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What comes after the hipsters?

The Buick LeSabre

After the hipsters will come the fogeys: youth who affect elderly ways.

We’ve already seen the trend’s roots in hipsterdom. Dyed-gray hair, button-up sweaters, knitting and so on. But the fogeys will go further. Canes, walkers, motorized scooters, Centrum Silver, bifocals, medicinal lotions, compression socks and diapers. Conveniently, it’ll be golf, crosswords and bingo all day. Assisted living communities will pop up in Brooklyn to meet the fogeys’ demand.

Fogeys will fight Craigslist bidding wars over Buick LeSabres. A handicapped parking tag will be instant street cred. SXSW will introduce the masses to Welkcore. Viagra will be a given, and promiscuity will reach new milestones. Fogeys will pinch pennies and pay by check, or else openly acknowledge – finally – their comfy fixed incomes.

Photo by normanack via Flickr.

Letting go and going places

“Susan Block and her father had the conversation that we all need to have when the chemotherapy stops working, when we start needing oxygen at home, when we face high-risk surgery, when the liver failure keeps progressing, when we become unable to dress ourselves. I’ve heard Swedish doctors call it a “breakpoint discussion,” a systematic series of conversations to sort out when they need to switch from fighting for time to fighting for the other things that people value—being with family or traveling or enjoying chocolate ice cream.”

Palliative travel? The intersection of hospice and hospitality? Might be onto something here…

From “Letting Go” by Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, 8/2/2010


Been thinking about how many Facebook status updates are location-based. Quick peeks into places, snapshots of travel big and small.

Here are a few from last week:

  • says that there is a tornado warning for Stoneham this evening…I’m not sure I believe that!
  • Yay I have something to do tonight. Going to The Albany Roller Derby at 6.
  • Leaving my house now….W I L D Y A K S at Union Pool free show 4pm. Come have a taco and beer with me suckaaaaaas
  • Newport, RI for Matty’s big day!
  • Memorial Day at the Camp – Burlington – Montreal – Ottawa – Colgate Reunion – Mountain Jam. Hell of a week.
  • Going to classes be back later tonight.
  • Anyone around in dc?
  • London Dreams. . . . . coming true!!!
  • just said hi and shook hands with Noel Fielding of the Mighty Boosh while he was dining around the corner from where i live aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
  • Two tickets to Machu Picchu burning a hole in my pocket. We’ll be there Thursday! Woot!
  • Outdoor jacuzzi looking at misty white mountains… I missed NH
  • Oslo.

The sunniest place I’ve ever been

The desert salt flat and bright blue sky met far away at foot-level. Massive trains crept by on twelve sets of tracks, their red and black and white bodies sharp against the imposing sky.

Every picture snapped became the best picture I’d ever taken.

A crowd of backpackers milled about, complete with keffiyehs. Are you catching the train to New York with us? they asked.

I’m from New York, I said.

Scrapwood littered the ground, part of a set of tracks being pulled up. I stacked it on a wide woodpile. Time had warped two pieces beyond value. Placed one atop the pile and tossed the other aside.

Found an underground workshop and climbed inside, down the ladder. In the back, a man leaned his torso through a curtain and worked atop a shrouded workbench. Even after reaching my camera through the curtain and clicking the shutter, I couldn’t see what he was up to.

The trains rumbled overhead. Figured my camera must have dirt on the sensor.

Photo by Mallix via Flickr.

Tips for walking out of Machu Picchu

UPDATE:, which knows this area way better than I do, DOES NOT recommend trying to walk out. Just sayin’. (Plus I guess the airlifts are almost over.)

Seriously — this is a repost of the instructions given by Cole Gainer to a friend on Facebook. Pass it on to anybody in there who might benefit:

If you decide to walk:

Leave early, bring water.

Walk down the rails until they disappear. Then just look left and follow the path up that’s been created. It goes by the hotel and is pretty easy to follow. (Look for my awesome Uruguay hat, I may have dropped it there.)

Take the low path and then head back on the rails. Some tricky parts come up where there are waves and stones to jump around but this bit is relatively easy and exciting.

Walk for about 20/30 minutes and then you will hit another area of washed out rail. WHEREVER THERE IS RAIL WITH NO GROUND UNDERNEATH – DO NOT CROSS IT!! Already made that mistake and it was no fun. By now the Peruvians should have established signs where to head into the jungle. We tried to leave stones and paper but they may be gone from new rains. Anyway, always look at least 100-200 feet before a washed out rail and you will see the path into the jungle that gets around it.

After this second crossing you walk for awhile with the regular astounding scenery and a couple land bridge crossings you need to run past one at a time so that they don’t slide beneath you. Who knows what differences there are now two days later but I’m sure the locals have found a new way around – and if they haven’t, then it’s your time to shine!

Keep walking, cross a rockslide on the rail, keep going. About 3 hours in you will get to a big long blue/white house. An old woman there will feed you all for a couple soles. At the end of her house the road is completely gone. Rest there then head into the jungle at the end of her house right before where the road drops off.

Follow the path, twist around some rock. Cross a creek, be wary of an angry dog, pass some houses, and get back on the rail. From here you can manage for awhile or at least make it up as you go. The first two jungle entrances I mentioned are the biggest pointers so far. Later, there are two more ones. One is marked by a log and some paper on it. If you tried to keep going you would cross rail with no land and just river underneath it. I did this. DON’T DO THIS! Go around in the jungle. Any time you think you can’t go any farther, just pull out the Boy Scout smarts and look for the path that I/we/someone has made around.

The last key jungle turn comes around marker 87. You’ll see sticks and rocks showing you where to head up into the cliffs. I made an arrow in the dirt but I bet it’s gone now. Go up in the cliffs and don’t come back down. Even when you see the rail somewhere around where marker 85-83 should be – don’t go to the rail. Another mistake I made. Stay on the high road, look at the mountains, pretend you’re on LOST, see how beautiful it is, pass the cemetery, keep going. Past the cemetery you’ll see ruins in the distance that people are working on, you can get on the rail there but then you go right back up through the ruins.

You start to see towns now but you need to avoid the rails even though you’ll see them. You’ll also start to die here. This is where my limp kicked in. Hopefully you’ll have rested much more than I did. For some reason I thought it was a race. When you hit the towns keep on the high roads – forget the rails, they are decieving and washed out every few hundred meters. If youre lucky you can maybe catch a ride into town now, the only problem is some of the town roads are flooded, but at least you’re out of the sticks.

You can do it, especially if you take it easy and don’t have that sinking feeling that your on your own and no one will know if you fall into the river and die. I’m sure the paths are well trodden now. The American embassy chick said they were expecting a few hundred people (mostly locals) to walk out in the following days. Unfortunately when I went she said there were less than 50 that had come out. The trail should be well blazed and it’s beautiful.

A goodbye at the Bethlehem lookout

Climbed through the woods, up the steep face to the lookout. On the way up heard a parked car blaring the latest autotune, expected to find some homeboy and his girlfriend. Instead, a circle of people, lots of leather jackets, heads bowed, arms around each other. Big man in a suit saying a prayer in Spanish.

Crossed the road, made myself scarce, continued up the trail a ways, then stopped and looked down to the lookout. Just in time to see the big man in the suit dump an urn of tan ashes into the wind. The ashes didn’t plaster onto anyone’s face, just swarmed in the air through the crowd.

Nobody seemed to mind a final taste.

Hondros on Haiti: The scale is unimaginable

“Dazed people walking the streets of Port au Prince keep saying the same thing: “Haiti is dead.” And on one level that’s true — this small country has just endured one of the most searing natural disasters in history, and death is everywhere.  Death is on sidewalks, on the roads, in rivers, buried in rubble and noticeable only by its smell.  The scale is so unimaginable that the usual human traditions and courtesies for the dead have been suspended: many thousands of bodies have been collected by backhoe and dumped into mass graves with no more ceremony than the rubble that goes into the same pits.

But admidst the carnage and chaos there have been remarkable glimmers of hope and strength, of heroism and selflessness. I’m sleeping in my truck in the parking lot of a hotel; outside the walls thousands of Haitians, with nowhere else to go, are camping out on the streets.  But as night descends the singing starts, jumping voices sounding through the darkness, spirituals and ancient songs sung from those streets late into the night. I listen to this from inside the truck as I drift to sleep; its jarring and achingly beautiful.”

Chris Hondros, via Foreign Policy.

Photo Chris Hondros/Getty Images

If you’re considering a trip to Haiti…

…and you’re not a trained disaster relief worker, please consider donating the money you would have put towards a trip to one of the following charities already working in Haiti:

Direct Relief International (Charity Navigator report)

Partners in Health (Charity Navigator report)

Doctors Without Borders (Charity Navigator report)

“After the initial rush to get to a disaster site or send material donations, there’s often a lingering need for long-term volunteers that goes unnoticed.”

Disclosure: I have no direct personal connections to nor interest in any aid groups. One friend retired from Doctors Without Borders, and I have friends of friends at Partners in Health.

I have donated to Direct Relief International’s Haiti Earthquake fund.

Hide and seek with Laura Dekker

By running away, Laura Dekker proved she’s ready to sail around the world. It’s about time the Dutch courts get out of her way.

When most teenagers are grounded, their parents tell them to stay in the house. Not so for 14 year-old Laura Dekker–when she proposed an attempt to become the youngest sailor to circle the globe solo, her government ordered her to stay in the Netherlands.

Just to be sure, they placed Laura under state supervision through (at least) next July. Maybe the government thought they’d settled things. But imagine if your government ordered you not to travel. Life would get itchy, fast.

According to her dad, the scrutiny led to a “negative spiral.” The sailor sank until last Friday, when she grabbed $5,000 cash and disappeared.

Not that there wasn’t warning: In response to being stifled, Laura said she’d try to capitalize on her dual citizenship with New Zealand and attempt the record from there. However, it’s unclear whether she fled with hopes of launching her journey, or if she just flipped out and bounced.

Unfortunately for Laura, she’s not very good at hiding. Mere hours after an international alert announcing her disappearance, she surfaced in St. Maarten. She’d crossed an ocean, but still was easy to find.

That alone should be enough to persuade the Dutch government to let her sail.


What that percentage increase in tourism really means

The number of trekkers on Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit/Muktinath Pilgrimage grew 25% in the 2009 season–but what does that mean?

According to the article linked above, it means that guesthouse owners hoping for foreign clients are refusing to serve Nepalese trekkers.

It’s unclear whether the owners are actively turning away their compatriots while waiting for foreigners, or just pricing most domestic trekkers out of the market. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if this has been going on for a while.)

Not everyone is able to afford a month-long trek, even in their own country. But when you invest the time and money to journey into one of your country’s most beautiful areas, only to learn you’re not welcome–that hurts.


PS — If anyone finds the link to the original ACAP stats, please post it in the comments, thanks.

Photo by Dey via Flickr.

How to be a hospitalero on the Camino de Santiago

If that’s your question, here’s one way to do it:

American Pilgrims on the Camino will hold hospitalero training from March 16-18, 2010, in Winter Park, Florida. (The training is part of the larger National Gathering, which includes the Gathering of Pilgrims from 3/19 to 3/21 and Spiritual Retreat from 3/21 to 3/23.)

If you’re a North American former Camino pilgrim and you want to volunteer as a hospitalero, training with American Pilgrims on the Camino essentially guarantees you a spot.

(However, 2010 being a Jubilee year, the usual supply and demand figures might be out of whack, which could work for or against you. Not sure.)

Either way, APOC training is a fantastic experience for anyone seeking to explore the practice of hosting on an accumulated-ancient-knowledge level. Or if you just want to learn to cook rich red stews.

You can email me if you’d like more information, or if you’d like to be put in touch with the instructors of the session (great people). Stateofplace [care of] Gmail.

Have you checked out the Innkeeper’s Guide?

Anybody homesick for travel?

I’m getting homesick for travel, for places to shine despite their normality. Buying groceries in a May Berlin drizzle, knowing the next few days will also be cold and wet. Homesick for the apartment we went in and out of in the rain, and how that added to its value.

Maybe it’s something (or lack thereof) from infancy that makes me miss being swaddled into a city by my host, playing follow the leader, ducking into the subway seemingly at random, having to watch for an eyebrow pop or head nod as the stations tick off, and following again through the crowd as tunnels are chosen and we eventually emerge I don’t know where. Not having to deduce atmosphere and vibe from façades, guidebooks and a peek in the door (fun as that is), just being towed into pre-certified spots—for the view, the music, the terrace, the crowd and always a drink.

Homesick for lying on the lawn of Vienna’s greenhouse, leaving to buy a chain-food lunch (low funds) and then back to the grass. The worst seats in the Budapest Opera. Living with four Italian dudes in Granada and being force-fed Illy four times a day. Rolling the clichéd cig-after-the-morning-coffee because the Drum just happens to be there. All the things I never planned to do.

You too ever?

OK, so this post might have appeared on a prior blog about two years ago, but it needed to be here, today. A necessary place at a certain time. I’m sure you can relate.

Photo by Alexispz via Flickr