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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where do I want to go?

July 31, 2010
Location: Rio Rancho, New Mexico

I've been trying to sit down and think of all the fantastic places to see and the things I want to do while on my trip. I've decided that the most logical place to start might actually be Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Most people think of Vancouver as the Hong Kong of the west, but what most people don't realize is the city is incredibly proximate to almost every other major city on Earth. The geography of this region of the world puts Vancouver less than 7,000 miles (single hop) distance of every city of 10 Million or more people on earth. It's also close enough to Albuquerque to be only two days drive or a two hour plan ride to home.

At the moment, I have my trip set up to do the following:

Start at Albuquerque to Denver, Denver to Yellowstone National Monument, Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Niagra Falls, Chicago. From Chicago, Take an Aer Lingus Flight to Europe.

Arrive in Europe. Hit Ireland and the UK. Do the Eurotrash/EuroRail hostel circuit hitting all the major cities in Europe. I might find time to do a gay cruise on the Mediterranean sea. Get to Moscow, take th e Trans Siberian/Orient Express railroads through Mongolia to China. (Note an effort was made to skip both Africa and the Middle East).

Arrive in Asia. hit Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka. Continue on to China. Motorcycle across China to Tibet. Hit India. Complete Indian circuit. Continue commute down to Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. Continue down to Australia. Hit Darwin. Continue onwards from Darwin to Cairns, Australia. Spend two months snorkeling the great barrier reef. Continue southward to Sydney. See extended family in Brisbane and Sydney. Fly from Sydney to Buenos Airies. Do the Argentine wine and party scene. Hit Carnival in Rio De Janerio. Continue Northward to central America. See my aunt in Belize. Return from Belize through Costa Rica and Jamaica to Florida. Return to Albuquerque from Florida.

.... Any ideas?

- Brad

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why I won't buy Overseas Health Insurance

July 29th, 2010
Location: Lovelace Westside Hospital ASCU, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Hi everyone. I am pleased to announce that my ankle surgery went really well. I am home with a stash of happy pills and a 40oz Arby's Diet Peach Iced Tea at my side while I type this. Thanks for all your notes/Facebook messages/phone calls/texts with your well wishes.

This is one of those blogs where the "brush your teeth and save" crowd will absolutely disagree with me.

This blog is about health insurance while traveling. More specifically, it's about NOT getting health insurance while traveling. Lately I have been thinking about how awesome it would be to be an illegal immigrant inside of the United States. In addition to not having to pay income tax, state taxes, property taxes, social security taxes, Medicare taxes, Medicaid taxes, vehicle taxes and car insurance, any medical malady I come across I can simply lie about who I am, not be subject to any sort of collections and receive any medical care I need for free. All I have to do is stop what I am doing, and visit my local emergency room or urgent care center. If given the opportunity, I think I should be irresponsible and enjoy free care at the expense of taxpayers in another country. I figure if I have been subsidizing free care for illegal immigrants here, then it is time for me to enjoy the same services and rights overseas in another country.

Well, if I know countries that have socialized medicine programs focus on providing care rather than administrative costs, I should be able to walk in. I know several people who had minor injuries in Australia, Great Britain and Ireland who walked right into the hospital received excellent care and walked out. Why would I worry about these expenses if I knew I was going to be covered? Further, if I know I can always hitch a plane and ride into a country with socialized medicine to receive care, why would I bother with the purchase of insurance? Additionally, if the facilities are absolutely filthy and not up to par, wouldn't I just end up catching a plane back to the United States if my condition were stable anyway?

Here's another consideration: Any sort of financial or contractual obligation I enter into overseas cannot be enforced in a United States courtroom. Simply because I have US citizenship does not make that contract enforceable here. For a contract to be enforceable overseas it must be a contract signed into and agreed upon by the parties to have US courts enforce the contract. That's required for any type of collection activity to take place. So, even though a debt may exist overseas, collecting it here in the USA may be another matter altogether.

I often wonder if the Overseas Health Insurance providers know this and simply charge the fee to make dumb Americans pay it anyway. I look forward to your comments on this.

- Brad

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Great Big Backpack Hunt

July 28, 2010.
Location: Renaissance Shopping Corridor in Albuquerque, New Mexico

I went shopping for a backpack for this World Tour yesterday. Before reading any further, I should state openly that shopping, fashion, and going into a $50 or greater purchase unprepared simply isn't my cup of tea. I'm usually awful at making any sort of cloth-related purchase. I don't really see any issues wearing socks with sandals. I also don't understand why plaid doesn't mix with stripes. (I just shattered half my readerships stereotypes of me. Yay.) When the challenge to find an adequate pack for this trip came up, I spent most of today researching on what I need and want out of a pack and what I want to buy/bring for the road. I found little information on deciding on a pack for the GLBT crowd. so I've decided to spice this up a bit. This is, after all, The Big Gay Travel Blog and I'd like this to be a bit more exciting than the thirteenth Cher final-farewell tour or a new Sex and the City movie.

First: deciding on the right pack. This is something that will be an intimate part of this trip a for a very long time and probably isn't a place to skimp. From my research. a pack should be something that is lightweight and intelligently designed more than anything else. For Women and owners of Man Boobs (me) in my readership, I'd imagine a pack that minimizes chafe to the lady orbs would be appreciated. For the Fellas, It's important that it can be worn in such a fashion that your biceps and Pecs look HUGE. For the bisexual and transgendered crowd, having stow-away or hidden compartments will be EXTREMELY important. Whatever your gender affiliation, Your body is designed so that 70-80% of the weight from a pack should be on your HIPS, not in your shoulders. So it's important that a pack feature adjustable hip and back straps that correctly allocate the pack weight. It should also have enough room for your stuff, be a culturally neutral color, and not attract too much attention to yourself.

Let's face it: As Americans we're a bit wealthier than other countries. So, when the chance comes up for someone to steal $2000US worth of stuff in a country where the average worker busts his butt for 70 hours a week to make $500US a year, you're going to be a pretty good target for attention. My research indicated that a pack should have a minimum of exterior pockets and built solidly so cannot easily be broken into by a thief, yet has places to hide emergency cash or credit cards. It should also ideally have wheels on the bottom to pull it through long airport drudgery. I like the idea of a pack that is packed so I can use my bag as a pillow whenever I travel. I also like the idea of a pack that can separate, so I have a small bag that can fit a snack, hydration pack and camera while my larger pack is under lock and key.

In my shopping excursion today I generally found the folks at REI to be more helpful than their competing counterparts. The REI Team thought it was important to be fit correctly. The sportsman felt it was more important to man up and get a pickup truck to haul your gear in instead of doing a sissy backpack tour. The "sportsman" was also an imbecile 16 year old kid obviously raised in a red household working for a company more interested in cost cutting than customer service. REI won big points on that. But the Sportsman warehouse won big points with an average bag price of $120 instead of $325.

Next, deciding what I need to put into the bag will help narrow down the decision.

The golden rules of packing are as follows: (We all know gay people are experts at packing stuff in right?)

1) If I cannot get it locally or need it to get to my destination, it gets packed
2) If it keeps my sanity, health and/or comfort, it gets packed
3) If the item is so expensive or sentimental I can't lose it, it doesn't get packed.
4) If it will get me killed or hurt for being different, weights a lot, isn't absolutely necessary or can be purchased upon arrival, it doesn't get packed.

With #4 in mind comes a big controversy. I'm all about showing my pride and not being ashamed for who I am. However, one of the big rules I've been alluding to is how tolerance of GLBT individuals is different in the world. I'd much rather not have a liability in my bags at a border control crossing scenario. Sure, I have my pride, but I also have my brains and want my nuts intact too.

The general advice I got from my research on this was that the world has ample supply of Washing Machines, Food, Fresh Water, Clothing, Shoes, Swimming Trunks, Towels and will find anything I need readily available. I should be encouraged to purchase ethnic clothing and participate IN a culture instead of looking AT the culture and shirking at it. With that said, there were a bunch of things I think I should bring that are small and important. I would imagine the world will be full of people wanting personal details and to talk about where I am from. I find myself suddenly searching for small knicknacks I can bring to give away and maybe stamp my personal contact details to keep in touch with people I meet on the way.

Brad's Packing List:
1 - Camelback Backpack
1 - Large Pack
Lightweight Water Repellant Jacket - 1
T-Shirts - 2
Shorts - 2
Jeans - 1
Button Up EZ Iron Shirt 1
Shoes (Orthopedic/Dress)
Undies - 3
Socks - 2 white, 1 Black

HP 8" Mini Netbook
Apple Ipod Touch 8GB
Small 12Mp Digixam (Pentax W90?)
Playing Cards

Toiletries / First Aid
Anti- Diahrea Tabs
Manscaping Equipment
Toothpaste / Toothbrush
Q-Tips (5)
Small Plastic Baggie
Rubbers / Lube

20 passport Photos
100 Postcards from New Mexico (to trade/Thank)
Credit Cards (kept in separate places with one at home)
Cash (kept in several places, no more than $300USD/EUR)

.... More to be added.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wings, Ankles, Mending and Planning

Created on July 27, 2010
Location: Rio Rancho, New Mexico, United States ("Home")

Recently I went out with a few of my friends to Buffalo Wild Wings. If you aren't familiar with this restaurant, the service is simply terrible, the wing sauces are mediocre and the atmosphere is both loud and visually confusing. It's clearly designed for heterosexual men with no interpersonal or social skills to go out with their buddies, pretend like they are socializing, yet be mocked incessantly for what they say or feel by the same 'buddies' who should be supporting them. It's the classic straight male catch-22: being honest makes you weak yet not talking about a problem makes you appear stronger yet hurts more and doesn't solve the problem. The only reasons I go there is because the restaurant succeeds in winning the favor of some of the trainee's at Albuquerque's UFC fighting training center which make for fabulous man eye candy. The other reason is it's a great excuse to eat awful-for-you food, drink beer and not worry about six year olds listening in on a conversation because the place is so loud the other tables cannot hear the juicy conversation with tables that have non-hetero or mixed gender representation going on. That's actually 50X better than most other casual dining places in Albuquerque metro.

"You Realize You're Fucking Nuts, Right?" Was the expression on my friends faces when I first told them about my plans to travel the world by working my way through. It wasn't because my friends thought I wasn't capable, smart or dexterous enough to do this, it was because I was in crutches faithfully guarding my left leg and ankle with a completely serious stone face.

For those of you who haven't met me: Over the last two years I have been through some pretty significant bodily changes. I've dropped a tremendous amount of body weight. I regularly weight lifted, I did all kinds of cardio. I could be seen nightly with my trusty camelback water backpack and IPod touch walking the nature trail next to my house with my three Red Heelers. (Aka Australian Cattle Dogs). I really looked forward to this time on a nightly basis and found that lately the ongoing pain of walking just simply keeps getting worse.

I have suffered some pretty substantial ankle injuries recently. In fact, I've sprained my right ankle four times and my left ankle three times in the last two years. The left ankle continues to bother me and I finally broke down and went to see a foot and ankle specialist recently. It turns out I need to get some ankle surgery done and to have some ligaments rebuilt. At the moment it isn't clear how extensive the repairs need to be on my ankles, but for sure I know I will be out of commission for the month of August and I'm targeting a departure date sometime in September. I go into Surgery Thursday (July 29h, 2010).

I'm going to use this time constructively to plot a very basic outline of the journey and get needed supplies together to make it work. A huge whirlwind of thoughts now swirl around my head on a daily basis. I have no idea what country to head to first. I also have no idea what I am going to pack or what I should do first, besides heal up. But, I thought it would at least be a good idea to sit down and declare what I'm trying to achieve with this trip first.

Brad's Main Goals:

1. Find a Skill I want to perfect and get really, really good at it while on the road.

2. Form an international group of friends ('minions') I can tap at a moment's notice to make money LEGALLY and FAIRLY. (I've read up on a lot of foreign scams. If I don't come up with the idea or don't have an idea of what I am investing in I won't do it).

3. Self sustain as much as possible while on the road to avoid abusing the state/fed unemployment insurance funds

4. Exercise. Have as much fun as possible while doing it. This might bean strapping on a backpack and walking the beaches of Nice as much as it could be Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef for a month.

5. Remain connected to current relationships while better trying to understand myself.

6. Have as much deep, passionate wild sex with foreign men as possible while not being arrested, executed, sick or deported. (Ideally: Finding Mr. Right Along the Way)

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Introduction to TBGTB

Well Hi there!

This blog is full of intrigue, suspense, adventure, sex, drugs, violence and fun. It isn't meant to be for the faint of heart or those who want a dishonest view of the world. It's also about a whole hell of a lot of "dangerous" decisions I made recently that, well, might not really sit well with the "work hard, save everything, be responsible, love your country, and brush your teeth" crowd. In fact, it problably won't sit well with a lot of people. The reality is, this is a forum to express my experiences and opinions. I make no apologies for what I think, who I am, or what I say. You are welcome to comment on any of my posts and give your insight. If I find time I just might read and respond to them. If you don't like what I have to say, please, do us both a favor and fuck off. Otherwise, strap in, this will be one hell of a trip!

So who the hell am I and why am I so..... cocky?

I'm a very pissed off 20-something college educated guy that did everything he was supposed to after college. I worked really hard. I majored in business administration instead of following something I was passionate about. I never really got the "after college" job that led to personal and financial independence I was supposed to with that course of study. I worked for two major fortune 500 companies in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. I was hired on at both companies, worked my way up, and was laid off after about two years due to relentless contempt for younger workers and downsizing.

So, I, like so many other people fell victim to the great recession and decided to take matters into my own hands recently. Knowing that I'm more likely to bed the UFC fighiting Championship winner in Las Vegas than land a worthwhile job anytime in the near future. (I'm a 225 pound, 5'11" fat white gay guy) I fully realize nobody owes me a damn thing. It's my responsibility to cultivate a (rare) yet marketable skill set, not be expendable, and have a strong enough social network to beat the odds, but I cannot have any of those things until I change my behaviors and travel a bit. I've decided that a year of touring the planet, consuming copious amounts of alcohol, playing around with my inner selfishness and generally having a good time cultivating that skill set would be a far better use of USA/New Mexico taxpayer dollars than sitting on my fat ass in front of my computer pointlessly searching for another barely palettable drone job for a year. The only thing New Mexico requires me to do is look for a job; nobody said I have to stay in the States, be Miserable, or Apply 112 hours a week to doing it.

So, with the above in mind, I've decided to give corporate America two big Middle fingers and let them know it's ABSOLUTELY OK to be a big time, cock loving, single white guy with a responsible head on his shoulders. I choose to live. I also choose to leave. I refuse to live in a patterned, safe, boring existence any longer. Since college, I have faithfully saved into my 401(K) and IRA accounts as much as I possibly could. Each time, I found that this strategy left me totally unprepared for unemployment and absolutely wholloped me with taxes when I needed the money to subsist. My journey is intended to change all of the above while financing it on the backs of the thieving assholes that wrecked the US economy in the first place.

In any case, I want this blog to be as much of a journey of you as it is for me. You see, I've decided I am going to take some "me" time for once in my life and actually do something totally self-serving for once. I'm going to make a completely irrational, unwelcome, stupid decision in my 20's that it might take the better part of twenty years to recover from. I'm going to strap on a backpack, put on a pair of walking shoes, three days worth of clothing changes, a netbook, a charger, an ipod touch, and my passport and hit the road. My goal is to tour the entire world, meet hundreds of exciting people, try to do all the things I wanted to do in college but didn't have the guts, time or resources to do.

I might find fame and glory, I might die, I might simply cut tail and run home to Mommy. But at least I won't die wondering anymore.....

I hereby present: The Big Gay Travel Blog