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saw this sign today

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Look. #microscopy #discovery #exploration #fun #science #art #childhood #adventure #jupiter #telescope #microscope #infinitetiny

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2020 Recap

Yes, I’m late to the recap party but that’s pretty on brand for my blog isn’t it?

A lot has happened since my last post in November. 2020 was an insanely epic year for the birds which worked out well for my unintended big year. I picked up 13 birds in November, a month I was certain would be rather slow.

One of the most exciting birds was the Northern Shrike, but the most surprising was a Field…


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To whoever sees this, thanks for you’re time if you decide to read my thoughts. I’ve decided that I’ll start posting my writing online, just for the fun of it. This can help me record my progress at getting better at writing. I’m choosing to remain anonymous so that nothing in my life can clash with whatever I write about on this page. I’ve decided to refer to myself as Tucker. I like it, it’s laidback and masculine, but not overly so, with a hint of having to do with animals and being closer to the earth(in my opinion). I might post pictures or attachments, but they probably won’t include anything that’ll reveal anything about my identity. It’s not that I think this will ever garner enough attention to affect my personal life, but I just don’t want to take any chances of anyone I know finding out. I’m a little ashamed to do this, but I’m feeling really lost. I think like many other people my age (18 as of Jan 2021), I don’t have any idea of what I want to do after high school. I’ve been stressed out about how I’m going to make money to be able to live the way I want, however I try to live with a carefree mindset.

Bring back Tumblr blogs right?

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Time for a little update I suppose. So much has happened in the last 2 months, I’ve barely had a moment to rest, or plan, or in any meaningful way document the goings on in my life right now. On Oct 31st, amid the backdrop of my usual work and rental dealings, and having given away a significant portion of my remaining possessions, I left my place in New Hampshire with a seasonal tenant, and started driving south. The impetus was the same as last year really - a snowflake appeared in the forecast, and that was it for me in the Northeast. Covid be damned, I am NOT spending 6 months indoors! After a few days in Connecticut, I headed west to my first new destination in Pennsylvania, for a two week stay at Harvey’s Lake. After a long, productive, but lonely and largely repetitious summer, this marked the start of a whole new life. My past journeys have been little more than a prelude to what began barely two months ago.

I decided for this trip to shorten the length of my commitments. No more 3 month or 2 month stays, or even 1 month stays. Now, a long stay is 2 weeks. Standard is 1 week. One single week, and then I move on to a new destination, to the tune of another 6 to 8 hour drive, through unexplored territory, through areas never before visited. All by myself. And another big shift was that this year, I decided to always stay with airbnb hosts in their homes, rather than booking places all to myself.

The effect of these modifications has been AMAZING. What started conceptually as a nature tour of the national parks and forests, quickly turned into so many other things. I’m still getting to visit downtown areas and tourist towns, and all the sorts of places I’ve been accustomed to visiting - gluten free bakeries, restaurants, museums, libraries, shopping centers, hiking trails, parks, etc. And I’m only booking with people who have dogs now, so I’m on a quest to bond with as many dogs as I possibly can, and I’m loving it! And the hosts themselves have been awesome, I’m making friends all over the country and staying in touch with them. These are all places I could see returning to in the future. It’s been so refreshing! Change is so good for the soul, and each week is like living a whole new life. Every day, I force myself to get out and visit a few new places I’ve never been, and every day forms new lasting memories and new friendships.

The hills and farmlands of Pennsylvania were strikingly beautiful, and I had fun teaching the 13-year-old of the household how to use my Oculus Quest 2 (VR headset). Everywhere I went, I started a habit of asking people what they love about the area, and what they would recommend to a newcomer. I hiked through the dozens of waterfalls at Ricketts Glen, and drove through the Endless Mountains. Lots of fresh air, fresh scenery, and fresh ice cream. After two weeks, though, the cold was sweeping through.. and the morning of the first frost, I made a swift departure, and headed further south.

The route south to the Carolinas took me through Shenandoah National Park, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, some of the most incredible drives I’ve ever been on. Blue Ridge is literally hundreds of miles drive along continuous mountain ridges all down the Appalacihian range. I don’t know how I’ve never heard of it before! Knowing what I know now, I could seriously make a monthlong trip of progressively making my way down through Virginia and North Carolina, hiking and exploring each area before moving on. Arriving at Charlotte, I made fast friends with my new hosts - a trio of former software people. They generously invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them, and I gratefully accepted. I’m in almost daily contact with those guys still. A day trip to Asheville brought me onto an unfamiliar stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and secured that city as a definite future destination. After two weeks, cold weather chased me further south.. to New Orleans!

My week in New Orleans had an unexpected highlight, in the form of 6 little dogs belonging to the host. No sooner would I sit down on the couch than I’d be COVERED in dogs. Dogs simultaneously licking hands and arms and neck and ears.. I got to where I could pet 4 of them simultaneously. Some were more patient than others! My favorite, Zoe, was the least patient of all. Her stubby hind legs couldn’t get her onto the couch, so she’d dig her little paws in eager frustration, while letting out the most adorable barks, pleading to be picked up. After an hour of petting, she would be fast asleep on my lap. Naturally I visited Bourbon Street, Canal Street, and all the major highlights - Audubon Park and the Tree of Life, Harrah’s Casino, riding the street cars all through the city, and sampling whatever cajun and creole food I could eat.

I spent the next month all over Texas. Texas, which hadn’t even crossed my mind while embarking on this expedition, turned out to be an enormously diverse array of potential destinations, paving the transitional path to the great American southwest. First stop was a couple weeks in San Antonio, with its many miles long Riverwalk, tying together a bustling downtown, and connecting it up with various outlying areas. A day trip to Corpus Christi featured a tour of the USS Lexington, a WW2 aircraft carrier that saw active duty into the 60s and 70s before being preserved. Another day trip to Fredericksburg took me to the Museum of the WW2 Pacific Theater, and the LBJ Ranch. One more day trip up to Waco, and then landed in Austin for a weeklong stay (later extended to 10 days) with a local real estate agent, in her beautiful newly constructed home, with her two pugs. The hills around Austin reminded me of a plains version of Pennsylvania, and I can’t say enough good things about the hikes through Balcones Wildlife Refuge.

The drive west to El Paso was perilous in the wake of a freak snowstorm, and I was forced to skip my planned overnight visit to Big Bend National Park. But the ever evolving snow-covered landscape ensured the drive was anything but boring, at least for these New England eyes, unaccustomed to the variety of geographic formations I would be seeing. El Paso is SUCH a cool town. The way the mountains crawl right up to the city, with their scenic drives, and hikes through the Franklin Mountains, and the way the whole city sparkles at night as seen from my hilltop airbnb. I learned to love cheap, authentic Mexican food, which I never expected. Driving one long circuit through Guadalupe National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, Lincoln National Forest, and the White Sand National Park, really woke up me up to the fact that I’m finally OUT WEST! There are so many major destinations all over the place out here, unlike anything we have in the northeast. Descending down 75 flights into the Carlsbad Caverns is such an “oh shit” experience, I don’t know why I even bothered trying to photograph it. Formations that look 50 feet away in a photo, are actually like half a mile distant. Truly insane. Had a great time hanging out with my host - a single guy in his 50s, he seemed as happy as I was to have someone to do things with.

I bid him farewell on Sunday, and now, this week, I am finally in Scottsdale, Arizona. When I set out on this trip, “Arizona” was my vague, largely unplanned destination. Now that I’m here, realizing that it’s by far my favorite spot, I’m already extending the stay out to a second week, and contemplating a third. There is simply too much to do here, I can’t even wrap my head around it! I had planned a load of activities for Tonto National Forest, yet after 6 days I haven’t even managed to get out there yet! I visited the National Monuments of Coconino National Forest, and circled back through Flagstaff. The drive from there to Sedona made my head explode, route 89A is like another freaking planet. I could totally see having a little base of operations with proximity to Sedona somday. Here in Phoenix/Scottsdale area, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all that people have recommended to me. That’s in spite of already having visited Old Town Scottsdale, and Fashion Square, the largest mall in the state. I desperately want to rent a bike and do the entire Indian Bend Greenbelt. I want to hike Four Peaks, and drive up South Mountain, take a tour of Taliesin West, and the Musical Instrument Museum. I want to climb Camelback mountain, visit the Desert Botanical Gardens, see Arizona State University.. Cerreta Candy Company, Mystery Castle.. the list goes on and on. And there’s so much still to add. The thing with Scottsdale/Phoenix/Tempe is that it’s so spread out, it never really feels congested. There’s just a LOT to see and do here, and there are seemingly no bad neighborhoods. And I still want to do day trips to Prescott and Jerome! And return to Sedona for some actual hiking, instead of just the quick jog I did up to Airport Mesa, where I caught the sunset after my day in Coconino National Forest. I legitimately can’t believe there’s so much still to do, with little more than a week remaining before I head north to the GRAND CANYON!!!

My current hosts have a couple of enormous German Shepherds, one of whom is incredibly sweet! And they have an entire citrus orchard in their yard, which as luck would have it is presently bearing navel oranges and tangelos, which they’ve given me open license to squeeze for as much fresh juice as I can drink. We’re getting along really well - they run a personal finance blog, so naturally we had a ton to talk about. I over heard Steve telling someone that I’m even more of a finance geek than he is, which had me feeling pretty good haha. 

I have not seen a familiar face or any place I’ve ever been before, since Nov 4th. And I likely will continue in that vein for many more months, until I possibly sync up with family I haven’t seen for ages, in California. I will absolutely be driving up the entire Pacific coast highway, with detours to Sequoia, Yellowstone, & Redwood National Parks. After Oregon and Washington, my hope is that the border will open up, and I can make it to Vancouver, before turning east into Idaho, Montana, and down through Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado as the weather cools off later in the year. Somehow, I want to also spend a month in Hawaii. It messes with my plan for following the warm weather, but it’ll never be easier to do than right now. The time zone is not that far off, and the flight is the shortest and cheapest it’ll ever be. I’ve already priced out a monthlong car rental on Turo, and it’s not looking too bad..

Anyway. That’s where I’m at. I wait for no one, and I stop at nothing, to get where I want to go. This is my life now. Today I take the US by storm, tomorrow Europe, or Asia, or Oceania. The goal of financial independence, which I birthed and plotted for since I was a 22 year old kid, has this year been realized in ways that kid could never have imagined. Fuck yes.

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