the fucking nose and gone in and cooked myself breakfast anyhow.

I'd already had steak for breakfast so all I ordered were eggs, over easy, which are hard to fuck up and tasted as they should. Straying a bit from my paleo diet I took a bite of one of their apple fritters, basically doughnut holes (even though a "hole" is something intangible) that tasted more like doughnut than apple.

The service was fair-to-middlin' as I asked for a large OJ, not a small. I figured it'd be better to have less liquid in my body anyhow, what with Charlotte being hours away yet.

02 June 2009

The Mostly Hetero Adventures with the Two-Spirit Kid

So far:

Day 1: Tuesday: My suitcase that I did not want to check, but had to because of the tiny ass plane, was left in Atlanta as the flight attendant said it would be transferred to my next plane.

After arranging to have my suitcase sent to Durango, Dan and I left Phoenix and took the old highways to Payson, where Fire in the Sky happened. Then we went through Snow Flake and um.... I forgot. Then we went up to Holbrook and I saw the dinosaur on the cover of my book, Roadside America, and it was awesome. There was a family of dinosaurs and dinosaurs eating dinosaurs.

Then we took that dreadful patch of I-40 to US-191 into the Navajo Rez (reservation) and saw what was probably a drunk, sort of ambling and meandering in what is almost to which Dan said, "Come on. Don't be a typical Reservation drunk." A little later we saw a dead dog on the side of the road to which I said, "Come on. Don't be a typical Rez dog."

We arrived at Canyon de Chelley around 7:00 and bought some food. At the Basha's supermarket I felt like a minority for only the third time in my life. It's somewhat disconcerting at first. Such is white privilege. There were many mutts roaming the parking lot.

I wanted some hot food that wasn't fast food, but it seems there are no restaurants there, so I had Burger King. Of course it was getting dark and the free campground was closed, so we drove into the growing darkness to what the sign referred to as Spider Rock campsite. On the sides of the roads were loose horses, many adults with babies.

We set up a fire and warmed ourselves. We had no tent so we set up blankets and what not in the back of Dan's Saturn View. We didn't have much firewood, so we bought some from the campsite owner, Harold. Then we made a nice fire and toasted some of the giant ass marshmallows we'd bought.

We went to sleep and some time later I awoke with the sweatiest of balls.

I have no idea what time it was, but it was dark and windy as fuck when I could no longer sleep through the diahrea pangs. In the ladies outhouse I had to let it rip while the cold winds ripped into me. It finally ended and I walked back to the car in the slight moonlight and got settled back in after waking Dan. Then the pangs began anew. This time I realized the men's outhouse was just on the other side.

At some point it began to rain. I did not sleep well.

Day 2: I reluctantly awoke a bunch more times and Dan stayed away at around 5:30 and walked some trailed while I attempted more sleep. We finally left the site at around 7:00 am and checked out some scenic overlooks before heading to the Four Corners.

The Four Corners costs $3.00 per person. It's not all that impressive, but since Tyrel and I never made it four years ago, I had to go for that symbolism and the fake four corners symbolism, as apparently the true four corners is elsewhere. I bought some fresh fry bread with honey from a cute old lady. I took two loperamide (anti-spasmodic) after my previous night's horror.

Then we drove on to Durango, about two hours away. Most of this part of southern Colorado is so lush. Since I'd heard nothing regarding my suitcase, we hung in Durango for a while at the Durango Coffee Company so Dan could do some homework or work. Fucking responsibilities.

Once he was done we walked down Main Ave. and found a sweet foot path along the Anima River. It was really beautiful and it sucked that I had no charged batteries because my car adapter was in my AWOL suitcase.

I checked out the fares on the narrow gage railroad, but it's expensive and an all day affair. We ended up eating at this funky taqueria. The tacos were decent.

Durango seems a lot nicer than Flagstaff, with huge green mountains on all sides and an awesome river with rafting trips. Perhaps we'll get a chance to do that on the way back through after the Great Sand Dunes and Gunnison, and perhaps Black Canyon National Park. But Durango is still small, probably gets a shit ton of snow, but might be nice to live in one of the river overlook apartments that probably cost an arm and a leg, and I'd only want to try it for six months. Colorado is so much better than Arizona.

Anyhow, about that time it was pouring ass rain and six, so if my suitcase didn't make it on the noon flight (which it probably did), it would be there in the six o'clock flight. And so it was. By time we arrived at the tiny airport the rain had ceased, but once we'd gotten back on US-160 it began raining like a mothafuck again, off and on.

The speed is normally 65, which is fine, but not when there's a deluge. When twilight began we came upon the impressive and snow-capped Rockies. It's a beautiful sight: clouds passing between mountain peaks, green trees everywhere, a river to the left. At this point it was not raining, so I pulled over and Dan took some photos. I don't know if they can capture the majesty.

Then we realized we'd have to drive into those snowy mountains.

Up we climbed at 30 miles per hour, slowly, slowly, crawling, the temperature dropping until it hit the mid-thirties. We finally crested in the darkness, snow and ice on the ground, water gushing from the mountain tops. Yeah.

The next signs said 8% downgrade and so I decided I needed to piss before committing to the downhill onslaught to the Death Proof soundtrack.

More to come regarding this night soon...

16 October 2008

Recent Updates On My Blog!

Welcome to my travel blog.

This will be the first entry you'll see each time you arrive at my blog.

I put a lot of work into this blog. I cannot fathom how many hours I've spent posting pictures and writing about the adventures that go along with the photographs I've taken (and occasional guest photographers have taken).

Recent updates thru 15 October 2008:
  • Photos and copy have been added to Giant Potato Men, Axes, etc, with more to come.
  • Six Flags: The Dark Knight Coaster Review
  • Richmond Zine Fest Review (I don't think I'm gonna edit again)
My apologies on slow updates. I'm now very busy with the following: my job, my horrible commute, and the proper motivation.

To a blog near you...
  • Youtube Video additions embedded in the 2006 road trip entries!
  • The Vanderbilt Planetarium from late May 2007
  • Text for Skyline Caverns in Front Royal, VA from 9 July 2007
  • Roadside Americana, old timey Shell Service Station, North Carolina
  • Roadside Americana, World's Largest Chest of Drawers (formerly?), North Carolina
  • Boston text
  • Bay of Fundy, National Park, CANADA
  • Giant Lobster, Shediac, New Brunswick, CANADA
  • Prince Edward Island, 13 Km Confederation Bridge
  • Acadia National Park, Maine, USA
  • Last Call for Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York
  • St. Louis Science Center - Science of Marvel Superheroes Exhibit
  • Cross-Country Again: Colorado and New Mexico Skies
  • Zion National Park, Utah
  • Classic Car Show, Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Disneyland, Anaheim, California
  • Santa Monica Sunset, California
  • Arcosanti, Arizona
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • San Diego, California
  • Tombstone and Bisbee, Arizona
  • St. Louis Zoo, Missouri
  • SPX 2008
Your Hero

11 October 2008

Hardly Rich in Richmond: Richmond Zine Fest 2008 Review

Welcome to the Richmond Zine Fest.

I didn't know exactly what to expect from this event. I only briefly looked over their homepage and gleaned basic information on time and location. It was hard to pass up this event, even a week after SPX 2008, one of the more well-known, regional expositions for the small press exhibitors. Just over an hour away and free?! Fuck yeah! And for your sake, again, what the fuck is a zine?

The only other zine fest I've been to was the Houston Zine Fest 2006, which was held in conjunction with another concurrent arts event: The Westheimer Block Party, where Cej, John, and I represented the ArmzRace comics and cartoons collective. My review of the Houston Comics & Zine Fest 2006 / Westheimer Block Party can be found here on my very own hardtravelinghero blog.

Jonica didn't know what to expect either. Not that she was thrilled by the event, but that look of contempt is fake. You can see the smile under her false face. Then again, she might have been imagining what it's like on Suds and Studs night, complete with rainbow colored disco ball.

Here are some things from the FREE table:

My spending wasn't "too" bad at this show. Somewhere in the vicinity of $40-$70. I did a lot of swapping with Booty Call. Folks where very swap friendly at this venue, even though I forgot my "T" friendly button. "T" is in trade. I don't think many would confuse me for a transvestite or transgendered. Then again...

What follows are the comics and zines I bought, swapped, or snagged for free, because I'm that cool. Or they were free.


The thing about zines is: There are so many! There are such a variety, and if there is a table full of mixed theme zines, it can be difficult when there is so much choice and there is only really the cover to go by, and you know what the popular saying about that is. This problem of choice (wow--did I just say that?) is fine if all these zines were free, as some are made to be. Some zinesters charge for their final product. This is fine as well, as many zines take several, to dozens of hours to make. Maybe even more. Some zines are filled with pages upon pages of small print text, complete with citations and footnotes. As someone with an MA in Literature, I know how long that all takes.

My advice to newbie zinesters: Have a good, or great "sales" pitch, even if your zine is free of charge. My other piece of advice is: Go for a zine with some kind of point or purpose. Personally (and this may not be true of most people), I usually cannot stand "nonsense" zines, that is, zines of little consequence. I can't relate to them or you, because I don't know what the hell is going on or why it is going on.

Perzines are fine (personal zines). But totally random scribblings...eh.

What we have here is:

  • there an artist (ecco un artista) / Learnout - Danielle - (This one seems like more of a comic than a "zine." Whoops.)
  • Rank #2
  • Virginia Urban Pagan Review - Samhain/Yule 2008

  • Monster Gripes
  • Tax Report
  • I'm Not Angry Anymore / One Girl Revolution / Mrs. Noggle - Jolie Noggle
  • Breakfast at Twilight / The Road of Sand - Erica Satifka
  • Make This Day - Ashleigh Addict
  • The Lesbian Lexicon Project - Stevie Anntonym
  • D*I*Y Comix (Revised 3rd Edition) - Shawn Granton
  • Smile
  • Nontoxic housecleaning - Raleigh Briggs
  • Dear America, I'm Lost # 4


Of course what I was really interested in were comics. Call them mini comics if you must, but whatever. Comics. I came out with a decent haul, some of it from swaps, some if it from my thick wad...of singles, with some decent discounts. Some of the exhibitors are pretty awesome and strike deals without being asked (not that I don't ask sometimes, several times, it depends). I'll be like, "I'd like to buy these." So they start adding up numbers and I'm all like, "Oh, and would you like to have a copy of my zine thingy?" And they're responding, "Why yes," and some other things like that. Sometimes that's how it rolls.

Distro All Humans!

Microcosm Publishing was there, representing countless comicsters and zinesters. I gave a few copies of Booty Call to...shit--can't remember his name even though we talked for ten minutes straight. I'll have to email Nate Powell and ask, since they know each other. I grabbed an extra copy of the distro, that is, distribution catalog, for a friend in Sacto.

What is a distro? you may ask. To put it basically, it is a catalog and sometimes seller, publisher, go-between, consignment "shop," distributor, and probably other countless services that make it easier for creators of comics and zines to get their works in the hands of interested readers.

Sketchbooks, Tom Tom, and Barbecues, Oh My!

Like a dolt, I forgot my sketchbook, and instead of taking 15 or so minutes so retrieve it before we passed our interstate exit after a free McDonald's breakfast, I figured I'd see who was at the show before deciding if I needed to potentially waste that valuable show time. If there were no comics or interesting visual arts people, I didn't think I'd need one. But then once we arrived, half hour later than planned, I realized there were a bunch of comics folk there. So off to Target...which had no sketchbooks! Luckily there was a Barnes and Noble right there, though I wanted to try to find the art supply store Robert Ullman had mentioned, with Jonica's GPS, but it was a no go on the memory--ours, not the GPS's. So $12 and half hour wasted later I've got a new sketchbook.

On the way back to the Gay Community Center we decide to try some BBQ. Since neither Jonica or I could remember the name of the place Rob Ullman mentioned as the non-vinigery Southern Style BBQ (which is prevelent here), we ended up at Bill's Barbecue. As I'd been awake most of the predawn hours with the runs, I decided on the generic plain grilled chicken sandwhich platter with hush puppies. The hush puppies were good, and even tolerable by Jonica's standards, as often hush puppies are very oniony. She got BBQ pork and it was all vinegary. I don't think we'll be returning to any of Bill's locations around Richmond, though I would give the menu another try, even though I didn't much care for the coleslaw. It was too minced.

DIY Workshop

Returning to the zine fest, I shopped and swapped some more. At 2:30, Jonica and I attended a 40-minute DIY workshop run by Rob Ullman, Dylan Williams, and Spencer Hanson. We got to look at many examples of comics with silk screened covers, sometimes one color, sometimes multiple colors. The occasional gimmick cover (small press has these too?!). The hosts also informed us on how we can get free paper samples at MrFrench. Distribution of comics was another topic discussed and it was recommended that comics and zine makers try wholesale for cash or store credit, or consignment at local comic shops, music stores, etc. Additionally recommended ia exhibit at shows such as SPX or the Richmond Zine Fest (where a table is something like $20 for the day at the latter event).

Finally: The Sketches

I managed to obtain the following sketches from some awesome comics making folk:

Rob Ullman:

Oura X:

Was it worth it?

Of course. I only wish I had been there from start to finish, without leaving for more than half an hour. Three sketches are hardly enough. And I didn't spend enough money. Well, I did, but you know, in support of the arts.

11 July 2008

Welcome Me, Commonwealth of Virginia

I’m moving on Tuesday 15 July. Jonica and I haven’t got jobs yet, or even a place to stay. We’re gonna get one of those weekly hotels and check out the apartments that we’ve seen online. Oh yeah. We’re going to the Norfolk, Virginia area and that’s final. Hampton Roads, which I guess includes, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and whatever Hampton. Or maybe it’s just Hampton, with no cardinal direction or anything else attached to it.

Technically, Virginia is not a state, but a commonwealth. This information came to me on the History Channel the other day.

There are a few community colleges, and a few other colleges and universities in the area. Hopefully I’ll hear from one or more of them soon regarding adjunct work. Worst case scenario, I substitute at the public schools. I hate early hours. Then again, perhaps some more interesting opportunity shall knock.

I’m looking forward to being with Jonica again, and trying something new, in someplace new, as much as change makes me anxious.

I think I should try some creative hobbies that can make me some money.

I think that’s really all the news there is.

Next time I write you, I will be from Virginia.