Category Archives: What Am I Doing Here?

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!


The End of Vago’s Journey – The Beginning of Another

“Welcome Home”

Those were the words that drove it home for me and they came from the friendliest customs and immigration agent I’ve yet met. The officer processed my wife’s permanent resident visa paperwork and stamped my and my 20 month old daughter’s passports.

It was the first time I’d been on American soil excluding consulates in more than four years. It was the first time my wife and daughter had come to my homeland. My own first memory of San Francisco was when I was five years old. It was 1976, the bicentennial of the founding of the United States of America. San Francisco was filled with hippies and patriotic fervor as America struggled to come to terms with losing the war in Vietnam, the changes of the 1960s and 1970s and the excitement of celebrating our nation. Those memories are perhaps the most vivid and happy of my early childhood and as a result, I’ve always loved this city.

My grandmother used to sing “I left my heart in San Francisco” and  I used to love watching Rice a Roni commercials – The San Francisco Treat. I also remember watching the 1970’s crime drama The Streets of San Francisco with my parents. In the 1980s my high school physics class took a field trip to the Exploratorium and later my brother and sister both went to San Francisco State even though I went to University of Hawaii. Both of them have lived in this city, this wonderful, perhaps most wonderful, of American cities. My sister still lives here, my brother is considering a move back here, and I am also looking into seeing if we can find a way to make San Francisco our home.

My sister echoed the words of the customs officer “Welcome Home”. My wife is going to have to get used to hearing me called Chris. So am I. I’ll always be Vago, but of course, I’ve always been Chris as well.

Still, this is the end of Vago’s Journey. I’m not saying there won’t be another one – but this particular 4 + year jaunt is now completed.  Here’s the basics:

I left Honolulu in December of 2008. Traveled across the USA by train. Left New York in January 2009.  Landed in Spain. Met my future wife in Morocco in February of 2009. Married in April of 2010. Moved to Turkey in 2010 with the wife. Left Turkey in 2011. Our daughter Sophia was born in August 2011. From 2009 to 2013 I visited most of the countries of the E.U, the Balkans, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Egypt, Canada, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Mediterranean. It has been a wonderful 4 years of international travel. Two days ago, after a year to complete the visa immigration paperwork in Morocco – my wife, our daughter, and I boarded an Emirates flight in Casablanca after bidding fond farewells to her family.  We flew to Dubai where we saw the tallest building in the world and then we flew over the top of the world, crossed the North Pole and after 17 hours on the plane from Dubai – we landed in San Francisco where US Customs did credit to themselves with their friendliness, helpfulness, and organization.

Thank you Officer Yao. It’s very nice to be home.