Jephir Treks America: Bumbling Through Central America

A 6 week adventure in gastronomica, sights, and observation.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

that's us

that's us
Originally uploaded by jephir.
So here's a photo of Z and me - another post tme when all the eys on the eyboard wor.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Road Trip Rules

Day 2 of working the overnight shift has taken it's toll on my mind, so I figured I would just post some of our roadtrip maxims. These are intended to give our trip a structural backbone so that we don't get mired down in a situation unnecessarily and also to avoid some normal roadtrip pitfalls by planning ahead. The overarching themes are sustainability (of our roadtrip and the planet) and slow, luxurious motion.

1. Balance fun, principles and worthwhile sacrifice.
Optimally it would be 13 parts fun, 5 parts principle, 2 parts worthwhile sacrifice.

2. Keep moving!
Don't stop for more than 3 days in any one spot.

3. Don't move too fast...
Don't travel more than 200 miles in a day. This is intended to save money on gas, wear and tear on our bodies and frankly, I don't think there's any stretch of highway which has more than 200 miles without something worth stopping for, even if it's nothing at all.

4. Do not pay more than $1/night for "housing."
Hopefully we'll accomplish this through worktrades, bartering, camping, sleeping in Z's truckbed, in the truck itself, in between rows of corn or parks. Having spent 3 weeks finding shelter within a tent on the side of the road I'm pretty confident we won't have too much trouble, although I've never dealt with a car before.

5. Eat only in locally owned restaurants - preferably not chains.
The first part is pretty clear - that whole think globally, act locally idea. Why have your food come from the other side of the country? It's almost always pre-cooked, pre-frozen and generally standardized to appeal to the lowest common denominator, which is probably why it's all so damn sweet and salty and fatty (not that there's anything wrong with that). With a bit more effort (or at least the ability to abstain from the allure of convenience) one can find something much more likely to have food from local farms, to exhibit a bit more creativity and possibly even taste spectacular. As to the issue of eating in chains, that's a discussion for another day.

6. Ask for free/discounted things continuously.
This is a shout out to my friend Marybeth, who often asks for free stuff and gets something with surprising frequency. If you don't ask you'll never know - my personal favorite is asking the disgruntled service industry worker. They're easy.

7. Ask for recipes/methods from things we like.
Who knows? Maybe sometime soon we'll have the Jephir Treks America Cookbook!

8. Cook our own food as often as possible or necessary (due to a rule #5 disqualification of all available restaurants).

I think that's about it for right now, off to count some money and then learn a little espanol.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


So I'm in the middle of my first overnight shift here at the hostel in Sam Diego. Quiet and generally enjoyable, other than knowing that it's 3:30 a.m. and I'm not scheduled to sleep until this afternoon after my next Spanish class.

Where's Zephir? That's a good question - she's got a job which involves a bit more "work" than mine does, so I wouldn't expect any of her haiku-esce writing until after the middle of September.

Currently I'm in liquidation mode. Any and all of my non-portable worldly possessions are going the way of craigslist and ebay. Motorcycle, hammock, climbing stuff, even a few extra cameras which won't get much use.

In other news, I'm thinking about trying to put together a T-shirt design to sell/barter for our trip around the states which will hopefully help to provide funding and reward goodwill as we crawl throughout the northern midwest.

A return to the world of the eternal news cycle has been a bit of a shock. To listen to the allegations levelled by each presidential campaign is to realize how the method of campaigning has overshadowed the actual issues of this campaign - the future of healthcare in this country, the state of our social security system and where education sits in our priorities (if people who are educated tend to support themselves, then why don't we put more effort into educating them upfront - think of it as the R & D aspect of governing well). But seeing as how those isssues aren't of much import when one can be debating leadership styles and what people did 20-25 years ago, I might as well spend some time on campaign finance reform. I've been putting some thought into 527s and the larger goal of campaign finance reform as of late - I'll try to dig up some of the movement's original goals and get back to people about how things are actually turning out.

Otherwise, I'm pretty excited about the upcoming trip. Unlike days past when anxiety has swamped me before a cross country trek, the days only bring more excitement. Probably since I'll be back to footloose and fancy free in a way I've been dreaming of for months now (I think from the moment Zephir arrived my days in Sam Diego were numbered). The other reason is that I can't wait to explore places like Nebraska's Oglala Grasslands, a place that sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel. Here's a link to a less than spectacular website:

Then there's the Niobrara River, which is a canoist's dream:

Of course, it'll probably be freakin' frigid by that point, so we'll see what happens... well, I've blabbed enough at this point, back to folding laundry. JM

Monday, August 23, 2004

back in the land of eternal sunshine...

Well, a week of 50 degree weather in the North Woods of Wisconsin was enough to have me smiling when I returned to sunny, sunny sam diego in one piece. Nothing quite as exhilirating as the eastern approach to sam diego's airport - you cruise along about 100 yards above the city for 3-4 miles. Other fun sights included the Grand Canyon and the Salton Sea, that oasis of pickled bird shit.

Anyway, I know I just started doing this, but no promises to have much up and running the next few weeks - work, spanish, more work and packing/selling my random shit will probably take up most of my time. Then again, I'm going to be working the night shift, so I'll have Z do some posting and then I'll respond with what I can come up with - still haven't really defined this weblog yet, eh? Maybe that's a task for the next couple of weeks. Rules of the road will be up sometime soon, but they still need some tweeking.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Mad. dia numero dos...

Haven't much to say, but here's a link to the botanical gardens 3 miles from the Madison hostel:

off to lacrosse!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Madison, sort of...

Well, just arrived in Madison, WI. Have to say that although I had quite a few expectations due to my enjoyable stay about a year ago I have yet to be disappointed - who needs a city on a hill when the city by the lake is so beautiful? The plane ride was generally uneventful, if quite full given the fact that it was a redeye flight. Got to sleep on the first flight to Chi-town, a bit more in the freezing United terminal at O'Hare and then didn't realize the plane had left before we landed. Madison has a rather funny bus system - seems to have few problems, but people were taking the bus for 10-15 blocks! Perhaps they were cold, given the 50 degree temperatures that greeted me when I left the terminal. After a little mucking about I checked into the hostel without trouble and had an enjoyable discussion over some green tea with another hosteller of the type who both inspires and frightens me. I find guys like Scott inspiring since he appears to travel around with relative impunity, frightening because I wonder if I would appear as crazy and oddly lonely if I were living a similar life.
After some pretzels I wandered to a local bike shop which is located within a castle (why a castle? nobody seemed to know - it was as if they hadn't noticed the spires and archways). For $20 I received this odd gary fischer hybrid bike where you sit upright but ride on roadbike tires and have a front suspension system. Muy interesante, no? Followed some of the bikepaths and ended up in the middle of the arboreteum. Here are some thoughts from a deserted pathway:

It's amazing what a year in SoCal does to the senses - you arrive in a city on a lake, with relatively clean air and trees which aren't artificially supported through watering and you're simply astounded at the abundance of life, the green which appears to be everywhere and the wonder of being esconced in life. The UW - Madison Arboreteum strives to recreate native communities of life rather than focus upon individual specimens. The result is a proliferance of life throughout, from the songbirds which encroach as I write to the field of 6' tall wild grasses interspersed with wildflowers. One can feel the energy of this place throughout, like waves rolling softly, constantly onto shore.

more tomorrow?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Getting Started....

This is me dipping a toe into the blogging universe.

This blog goes out to all those people I gave my url to and decided to check out what I've put up so far.