Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: March 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Into The Wild - Caught it 7 Years Later

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The core of mans' spirit comes from new experiences

A quote from John Krakauer from the book "Into the Wild" 

I don't know how I missed the movie when it was released SEVEN years ago? The story took place in the early 90s, how did I miss that? Or the book "Into the Wild" in the mid-90s, how did I miss that?

Photos of Chris McCandless
It is almost impossible to believe that I missed a story about a lone traveler, who was just a few years older than me, and the movie about the traveler made by Sean Penn?!? These are all people, places and things I love. I must've been drunk. 

I finally caught the story about Chris McCandless 
Like most Sunday nights, I was home watching movies. I started with "Tiny Furniture" and felt like I needed something more. Two movies back-to-back is not common for me (not even on a Sunday), but I figured I would see what I could find in the world of Netflix. I stumbled upon the movie "Into the Wild" and the Netflix description caught my eye.  
A young man gives up everything - including his trust fund and a seemingly stable family - to lead a solitary life in the wild. 
This seemed like a good Sunday night movie option. I dream of giving up everything and leading a solitary life (I am pretty close as it stands), just not in the wild. I started the movie and learned it was directed by Sean Penn. As I got into the movie more I couldn't wait to see what would happen next, I grabbed my phone and started to research the story and the character.

Being about the same age, I felt connected to the young man in the movie. I specifically recall being that age and thinking I couldn't WAIT to graduate from college so I could be a "bum". My parents and family would ask what I wanted to do when I graduated and I would reply, "I'm going to be a bum."

Driving home from U2 in '92 
Me in 1992. Driving to / from a U2 Concert (350 miles - each direction).

I felt like college was something they wanted for me and I had fulfilled that obligation - now it was MY time to do what I wanted. I came home, I got a job and fell into a terrible depression. It all seemed so contrived and I didn't think I was cut out for this life as a sell-out. So, I saved all my money and I took off to Europe for 3 months. Alone. 

I remember meeting a guy in Budapest who was riding his bike to India. Or, so he hoped. He was an engineer who quit his job and had been living out of his van in California. One day he drove the van to NY, sold it, and got on a plane to London. He bought a bike and rode the bike through Europe, eventually made it to Budapest where I met him. His name was Fernando, or so he claimed. 

Fernando was staying in my hostile, I passed him in the stairwell after I checked in. He heard me ask the front desk lady where the American Express office was and then showed up there - coincidentally. I pretended like I believed our meeting was by chance and agreed to hang out with him. He was leaving town the next day but stuck around for a few extra days with me. And then I never saw him again.  

Other part's Alex Supertramp life felt familiar
The not-so-happy family life resonated with me too. I mean, my dad didn't have some other family in another state, but things were hardly perfect. I had grown up behind a facade, from a very young age I was forced to protect an image that was not real. Going away to college, I was thrilled to escape the compilation of strange circumstances that made up my childhood. The only problem with leaving was that I didn't know if I could get far enough away.

I also loved the band Supertramp. That's the final similarity.  

It was a good movie, I recommend you see it. And, while you're at it, you should read about my recent trip across the country where I went hiking by myself in Montana (hiking alone is not recommended, especially not for amateurs such as myself).  

Other Posts: 
Paragliding in South Africa - more recently, by me 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Driving the Garden Route - Part 1

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#ArsansInAfrica Driving the Garden Route

Two-part trip (about 11+ hours) along the Garden Route with a stop in Mossel Bay, an overnight stop in Knysna and a quick lunch (with soup) in Tsitsikamma - Part 1 of 2

Driving the Garden Route
Looking fresh on the Garden Route
(day 1 of the drive)

After several days in Cape Town, we departed on Saturday morning and headed to Franschhoek (wine country) for one night. Stay tuned for more on our stay at Hugeunot House and lunch at Tokara as the #ArsansInAfrica saga continues. Read on for the Garden Route... 

Mossel Bay Garden Route 
On Sunday morning, as we were heading out of Franshhoek, we learned that our 8 hour Garden Route drive was sure to be closer to 12 hours. Mossel Bay (otherwise known as Selcuk's Turkish name Muscles Bay), a harbor town on the Western Cape, was our first stop along the Garden Route. 

Mossel Bay - Santos Beach
(half way between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth)

We pulled into Santos Beach, parked the car and walked down to dip our feet into the water. Our guide book had shown a multitude of activities around Mossels Bay but none that we could spend the time on given our tight schedule. The one activity that seemed interesting was sandboarding on the dunes (the icon in the guide book looked like a snowboarder) but we never found the physical location for the activity.

Continuing on the Garden Route
(Cindy sleeping in the car)

Overnight in Knysna 
We carried onward along the Garden Route to Knysna, which turned out to be a small resort town, similar to Lake Geneva or New Buffalo. We arrived in the early evening and checked into The Lofts - a cute little boutique hotel on Thesen Island overlooking Knysna lagoon. 

View of Knysna from our room
(I shared with Selcuk & Cindy)

The Lofts at Boatshed in Knysna 
(walkway to our rooms)

Knysna was a sleepy town with daytime family activities and water sports. We learned about the oyster farms and were told that the largest number of farmed oysters in the world come from Knysna, but I'm not sure if that is true. 

The shops and restaurants in Knysna were typical of those you would find in resort towns in the U.S. Thesens Island had a handlful of pub-style restaurants and the only place in South Africa where I saw Jalapeño Poppers on the menu. There were a few upscale shops on the Island, like an antique clock dealer where I saw a gorgeous 17th c. French clock valued over $4K, and a fair number of high-end real estate brokers. 

After we did the check-in dance, like the chicken dance but instead each person must examine every room and call dibs on the one they want, we didn't have much time to explore anything outside of Thesen Island. We attempted to have dinner at Zachary's in the Conrad Pezula but it was closed. See more about Knysna here.   

Dad in the passenger seat
My dad in the passenger seat along Garden Route
(the driver sits on right in South Africa)

Continuing on the Garden Route - Stormsriver
Our next stop was Tsitsikamma and Stormsriver for lunch. Meals were a big part of this trip because my dad had to eat a minimum of three seated meals per day. Of those three seated meals, it was imperative that two included soup. Why did the man need soup in the middle of summer? I cannot say. By this point in the trip, we had stopped asking questions about my father's dietary habits (and other habits I don't care to mention). But just as certain as my dad was to order soup at every meal, Mary was equally certain to tell us that her grandmother was the exact same way. The soup chain of events became a constant.

Storms River Falls
Tsitsikamma National Park - Storms River
(photo from the restaurant)

After a quick lunch, I walked up the trail to the suspended bridge. The trail was a lovely 15 minute hike with loads of trees along a neatly carved out path.

Suspended Bridge in Tsitsikamma
(auto awesome photo walking on the bridge)

I was glad we stopped in Tsitsikamma National Park because it was a beautiful lush area worthy of exploration. The restaurant looked over a swimming beach (weather permitting) and there was a camp ground where campers parked above the crashing waves. Frankly, I could not see parking my camper that close to a cliff overlooking an ocean. As I looked at the campers, all I could imagine was gust of wind carrying my camper straight up and into those rough waters for my sad and untimely death.  

Mary on the Garden Route
(she was reading Coetzee) 

Captain Hindsight 
At some point on this drive, my brothers coined me Captain Hindsight for my irrefutable talent of knowing exactly what the best choice would've been after we had just experienced the opposite. Therefore, I feel compelled to share my talent now.... Given the opportunity to change our sequence of events, I would spend time in Tsitsikamma versus Knysna. I prefer the forest and natural beauty of Tsitsikamma National Park over the resort town hotels and activities of Knysna. 

Read more about #ArsansInAfrica
See my South Africa pics on Instagram @LeylaRuinsEverything 
See my South Africa pics on Flickr 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On Top of the World

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Standing On Table Mountain 

Post-paragliding in Cape Town took the funicular up to the top 

Standing On Top of Table Mountain

I broke away from the pack on day two of our trip to South Africa and started my day at a normal hour (earlier than the others). 
  • Took at taxi into town and headed to Robben Island for the 9AM tour
  • Sprinted to the mall and grabbed a local SIM card and data plan for my phone... very important! 
  • Made it up to Signal Hill to paraglide (see my post here paragliding over Cape Town)
  • Met the family at Table Mountain to take the funicular up to the top -- I was there an hour earlier than they were and managed to accomplish two additional tasks 

Robben Island prison - World Heritage Site

Table Mountain Cape Town 

No surprise, day two was my most accomplished day of the entire trip! 

Read about my paragliding experience now

See my pics on Instagram - @LeylaRuinsEverything