Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Summer Raids - Driving, Family, and War

There's times when you need to just get away, to venture out into the world and see what you can in whatever way that you can. For me, that is far more frequent than most as I tend to go on summer raids annually.

In the past, they were short and easy trips to events throughout the summer. Things like Anthrocon, Pennsic War, and the renn faire.

These days, it's a bit more involved and this year is the largest of them in quiet some time. 5,500 miles of traveling, a month on the road, and a lot of time to figure out where my place in the world really is.

First off, you're probably think that I'm nuts and/or lucky to be able to take the time and afford such a large trip. It's mostly afforded by the advent of the Adventure Wagon and sleeping inside of it, or the backpacking tent during this. Also, the kindness of friends and campsites vs hotels and other very expensive means of accommodation.

That aside, the first leg of this year's Summer Raid had me going through many states I wasn't that familiar with. Nebraska and Iowa being the two largest for me, as I haven't been to either and they're quite beautiful too! The rest, I've been to a few times in the past and really just wanted to avoid Kansas at all costs, long story there but it involves another cross country trek to find myself.

Anyway, my journey to the first of the raiding targets, visiting family, led me through 10 different states and covered 2200 miles over the course of 4 days. A lot to do in 4 days, but also fairly relaxing.

I never once felt rushed, and sleeping in the back of the Adventure Wagon was pretty satisfying too, I'm hoping that on the way back it's a bit more comfortable as I now know what I'm doing a bit more on that front.

However, once arriving in New Jersey, it was a jolt of emotions and expectation that rarely meets with reality all that well. Not only has the trip so far given me a lot of time to think on my own life and recent events, but realizing that I've been away from family for the past 18 months has also made it far more clear that I have very little in common with them.

At a distance, things seem fine and normal if one were to overhear a phone call or see cards from birthdays and holidays. In person, you see two very different worlds colliding and causing a mess of things.

I have a brother who thinks my being gay is a massive problem and avoids me like the plague, but a mother that lives on another planet in orbit of a distant star which bares no resemblance to the planet we know and love even in the slightest. Don't get me wrong, they're family and I wouldn't wish any ill will on them, but they both live in a vacuum. And it's one they desperately need out of before they suffocate themselves with how little they have in life.

All of this comes from a place of knowing that both have been vibrant and full of life in the past. They didn't hide in their rooms, or feel the need to have a drink to gain an appetite...or more to the reality, deal with their emotions. They loved to travel, see things, and go places in the name of living life. Now? They are just hollow shells of themselves and while they do care and do still love with all they have, they have no joy from it, only sorrow and that hurts to see. It's difficult to parse and figure out when you're living a life of adventure, daring, and facing fears. To see those that helped raise you living so completely opposite of what you's heartbreaking.

Top that off with the other issues we have, and roughly 72 hours is all we can spend before someone says something to spark another off and a fight will happen. It's never anything major, but it just shows how far apart we are that small things can spark firestorms. And, while we do recover rather quickly from them, it still dents what should be a time of celebration. Again, a mere 72hours into a visit that's a year and a half in the making and a fight that tears the mood down entirely. It shouldn't be that way, but it is.

Why am I talking about this so much? A large chunk, nearly 1/5 of my trip is here with them. It was a large reason for even doing this and going s far off the path I would've had to. I did it because I wanted to, and the amazing thing is that I'm faced with the idea while we do love each other and call ourselves family, we're really not and truly haven't been for a very long time. There's glimpses of that life, and flashes of it race along the surface once in a while, but it's likely never to return again and that saddens me.

Journey's like the one I'm on are often ones of self evaluation in the face of different cultures, experiences, hardships, and life. Going from the culture of the life that I live, and those close to me, to this one of those who raised me, and the entire country between has shed light things in a very intriguing manner. It's going to take a lot of time to full process this and I'm sure that over the next leg of my journey I'll have time to do just that.

That next portion being a trek back across Pennsylvania to Pennsic War.

The annual madness of 10,000-15,000 gathering in the woods of Western Pennsylvania for large scale medieval reenactment of battles, merriment, learning, seeing old friends, and other debauchery.

It's "home" to me, and the point of this whole madness. Definitely going to have quite a few stories from that to come!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Adventure Wagon S1E1: The Retrieval

Well, it's been just over a week, and what a span it's been.

As many of you know, I've been on the hunt for a new car for myself. Why? Well, my old car was lacking in a few areas. Firstly, it was a bit too expensive for me these days, and secondly it was just too small given where my life is going moving forward.

It was a long, and kind of insane weekend of looking for a used car in a place about 5 hours away from where I live. Why so far? Simple. There's nothing where I live, and everything listed for used was trash in my price range. The Front Range of Colorado was the prime area to dig up some weird wagon fun.

After a list of about 50 cars, many of them disappearing, being sold, or never hearing back from, and driving all over Eastern Colorado (from Greeley to Colorado Springs), the search finally ended.

So, the only solution was to find something larger and more easily adapted to a life of moving about the country. The answer to what that would be? As it turns out, a nearly 20 year Volvo wagon.

No, it wasn't the only thing that I was looking at. Also in the running were a few Subaru Outbacks, a BMW, and even an Audi was in the mix for a little. That said, the Volvo was where my heart kind of was for a ton of reasons and one of them being that I just love the sleek boxy style of the turbo bricks of old.

Since that picture, there's been a lot of work done to the Adventure Wagon as well...

A ton of cleaning, a new driver font inner tie rod, the rear driveshaft was pulled (more on this in a minute), new tires, new headlight bulbs, new wipers (front, rear, headlights), a small patch to the driver's seat, and some seafoaming fun.

Now, about that driveshaft. Turns out, as luck would have it, the rear driveshaft on this car can be pulled out and everything be 100% fine and okay. Which, admittedly, is a little weird. Either way, since that thing needed removed as it was bad; I'm glad it was an easy fix. I do have every intention of getting it repaired but not until after the road trip. So, for a little while, going to be FWD only. No biggie on that.

Overall, I spent a bit more than I had intended thanks to the repairs but we managed to get everything ready to go! There was a lot of confusion, and some worry, but so far I've driven it about 1,000 miles and it's been amazing...even wounded as it was when we first picked it up!

I could write a lot more here, and I likely will continue this story. However, time of the essence and I'm about to go on a massive roadtrip with the adventure wagon here. So, stay tuned for updates from the road regarding that!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Adventure Wagon: The Saga Begins

Okay, so as you know, this place is gonna a lot more personal and probably going to learn a lot of information that you just didn't think you wanted to know, or don't care to. That's entirely fine in my world. The other two sites, that I previously mentioned will do wonders for ya if you're looking for haunt or streaming stuff.

Now then, with that out of the way, there's some matter of business that I need to get to here. That is the start of a new vehicular adventure. One that I am calling "The Adventure Wagon". I really don't know what else to call it since I don't have it yet. However, this is the start of the chronicling of that weirdness.

The beloved Mokona

As many of you know, I currently drive a 2013 Hyundai Veloster, named Mokona. I love my little hatchback of doom, but due to some life experience last year (and lots of financial reasons), it's time to say goodbye.

I will definitely miss it, but it's time to get something more...unique. So, what exactly am I looking for? A station wagon, or an estate, depending on where you live.

Why you might ask? Well, there's a few reasons for that one

First off, they're a lot bigger, and by that I mean absurdly so compared to my current car. The reason this is important is that I move around a lot. How much is a lot? About 35 times since I was born, some of the moves small, some of them spanning 1000s of miles. The extra room for moving would be greatly appreciated.

The other benefit would be that I can get the rest of my belongings out of storage and no longer have to pay that fee every month. It's not bad for a short term thing but we're getting close to a year and I'd really like to not have that over my head anymore.

Third on the list, it can tow things. I've always wanted a tear drop trailer to adventure and it would be perfect for that too! In leui of such things, I can always modify the back for sleeping on longer trips as well. A win all around.

The final bit, it would be something that is mine. This one is huge as I've lost a ton in the past year, and having something that is 100% mine? That would be massive in my world.

What are the contenders? A 2000 Volvo V70 and a 2003 Volvo V40. They're very similar in a lot of ways, and also different enough to know as well. One is also about $1,000 less than the other, which is a big thing in my world too.

Volvo v70 and Volvo v40 - The Contenders

I'm still on the fence about which one I'll be bringing home, but it's going to be happening sooner than later. Stay tuned for more updates on this one from the road to get it, and after as the next era of my traveling begins!

I think I sense a change in the wind, says I

Random bits of New Mexico!
Hello everyone! I'm back!

Well, I never really went anywhere, but things have been all too quiet around here. There's a been a ton of meditation, figuring, panic attacks, and I think a nervous breakdown or two in the past year.

Due to all of that, I've done a lot of thinking and come up with an all new plan of what do with everything here. It's a bit of a let's clean that up.

Either way, I'm back to doing the thing I love the most.

First off, the site is splitting up. Yep, you read that right. isn't actually going anywhere though, but there are two new additions to the family that myself and the team will be taking care of. So, just what does this all mean? This site is going to become three. Yes, three.

How am I going to manage posting to all three on my own? Well, I've actually put quite a bit of thought into that. My first thought was; I don't post that much as it is, anything is an improvement! And I'm not wrong. However, this is still three different sites with very different purposes and the focus is specific to each.

The new set up will run like this...

This site has always been a personal project of mine that took on a life of it's own and I want to return it to a more personal slant. Still, it'll be the place for convention coverage, travel blogging, personal projects and some other stuff along those lines. I've often shared my own personal views on various topics here, and that won't be changing so it shouldn't change too much really.

Updates probably somewhat frequently but may be only 2-3 times a week or less depending on what's going on at the time. Slow periods happen!

The all new site, still very much a WIP, is dedicated to all things haunted attraction! Just haunts and haunt related stuff all the time. Really looking forward to getting into that. If you're asking "Why that name?", it's something to geek out over, because it's the standard interior dimensions of a casket. 24x79 inches.

All of the haunt reviews and other info will be shifted over there, it's a process but very much worth it in the end. I think you guys will like the direction of things but more on that once the site is up and running.

Updates will likely be pretty consistent around haunt news announcements and when reviews take place in the fall. Hoping to do some other things with this as well, but we'll see how those plans turn out. Either way, fairly active.

This one, also a WIP, is for my stream on Twitch mostly. Because of that, it'll be very stream specific and have all sorts of living history, game related stuff, and likely some crafting going on there too. That said, there will be crossover going on between TVV and without question as things get intertwined a lot there.

Updates here will likely be slower, as the site is more information and static. Yes, there will be a Vixen Bites blog section there, but that will be for specific purposes and should update as the need arises, or is wanted.

That pretty much sums things up on that front. I'm really looking forward to the changes and am super excited to get things rolling. Why am I splitting things up? It's easier for me to compartmentalize things and from a business standpoint, far easier to keep track of what's what. Sure, there will be some overlap of topics and coverage, but overall, I think this is gonna work best for everyone at the moment.

Just when will these things start happening? Pretty much immediately. I can tell you that this site is going to take a big turn towards the more personal project route pretty quickly here.