Traveling west – the digital humanities tour day 7

IMG_0868-PANODay 7 (June 7, 2015) – Anacortes to Victoria, BC (60 Miles) We took the Anacortes Ferry through the San Juan Islands, which was very cool – the longest ferry ride I have ever taken. Seeing the islands was beautiful, and I took way more pictures than I really needed to – I think I was using the camera to try and capture my feeling for the place, instead of just pictures. The ferry took us to Sidney, BC and we drove into Victoria.IMG_0938

We stayed at a house we found on AirBnB and it was really really cool, close to downtown and the hosts were great. More on that in a post coming soon.

All in all, 60 miles was a pretty relaxing day, especially since I only drove about 20 miles.

We went to Floyd’s Diner in Victoria and had a great meal, then checked in to our apartment. Since it had a kitchen and a fridge, we walked about 1/2 mile to a supermarket and stocked up for the week.

Traveling west – the digital humanities tour day 5 and 6

Pike's Place MarketDay 5 (June 5, 2015) – Spokane, WA to Seattle, WA (279 miles). So far, this was the scariest (for me) drive through the mountains, with the best views and the most beautiful landscape. The scenic viewpoint that I mentioned in the last traveling post actually happened today – but right now I’m feeling too lazy to go back and correct it. Drove to downtown Seattle, found a lucky parking spot, and took about three hours to walk through the famous Pike’s Place Market.

We left Seattle and made the short drive to Medina – we stayed with friends who live in the neighborhood where Bill Gates lives. We didn’t drive by his house, and we didn’t even know that Gates lived there when we went, it just seemed interesting to note. Dinner, chatting, and sleeping, and we were ready for the next day.

IMG_0785IMG_0785-2This area is home to Mount Rainier, the volcano that seems to loom over everything, although it is beautiful to look at. My phone didn’t really capture the enormity of the volcano in the background of the beautiful lake scene – pictures are never like being there.

Day 6 – Seattle to Bellingham, WA (87.4 miles) to Anacortes, WA (40 miles)

IMG_0837It was a nice, easy drive into Bellingham, and we were lucky enough to find a parking spot immediately downtown, right next to the farmer’s market. The market itself was much less busy than Pike’s in Seattle, and that made me like it a lot more. We met some friends at The Woods Coffee and chatted for a while. I also had to check out ecigexpress Bellingham, which is where I have been ordering the majority of my electronic cigarette supplies for the past three years. (Yes. Yes I do.)

We left Bellingham and headed to Anacortes, our next destination. As we neared our friend’s house, we drove over a two-bridge scenic view called Deception Pass, which is worth checking out online, though I didn’t get any photos of it myself.

Deception Pass - I stayed in the car, but Janelle got out and took some pictures.
Deception Pass – I stayed in the car, but Janelle got out and took some pictures.

IMG_0855After visiting our friend, we headed closer to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal for our trip tomorrow by ferry to Sidney, British Columbia, Canada. We got lucky, and found a motel, Lake Campbell Lodging, that had their vacancy sign out. We spent the night across from the lake – like right across the road from the lake. It was great. Janelle and I ate dinner sitting out front of the motel, looking at the water and boats. We went to bed looking forward to our boat ride to another country.

More soon…

Vertigo – any help would be appreciated.

640px-Glass_Floor_of_the_CN_TowerI’m trying to put things in perspective here,

for myself as much as for anyone who reads this. I am NOT scared of heights. Of course, there’s the old joke that says, “I’m not scared of heights, I’m scared of falling.” Not so funny because it’s true. However, I don’t have any problems with heights in general, except that every once in a while something will trigger either vertigo (as I understand it) or something else that makes me feel like I’m going to lose control and fall over or worse.

Because this feeling is induced by heights, for the longest time I thought I was afraid of heights and I stuck to the ground as much as possible. But over the course of time, too many things have happened for my problem to come from the fear of falling.

Vertigo as I understand it:

640px-A_leaning_child's_view_through_a_skyscraper's_window_and_glass_floorI somehow fear that my body will lose control. There’s no actual fear played out, I don’t feel dizzy, I don’t feel like I’m going to fall over, there’s no “end result” that I’m scared of. It’s hard to describe, I just feel like I might lose control of my body. I also have a physical reaction, a not quite painful feeling throughout my body that I can only describe as sharp. I feel it in my legs, stomach, groin, and arms. It’s the feeling I get when I’m going down a hill in a roller coaster, but it happens when I’m standing still.

The internet is full of articles, but vertigo is always described as dizziness or the feeling that one might fall over. None of the descriptions of the problem have ever been close enough to my own symptoms for me to feel comfortable diagnosing myself with the word.

When vertigo “kicks in”:

When I am up high, like in the mountains, and I am trying to walk closer to the edge. Even if the edge has a fence and there is no way that I could ever accidentally fall, the vertigo still rears its ugly head. I was in Washington just a few days ago at the Columbia River, and we pulled over at a scenic viewpoint to take some pictures. I did okay…



If you see the plaques on the lower left and right hand sides of my photo, you will understand that this “edge” is a tourist attraction, and people are meant to walk right up to the plaques and read them. I couldn’t do it. This photo was taken with my iPhone about 10 feet away from the edge. I just wanted to walk up and touch the stone at the lookout point, and I took steps towards it, but just couldn’t finish because each step got more and more painful. But it’s not only being up high that  causes my vertigo…

When I look up at a high object, even though my feet are solidly on the flat low ground. The higher the object, the more intense the feeling of vertigo.

One time I was (as a car salesman) carrying helium balloons outside to affix to the cars in the morning. I was actually scared to carry them to the car because I had the feeling that if one of the balloons got away I would experience that loss of control. The thought of watching a helium balloon go up and up and up triggers the vertigo.

Nothing to fear but fear itself…

As I was driving through the mountains the other day I realized that I wasn’t scared of driving through the mountains. I wasn’t scared of going off a ledge and dying. I was scared of experiencing that loss of control that comes with SEEING the heights, and the expanse of nature. I have the same exact feeling if I’m on the low ground and see a huge mountain next to me, and I’m scared of that, too. So it’s not heights… But it does create a lot of fear – I’m scared of the vertigo, the problem, itself.

So when I head towards the mountains again on the way home, I will be scared, but not scared of the mountains.

WebMD on Vertigo

Wikipedia on Vertigo

Wikipedia on Acrophobia (fear of heights) with special guest star, Vertigo

This represents three of the sites I used to look for my specific issue, but I researched quite a few more that all said about the same thing.

Traveling west – the digital humanities tour day 3 and 4

IMG_0274Day 3 (June 3, 2015) – Sioux Falls, SD to Billings, MO (660 miles). Stopped in Montrose, SD not too long after we started out because we saw a giant metal sculpture of a bull, and that is usually how we go sight-seeing. Something catches our interest and we stop. It turned out to be Porter Sculpture Park, and we talked to the artist, Wayne Porter, for a while, and paid to walk through the sculptures ($8 US per person, Amelia was free. He offered us a golf cart to drive through the park because we were carrying a baby, but we declined – too much driving, the walk sounded great. (I have a link to a gallery of my photos I took at the park here. I also have a standing offer to stop by when I have more time and have a beer with Wayne – which is now on my list of things to do. But not this trip. IMG_0254    We also made a quick stop at the (apparently) famous Wall Drug Store in Wall, SD. It was a little too touristy for our tastes, but they had diesel for the micro-van (VW Golf).

One really cool mention about Wall Drug was the sanctuary – it seemed really peaceful -after all that driving and then stopping at Wall and seeing thousands hundreds (edited: author is prone to hyperbole) of people walking around making noise – to walk into the sanctuary where there was a nice respectful silence. People were noisy until they came in, and then serenity kicked in. IMG_0638Day 4 – Billings, MO to Spokane, WA (540 miles) This is where we started getting into the mountains Continue reading “Traveling west – the digital humanities tour day 3 and 4”

Traveling west – the digital humanities tour day 1 and 2

IMG_0167Janelle got a scholarship to take a one-week digital humanities course at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada. She’s been wanting to travel west for more than three years, and I always recommend the south instead. I am addicted to our Southern history and sites, but mostly I was trying to avoid driving through the mountains. I bit the bullet and said, “Let’s make a road trip out of your course.”

Day 1 (June 1, 2015) – From Erie to Chicago, 450 miles. Not much happened on this part of the journey, except that Janelle and I learned a little bit more about traveling with a baby (We did take a trip to Savannah, GA earlier this year, so we were a little bit used the idea.)

Day 2 – From Chicago to Sioux Falls, SD – 575 miles. We stopped at  Continue reading “Traveling west – the digital humanities tour day 1 and 2”

Travel Log: Vegas 2012 and the rules of the game

The rules to the game
The rules to the game

As if the excitement of gambling wasn’t enough, Janelle and I came up with our own rules for a game where we compete against each other with slot machines.

Yes, we were there for educational purposes. Yes, we were there to learn. Yes, we gambled.

We went to the NCTE conference during the day, hung out at night. We met a couple of friends who were also there for the conference, and we ate at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant at the MGM. It was a really fun time. We got to screen a pilot episode of a pretty stupid TV show and give our opinions. I wasn’t kind. I walked the strip several times, and bought the best shoes I’ve ever owned (and the most expensive!)

My neck and shoulder were killing me the entire trip, I’m pretty sure it’s due to the all of the cramped flights. But no complaints, because I always remember the best parts.

Matt and Janelle | August 2013 – Our trip southwest


See the post on our website, with a bunch of pictures:

Day One – Erie to West Virginia – Camping at Bee Run Recreational Area in Sutton, WV. Every single campground we stayed at (except for the KOA) said “No alcohol” so we had to sneak our beer. Every time. Kinda made it fun.

Day Two – From Sutton to Nashville, TN. Drive took all day, so we just slept and drove.

Day Three – Toured Nashville, ate some lunch, watched some live music and had a couple of beers. (Three beers and two shots in downtown nashville was $26.00) Moved on to Memphis, TN. Slept at Meman-Shelby Park in Memphis.

Day Four – Woke up and toured Memphis, at lunch on Beale Street. Drove to New Orleans, LA, and set up at a KOA, then drove to downtown New Orleans and walked Bourbon Street. Had pizza and margaritas on Bourbon Street, then went into a club and watched a cool blues band and had a couple more beers.

Day Five – Drove the scenic route all along the Gulf of Mexico (On the Gulf drive, a giant rock hit our window and cracked it, so we made an appointment in Houston to get our windshield replaced) and into Port Arthur, TX. This is the first time I have taken a vehicle onto a ferry, just before the Texas, Louisiana line. Slept on the beach at Sea Rim State Park. We got our car stuck in the sand on the beach and had to get towed onto harder sand the next morning. A bit stressful, but the stay was still beautiful.

Day Six – Drove into Houston to get our windshield repaired, then to Corpus Christie, TX, where we stayed on the beach again at Mustang Island State Park. This time we parked in a parking lot and walked to our campsite on the beach. It is really awesome to fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves.

Day Seven – Drove to San Antonio, TX and stayed in a hotel to take real showers and try to get the sand out of everything. It was an Extended Stay hotel, so Janelle cooked us an awesome pasta dinner and we watched Dawn of the Dead on SyFy.

Day Eight – Worked at a Starbucks in San Antonio, the drove to Luckenbach, TX. There was live music going on, and after talking to the musicians, we were asked to come up on stage, so we each sang a song. That was an amazing experience. We drove through Waco and into Fairfield, and stayed at Fairfield Lake State Park.

Day Nine – Fairfield to Tulsa, OK. Stayed in a hotel in Tulsa, across from Oral Roberts University. That was a little creepy, with the giant hands statue and all. Went to a Mediterranean restaurant (Helen of Troy) in Tulsa.

Day Ten – Tulsa to St. Louis, MO. Stopped to visit and take pictures of the Gateway Arch. Janelle saw a little side street with bars, so we walked there and had dinner and drinks at Hannegan’s Restaurant and Bar. Drove a little further towards home and found a motel.

Day Eleven – Drove all day, then home sweet home.

via Matt and Janelle | August 2013 – Our trip southwest.

Ehhhxcellent…Meh heh heh.

In Tulsa, we stayed across from Oral Roberts University. It was an interesting hotel experience – at one point we needed a corkscrew for our wine, and we called the front desk. They had one – I mean one! – and handed it to us. The lady said, “Please don’t tell anyone we gave this to you.” Weird.

So, the big ORU sports a gigantic statue of praying hands, which is creepy in itself, and a little extravagant for a religion that tells you to feed the poor. I assumed they were praying hands, but Janelle pointed out that they looked more like Mr. Burns’ (of Simpsons fame) hands.

Excellent. Meh heh heh.



Toilet seats and other personalities

Although I wasn’t able to see any attractions while I was in San Antonio, TX, I did check out my Trip Advisor app to see what was around me. I was surprised to discover that there was a toilet seat museum. That’s AMAZING! Another thing that life has to offer if you open up your eyes and look around.
toilet seat

I checked out the reviews to see why this was a five-star attraction on Trip Advisor, and it seems that the attraction is secondary to the owner himself, Barney Smith. People were raving about his personality and how special it was just to be around him.

One thing that I have long held true in the art of being human is that people are interested in people. I could be an amazing magician and have a lousy personality and nobody will really care about my show. I wouldn’t be memorable. The same holds true with a toilet seat museum. I can imagine that if you had no personality you wouldn’t be able to keep an attraction like that open for long, or in the very least you wouldn’t be making any money.

Barney Smith is making his oddball museum a success because of Barney Smith, not because of some decorated toilet seats. Card tricks, toilet seats, and everything else under the sun are simply good excuses for people to relate to one another, and nothing more. It’s not about what we usually think it’s about.