Category Archives: Features

Weekly and Daily Features

Hurricane Katrina after Burning Man 2005


Well, after a completely surreal journey in planes, trains, RV’s, and art cars….I am back. Burning Man was indescribable…at least at the moment it seems so to me as I putter around my little place here in Hawaii and try to figure out exactly what I am doing here. Jet lag, culture shock, and general confusion as I look around and see how very….normal…everything is. My neighbor watering his grass, the breeze blowing through the mango trees, and the sound of roadwork coming from Kalaheo Avenue. I have to go to work soon…I mean I really have to go to work soon…like 20 minutes….and in a more urgent sense to make sure I can pay my rent… I don’t have the inclination to describe Burning Man right now, nor our serendipitous journey in the RV up the coast of California and through 3 deserts, nor our amazing adventures in the now non existant 7th largest city in Nevada.

For more on Burning Man have a look at this link:
Burning Man

Burning Man Katrina I would like to indulge in describing the most surreal moment of this journey. After 5 days in Black Rock City where there was no NPR, no TV, no commercial radio, no newspapers, and in short no contact with the outside world, we hurriedly packed the Tioga and began the long trek back to LA. We were shocked that gas prices had risen more than 20 cents a gallon while we were away. These things happen and we continued on our way through hundreds of miles of desert and ended up spending the night in an isolated RV park of which I will talk more later. In the morning we dealt with a flat tire and a rolled over hay truck and desperately tried to make it to LA in time to return the RV and catch our flight back to Hawaii….more on all of this later too. The surreal moment was looking at the New York Times (and every other periodical) cover story and realizing that New Orleans was destroyed, thousands are dead, hundreds of thousands homeless and evacuated, and that our country has completely failed in protecting the lives of those who need its help most. It was the first we had learned of it. My heart broke as I read accounts of those struggling, my anger rose as I read the spindoctors attempts to avoid blame for thier bumbling, and my sympathy and grief join those millions of you in hoping and praying that the worst of this is over and that life can resume in Louisiana. It is all I can write now.

Happy New Year from Vagobond

Welcome to 2015!

I’m not sure what 2015 holds for but I do hope that it’s a great year for you and your travels.

As for me personally, I will not be doing much travel this year. With a 3-year-old and two businesses on the Oregon Coast – this isn’t (most-likely) going to be a year where I go out and see the world – but there is certainly still plenty to write about. This year on Vagobond I plan to

1) Re-visit many of my travels from the past fifteen years

2) Look at destination planning and exploring some destinations I would like to visit in the future

3) Talk about some stategies for getting more from your travel through spending less, seeing more, and really getting into the places you travel.

Every Friday, I will post a new story and through the week, I will repost popular articles and stories from our archives. It’s far from the days when there were two new stories per day on Vagobond, but perhaps by the end of 2015 we can be back on track for that.

I wish you a very Happy 2015!


Santa Claus – Extraordinary World Traveler Vagabond

Santa Claus – He’s Not Who You Think He Is

origin of Santa ClausEarlier this year, before her 1st birthday, my daughter had the opportunity to visit the real home of Santa Claus. No, we didn’t go to the North Pole. Nor did we go to Lapland.  We didn’t visit with the elves or travel through the snow.

We were in Demre, Turkey. If you don’t believe me, you can read a little about the history of Santa on Wikipedia or you can just read on and trust me with the facts.

If anyone ever tells my daughter that Santa is a made up person, I can show her pictures of us visiting where he really lived. He was a real person. A person named Nicholas.

If you are one of those people who says Santa Claus isn’t real – you’re right because he’s long dead, but he was real. He was a real person, so if you are one of those people who say Santa Clause is a fictional or imaginary character – you are wrong.

Demre Santa ClausSanta Clause was born in the town of Patara , Turkey on the Mediterranean Coast. If you visit today you will find (much to the surprise of many) Santa shops, Christmas shops, and everything Santa you can imagine in this mostly Muslim town. At the time he was born, Turkey wasn’t yet a country and so despite being Anatolian, he was Greek. A Byzantine Christian to be precise. For those who don’t know, Istanbul was the capital of Byzantium and called Constantinople in those days.

His parents left him as a wealthy orphan and he used his inheritance to help the poor who weren’t as fortunate as he.  In particular, he was generous with children and traveled the known world distributing gifts and help to the needy.

Facts about SantaIn 325 A.D. He became the Bishop of Myra (Now Demre, Turkey) and was a part of the Council of Nicea who cobbled together the Holy Bible from a vast assortment of documents. He died December 6, 343 A.D. In fact, in many parts of Europe, December 6 is a day to give gifts and exchange presents.

Six Facts You Didn’t Know About Santa (From Natalie Sayin’s Turkish Travel Blog)


So, how did he become Santa Clause?

Here’s a story you won’t see in Christmas cartoons…one of the most famous stories of St. Nick’s generosity was when he gave three orphaned girls dowries so they would be able to marry and wouldn’t have to become prostitutes! It was this gift that some say led to the giving of presents on Christmas today!

Santa Claus is buried hereIn the 10th century – Myra was attacked by Italian sailors who carried away all the relics of St. Nicholas to Bari where they still sit today.  He is the patron saint of archers, sailors, and children to pawnbrokers.

After his death, he was attributed with miracles aplenty. He brought boys murdered by a butcher back to life, he kept a ship from sinking with his prayers, and he levitated one sailor from the water to save his life. Hmmm…I believe he can fly!

Clement C. Moore, an American professor of divinity, was the one who turned Saint Nicholas into Santa with his 1823 poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.” The poem provided the inspiration for the first portrait of Santa Claus, drawn by newspaper cartoonist Thomas Nast in 1870.

After he died, he was made a saint and a tomb was built for him in Demre. The Church of St Nicholas was built over that tomb in the 6th Century. It is a ruin now, but still a very beautiful piece of  Anatolian Byzantine architecture. Many of the mosaics and frescoes have survived.  There is a tomb there, but the bones are in Bari.

Baba Noel Santa Claus StatueSt. Nicholas is the paton saint of Russian Orthodoxy, so it’s not surprising that on peak days (around December 6th) you can find up to 60 buses per day of tourists – mostly from Russia. The government of Turkey issued a Santa Claus stamp in 1955 and have heavily promoted ‘Noel Baba’ as a tourist draw. It’s a pretty good one if you ask me.