November 27, 2009

My Awesome New Backpack

Uh oh. Product placement! It was bound to happen sooner or later: the corporate world eclipsed the blogosphere long ago, so let's all deal with it. Furthermore, congress and the FCC now want us bloggers to fess up about who pays them to post funny pictures and anecdotes at 3 AM. So this is me coming clean...

Nobody pays me to blog. Not here. This is my own personal site and although I write for half a dozen blogs that do pay me, this one is where I get to say whatever I want however I want (which is the real purpose of a blog). I am still cash poor but travel rich.

However, maybe I have some stuff that I LIKE and I wanna talk about it. Like how I just got a new backpack that is pretty cool (Noobody is paying me to say that either).

I got this backpack for work, since I am now officially a "contributing editor" at National Geographic Traveler and am about to do a lot more contributing and (hopefully) a lot less editing. My new pack is still a newborn--without a crease or knife hole or spilled drink stain on it--just begging to be taken out into the world and fulfill it's purpose of carrying stuff on my back. Which is precisely my intention as I pack it full this afternoon for it's maiden voyage to an undisclosed location on the other side of the world that perhaps rhymes with Zoo Kneeland.

So, specs you ask? Without being tested, the National Geographic Earth Explorer Backpack is loved by me for the following reasons:

1: It's HUGE. I like packing light, but this is gonna fit all my blogging gear without getting bulky.
2: It's not TOO huge. Just like Goldilocks, I find the size just right. (One of my BIG pet peeves are naive backpackers seen clamoring around Europe with backpacks that are large enough to smuggle illegal immigrants in. As if that's not enough, these poor gap year kids where an additional front pack and stagger around like top-heavy zombies, just begging to be tipped.)
3: It's got one million and one pockets. So it's gonna be like having my desk on the road.
4: It has a padded, hidden slot for my laptop.
5: The internal compartments are all detachable, so I can custom build my pack to carry what I want in there.
6: It has a rain cover that bags up the whole thing in one swoop and keeps everything dry.

So, I'm gonna test it out over the Christmas holiday before I actually start using it for my first big work assignment, which is gonna be pretty nifty. If it turns out the backpack sucks then I'll make sure to let you know, although I'm already feeling a little attached to it and wanna just decorate it to death. Or give it a name.

November 26, 2009

Pit Stop: Québec

Rampant travelers often get jaded by their journeys--fast. It's an easy phenomenon, for business travelers and backpackers. Spend enough time on the road and it can all start looking and feeling all the same.

Is the antidote to merely stop traveling? No way. The antidote is to keep keeping it interesting. Which is precisely why I agreed to go from sunny Tahiti to frozen northern Québec in a snap. I arrived in Canada bundled up in a coat and scarf, a little tired and a little excited. I like Canada--always have--and have a special affinity for Québec.

Within two hours of arriving, I found myself in the back chapel of a local church, where the local women's choir was practicing a medley of French carols for their upcoming Christmas concert. The voices were heavenly and made me happy to be listening. For me, this is the very best kind of travel--to drop in out of nowhere and immediately discover the place that you are in.

I was in Québec all of two days and now I am home, decompresing and packing for my next big adventure, which is rather BIG.

November 23, 2009

Hawaiki Nui Va'a

This month has been full of all things Tahiti. Although I like to think my skills are better in the written form, the world demands video. To that end, from the three or four hours of HD video I shot of the great Hawaiki Nui Va'a outrigger canoe race, I cobbled together this two-minute clip. It's impossible to portray the adrenalin and exhaustion that is evident in this epic, three-day event, but this is my short and sweet version of exactly that. Expect future video as I continue to experiment.

November 16, 2009

Tahiti Dream

Just back from Tahiti which was truly a dream. Sometimes sunny, sometimes overcast, always exotic. Friendly, warm, lush and green. I spent the first four days hopping from island to island in pursuit of the world's largest outrigger canoe race. Then I spent two days exploring the islands of Tahiti and Moorea, which are absolutely dissimilar. I enjoyed every minute of it and fell in love with French Polynesia (which I already was). That said, this trip has given me the weirdest jet lag I think I've ever experienced--not falling asleep until 3 or 4 in the morning sleeping in until 10 AM. Not good.

You can read some of my Tahiti coverage over at Gadling where I have started blogging this month. It's a great site related to all things travel staffed by hilarious fellow writers and travelers. I'm also going to be doing some video of the race, so stay tuned.

A big thanks to all the great people in Tahiti who made my voyage interesting and exciting. Mauruuru to you and you and you!

November 7, 2009

Parlez-Moi de la Polynesie

I'm in French Polynesia this week, following the great Hawaiki Nui Va'a outrigger canoe race, darting from island to island witnessing the incredible human strength and endurance on display. It's very, very hot, very sunny, and very exciting. It's odd to always dream about some faraway destination--a whole lifetime of dreaming, considering, wondering, longing for, and imagining a place, and then to suddenly find oneself there, in the middle of the bright blue sea and pinching myself to make sure that it's for real. Well, here I am, and it's real and beautiful. As always, I wish I had more time to explore but I am making the most of Tahiti regardless.

November 2, 2009

Farewell Utah

Spent the last week in Utah Valley, catching up with some family and visiting my beloved Alma Mater, the BYU. Visiting Utah brings back great memories of childhood summer vacations, college antics and promenades in the great outdoors. It's also a significant piece of my personal geography, so it was good to touch base. I love watching the Wasatch mountains changing from snow to no snow, from green to red to brown to white. It was also a blast visiting my little nieces and nephew.

And so, just as I was getting used to the cool mountain air and random snowstorms, I am off again, this time headed west . . . and fairly far south. Clue: I packed my winter coat at the bottom of my suitcase.