Jephir Treks America: Bumbling Through Central America

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

Sunday, September 26, 2004

It's a vision thing....

When travelling far and wide, one should have a coherent vision. Rules are great, but without the ability to think beyond the tip of one's nose, there's little one can accomplish.

To be honest, at the moment I think both of us are a little less than prepared in this department. I'm bogged down by the need to study spanish and Zephir appears to be experiencing the natural changes that accompany any return to the homeland. The effects upon both of us include the diminishing of vision (see above photo;), the apparent importance of activities which prove inconsequential once on the road.

I think it is this freedom from those conventional trappings that continually draw me back to travel in one form or another. To avoid the normal pitfalls of our consumer lifestyle (think of hammocks, motorcycles and other toys) requires a continual vigilance once one settles down for more than a couple of weeks. Alternatively, when travelling (especially for extended periods of time) such extravagance (or is it merely comfort?) becomes impossible. It's impossible to travel without becoming an ultralighter in spirit (if not in fact)...

but they shut down the cafe and i head home...

Those little buggers get you every time...

Our ultimate destination?

This little girl's birthday party. Cecatae, daughter of Shauntell, master of cuteness, drew us about 1000 miles for her birthday. Can you blame us?

A day of blueberry cheesecake, swingsets and presents made the trip more than worthwhile.

Then again, it helped that Boulder was on our way...

...but where isn't?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Zephir in loaded truck

Zephir in loaded truck
Originally uploaded by jephir.

And... we (were) off!

Over the course of our trip the tarp managed to shred into a thousand pieces, but nothing flew away.

Sounds like a fairytale if you ask me.

In other news, didn't sleep enough last night (hence rather silly posts), been studying plenty of spanish and went dumpster diving for rolls last night. Where? Belgium Bakery, Boulder CO - in case you're in the mood for a day-old croissant (pronounced, cWa-sant, for all you Amaracains out there)

Last night in Sam Diego

Typical Sam Diego relationship
Originally uploaded by jephir.

Well, let me tell you - twas quite the crazy evening.

As you might have guessed from this photo.

Last full day in Sam Diego

One of the reasons not to leave Sam Diego
Originally uploaded by jephir.

Nothing quite like a trip to Black's Beach to evoke memories and make you wonder if leaving is such a good idea. That is, nothing like the occasional naked man wandering around the beach to make you wonder if maybe it's time to resume packing...

Monday, September 20, 2004

Zephir prepares for our desert journey

Zephir prepares for our desert journey
Originally uploaded by jephir.

Won't you be glad when we leave this room? That's a five gallon jug, if you were wondering.

So much to say, very little time to say it.

Back to espanol...

Zephir practices her hitchin' skills

Zephir practices her hitchin' skills
Originally uploaded by jephir.

Note the 501 Spanish Verbs text on the bed.

We're studying.


Z prepares for our trip

Z prepares for our trip
Originally uploaded by jephir.

One of Zephir's new travelling outfits.

We're currently in CO, but I'm catching up on posts that should have been. Hope you don't mind.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

And we're off!! (sort of)

Still packing... said goodbye to some friendly folks from sam diego who'll appear here once time allows.

Damn you Monctezuma.

I created a poem for you last night:

My downtrodden bottom
Is clenched with despair
At all of the food
That flies through it's hair.

It misses the sunshine
The occasional breeze
While living on porcelain
And trying to sneeze

Not a poet I am, so said Jeff one day.

Off to Boulder! Pics upon arrival, if not sooner!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Rules of the Road (part dux)

(For those of you unfamiliar with our first installment, swing by Rules of the Road part 1)

Again I write all wacked out due to lack of sleep. 3 hours yesterday due to warm weather, ping pong and excessive amounts of caffeine. Here we go...

9. Know your sources - at least when it comes to food.
Purchase, find, or, as Che' would put it, appropriate as many groceries as possible from farms, farmer's markets and food co-ops.

10. It's called revolving debt for a reason...
Taking our cues from the lack of fiscal responsibility by our current president, we shall not bother ourselves with balancing a budget. Why pay now when there are fewer people to tax in the future? Maybe we'll just try to rehabilitate some oil fields for spare cash - that worked, didn't it?

11. Detours are the destination.
What's luxury without a bit of eye candy? It's important to note that possible points of interest include the Corn Palace (Mitchell, SD), microbreweries, decent coffeeshops and all of Nebraska. (you think I'm kidding, don't you - just wait for the pictures)

12. Keep in mind our time frame so as to avoid breaking rules 2 & 3.
Aaaah, and you're wondering what the hell our timeframe is. Frankly, so are we.

13. Gleefully cross and recross border.
Geese fly south for the winter. Fools make for the north pole. And in between? Flip-floppers like us searching for aforementioned fools (see rule #16).

14. Update weblog at least every 3 days.
For all our adoring fans. In lieu of email. And phone calls. Oooh yeah, I knew I liked this Internet thingy.

15. Spend at least 1 hour/day writing and documenting.
Comes naturally to some people. Others need a bit more prompting. Pairs nicely with rule #14.

16. Spread the word about UnoTraveler.
Hey you! Click on that link! Over there! (other methods of coercion will include magnets, stickers, spray paint, words from our mouths, body paint, and that staple of our current war on terror, duct tape (don't ask).

17. Experience Organic Farming
But what is experience?

18. Investigate metaphysical topics without coming to any kind of solution.
See rule #17. Also, this fella.

19. Abandon any rule which throws off rule #1, especially rule #1.
This rule has been preemptively applied to the following rules:
Rule # 63. Participate in weekly annoy-a-thons, preferably when in the car or over-tired.
Rule # 1,028. Put "flame retardant" to the test.
Rule # 109. Whenever the situation arises, rape the horses and ride off on the women.

Enough silliness. Back to Dr. Seuss tributes.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Outback, feelin' bad...

Tonight I encountered another reason to avoid those chain restaurants everyone in America seems to enjoy so much when they're away from home. Today, after wandering around Fry's Electronics for the better part of 2 hours, Z and I had another craving for beef. Lately we've been consuming fairly large quantities of carbohydrates and veggies. A standard breakfast has consisted of the following:

brown rice
chopped avocado
dipping sauce (soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and sambal sauce)

Needless to say, my body whines for protein until my imagination is overcome by the need for bovine satisfaction.

Yesterday we visited Hodad's, "Home of the World's Best Burger." We were summarily unimpressed. While Hodad's has mastered the art of presenting a rather pretty burger-in-a-basket, the overall experience isn't the greatest.

For starters, the add-ons, which include mayo, mustard, ketchup, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and onion, invariably explode in one's hands due to the phoenix-esce presentation. The burger comes wrapped in yellow paper with all the fixin's display, a flowering of food which invites you to dig in. I once worked with a chef who used to say that people needed to "eat with their eyes." While that's a helpful motto, if you can't get the food into your mouth then the only one eating will be your eyes. The typical progression goes like this: patron picks up burger package, takes a tentative nibble, an emboldened bite and while going in for the kill watches the burger's best imitation of Old Faithful. Several reconstructions later I wondered why it hadn't been served with a knife and fork.

But the real bummer involves the meat itself. Everyone knows the standard sequence of ordering a hamburger at your diner. It goes something like this:

Waitress: Howdy Peaches, what can I get for you two tonight?
Smiling Patron: I'll take the deluxe bacon cheeseburger plate with cheese fries and extra butter on the side.
S.P. #2: I'll take the same, thanks.
Waitress: Fantastic! Oh, Sugar, how would you like that ground cow cooked?
Smiling Patron: I'll take it walked by the fire. You know, rare, just like me.
S.P. #2: I prefer mine tasteless due to time over the fire. You know, well-done, just like me.

Now let's try Hodad's:

Surfer dude: What'd ya like this fine evening?
Me: Double cheeseburger, please, with all the fixings.
Zephir: Double bacon cheeseburger. Hold the mayo, mustard, ketchup, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes.
Surfer dude: Whoa, that's like all meat! Anyway, coming right up!

Notice anything different? In your local diner, you are given little choice in one arena (fixings) and a great deal of choice in another (amount of heat applied to meat) whereas at Hodad's the exact opposite is true. Now I'm all for stacking all kinds of things on a burger (at Fatburger you can get an egg on top - nothing's better) - it IS a sandwich of sorts. However, to serve everyone medium-well burgers negates the whole idea of going to a burger joint. These guys are supposed to be experts, right? When you think about it though, it makes sense - if you only have to tell someone how to cook meat to one particular standard then there's a hell of a lot less training involved. To that end, if every plate is a variation of the same burger patty then kitchen setup can be vastly different - everyone on the grill just puts out burgers of one size or another, but always with the same doneness.

Now, I don't want to downplay what it's like to eat at Hodad's. You can sit in half a VW bug, watch the tatooed residents of OB sidle up to the 12' surfboard and drink beer out of canning jars. It's just sad when a place specializes in something but doesn't do it very well. In Hodad's case, I think people love the burgers because for someone who likes a fairly well cooked burger, these are probably the juiciest they've ever had due to the variety of veggies and condiments that ride between burger and bun.

Oh well, guess I'll have to push my Outback review back until tomorrow... Seems this review was about a local restaurant, rather than some corporate chain - I never claimed everything local was spectacular, although it tends to be a bit more interesting, if not flavorful on its own.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Slight close up

Slight close up
Originally uploaded by jephir.

This is a good representation of my normal mindset.

Zephir layout

Zephir layout
Originally uploaded by jephir.
You can't really tell, but Z's actually playing one of the most intense games of ultimate frisbee I've ever seen.

Aaah, nothing like free time and a digital camera...

Bean escaping to the kitchen

Bean escaping to the kitchen
Originally uploaded by jephir.
Zephir engages herself by stealing some of the pre-cooked (see: raw) greena beanas.

Sweat stains

Sweat stains
Originally uploaded by jephir.
You may not believe this, but I actually break into a sweat when answering the phone. Hence my abhorrence of cellophones - walking sweat stains, one and all.

Cabin fever sets in

Cabin fever sets in
Originally uploaded by jephir.
Seeing as how these pictures were taken over the course of a three day span we never left our room (for how else is one to acclimitize to the new atmospheric conditions?), it's pretty understandable that I might make such a face.