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No Air Time

Hey Team,

I’m a big fan of being around people in general…but I especially like being around large groups of people who have a lot in common with each other and nothing in common with me. Those are always guaranteed learning experiences. And this weekend was no exception.

It’s amazing how much you can learn about a sport like hang gliding without ever even leaving the ground. (You heard right folks, #23 still stands. More on that later though.) People (and this is true of any of those afore-mentioned learning experiences) throw out a LOT of jargon when they’re in a like-minded environment.

For example I now know what it means if you happen to use terms like “L and V,” “Milk a cloud” or “Ride a thermal.” In fact if you were to say to me, “Well, Brett, it looks like an L and V day but if you can milk that cloud you might be able to ride a thermal.” I’d be less inclined to call the police and have your ass arrested than I would have a week ago.

All of the hang gliders I talked to (the people not the actual gliders…that would be an awkward conversation) were down to More >

Glidin’ Seek

Hey Team,

I’m was just in Woodstock, Virginia for the first half of a two day hang gliding festival. So far no luck finding someone that can take me up. Apparently it takes a larger glider and a special certification to fly tandem. There’s still hope for tomorrow but the odds aren’t great…then again I’ve gotten pretty stinkin’ good at beating the odds lately. So, wish me luck.

I have to keep it short today, I’m in a car on the way to Pennsylvania and my battery is running low. But there are some awesome pictures for tomorrow or Monday and enough footage for a really cool video later in the week (maybe even on iTunes)!

AND, if you haven’t checked it out yet, there was an article about me in The Boston Phoenix that’s worth a perusal. It’s online here. Okay, gotta go!

Brett.

Mmm…rBGH

Hey Team,

If you’re ever in the mood to order the most labor-intensive drink you could possibly purchase at a coffee shop…go for the chocolate milk. If it’s anything like the experience I had today, you will not be let down.

I was at this little place by DePaul University in Chicago with my old college roommate, Allison, and her law school friend, Julianne, when I decided I had a hankerin’ for some chocolaty goodness.

Unfortunately, the only thing they had in their drink case was organic chocolate milk and thanks to my unnaturally strong “cheap bastard” streak that’s where things went wrong.

“Is this the only chocolate milk you have?”

If it had have been a dog behind the counter it would have tilted its head sideways and let out a short whine. Instead I just got a look that quickly and efficiently said, “What the hell are you talking about?” without ever requiring the barista to open her mouth.

“I’d just like regular, average, in-organic chocolate milk…I like that tang that rBGH gives it. Plus, I’m cheap.”

“Well I suppose we could mix you some chocolate milk back here. It would be the same price but you’d get quite a bit more.”

“Awesome!” Things were More >

Train-ed to Destroy

Hey Team,

Picture if you will…a young man sits alone in an empty train car. Absorbed in his computer he’s oblivious to his surroundings. He thinks he’s boarded a train to Chicago. Little does he know, he has boarded an express train DIRECTLY TO…”The Twilight Zone!”

I was on the train from Milwaukee to Chicago the day before yesterday and true to form I was taking full advantage of everything the train has to offer. Shamelessly treating it like my own personal office, the more so because I was the only in my car. I sat with Charley in my lap, cruising the “webernet” for helpful info on how to better amtrekker.com. In the seats surrounding me I had my camcorder, my cell phone and my digital camera all plugged in and charging (there’s only one outlet per seat).

We were about two-thirds through the relatively short trip to Chicago when the train started to slow down for a scheduled stop. Suddenly the train shuddered slightly…not much, just enough to make me think to myself, “Hmm…that wasn’t a very smooth stop. I hope they check the brakes when they get in.”

About five minutes later a conductor gets over the intercom, “Hey folks, nothing More >

Huckleberry Amtrekker

Hey Team,

I got my first good look at the Mississippi River yesterday while I was roaming around Minneapolis on a borrowed bicycle. Maybe it’s a little fanciful and nerdy but I stared at the water for much long than I needed to despite the fact that it’s a fairly small river when it’s passing through Minneapolis.

Part of that may have been because I kind of miss the Pacific and at least the river was rushing and had a couple cascading falls (St. Anthony’s Falls) so I could pretend they were waves. But largely I stared at the river because it was the first time I had ever seen it and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

I remember reading those books when I was in junior high and high school, especially Huck Finn, and thinking, “How awesome would that be to drift down a river and have total freedom.” Huck met incredible people and had new adventures everyday. I was jealous (granted, I probably missed the point of the story).

But now here I was staring at a river from a story that I never would have seen had I not decided to get up and More >

Bee Careful What You Wish For

Hey Team,

I just did something that falls firmly into the amazing category. I beekept! (Beekeeped? I think I’m making up words again.) It was a little creepy…but a lot awesome.

The dad of one of the guys I met at the ten-year reunion in Illinois keeps bees as a hobby. So I was just over at his place plundering the Hymenoptera palace. It was quite the experience, in more ways than one.

After getting suited up in some hardcore beekeeping garb I was handed a smoking can with a billows attached, a paintbrush and a pry bar…that’s when I started to think maybe I was just getting screwed with. But without a trace of a smile on his face Tom (in his own beekeeping paraphernalia) started walking me down the hill toward a ring of white boxes.

“This one right here should do,” Tom pointed with his gloved hand. “Just blow some smoke in the hole”

I THOUGHT, “That’s what she said!” But what I SAID was more like, “Okay.”

Apparently the smoke (from the can with the billows) makes the bees think there is a fire and they shift from “protect the hive” mode to “get the hell out” mode. And according to Tom, More >

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Flying Fire and Fireflies

Hey Team,

It’s been a HUGE week. #30, 33, and 38 all down the metaphorical drain! I’ve got a story about #33 all lined up for tomorrow. But today, for your viewing enjoyment, is a little video we’ll call “Mission: Firefly!” Enjoy.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player. var WT1_1 = { params : { wmode : "opaque", allowscriptaccess : "always", allownetworking : "all", allowfullscreen : "true"}, flashvars : { file : "http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amtrekker.com%2Findex.php%3Fxspf%3Dtrue%26id%3D49", volume : "80", bufferlength : "5", controlbar : "over", 'logo.hide' : "false", shuffle : "false", playlist : "bottom"}, attr : { id : "WT1", name : "WT1"}, start : function() { swfobject.embedSWF("http://www.amtrekker.com/wp-content/uploads/player.swf", "WT1_1", "437", "522", "9.0.0", false, this.flashvars, this.params , this.attr ); } } WT1_1.start();

And here’s the link if the video gives you wacky PCs any trouble.

Okay, looks like my work here is done!

Brett. Want to keep living vicariously? I know what you could do!

Don’t let me stop you.

God Bless Hamerica

Hey Team,

What a fantastic week! I’ve been up to my glaucoma-ridden eyeballs in mid-western experiences. Not the least of which has led to yet another objective being crossed off the list. I’ve spent the last couple days experiencing the definition of “obscure small town festival.” Welcome to the wonderful world of “Hog Days” care of Kewanee, IL!

In the last several days I’ve seen carnies with shirt stains outnumbering their teeth, I’ve seen locals out-carny-ing the carnies and I’ve participated in something called the “Hog Wallow.” I even have the shirt to prove it. (That means I’m up to four! Time to start worrying about backpack space.)

Here’s the rundown: Hog Days manages to cram everything you would expect to see in any movie set in the mid-west into three days. There was a parade, a hog kissing raffle, a flea market and even mud volleyball.

After much deliberation (and despite the insistence of the family I’m staying with that I include everything they’ve said and done in the last two days in this story) I’ve decided to focus on just one aspect.

The highlight of my weekend came when I met Jean, one of the crafts people with her own booth at the More >


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