A Travellerspoint blog

Who, What, Where, Why, When?

by Marisa

overcast

One of the questions we get asked the most is, “Why/ how did you decide to do this?” There are also a bunch of other questions we get asked 10 - 20 times a day but we’ll leave those for the FAQ entry in the works. We each have our own journeys that brought us to this new adventure, Izzy shared his in the very first blog. Here’s my story with a little bit our story too…

Maureen has been one of my best friends since 6th grade. She was my exact opposite in many ways but we we’ve always been kindred spirits. After high school Maureen took off for Europe by herself with a little backpack and no money. Although I had hit the road with her before (running away with the Pearl Jam on tour when we were 16!), I was too scared to join her overseas. She made it back in one piece and it inspired me, opening my horizons to what you can do with very little more than a dream. I always regretted being brave enough to go with her.

Maureen with her baby daughter last month
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The decade after high school was filled with wonderful experiences and the living out of many dreams. I lived on an Ashram in Mexico for eight years – working in the initiation and running of a really unique and beautiful Yoga school and Orphanage along with an incredible staff of dedicated volunteers. It was a highly intense growth experience that required a lot of internal exploration / contemplation. All that I learned and experienced those years continues to inspire me every day. I can’t even put into words what those years meant to me.

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Last January I was desperately missing the fulfillment that austere Ashram life and full-time service work had brought. I wanted to broaden my personal experience and life perspective before establishing myself in a job, relationship, commitments and long-term responsibilities. I wanted to strengthen myself by challenging my comfort zones and throw myself into a life where I’d have to have deep unwavering faith in God, humanity and myself in order to make it. In a way I felt like it was time to travel to the same extent “externally” as I had “internally” over the last few years. I decided to volunteer around the world.

A few weeks later I heard about the Bagavagabonds “Pop Art Explosion” – a multimedia art show fundraiser that encourages people to unleash their inner creativeness and DO ART. They were collecting the works of artists and amateurs alike to auction for charity. I created a piece for the show and submitted it. That is when I met the official Bagavagabond “curator” and do-it-all Renaissance man, Izzy.

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A month after meeting Izzy and two weeks into dating I knew we were “riding off into the sunset” and figured I better find out if he was interested in coming with me before getting too serious. It was a risk and I was a little nervous. If he didn’t want to go with me then there would be no point in getting closer, but if he said yes then we would already be planning a world trip together – a little scary. Going with my gut, I asked him if he was interested in going with me. Initially he didn’t believe I was serious! I could tell from his reaction that he would go though (once he realized I wasn’t kidding). In a way I think bringing up my plans so early was a test to see if he was for me… he definitely passed!

I was a little worried that it was nuts planning something like this so early on and I didn’t want our trip to depend on our relationship (that would be a lot of pressure!), so we made a pact. If we were still together when we left for the trip we would go together, if not we would go anyway – separately and on different dates. I think we both knew the pact wasn’t necessary, but it was a good smart backup plan.

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So here we are – we made it! We started dating last February, a year after my return from Mexico. Life is amazing, all the twists, turns and surprises. Sometimes I wonder if the decision to take this journey is what set the forces into motion that crossed our two paths. As our departure date nears it amazes me to think that just one year ago I could have never imagined my life as it is today. What a difference a year can make!

Posted by triptime 00:33 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

BV Powers Collide

by Izzy

69 °F
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It has been brought to my attention that I have not yet defined the word "Bagavagabonds." I apologize. Hopefully this will help clear some things up...

Bagavagabonds, (n.) An all-around collective art gang based out of Los Angeles, CA, who pride themselves on; friendship/brotherhood, upping the anti, creating creatively, partying until they split their pants, licking, sticking and then pushing the envelope all while digging deeper into the fields of film, theater, music and art. Other contributing characteristics of this motley group includes; outdoor excursions, athletic endeavors and sailing the seven seas - Sir Francis Drake adorns all "BV" attire and is the founding father of the troupe.

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Now with a better understanding, I shall continue...

Before we left Moab, I had received a text from fellow Bagavagabond, roommate, best friend and "heterosexual life-partner" Eli Thomas informing us that he and Matt "Matter" Seigel would be in Denver for the next three nights (followed by a quick stint in Tulsa, OK with a few of the other BV faithfuls who were all on the road doing what they do on the Antics Tour). After six straight nights under the stars, crashing with the boys in Denver was a no-brainer!

Eli and Matt welcomed us in to their Ramada Inn room, offering up one of their two beds. We refused the first night and slept on the floor, but after further thought the following day, we gladly accepted their offer and the comfort of a queen sized bed. I was really set on seeing a Colorado Rockies game while in town and even made the move towards the stadium, but after Marisa and I walked past the needed intersection by five blocks and then failed to locate a bus stop, that plan was scratched and it was back to the hotel for some Monday Night Football (Cowboys vs. Eagles). A few phone calls by Eli and a hop, skip and a jump across the street to the Irish Pub and we were set for the night with food, friends, drinks and a great game.

I hope many more days start off like the following day. We all woke up at our own pace and mozied a block down to a local cafe. Eli hopped up on a stool and went to work on his laptop, while Matter and I played a few rousing games of Connect Four (an old-time favorite that needs to mount a modern day comeback) while sipping on some coffee and pillaging some pastries. Two hours later we left.

Later that night, Eli put us to work in front of the High-Dive bar silk screening t-shirts and dodging conversations with sketchy Denver-ites looking for a beer. It was fun screening and chatting with the coherent locals. Once the Ra Ra Riot took the stage inside, we were relieved of our duties and enjoyed a rock n' roll show. A late night ensued...

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On the road again - destination Tulsa. Eleven non-scenery changing hours through eastern Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma was about all we could take. The highlight of the drive was our rural stop at a Dairy Queen in central Kansas to help break up the monotony of the day. Upon arrival in the ghost-like Tulsa town, the energy changed as we were greeted by fellow road warriors Joshua "The Stache" Thorpe, Mr. Scott White'cesar'side, Matt "Matterhorn" Matawaran and Mike "Cat's kin" Chiang. The gang was all there! Multiple attempts at Rock Band out of the back of the Antics auto, some PBRs, Ratatat, the Doubletree shuttle area, and the Cellar Dweller took us way into the night and early morning, enjoying each others' stories from the open road - proving we can have fun just about anywhere! A sluggish morning was the result.

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In our last attempt to find some sign of life moving through the Tulsa cityscape, the group of eight reassembled for lunch at the Full Moon before the four cars of two went their separate ways. To keep it short and sweet, I will conclude by saying that we managed to weather the worst sit-down service in restaurant history (though my egg-salad sandwich with bacon was delicious!). "Boys... we'll do it again soon. Till then, keep livin' the dream."

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Marisa... I commend you for your patience, understanding, tolerance and to top all awesomeness in putting up with multiple guys over multiple days in multiple hotel rooms. My love for you has grown even stronger because of your bravery. I will not forget what you have endeared... please take it easy on me in Philadelphia!

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For more pictures with the Bagavagabonds, COPY & PASTE the link below to a new tab:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/Bagavagabonds/

Posted by triptime 19:11 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Arch'ing towards Colorado

by Izzy

sunny 66 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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By the time we reached Moab, Utah, we were pretty much over the whole rock theme of the southwest. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see some arches! Luckily Arches N.P. is a driving friendly park, because after a few good hikes at the Grand Canyon and Canyonlands, Marisa wasn't about to be trekking too far from the car... and now that I think about it, she only left the car for the cooling air of the visitor's center! After a few hours of short hikes (made by me), overlooks and scenic pull-offs, we said farewell to the Arches and happily made our way towards Colorado and a change of scenery.

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The refreshing mountain air greeted us nicely as the day faded to night, but we still had nowhere stay. And that is the beauty of a road trip like ours... just drive until you find something. Marisa picked up the atlas and found a state park that looked inviting; "Sweetwater" it is. What looked to be a short drive right off of the major freeway, turned into a pitch dark crawl as we snaked along the back country roads. This is when your imagination starts to wander...

Just past 9:30pm we entered the park, well tucked away amongst the hills of Colorado and quaintly nestled next to Sweetwater Lake. The grounds were silent and dark, and three of the eight sites were already taken. The air was crisp, but with the experience of a few camp nights already under our belts, the tent went up smoothly and we were soon comfortably snoring away.

Who needs an alarm clock when you have neighbors who turn on their generators at 4:30am for God knows what? Rise and shine... actually, no, it was way too early and the sun wasn't even close to showing his face. The generator stopped after 10-15 minutes, but reared its ugly voice again at 6:30am!!! So much for sleeping in. And then the icing on the cake was when the same "neighbor" began to unravel the most grotesque loogies from the depths of his bowels. How loud, obnoxious and plain out rude could this guy be (I'm pretty sure he had a Michigan license plate)?

Amidst the annoying gut wrenching sounds (worse than fingernails down the chalkboard), I was able to enjoy parts of the warming new day. While laying on a flattened rock writing in my journal, I was run over by a chipmunk who was upset that I was impeding on his turf, watched my first ever bald eagle soar above me in the big blue sky, talked with elk hunters and went on a morning hike up along the ridge of the lake. Since the camp had no water source (besides the lake), we weren't able to make our staple breakfast dish - oatmeal - and soon headed out, back to Route 40 and civilization.

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Posted by triptime 16:44 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

More Big Rocks (and Stuff)

by Izzy

sunny 83 °F
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Where to next? We have no real plan of attack between the Grand Canyon and Kentucky, leaving plenty of country to explore on a whim. Bryce Canyon (Utah) has been on my list of things to do ever since the Bagavagabonds hit up its close neighbor Zion National Park (Utah) in the Fall of 2007. But with no real easy way to get there, an unknown (to us) Canyonlands National Park (Utah) popped up on the map just outside of Moab, Utah and with Arches National Park next door and a drive that included scenic Monument Valley, the decision was made.

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The drive was entertaining. Small two lane Arizona roads winding through the high desert towns provided a glimpse into the lives of Navajo nation and the rural “Zona” folk. Tuba City and Mexican Hat were my favorites, both because of their unique city names and their awkward local attractions - true American settlements.

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Rocks, rocks and more rocks adorned every turn in the road; each with its own story throughout time and each with its swarm of tourists snapping pictures from their car windows and roadside pull-offs (we were no different). Red rocks striped with white limestone rings stick up out of the arid landscape to form buttes, fins, arches, mushrooms and needles (highly technical terms we later learned in the National Park Visitor Centers). Too many to distinguish, too many to photograph, too beautiful to ignore.

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Six hours of zigzagging through north eastern Arizona and into south eastern Utah, Marisa and I turned off the “main” drag and onto a seemingly endless state route 211, a one-way road straight into the Needles entrance of Canyonlands National Park. It was one of those drives where you are continually looking at the gas gauge with each mile you drive further and further towards nowhere and seemingly no one.

Newspaper Rock was our first sign that others were out here and that others had been here thousands of years ago. This carefully selected and protected wall of rock adorning ancient graffiti was a welcomed stop along the way.

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Pulling in to the lone gate entrance, we were met by a colder, older ranger who quickly relayed to us that the park’s campgrounds might be full. We entered anyways, slowly stalking each camp site with hope of finding one that was still available – it’s Friday though and the weekend crowd had already beaten us to the spot! Luckily, right outside of the gate we had just come through, was a privately own “Needles Outpost” that offered gas, camping, showers and even a small general store. Though deserted, except for the owner, we swung open the spring-loaded screen door optimistic of securing a place to set up camp for the next two nights.

With eyes fixed on the mounted TV screen over top the kitchenette, a soon to be talkative, weathered woman watched the news attentively. “How bad is it going to be?” I asked while approaching from the doorway (with regards to hurricane Ike). Ten minutes later we had heard the same story three times, along with her personal relationship with the Weather Channel, before I was able to find out if there were camp spots available. “Oh yeah, all kids of spots. Just head back there and pick one. Let me know what you decide…”

I put the X-Terra in second gear and slowly crept back around the hillside, trying to maneuver through the rutted out sand road. The sun was steadily making its way toward the west as we decided on site #19. It was at the base of a sandstone slab and featured a few Utah juniper trees that would provide shade for the tent and a place to hang our clothes to dry.

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A wide open view out into the park glared back at us as we settled in and the temperature began to mellow. The sense to explore our new surroundings soon took over and led us to the top of the rock wall where our camp was now set. A calm and peaceful sunset was accompanied by a clear low hanging moon moving slowly into place in the darkening desert sky – another day has passed in our young journey together. “Goodnight Moon.”

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To see more pictures from Canyonlands N.P., COPY-PASTE the address below into a new tab:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/TopOfTheWorldCA%2009-08/SanDiegoCA%2009-08/TheGrandCanyonAZ%2009-08/CanyonlandsUT%2009-08/

Posted by triptime 11:30 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Canyon Country Cruisin'

by Marisa

sunny 66 °F
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Traveling cross-country before setting out around the world has been the perfect transition into our new lifestyle. Sleeping under the stars, making food over the fire, hand-washing clothes, finding innovative ways to shower, deciding where to drive next - it’s been a great two weeks!

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There is so much diversity in this country. It seems like every turn in the road takes us to a completely different landscape (except from Denver to Tulsa!) The Grand Canyon was our first stop after Phoenix. It was spectacular, mysterious and moving on so many levels. There were times when the sheer natural beauty of it brought tears to my eyes, times when terror struck me as I realized how easily my life could end and times when I felt exhausted from contemplating the immensity, history and age of it all. At the bottom of the Canyon you can run your hands over rock that was formed two BILLION years ago. Higher up, there are more delicate layers of sandstone. If you touch it, the ancient sand turns to powder and falls apart – something seemingly so strong and mighty, actually is so fragile to the touch.

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The Grand Canyon’s rims tower one mile above the Colorado River and it’s ten miles across (from rim to rim). It was just incredible to think that we were standing on the same cliffs and feeling the same feelings as people over the last 5 million years. There was such connectedness to the past and the future. I imagine that someday my children, grandchildren and descendants - maybe even millions of years from now will experience what I did in this special place.
It surprised me how open the rim was. We could climb out over huge drop-offs – good for photos; bad for the heart. Izzy was more adventurous than I was and some of the cliffs he climbed to made my stomach flip. Sorry Mama Holden, I tried to get him down!

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Posted by triptime 10:21 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

The Big Ditch Experience

by Izzy

sunny 66 °F
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After leaving the friendly confines of Phoenix, it was time to start roughin' it – tent style. First stop, the BIG DITCH. If you reside in the lower 48 states and have not yet made the trek to one of the world’s seven natural wonders, then shame on you! And shame on me until last week. The Grand Canyon is a must see and do on any travelers list. The options there are as endless as the immense canyon views.

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Upon arrival, we did naturally what any tourist would do and parked the car in the first spot we could find, hopped out and made the very short walk to the famous southern rim with camera(s) in hand. Absolute craziness. That is how I will describe it. I’m not going to ramble along with adjectives that might describe a mere fraction of what I felt or saw, because no justice will be had. Go see it yourself or if you have already seen it, take someone who hasn’t – it’s now your responsibility! Do it!

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We set up our new home in the Kaibab National Forest campground (Ten-X) just four miles south of the park’s main entrance. Ranger Bruce greeted us upon our arrival and gave us a good layout of things to do and see within the time span we had (three days).

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The first night, we took in a peaceful sunset at the Bright Angel Trail Overlook with twenty or so foreigners all trying to experience the moment in own ways. Day two was a test. Marisa and I hiked part of the South Kaibab Trail, extending from the rim to the river. The original plan was to go as far as we could and then head back, but after some thought, Marisa was content on making it to Cedar Ridge (1.5 miles and over 1,000 feet down the canyon). I struggled on another 1.5 miles from there and dropped another 1,000 feet, partially regretting each extra step I had on the way back up. We spent the better half of the day exploring vistas, taking pictures and enjoying our freedom. Next time, I’m going all the way down and back… who’s in? Day three we recovered, caught up on some reading, writing, laundry and spent some time at the Visitor’s Center. At 4:45am, the alarm went off and we were up and at’em; the tent collapsed, sleeping bags and blankets packed and the heat poured out of the vents in the car – destination sunrise.

The sun crept slowly over the canyon walls like every other day, and blessed us with its warmth and light as we sat in awe just west of Yaki Point. It was time to move on… there are more big rocks to see!

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To see more pictures from the Grand Canyon, COPY & PASTE the address below into a new tab:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/TopOfTheWorldCA%2009-08/SanDiegoCA%2009-08/TheGrandCanyonAZ%2009-08/

Posted by triptime 10:38 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Family Reunion

by Marisa

sunny 106 °F
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I now have NO keys, NO bills, NO job, NO car, NO schedule and NO worries! Yes, life has begun!!! We have been on the road for four days now and everyday I wake up more happy, relaxed and grateful as I realize this trip has actually begun!

We left LA bright and early Friday, September 5th and headed to Phoenix, AZ to visit my brother Jimmy, his wife Jesse, my nephew Dominic and my niece Bella. Reyna and I have two older half brothers, Bobby and Jimmy. Unfortunately, we grew up on opposite sides of the country and haven’t been able to spend much time together, but it’s funny how close we feel anyway. Last minute Bobby, his wife Stacey and my nieces Alana and Elyssa, Reyna and her boyfriend Cucuy all decided to meet us there as well for a spur of the moment family reunion.
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Apart from our six hour (HELL) drive to AZ without air conditioning in 106 degree heat, it’s been a very relaxed few days. We watched my friend Saige in her miniseries “Samurai Girl” all weekend, I taught everyone Yoga poses (nearly broke Izzy’s back in the process), the guys all watched Ultimate Fighting Saturday night and then went out to the garage to practice choke holds, kicks and relive their glory days, Alana and Elyssa showed us their Tahitian dance routines and broke out some crazy krump moves and we played on the slip and slide until the backyard was more like a lake. Oh and Elyssa, my four year old niece gave me a little talk on the birds and the bees, whispering in my ear, “If you kiss too much, too much, too much you are going to have a baby!” Thanks for the advice Elyssa, no more kissing for me!
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To see more pictures from the Family Reunion, COPY & PASTE the address below into a new tab:
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Posted by triptime 14:00 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Last Hours in LA

by Marisa

sunny 73 °F
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The last couple months have been a frenzied blur. I was working 7 days a week pulling together a savings. It’s crazy to think that I will be able to live for a year on what it would have cost to live in LA for 3 months! It really takes little more than a strong desire to travel if you are willing to work along the way, camp and rough it. The weeks leading up to our departure were so wonderful. We spent a lot of time with our friends – Jesse and Amanda had an engagement party at Will’s, I threw Izzy a big surprise birthday party at Venice beach, we had a group garage sale, Reyna and Cucuy had a dinner party for us, Izzy had three going away parties from work, I went dancing with my girls at Area, and of course we all went out to dinner at Fritto Misto’s - an official Bagavagabond haunt. It’s been a bitter sweet ending to a beautiful life with our best friends in LA.

For me one of the most touching moments was attending Izzy’s going away party (thrown by the community and families of the children he worked with). One by one people took the mic to recount the ways Izzy has affected their lives and what he has meant to them and their families. Children even came forward to speak. Many times, overwhelmed with emotion the speakers would cry and choke up the audience with them. I have never seen such an outpouring of love from so many people in all my life. Throughout the night guests came up to me to tell me how sad they were to lose Izzy but how excited that we were living out our dreams together.

That night was the most amazing confirmation of what I already know to be true. I’m in love with the most consistently honorable, strong, loving, joyful and pure hearted man I have ever met, and everyday I am only more amazed at the depth of his goodness and beauty. I missed my opportunity to speak that night, but what I wanted to say was that I am so happy to know he was so appreciated by those he cared so much for, that I am honored to be by his side in life and on this journey, that in his personal life, not only in his work, he is an inspiration and I love and admire him with all my heart. Okay, enough of the sappy stuff, I don’t want to make you sick ; )

Posted by triptime 13:55 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (1)

Mar Vista Family

A frenzy of emotions on a beautiful night.

sunny 72 °F
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THANK YOU!

Mar Vista.

A community tucked away on the west side where neighbors still talk to neighbors and streets are lined with trees other than palms. A place where diversity is the norm and families are abundant. A truly good place.

This is where I have made lifelong friends from countries and cultures around the world (before even leaving) and where families invite you over to birthday parties, barmitzfas, BBQ's or to watch the big game. I have found a family amongst the families of Mar Vista that have taken me in, challenged me, comforted me and supported me through my "tenure" (2005-2008) at the park.

Thank you for being a community that loves to give, to volunteer, to stand behind and stand up for what it deserves. I will take the things I've learned with me and spread them throughout my travels.

Thank you for an unbelievably surreal and beautiful send off last Friday night. I ran the gamut of emotions and at the end, I felt closure on my service, excited about our friendships and awestruck at the impact that has been left.

Now it's time to go.

THANK YOU!

Posted by triptime 10:04 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (2)

Top of the World

The Bagavagabonds overtake the Malibu slab for the 7th annual Labor Day Weekend excursion.

sunny 68 °F
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With life changing at increasing speeds, there is always time for tradition. For the 7th straight year, the Bagavagabonds have made the one night pilgrimage up to Malibu Canyon for a night of debauchery and fellowship. The seven car caravan departed from our ramshackled house at 6:00pm on Saturday evening and headed up the Pacific Coast Highway. Seasoned veterans and newbies alike made the 20 minute trek from the street, dodging a perturbed rattlesnake, out to the landing where tents are not an option, chili dogs a must, and drinks a plenty… oh, and don’t forget the assortment of musical instruments!

The morning after comes early when there is no shade, the air mattress has failed and empty plastic cups are blowing around in annoying circles. The view in the morning was stunted by the marine layer hovering below, but added to the solitude of the slab with millions upon millions still asleep in the surrounding valleys. After a few recaps from the drawn out night and slurred serenades, the 27 strong ( + two wonderful pups) posed for the infamous “Butt Pic”, setting a new best for attendance.

What a wonderful way to start our homeless journey.

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To see more pictures from Top of the World, COPY & PASTE the address below into a new tab:

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Posted by triptime 20:53 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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