Thoughts on financial and personal independence

Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money.
¡Saludos de Ecuador!

For the past two weeks, I’ve been enjoying my third trip to that seldom-remembered continent, South America. I love this place, and love it more each time I visit. My past trips have been personal excursions for pleasure and introspection. But this trip was primarily business-related. (I am in the Galápagos at the moment, and that’s just for personal edification — unless we count the tortoise photos, which could be used for GRS promotion.)

You see, earlier this year, my colleague Mr. Money Mustache contacted me to ask if I’d like to take part in a chautauqua produced by Cheryl Reed of Above the Clouds Retreats. Of course I would! It’s my policy to say “yes” to requests like this. And so for one week in early September, MMM and I joined Cheryl and jlcollinsnh to present our philosophies to an enthusiastic group of 22 participants, most of whom were women and most of whom had reached (or were well on their way to) Financial Independence.

MMM has already shared his lessons from Ecuador. Today, I’ll share mine.

Note: At my personal blog, I’ve already posted photos of the trip and raved about the non-financial outcomes. This article will be about the financial lessons I took away.

Improving Lives

Cheryl came to Ecuador on a volunteer vacation sixteen years ago. She did physical therapy for poor and disabled children. She loved the country, and was struck by the poverty. Five years later, she bought a 24-acre farm in the tiny community of Santa Elena, a couple of hours north of Quito. She’s tried (and failed) to farm various crops. At the moment, she’s farming coffee. She spends six months out of every year here; the rest of the time, she lives in the States.

Cheryl is passionate about improving the quality of life for the Ecuadorian people, especially those in Santa Elena. She sponsored one local boy through college, and she intends to sponsor more. She donated a laptop computer to another girl who wants to pursue a degree. And a portion of the “profits” from our week-long retreat will all go to Project One Corner, Cheryl’s charitable organization that works to improve her tiny corner of this planet.

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Some of the “profits” from our retreat will help families like this in Santa Elena.

Moved by Cheryl’s dedication to her community, MMM, jlcollinsnh, and I all donated our speaking fees to her cause. She used $1,500 of this money to help the above family rebuild their tiny home, which was severely damaged in an earthquake last year. This family of fourteen has been living in a chicken coop since then; with the money we contributed, they’ve been able to make their home livable once more.

During the prep for the chautauqua, we talked a lot about financial equivalencies. “The $1,500 we gave to that family is an espresso machine for some people at home,” MMM observed. “When I see that somebody needs help, and I see that I could help them with just half a day’s work, well I can’t say no.”

“I know,” Cheryl said. “At the end of our retreat, we’ll have a nice dinner at a restaurant in Quito. The first place I contacted wanted $42 per person. I couldn’t do that. That’s $1,200. That’s almost as much as it took to fix up that family’s house. I chose a cheaper place instead.”

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The “cheaper” farewell dinner was still lavish and fun.

Converting to Mustachianism

Prior to this week in Ecuador, my exposure to Mr. Money Mustache’s philosophy was limited. I admired his presentation on how to blog last year at the Financial Blogger Conference, and spent an hour talking with him after he’d finished. But I’ve had more contact with Mrs. Money Mustache since then. (“She likes your writing,” MMM told me on the plane form Houston to Quito. “You’re all warm and fuzzy and not a bossypants like me.”)

But after spending ten days with MMM, I’m a convert. I’m in the process of reading his blog from start to finish. (You can too!)

A short summary of the Mustachian Way: MMM believes that this whole “get rich slowly” business is BS. He advocates getting rich quickly — but not through any magical means. The core of his philosophy is adhering to an extreme savings rate. If you can save 50% of your income, you can achieve Financial Independence in seventeen years. Bump that savings rate to 75%, and you can do it in seven years.

“I call this the shockingly simple math behind early retirement,” MMM said.

In general, Mustachianism emphasizes cutting costs. MMM believes that households with incomes greater than $50,000 per wage-earner have no excuse for not building substantial savings. He says it’s still possible to enjoy a luxurious life on much, much less. (He and Mrs. Money Mustache raise a young lad on $30,000 in household expenses.) The problem is that most people have a million excuses as to why they can’t reduce their luxuries. They drive SUVs instead of biking. They have cable television. They buy books and clothes and kitchen gadgets instead of finding low-cost (or no-cost) alternatives. As a result, they choose to postpone retirement until age 65 (or later) instead of retiring at 35.

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MMM shares his Mustachian vision for happiness and lifestyle design.

“The principles on my blog are that you can be happy with less consumption and more hard work,” MMM told me.

He’s absolutely right.

The attendees at our chautauqua were all living proof of what’s possible through extreme saving. Not all of them had achieved Financial Independence, but every single one owned responsibility for their current financial situation. Those that weren’t yet at FI see the path and know what to do. (And, in general, are very young.) Those that had achieved FI did so through extreme saving, careful investing, and optimizing income.

As part of the retreat, I met with thirteen of the 22 attendees. Nearly all of them showed me their financial situation. Most had achieved FI. The average person to have done so was a woman in her mid-forties who still continues to work because she likes what she does. But she could quit at any time and live comfortably for the rest of her life.

What about increasing income? MMM recognizes the value of doing so, but it’s not his focus. “I like to make fun of the ‘earn more’ crowd, even though I think earning more is a good thing,” he told me. “I just think it should be a by-product of being an ethical businessperson. Plus, my secret mission is to reduce the world’s consumption of Stuff, so I focus on that.”

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The entire group flashes the Mustachian Salute.

Other Insights

During my ten days with these fine folks, I didn’t just learn about Mustachianism.

Jim (who is known by jlcollinsnh online) gave a short, sharp presentation on how to invest. In short: Stick as much as you can in index funds, then ignore the account. Let the money grow. Resist the temptation to think you’re smarter than the market.

Jim also talked about the importance of “FU money,” having enough cash in the bank that you’re not tied to your job. Most people have so little saved that they’re tied to their jobs. They have no flexibility. But FU money is the little brother of FI. It gives you freedom to choose better opportunities.

Jim told a story about when he was younger (many, many years ago!), he was working at a job he liked. He wanted to take a few months off to travel to Europe, but his boss wouldn’t have it. “Fine,” Jim said. “I’m quitting.” He had saved $5,000 on a $10,000 salary, and that was FU money for him. Surprisingly, this shifted the balance of power. Suddenly his boss was more receptive to the suggested sabbatical. Jim got to take the trip and then return to a job he loved ‐ all because he’d saved enough to walk away, if needed.

“If you don’t have FU money, you’re not free yet,” Jim said. “And if you have debt, your’e a slave.”

“A lot of people equate saving with deprivation,” Jim noted. “It’s not deprivation. It’s just a choice to spend on the future instead of spend on today.” And debt is a choice to spend on the past. “Saving is money spent on buying freedom.”

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MMM and Amy O. look on as I make some brilliant point

Anita from Chicago — a corporate lawyer — is in her early thirties and just couple of years from being able to retire. How did she do it? Through very Mustachian extreme saving. She keeps her expectations low. “I have everything I want,” she told me. “I just don’t want very much.”

Val — who has been something of a nomad these past few years — has so much saved that she never has to work again. But this week, she just took a job that pays her more than she’s ever made in her life. Why? Because it sounds like fun. Val praised the power of Financial Independence: “FI takes away the wall of worry,” she told me. “You can just do what you want.”

I also enjoyed talking with the folks who aren’t very far along on their financial journey. Lise is a librarian from London, Ontario. She’s scared to invest, so her money is just sitting in a savings account. She’s overwhelmed by the options, and afraid to make the wrong choice. I hope my conversation with her — and Jim’s presentation — helped to remove some of that fear.

Note: My own presentation was about fear, flow (or happiness), and freedom. I talked about making meaning in your life, and about putting your own happiness first. I’ve uploaded the PowerPoint slides for my presentation. I’ll post a written version soon. It’ll appear at my personal site — or maybe at MMM’s site, if he’ll take it as a guest post.

I particularly enjoyed the time I spent with Jesse Meacham. Many of you probably know Jesse as the founder of You Need a Budget, the popular software that’s been helping folks for almost ten years. I’ve interacted with Jesse for years, but never met him until now. He’s awesome: a cheerful, open-minded, Crossfitting nerd who tells fantastic stories. He kept us all entertained for hours during cold nights at the hacienda.

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Another night of Story Time with Uncle Jesse — “That reminds me of the time…”

Jesse shared lots of great insights into financial management — and life. Gems like this:

  • Don’t forecast. Live on what you have. If you try to guess how much money you’ll have a month from now or a year from now, you’ll almost always be wrong, and your forecast will inevitably be too high. Forget the future when budgeting. Focus on the past.
  • Keep it simple When budgeting — or doing anything else with money — use the “mother-in-law test”. If you were to teach your mother-in-law to budget (or invest or buy a house — whatever), how would you do it? That’s where you should start with your own finances. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be.
  • Seek new challenges. Doing new things keeps life interesting, especially once you’ve reached Financial Independence. “I got a puppy a few weeks ago,” Jesse told me. “I wanted a new challenge.” But your challenges might be learning a new language or taking on a new sport. Challenges make life meaningful and keep us from spending money on happiness drugs such as television.

At the end of a week of “crazy rich-person talk” (as MMM called it), everybody felt inspired to continue working to financial and personal freedom. But we also felt inspired to spread the wealth to others. For instance, MMM “hatched a slightly crazy plan to look into buying the 24 acres adjacent to Cheryl’s existing farm to turn it into a permanent gathering point which also generates money for charity.”

As for myself, this experience showed me the power of small-group gatherings. I’ve done a lot of organizing of and speaking at large conferences (such as World Domination Summit), but never participated in something like this chautauqua. It won’t be the last time. I have a slightly crazy plan of my own. I’m going to organize something similar much closer to home. Look for some sort of retreat here in Oregon in late 2014 or mid-2015. I look forward to more “crazy rich-person talk” — this time with you.

How to Win the Lottery Called Life

Today, I want to share how you can win this lottery called life.

I’ve been reading and writing about the notion that you can make your own luck for over five years now. And for the past year or so, I’ve been praising the power of collaboration.

I say, for instance, that my work nowadays (such as it is) seems to be meeting and chatting with like-minded folks from all walks of life. They email me to say, “Want to have lunch?” and I say, “Of course!” We talk about podcasts or libraries or bicycling or comic books. Whatever strikes our fancy. And when we’ve finished our tea or our Thai noodles, nothing major seems to have happened.

What’s happened, however, is that we’ve both just received lottery tickets. By meeting and chatting and sharing ideas, we’ve been granted a ticket in the lottery of life.

And there are other ways to get lottery tickets too. Any time I try something new, I get a lottery ticket. Since I make it a point to try new things all of the time, I get a lot of lottery tickets.

  • When I learn to drink coffee, I get a lottery ticket.
  • When I learn to drink beer, I get a lottery ticket.
  • When I learn to shoot a gun, I get a lottery ticket.
  • When I learn to ride a motorcycle, I get a lottery ticket.
  • When I learn to speak Spanish, I get a lottery ticket.

I’ve found another way to get these lottery tickets, too: I say “yes” things that seem scary or difficult. For instance, when I agree to speak on stage in front of one thousand people, I get a lottery ticket. When I fly to Ecuador to help people learn about financial and personal independence, I get a lottery ticket. When I spend six weeks locked in my office writing an e-book about money, I get a lottery ticket.

In short, any time I do something — especially something new — I get a lottery ticket.

But what do I win? Great question. Turns out, the prizes are pretty fucking awesome.

When I learned to speak Spanish, for example, I hit the jackpot. I made new friends (my tutor, my English student), traveled new places (Perú, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador), read new authors (Neruda, García Marquez), tried new food, watched new movies, and more.

Today in Quito, I walked about ten miles across the city — up and down, up and down, up and down since Quito is nowhere near flat — spending part of my time on the teleférico, which is the cable-car that transports visitors up the mountainside from 9000-foot elevation to 13000-foot elevation.

During the steep fifteen-minute ride to the top of Pichincha Vulcano, I sat with two couples. They spoke only Spanish. If I didn’t know Spanish, I couldn’t have understood them, much less conversed. (Hell, I wouldn’t even be here in Ecuador if I couldn’t speak Spanish.) But I do speak Spanish, so I enjoyed a pleasant chat about one couple’s life in Venezuela and the other couple’s life here in Quito. Yet another small prize to add to the mountain of booty that I’ve obtained just because I spent some time learning another language.

Kim is awesome at playing this lottery. That gal gets tickets all the time. Because she’s a friendly and fun dental hygienist, her patients are constantly giving her things. In the eighteen months I’ve known her, she’s been given eggs, tickets to the country fair, tickets to a historical museum, tips on travel, and much much more. Remember how I recently sold my comics for a ton of money? (Wait, you can’t remember that because that article won’t go up at Get Rich Slowly until this Thursday!) Well, several thousand dollars of that came because we used one of Kim’s lottery tickets; one of her patients introduced us to a couple of folks who were interested in buying them.

To me, the best part is that one good thing often leads to another. Luck begets luck. When I win once, I get another winning ticket. I’ve reached the point where my entire life seems to be a series of fortunate events.

Note: Often just doing the thing that earned me the ticket is a sort of prize. Meeting certain people can be so delightful that even if nothing else came of it, the meeting itself was a tiny jackpot. Learning to drink coffee provided a small reward, not to mention the ongoing payouts involved in the fun morning ritual I get to share with Kim.

You know what doesn’t give you lottery tickets? Watching TV, for one. Also, playing videogames. Sorry, but there’s no payout for playing another round of Angry Birds. You don’t get lottery tickets for being a picky eater, being afraid to take calculated risks, and refusing to do the things that scare you.

Not every meeting and not every experience pays off. But many do provide a reward, and some of those rewards are enormous. Winning lottery tickets are so common and so fruitful, in fact, that I’ve almost become addicted to playing this lottery called life. I relish making new acquaintances, going new places, and trying new things.

So, get off your butt and go do something new today. Talk to a stranger. Try a new cuisine. There are still lots of prizes left in this lottery, but you have to be in it to win it.

Ecuador 2013: A Chautauqua on Wealth and Happiness

You know how sometimes peak life experiences kind of creep on you when you’re least expecting them? Well, that just happened to me.

For the past week, I’ve been part of the first chautauqua produced by Cheryl Reed of Above the Clouds Retreats. I joined fellow financial bloggers Mr. Money Mustache (a.k.a. Pete) and jlcollinsnh (a.k.a. Jim) to present our philosophies to an enthusiastic group of 22 participants, most of whom were women and most of whom had reached (or were well on their way to) Financial Independence.

Including Cheryl’s husband, Rich, we had 27 in our group. You know how there’s usually one or two bad eggs in any group that size? Well, that didn’t happen to us. In fact, this is probably the best small group I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of. The participants were universally intelligent and friendly and supportive and fun. “I haven’t laughed so much in years,” one woman said at the end of the week. I haven’t either.

Note: I’ve uploaded the PowerPoint slides for my presentation. I’ll post a written version soon (maybe on Pete’s blog, if he’ll take it). Plus, I plan to share a summary of the various financial advice from the chautauqua at Get Rich Slowly within the next couple of weeks. If you want more info right now, check out Mr. Money Mustache’s summary of the week.

Between me, Rich, and Mr. Money Mustache, we took thousands of photos during the ten days it took to produce and stage this retreat. I’ve culled these to 165 favorites. But since that’s far too many to ask you to view, I’m going to thin that even further. Here are 20 of the photos that I feel best capture our shared experience. (Click a photo to view a larger version.)

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Morning at Cheryl’s farm: Cheryl, Pete, J.D., and Jim plan for the week [photo by Rich]

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The “profits” from the week will help families like this in Santa Elena [photo by Rich]

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Sunset in Santa Elena — Cheryl takes the dogs for a walk [photo by J.D.]

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Pete and Amy O. look on raptly as J.D. shares some brilliant insight [photo by Rich]

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Pete shares his Mustachian vision for happiness and lifestyle design [photo by J.D.]

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Jim and Val prioritize their passions during Cheryl’s presentation [photo by Rich]

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Colleen endures smoke and fire (and plenty of spit) during a shamanic cleansing [photo by J.D.]

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During a day trip to Otavalo, street performers serenade the group [photo by Rich]

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At a local orphanage, kids scramble for candy from a piñata [photo by Pete]

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The group watches a folkloric dance group at Hacienda Cusin [photo by J.D.]

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Another night of Story Time with Uncle Jesse — “That reminds me of the time…” [photo by J.D.]

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Anita and Caitlin enjoy the company of the adorable (and annoying) cat [photo by J.D.]

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Pete hosts the first of many enjoyable evenings at the hacienda [photo by ??]

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Amy O. and J.D. bust a gut as Colleen slams a Mustachian Rosé [photo by Pete]

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The entire group flashes the Mustachian Salute [photo by J.D.]

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“La mitad del mundo!” — J.D. at the equator [photo by Amy F.]

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Marla, Colleen, and Jason in Quito’s Plaza San Francisco at dusk [photo by J.D.]

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J.D., Colleen, Amy O., Marla, and Val toast the end of a wonderful week [photo by Pete]

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Shyam and Jesse watch as Carol is serenaded for her birthday [photo by J.D.]

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Marla and Val posing with the handsome and dapper doorman [photo by J.D.]

One thousand thanks to Amy, Amy, Amy, and Tom; Menon and Shyam; Nathan and Caitlin; Cathy and John; Jason, Jesse, and Jen; Carol, Karl, and Colleen; Dave and Ann; Lise, Val, Anita, and the every-charming Marla. All y’all made this week amazing. I spent more time with some folks than others — Colleen and Amy O., for instance — but I enjoyed the conversations I had with everyone.

And, of course, thanks to my colleagues. Jim, Rich, Cheryl, and Pete — it was an honor to have been a part of this. Thank you for asking me to share the experience. Let’s do it again next year!

Now, however, I have a brief lull before starting the next leg of my expedition to Ecuador. I’ll spend two more nights at Hotel Ambassador in Quito’s “gringo-landia” — I’m listening to sappy Spanish love songs in the lobby right now — but on Monday, I’ll join a small group headed to the Galapagos Islands. It’s going to be great!

Then, exactly a week from right now, I’ll hop a shuttle the airport to head home. That too will be great. As much as I loved this chautauqua, I love Kim more. I’m eager to return to our home so that we can resume a routine together, and so that we can grow and learn together…

Photos of giant tortoises coming soon! (Plus, underwater snorkeling photos taken with my new waterproof camera.) Stay tuned, my friends.

Ursaphobia

While in Alaska last month, I confided in Kim that I’m terrified of bears. It’s true. All my life, I’ve been ursaphobic.

My fear of bears is a real problem when I go camping. Unless I’m in a large group, I’m always nervous — especially if the camping trip involves a long hike into remote territory. It’s also a problem any time I go to Alaska.

When I visited Alaska in 2010, I had a couple of close encounters with bears. The first time, we saw a group of bald eagles feeding on some grizzly corpses near the shoreline. (Yes, the bears were dead — killed by hunters on another boat — but I knew there were probably more around. And I had no doubt they wanted vengeance!)

Later in the trip, Mac and I took an uphill hike at a bay north of Sitka. The well-worn trail was covered with bear scat and clawed tree trunks. I was terrified the whole time, and very relieved to make it back to the boat in one piece.

Kim finds my fear of bears amusing. On the first day of our trip, she sent me the following, which she found on Facebook:

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So true. So true.

In Juneau, I paused for a photo op:

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I don’t want to live anywhere signs like this are needed.

I had a close call in Skagway. Fortunately, the bear was more interested in getting me to buy jewelry than eating me (or the tasty salmon in my backpack):

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That’s enough bear action for me to last several years. Now, of course, I’m in Ecuador, where there are no bears. There are only jaguars. I’m fine with jaguars. I like cats…

My First Motorcycle

When I was a boy, I loved motorcycles. I was fascinated by the exploits of Evil Knievel, and liked watching motorcycle riders on the highway.

I never got a chance to ride when I was young, though. My friend Torey had a dirt bike, and he’d let me ride behind him from time to time, but I never got a chance to ride myself.

In college, Kris had a Honda Spree scooter. That was fun. When we moved to Canby, though, she sold the scooter, and for twenty years, I didn’t ride again. Then, last year in Turkey, I spent an amazing day riding a scooter through Cappadocia. Combine that experience with a girlfriend who loves motorcycles (Kim has ridden them since she was twelve), and suddenly I had a goal. I wanted to get my motorcycle endorsement.

That’s not just a formality here in Oregon. To get your motorcycle permit, you need to pass a written test. (Which I did on a whim last October.) To get the motorcycle endorsement on your license, you need to take an officially-sanctioned three-day motorcycle training program. Kim and I have been talking about doing this together for over a year. In August, we finally made it happen.

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I learned to ride on this Yamaha dual-sport bike.

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The motorcycle safety course includes eight hours of on-bike training.

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It’s official: I passed!

At the end of July, Kim bought her father’s Harley Sportster 883. He rode it from Boise to Portland; we drove him home. While in Boise, we all went shopping at the Harley store. Kim came home with these kick-ass riding boots.

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Hot hot hot!

After I finished the motorcycle training program, I looked around for a “starter bike”. It didn’t take long to find a white 2006 Honda Rebel with only 3400 miles on it.

Guess who just rode home on his NEW MOTORCYCLE?!?
Looking very serious with my new bike.

Our friend Cody also wants to learn to ride. The first free Sunday, we took him to an empty parking lot and taught him the basics. The three of us spent a couple of hours going around in circles, weaving between water-bottle cones, and practicing quick stops.

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Cody on my Rebel, getting the hang of gentle turns.

Feeling confident, I started riding my bike for errands. Very fun. And so much better to make dumb mistakes (I keep stalling in first gear!) at low speeds and in light traffic.

I was twenty minutes early for an appointment recently, so I decided to ride my motorcycle around the neighborhood. Up hills. Down hills. Around gentle corners. And so on.

I had slowed to take a sharp corner when I laid my bike down for the very first time. I’d turned my head to look into the turn, as I’d been trained to do, but had failed to account for the thing layer of loose gravel on top of the road. At about 12mph, I leaned into the turn — and the bike slid out from under me. It stopped almost immediately, coming to rest on my right leg. Ouch!

Fortunately, all I suffered were skinned knees and elbows and a bruised ego. And I learned a valuable lesson. Even a little gravel is hazardous to a motorcycle in a turn.

I’m actually a very cautious rider. I’ve been an avid bicyclist for over a decade, and I’ve been in one bad car crash. I know the biggest danger on the road is other drivers, so I’m very wary. And having crashed my bicycle several times, I know how important it is to get back out there and ride. If you take time off after a crash, you psych yourself out. You become afraid to ride.

So, naturally, I haven’t let me little motorcycle accident dampen my enthusiasm. As I prepped to leave for Ecuador, I completed all my errands by motorcycle. And I can’t wait to get home. There should be a couple of nice weekends left for me and Kim to take some joyrides through the Willamette Valley. And just wait until next summer! By then, I hope to graduate from my “starter bike” to something with a little more power…

Alaskan Cruise 2013

“Something about this place appeals to me,” I told Kim last week as our cruise ship glided through a remote corner of southeast Alaska. (Well, remote except for the two other cruise ships sailing directly behind us, that is.) “Some part of me likes the idea of living in a cabin with nobody around.” I paused. “Fortunately, the rest of me isn’t that crazy.”

That said, I’ve now visited Alaska three times in the last decade. I love the place. In 2004, Kris and I went on an Alaskan cruise with her parents. In 2010, a friend and I spent ten days in southeast Alaska on my neighbor’s boat. And last week, Kim and I took another cruise into the wilderness. We had a good time.

On the trip, I discovered the iPhone’s panoramic photo mode. It’s like a revelation! Whole new worlds of photography are available for me! So, if you’ll indulge me, here are some of the best photos from the trip, including a few panoramas.

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Our sister ship, the NCL Jewel, and two others docked in Juneau.

On board the Norwegian Pearl somewhere in sunny Alaska. To the far right, you can see Kim chatting with new friends, Steve and Beverly.
On the NCL Pearl somewhere in sunny Alaska. Kim is on the right, chatting with new friends.

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On the top deck of the NCL Pearl, gawking at the glaciers with other tourists.

We spent a LOT of time in the ship's spa. Very relaxing.
We spent a LOT of time in the Pearl’s spa. Kim is to the left, chatting with Leah.

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The casinos on cruise ships are surprisingly busy…

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In Juneau, we biked around Mendenhall Glacier.

In Skagway, we took a canoe trip to see Davidson Glacier.
In Skagway, we took a canoe trip to see Davidson Glacier.

We all got our feet wet on the walk into Davidson Glacier. It was totally worth it.
We were lucky enough to hike into (and across) the ice. Fantastic!

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This glacier excursion stands as one of my peak travel experiences.

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We got up-close and personal with the blue of the ice.

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Happy happy happy.

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In Ketchikan, we did an obstacle and zip-line course in the rain forest.

In Ketchikan, we tried ziplining.

We only had a few hours in Victoria, but it was still a lot of fun.
We only had a few hours in Victoria, where we ate seafood and walking the waterfront.

We had a damn good time in Alaska. It’s not on our “must return” list (as Scotland is), but it’s close. Next up? In late February, Kim and I plan to visit Hawaii. As for me, I leave for three weeks in Ecuador on Thursday. Hasta pronto, mis amigos!