Indiana

I think I'm doing "summer break" wrong... ah, who cares.

I think I'm doing "summer break" wrong... ah, who cares.

So I read, adrenal fatigue appears to be a 21st century issue, in that the diminishment of real physical danger in our daily lives has manifested itself into a constant stress that treats all threats as equals. If this is the case, take me back to the days of subsistence farming, jumps in the swimming hole, and dinner by candlelight. I guess I want to be Amish! Or better yet, Fijian!

But obviously I've gained a tremendous amount from this active, dynamic life bouncing around the world. I'm trying to take it easy, give myself a break before Botswana amps up, but as my previous list indicates, I treat "breaks" like stolen time. I will fill the time I have, a compulsive little worker pumped with caffeine to complement a puny trickle of cortisol.

Parkinson's Law, they call it. Well, C.N. Parkinson has officially taken over my wet, hot, American summer break. And even if that means more of this compulsive, fight or flight mode, as long as I have a finished book by next February, I'm fine with that.

Read More

Attending my first opening night via the interwebs

Attending my first opening night via the interwebs

Thought it wasn't my first choice to attend virtually, it was my only realistic option, as I was deeply embedded in school on May 1st, the day of the event. But this was a big moment for me, a first exhibition for an art major and with deep significance in location at that. I wanted to be able to absorb these factors viscerally and emerge from the experience enriched and with the sense that I had exhibited work always meant for others' eyes.

Read More

Help me prepare for my first travel photography exhibition

Help me prepare for my first travel photography exhibition

This exhibition entitled "Far, Far Away" is a chance for some people in Wabash, Indiana to see destinations and cultures they otherwise might never see. Additionally, all the images were taken by people who claim Wabash as their hometown, adding a layer of accessibility to the images. The other person sharing the space with me will be showing many images from Antarctica. Just amongst the two of us, our images will span all seven continents!

Read More

Domestic deficiencies and my learning curve post-Ecuador

Living in one place for a couple months - regardless of one's experience - inevitably causes nostalgia upon leaving and for a succeeding period of time. If it was a bad time, the pleasant memories override the bad, and if it was a good time, as was Ecuador, everything habitual and endearing continues to perpetuate once home again. In my case, the lingering reflexes from previous travels usually mess me up in Indiana - sometimes big time. I tend to call these the ironies of my lifestyle, but lately I feel it's more a deficiency in domestic knowledge, exacerbated by my fondness for the last three months of international living.

I can't live up to familial expectations

Max after baptism, family

Max after baptism, family

Once I knew my work dates for December, my sister-in-law planned her son's baptism around my schedule - to make sure I could definitely attend. And there I was on the morning of his christening, coffee in hand doing the two-step warm-up dance outside in tights, watching my friend's husband jump my borrowed car's battery where it sat 90 miles from the church. It's not too hard to remember to turn the headlights off in the pitch black of night the evening prior, but that's assuming one gets those pangs of common sense.

...because I'm used to: cheap taxis and close proximity

When my school's transportation or my feet couldn't take me where I needed to be, I could stand on a curb in the historic center and hail a yellow car that never cost more than $5, even for a twenty minute trip. Distances traveled - in this country smaller than Nevada - were relatively miniscule compared my US of A expectations.

In my breaths between trips, I rely on my wheeling-and-dealing car salesman of a brother to have a means of getting around. Taxis in Indiana are as scattered as stars with meters that run like Michael Johnson. Not efficient, easy, or happening.

I've got plumbing confusion.

Cuenca resembles an historic European city with cobblestone streets, cloth napkin lunches, and more ornate churches than there are Sundays in a year. It is a lovely town with enjoyable nightlife and beautiful rivers flanking the walkable center. That's the necessary introduction for my dear American audience that will be disgusted with the necessary toilet paper disposal method: a trash can.

...because I'm used to: weak sauce toilets

The plumbing in Ecuador generally requires an 'exit-stage-left' strategy for used tissue. Not to divulge my rituals behind closed stall doors, but I have yet to not be confused with the protocol since my return. In the same way that I don't remember my current continent when my daily alarm rings, I have to go through a process of remembering where I am and what I'm doing every time nature summons.

The motor skills flop when cooking duty calls.

Whereas my fifteenth year was marked by an obsession with Food Network, today I chop vegetables at the speed and with the delicacy of Remy's first try. I can make a spectacular explosion of coarsely slaughtered salad ingredients, which is actually my most coveted meal when abroad, but anything involving even marginal levels of calculation and finesse isn't possible for at least a month post-trip.

I've actually got a known track record with the Indianapolis Fire Department with this issue.

...because I'm used to: $3.50 lunch specials and constant group meals

Near the end of Cuenca, I realized I hadn't cooked for myself - not a saucepan touched - in months. It was more cost-effective and timely to eat at a nearby restaurant with wifi than it was to assemble something palatable in the hotel's kitchen. I also felt like a bothersome house guest when I tried. And eating with the students meant a pre-set menu consisting of meat and potatoes, sandwiched by a creamy soup and a fruit platter curtain call.

I'm speaking the wrong language.

Ecuador presented me with daily challenges to expand my language skills, much like New York gave me the sensation of world travel the moment I left my apartment. I was able to push beyond my fluency from senior year of high school and regain the abilities swiftly lost with the apprehension of Italian.

...because I'm used to: never being able to communicate with the surrounding majority

This is nothing new. I was saying naka to my mother two months after Fiji - instead of 'thank you' - and even though my recent firings of Spanish have hit some native speakers, I am forgetting how to communicate to people at home in daily, civil settings. I am used to being a fly on the wall and observing life I don't connect with personally. In this environment, I can pop in and pop out; obligation to the place is non-existent.

With every trip abroad, the return home gets easier. I'm hoping these are the remnants of a dying reverse-culture shock trend. It's a plan to tackle one or more of these issues while in Thailand...and again when I return to the great US of A.

The Art of Reinvention, Anonymity, and Self-Discovery in Travel

The sky of Indiana

The sky of Indiana

My mind finally smells summer. I've been away from Indiana for the past two summers and away from Wabash during the summertime since I moved away ten years ago. Having spent the majority of my childhood outside, I've been unknowingly pining for the familiar olfactory triggers, which I still can't define well: aromatic greens of unknown classification, warming as though being slowly cooked, lawn mower engine fuel, chlorine and very cold water, heat radiating from the cement below my bicycle tires, sometimes fresh asphalt but most often cracked sidewalks and gravel-sprinkled roads.

Though some of these seem like multi-sensory experiences - not to mention fairly common around the world - I'm really only talking about my nose. I can smell all those things. The same summer climate can be found on about 60% of the Earth's land mass at some point in the year, but it is only in this town that the sun seems to electrify the atoms and molecules in such a way - for me.

Bias steals my reason when I believe this town could actually be that much different than the rest of the world. Everyone most likely has a sweet spot for their birthplaces, maybe less sweet than bitter for some, and memories are fantastically linked to senses and, in my case, inspiration.

Nostalgia Triggers

I'm not a weird uber-fan of sweeping my grandmother's back porch, but doing so the other day washed warming nostalgia overhead and allowed me to tap into the feelings I once had as a youngster, feelings I remember viscerally that I can now decode and translate with this older mind.

It's an exciting town!

It's an exciting town!

It was in the public library downtown that I grew to love plowing through books. Though my reading comprehension these days is borderline frightening, the visuals I concocted for the stories of Roald Dahl are still sharp in my mind. The movies were all sad efforts after my daily mental capades through Matilda's home and Charlie's new factory.

It was a means of wasting time while my parents worked at the office, but I used to pluck away at a typewriter and create five sentence short stories about personified animals with morals and cool names. Taylor Swan was my ideal girl name, now a nausea inducer. I still have these hilarious attempts at literature in a folder somewhere, along with the memory that I dreamt of being the youngest published author in the world. I had no burning story to tell, but the thought of purging my thoughts to achieve such a landmark was satisfying for my eight year-old self.

Cue to me, ten years later, finally figuring out I did have stories to tell.

The Reappearing Interest

And I have to admit that while living in Wabash I was, at best, ambivalent about being here, even though my daily outdoor activities were fascinating and my friends quirky and long-lasting.

We moved cities with the intent of snatching those opportunities from which I'd be out of reach in the rural north. In turn, I believe my senses were dulled, though they did become my flypaper for artistic inspiration later in life.

My grandma used to say, "All roads lead to Wabash" - her version of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I sometimes find my path back "home" completely mind-boggling, which looks something like Indianapolis - Italy - Misc. USA - RTW Cruise Journey - Europe - Africa - Asia - Indianapolis - South Pacific - Asia, again…and so on until all trips are accounted for, with the caboose being good ol' Wabash County.

As far from "as the crow flies" as you can make a round-trip, I'd say…unless that crow is very drunk. And never a plausible concept when the bubble of the small town seemed to draw impermeable borders.

Wabash friends

Wabash friends

And now I'm peddling through town on sidewalks that haven't been updated since my mom was with bun in oven. The people who see me cycling seem to know me, and I don't remember names, only encounters at fairs, churchs, and community theater performances. There are no strangers. Cliche, schmeeche - I'm having serious déjà vu.

Reinvention

Fresh from a recent trip that reminded me how much I love the clean slates and stranger-filled surroundings of travel, I'm feeling stumped.

Where are the lingering conversations I can't comprehend? Where are the strangers, and why do I want them around?

The ensemble of the town rarely seems to change, and so stays static my relationships with everyone. Feelings remain regardless of time, which seems to affect bodies rather than minds. There's little flexibility available for reinvention, as history is chiseled in stone. Aging doesn't guarantee anything.

My brother's advice upon starting my new school in Indianapolis was simple, and it stuck.

No one knows you here. You can reinvent yourself, if you want.

That sounds like a movie line. Maybe I'm getting confused. Disregard the wording and assume the same sentiment was relayed to me ten years ago upon the first days of my new schooling experience.

My parents after a wine tasting

My parents after a wine tasting

With a move [I couldn't conceptualize] an hour and a half south of childhood, reinvention became possible. And even though I've never felt unlike myself in a true, lingering sense, I did seize the opportunity to portray myself in a different light. Mannerisms, humor, interests - they all stayed, but I altered my air to put up with less than I used to allow. No longer did I slink away from moments of embarrassment or shame from the likes of the neighbor boys or the burly girls of bully stock. I didn't want to feel self-conscious about being the person I wanted to be, nor did I have the desire to exhibit any characteristic not indigenous to my being. Hence, no fake-itude.

And now I return, having flexed as a personality but not having evolved alongside Wabash. I wonder if I'm recognizable. Even though this renewed interest has brought me back in touch with the town of 11,000 of my upbringing, I'm unsure as to whether I see myself or a different person in the reflection of my memories.

Walking above Charley Creek, I wonder if it's purely time that strips me of my visceral connection or the fact that the person is not the same (just plus ten years).

When Does a Person Become?

When have I been most happy in my life? Would memories of the most fulfilling or satisfying moments be those which define my life's interests or purpose? Are we who we were coming from the womb and then slowly compromised as we evolved into civilization? Are we really who we are after a life-changing experience or a test that morphs us into a person we never thought we'd become? Was I more me in the 80s, playing in my backyard treehouse, or now - now that I ask these questions and still come out of the wringer being the way that I presently am?

These are the sort of questions that arise amidst the dormant and knowing air particles of my grandmother's house. Surrounding by the grooviest domicile on the block, I question the point I've reached in my being and wonder if the same mushroom cap hairstyle who used to watch TV in the nook on the left is still present and solid.

My Wabash abode

My Wabash abode

Being alone (with cat) in a house that holds my history, in a town that crafted my humor and habits, in a state that isolated my focus on personalities, I am grappling with concepts to identify what place and time have to say about my being. What person would I have become had I not moved? And if that hour and a half move was all I attempted, what person would I then be had travel been stripped from my pastimes?

When home seems to nurture a specific development of the self, how does travel - with its anonymity, chance for reinvention, trying challenges to the first installation of values - affect the development of our purest form?

Post-world travels, I tend to side with the tried-and-tested theory of being; being put through the wringer, slapped around, and pushed to a near breaking point will result in a person, fibers and nothing else. But are these challenges distractions from the primary meditation that would facilitate that pure knowledge? The answer to that question would restructure the entirety of our social make-up.

What Do You Think?

This is a post I've been writing since the commencement of my summer seclusion project and seemingly one of the main products I hoped to reap from the experience. I write for an unknown public audience, and in doing so, I'm inviting the collective "you" to think what you want. While this post could seem like a journal entry or simply a moment of deep, personal musing, I want these concepts to be chewed on by all. I don't write these ideas to be an exhibitionist but to stimulate a discussion on the art of travel.

Please leave your feedback on whatever was of interest to you. If you'd rather have your comment invisible to the public eye, leave a message on my contact form. Video comments are extremely encouraged.

Thanks for reading.

Consume & Update: Balance, Success, and Last Week

Today's documentation of the travel and blogging world is a little slim but can plunge you into a lotta deep thought.

The Four Burners and Success

Balance Your Life...or else

Balance Your Life...or else

Who really has a balanced life? I'd like to think that overall the way I conduct myself on a year-long basis levels out between travel and home, physicality and leisure, hermitville and social junction. As I've stated before, the concept of "live every day like it's your last" is, in my opinion, a bunch of hullabaloo. How are we supposed to make today a most brilliant day while also strive for completeness in all aspects of our life? That's a whole lotta pressure for one day. I'd have to spend all day today planning for an amazing tomorrow, which would defeat the point, right?

I chew on this thought today because Chris Guilleabeau brought up an interesting idea mused by David Sedaris:

One burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health, and the fourth is your work. -David Sedaris

The gist is that in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.

Especially in a country where we like to think we can "have it all" and also one where we define success as an outward appearance of money, power, and respect, this idea seems to be true for most Americans; not sure about the rest of the world, but I assume the same goes for most of them as well. We don't want to read this quote and consider its validity, because that means accepting imbalance and relative failure at one facet of our lives, of which we'd normally be prideful.

What do you think about this concept? Do you think the idea of the four burners is irrelevant or spot on? What's your stance on the balance of focus and pride in your life? Do you think one or two must slip to achieve some level of success? And what is success in your terms? I'd love to hear your feedback, so please comment below!

Other Discoveries

Problogger sets us straight on some typical blogger grammatical mistakes. Hate to lose my hold on proper English!

What do you think is necessary in redesigning your lifestyle to incorporate your passions and happiness? Did this guy get it right?

Do you think your travel experiences have had a direct impact on your political affiliations or sidings?

Update from Nomadderwhere

Photo on 2010-07-18 at 16.20

Photo on 2010-07-18 at 16.20

Delicious culinary concoctions, kooky Midwestern weather, biking through town and heat advisories, cinematic adventures and writing deep thoughts; this was my week. In some minute ways, the world seemed to stand on its head for me this week. I watched one Shakespearean themed movie...and finally understood them. My cat, whom is far from a lap pet, sought comfort in my bosom during an overhead thunderstorm. Wow, that was all that really stood on its head. My life this month isn't all that exciting! I guess that's what happens when you dumb your life down to a few elements and hope they function at their peak: cooking, writing, and summoning creative energy.

This week, I upped my game and pumped out a slew of content. Applaud me, why don'tcha?

I only have one more week of exploring the town of 11,000 of my upbringing, and I plan on soaking up the solitude with every molecule of my being. I visit daily locations I haven't experienced since my middle school days and am beginning to wonder if my quarter-life crisis is approaching early with an emphasis on the past rather than a fear for my future. Eh, I know I'm going to be alright. But am I the same person I was when I was four? These are the thoughts of this pickled mind...

And in case you like helping me out: I'm doing a little research on South Korea and Taiwan this week and would love some expert help on where to go and what to see, along with important facets of both cultures and histories!

Video of the Week: The Challenge Edition (Webcam)

Traveling creates a lifestyle of constant challenges, which then facilitate self-discovery and, in turn, happiness. This week, I report from my post alone in northern Indiana to ask you: how would you challenge yourself with a home experiment that would simulate the effects of travel?

Notes from this week's Video of the Week:

  • I continue to get back to the basics by concentrating on a few key things: cooking, physical activity, and expression.

  • Challenge for you: What would your month-long self-discovery experiment be?

Video of the Week: Seclusion Musings (Webcam)

My Wabash abode

After one successful week of relative seclusion in northern Indiana, I've got some thoughts to share - musings, if you will. Your feedback is strongly encouraged.

Notes from this week's video:

  • Musing #1: Reinvention

    • Have you ever become a person you don't recognize?

    • Do you take advantage of the easy opportunity for reinvention when traveling?

  • Musing #2: Anonymity

    • How does your anonymous presence on the road affect your attitude, behavior, mind, etc.?

    • Have you experienced the overfamiliarity of the small town or close-knit region? How does this change your state of mind or activity?

  • Musing #3: Constant Travel

    • Is re-experiencing your own town/city as valuable a teaching opportunity as perusing a new place in another country?

    • If home travel is considered "travel," where is the line drawn between travel and not? What differentiates the two?

Video of the Week: Summer Seclusion Project (Webcam)

Haven't seen one of these in a while, huh? A video of the week or a webcam special. I finally got my act together! Enjoy.

Notes from this week's video:

  • ProjectExplorer.org is in post-production stateside after a fantastic filming session in Mexico.

  • I'm moving out of my parent's house for a month for some seclusion in my hometown.

  • I have four goals for the month of July.

  • Crank out stellar videos, images, and work for ProjectExplorer.org

  • Write personal travel narratives in hopes of publishing or at least having them for myself.

  • Learn how to cook basic vegetarian meals well. I don't know how veggies are supposed to taste. Sad.

  • Enjoy my hometown for the first summer in a decade and reap the benefits of relative seclusion from distraction.

  • It's time to reformat/redesign Nomadderwhere, just like I did last September. A lot has changed in my life and path, and my website needs to reflect that.

Wrapping it Up at Home

The Lager of the Netherlands washes the fresh-made guacamole down my hungry trap as a Hoosier sunset falls on my face one last time. I embark tomorrow at noon thirty for the coolest experience of my life. Soon, I'll see my brother and his wife one last time pre-parenthood and make one last attempt to get fit with my trainer. Meanwhile I shove my face with tortilla chips and sit on my rear-end typing to you.

What have I been doing this week?

Finishing the Big Journey blogs

According to my blog coverage from last year, I am still traveling back in time from Tokyo to Hawaii, crossing the International Date Line on November 17th. Yes, according to my flight times on that trip, I arrived in my destination before I boarded the plane! Trippy, huh.

Well, I'm making sure I don't forget any of those rare and exciting moments by forgetting to document them thanks to the WTI commencement. I hope some day to make those stories into a full-fledged book, so I can't afford to miss the last destination out of redirected priorities. Tonight, my friends, will be the last time I blog about the Big Journey. And then I will be ready for the next step.

Giving Away Clothes

For some reason, I gather this minimalist mindset either before or after I travel. I adore the idea that when I get home, I'll have nothing but what I hauled across the world, all salted with sweat and grit from my adventures. This week, I took a massive bag to my closet and gave away many prized possessions. I have one pair of pants hanging on the racks in there. Rut row...but it just feels so darn good.

Shopping

Got me a sleep sack to stay all clean and warm! Got me some water filtration tabs so I don't get intestinal parasites again! Got me a swimsuit that actually constitutes as a two piece (I've worn tankinis for a decade, but the way I wear them, they ain't no two pieces!). I'm rarin' to go.

Being a Kitty Mama

After "mothballing" car insurance and warning banks about my globe-trotting, I thought I'd give my lady feline a little check-up before I head outta here. She checked out all fine and dandy, and I had a whale of a good time carrying her in there like an African mother (with a sarong strapped around my back). Frankly, I was a bit surprised she had no issues, because she's been bringing live chipmunks to the door for three days in a row. Not so odd when you realize this coincides with her strict diet.

Where yat? My house, that's where

I have some really cool friends that I'm going to miss (family, too). So, I invited them all over last night for a small soiree infiltrated with the smells and tastes of my favorite restaurant, Yat's. It was a hit, even for those who had already eaten upon arrival. I made it a point to serve all the foods and drinks I miss on the road. Guacamole was a must. As were an assortment of Mexican lagers. And then there was the consensus to pull out the Clark family videos. I tell ya, we know how to live that Vida Loca. They sent me off to see the world with laughs and a slightly stronger liver. Thanks, friends. I'll see ya when I see ya.

There's an incredibly strong chance I won't sleep tonight. And who really could. I'm meeting a being called Chris Danner tomorrow at Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport, whom will be my ultimate travel companion for two and a half months. Let's do this.

Pack that Back Up

The poll's closing at 5pm EST today, one which determines my packing philosophy for this summer adventure. Vote one last time or comment on my packing list thus far! I want you to be a part of the STA intern experience, which is the only thing compelling me to leave such important decisions in your hands. Some other advice I've gotten for this pre-departure crunch time via my friends on Twitter:

jliamquinn @nomadderwhere TIP: Scan a copy of your passport and email it to yourself and a family member. This way you have a copy if you loose it!

feleciacruz @nomadderwhere just read this...mostly obvious, but some diffs... http://www.travelblogs.com/articles/18-things-you-dont-need-on-your-packing-list

jliamquinn @nomadderwhere TIP: International ATM's often offer the best conversion rates and with little or no fee's. (see your bank for details)

jliamquinn @nomadderwhere Be sure to alert your bank about traveling abroad.

Boy-o-boy, I leave tomorrow. Gimme some advice before I go! I'm much obliged…

Written in the Star

I feel incredibly privileged to be a featured person in the Indianapolis Star. After an hour long interview and photo shoot a couple months ago, this article brought me great joy with its final materialization on Sunday, also race day in Indianapolis.

Sitting on the top of a Parking Garage

Sitting on the top of a Parking Garage

I was sitting in a lawn chair, cold beer perched in my camera-case-turned-koozie, hearing Indy cars zoom behind me, when my parents forwarded the link to the piece online. Reading the whole thing while sitting there amongst the thousands of fans at an event that was integral to my WTI success (see video)...it was all so smile-inducing.

The article takes the form of a Q & A, just as the interview did. The responses, now not just in my head but in print around central Indiana, reminded me of the excitement I find in this travel game (not that I needed the memo) and why I do it.

I'm hoping to open minds, and being from a city where the travel section comes out but once a week in a small, hidden section of the paper, I hope to connect to many at home that may have the misconception of "scary, expensive travel" and not "mind-boggling, self-defining, gorgeous, inspiring, life-changing travel."

Big expectations. Big dreams. A big summer. We doin' big thangs, whodi.

Home Court Attention

From '04 to '08, I was fortunate enough to have at my disposal (and for free, might I add) one of the nation's leading student newspapers. Though these papers litter the IU campus daily, left under desks in Ballantine Hall and sometimes coating atrium floors with their glossy weekend section, a large portion of the Bloomington campus reads this publication with regularity.

I'm not one to enjoy constant updates of the Hoosier backetball team, but I liked reading scattered interest stories, the Associated Press world updates, and doing the crossword while my teachers were getting settled before class.

Today was quite thrilling to see an article in the Indiana Daily Student about my World Traveler Intern endeavors. The turnover between interview and publication was speedy, and I hope this exposure means a larger audience for both the internship and my beloved site. Check out the article, written by Ashley Bornancin, by clicking the excerpt below.

As for planning out her trips, Clark said she let her instincts take her to where she wanted to go and made some decisions by tossing a coin.

WTI Basic Training: Day Two

Day One's lack of roughness was rectified last night, Day/Night Two, with a wee hour rain storm that had me waking every hour to see if I was lying in a pile of water. Without stakes to pull my fly away from the tent walls, it was somewhat of a waiting game, but all was successful by morning, and I awoke once more with that fresh feeling one can only get after sleeping outdoors.

After one successful night of "bush" camping, I decided to turn it up a smidgeon and incorporate some more factors to toughen up my travelin' image. And since food is essential to life, travel, and survival in the wilderness, I took on a segment called "Bush" Camp Cuisine. Here are important things to remember when eating outdoors:

  • Never put food in your tent. I once had a monkey approach my tent with crazy eyes as he watched me eat a banana. I threw it at him and zipped up fast.

  • Avoid high maintenance foods that require lots of preparation. Remember those hobo meals of hamburger meat and veggies in aluminum foil from summer camp? That's just a little slice, dice, and season. Delish.

  • Meals that require lots of condiments to be good are a pain. No one wants to be the guy who carries the Costco sized ketchup and dijon mustard up the mountain...and risk their tents to ant armies.

  • It's easiest to avoid foods that need refrigeration. Sadly, Italian gelato just doesn't pack well for an afternoon hike.

  • Help yourself by using light-weight camping flatware and utensils; a clean pocket knife works wonders instead of bringing your best steak knives.

  • Try not to drink lots of liquids or libations as midnight bathroom breaks could be lethal. I once pitched a tent fifteen feet off the ground in an open camp. At night hippos and elephants would walk under the tent's platform and graze, and I decided against imbibing at the bar that night in order to avoid the awful situation of a bathroom break amongst territorial African mammoths.

Day Three may be exponentially more challenging with the constant rainfall and thunderstorms in Indianapolis today. Chances are my move to open the solid flaps in my tent to get fresh air in there has brought in the floods. The babbling brook (a.k.a. the storm drain in the backyard) will be a torrent tonight and may carry me away from my spot near the tulips.

Wouldn't that be sad...if these rains kept you all from learning how I pack for a bush camp experience or even an unspeakable lesson in "bush" squatting? Let's keep our tough and callused fingers crossed. Day Three...TBD.

WTI Basic Training: Day One

I'm sleeping in my backyard. Why? Because I've been a nancy for months. Last year I slept in bus stations hunched over my bags with 100 other women and kids. Exercise was sought by running for trains and trekking in inappropriate sports wear at 16,000 feet. Where did that grit and toughness go? This week, I'm breaking out of the suburban mold for my future this summer as a travelin' intern. This is my attempt to roughen up like my days in the African bush...minus the wild buffalo staring contests...add the potential for coyote encounters...multiply the opportunities to use proper facilities...divide the free time to be distributed either pumping iron at the club or nannying down the street. Wild, huh.

Last night, I rolled into my beautiful Coleman with three thick sleeping bags from Grandma's closet and an oversize stuffed dog for a pillow...just like the sleeping accommodations on safari. I brought out all my essentials on that long hike to my tent: my travel book, the biggest jacket I could find, and one of my most trusted travel tools...MELATONIN.

This is serious. If I were to bring just a few things on the road, that short list would include this natural sleep enhancer for its amazing ability to induce authentic and fulfilling sleep against the odds of bush sounds, jetlag, and snoring hostel dorm sleepers. Maletonin, go getcha some.

Anyway, after throwing on my George Costanza Gore-tex and fluffy down socks, I snuggled up with my Bryson, knowing fully well there was nothing "rough" about this experience, other than hearing barking dogs and lawn mowers before the alarm goes off in the morning. And with a quick brushing of the teeth, without water mind you...and spitting in my Mom's flowers, I was fresh and revitalized from an evening amidst nature.

It was an interesting experiment. Made me want to take backyard "bush" camping to new levels.

And so I will tonight on day two. This time I'm covering some interesting topics, such as cooking in the "bush" and maybe more.