New York State of Mind

After a glorious sendoff dinner at a Thai restaurant in Pittsburgh, we said goodbye to our friends and family and prepared for the next morning’s departure.  Morning?!?!  I don’t know who we thought we thought we were kidding, we didn’t get out of town until 4:20 PM.  It started with the bikes.  I finally got a response from Qatar Airways informing me that we did indeed need to pack the bikes in cardboard instead of bags which required making custom cardboard boxes from leftovers provided by a local bodyshop. (Thanks Dad).  Then we had to transfer the truck title to my dad so he could sell it for us.  We had trouble again at the car rental agency who said the car wasn’t ready even though we showed up the afternoon to pick up a car that was supposed to be ready at 8AM.  We had one last teary goodbye after lunch with my parents, then my dad held up traffic as he insisted on getting a video of us pulling out of the Bob Evan’s parking lot.

Finally, we were on our way, six hours behind schedule, but on our way to the Big Apple to see our Island Daddy!  I originally planned to stop in Princeton to show Lauren around the beautiful campus but our late schedule led us to a random Holiday Inn in New Jersey instead.  We sampled some exquisite NJ breakfast including pork roll at a diner then set off to drive into midtown Manhatten in a rented minivan like a couple of idiots.

We found our hotel and pulled over on the side of 10th Avenue to unload our bikes and luggage to meet a bellhop who was not amused.  We got checked in and returned the rental car then looked up Jefferey, our long lost friend who became family when we were married in St. Croix.  Thus started a weekend of glorious cuisine and time with a wonderful friend.

To kick things off, we had rum punch at Jeffrey’s and caught up on the latest news.  Next we were off to Greenwich villiage to see some sights that included Washington Square Park.  We happened to pass the Comedy Cellar which I recognized from the intro to Louie.  Finally we stopped for some incredible Italian food at La Carbonera.  On the way home, we got off the subway early to check out the capital of capitalism, Times Square…  5 minutes was plenty.

Sunday morning, we went for a stroll to grab breakfast and saw some of the crowd from the NYC marathon, we avoided them and headed back to Hell’s Kitchen for a drink.  We stopped at a place called Mr. Biggs not paying much mind to the rainbow flags out front.  We walked in to “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls blasting and the NFL on TV.  $4 for a Stella Artois draft seemed like a hot ticket so we figured, what the hell and stayed for a beer.  That night, it was dinner at Pio Pio on 10th Ave.  Holy shit was it delicious!  We started with pisco sours and ceviche, then dinner was a peruvian smorgasbord of a whole chicken, beans, potatoes, sausages, rice etc.   The food was phenomenal and we left very happy.  After dinner Lauren and I found a cool taproom called Kiabacca and had a few IPAs to end the night.  We noticed a few Japanese tourists who were using charades to talk to the bartender and realized, oh shit, that’s about to be us.

Monday we hooked up with Alex’s brother Simon in the villiage for lunch and chatted over some amazing falafel.  It was great to meet a fellow bike tourer and make another contact for the next time we are in NYC.

Monday night it was back to the villiage for Spanish paella with Jeffrey at Sevilla which opened in 1941.  The sangria was flowing and the food was spectacular.  The whole NYC trip revolved around food and did not disappoint.  The dinner, service, and company were top notch and we left satisfied.  We dropped Jeffery off and hit up Kiabacca again.  When it was winding down we started chatting with another Jeff who was bartending.  We hit it off and he loved our story so much that he hooked us up with some awesome pint glasses and a couple of tee-shirts.  We talked life philosophies and left the bar charged and ready to fly to Bangkok…  At 9PM the next night.  

Monday we met Jeffrey for brunch and said our goodbyes with a few tears, but happy for the wonderful time we were able to spend together.  Sometimes, a person walks into your life and changes everything.  We’ve been lucky enough to have this happen twice.  Once with each other, and again with such a loving, kind, funny and honest friend.  It’s a rare thing to keep a friendship going over such a distance and such a long period of time then come together and pick up right where you left off.  We are so lucky to have Jeffrey in our lives and are proud to call him family.

We spent the rest of that afternoon rounding up materials and packing our bags.  We caught an Uber to the airport with Raphael from the Dominican Republic and were treated to an entertaining ride filled with stories of his family and how he once hit a guy on a bike.  He was a great guy and we wished him the best as we were dropped off at JFK.

I’m not sure if we have bad luck or good luck, karma, or it’s just a byproduct of our complete lack of planning, but somehow things just seem to work out for us.  We call this phenomenon “Traveling Orlosky style”.  We sent so much time worrying about the way the bikes were packed that we neglected the bags full of gear.  Our IKEA storage bags had not stood up to the test.  One had a giant rip in it so we needed a replacement.  I ran around looking for a cardboard box, then the check in manager Kevan suggested I check the lost baggage office.  There in the corner were 2 glorious abandoned suitcases eminating rays of light and choir music.  The lady said they were mine so I grabbed them and we scrambled to repack all of our stuff.  To cap it off, they didn’t charge us for the extra baggage and it was only $65 a piece to ship the bikes.  FedEx was going to charge $900!  With our luck running high, I figured I’d ask for an upgrade to first class.  It was $1200 a seat, but Kevan said, “How about an exit row?”  Umm… ok.  The pictures​ speak for themselves.  Qatar Airlines wins.

What a ride!  It’s been four and a half months since my last day in the Air Force.  15 states, one eclipse, two families, a few great close friends and selling or giving away everything that doesn’t fit on our bicycles.  We keep looking at each other and saying, “It’s really happening!”  

Get busy living, or get busy dying…  We’ll take the former.

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On The Road Again

Sitting here in Pennsylvania at my parents house, I decided to finally update on the last several weeks.  It’s been a LOT of travel (About 6500 miles of driving) in the truck with tons of ups and downs and one undeniable conclusion.  Travelling by bike beats driving a car down the interstate any day of the week!

The eclipse trip was fantastic and served as a great shakedown of Lauren’s new bike and our gear.  We rested up in Fort Collins for a few days and then headed South back to Arizona.  Unfortunately, we missed out on visiting Lauren’s cousin on the way back due to timing but we were able to make it back to Tucson relatively uneventfully.

Our awesome friends Ben and Kelly offered us their house for a few weeks for the low low price of taking care of 2 adorable pups until they returned from vacation.  Kuiper (named for the astronomer) and Lefty kept us busy and Lauren was in canine heaven.  We spent some time with Deana who treated us to an amazing dinner and listened to Led Zeppelin on vinyl on her porch via the record player she dragged outside.  Ben and Kelly came home and we spent a few weeks crashing at their place and living it up Tucson style.

There was Donkey Kong Country at Ian’s until 3:00 AM, time spent with John and Connie, our retired beef jerky Connoisseur friend and his wife and plenty of IPAs and binge watching “Rick and Morty” on Ben and Kelly’s couch.

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We randomly decided on a Wednesday that we’d take a trip to Mexico with Ben, Kelly and Alex for the weekend.  It was a mad dash to square away passports and spare tires for the van with 200,000 miles on it.  We left later than intended (it’s a trend) and rolled up to a beautiful beach house that evening.  They didn’t even check our passports on the way into Mexico, so if you ever wanted to disappear, you could totally do it!  The weekend was a blast. Breakfast by the water was 3 eggs, potatoes, beans, tortillas, bacon, sausage, and a beer for $5?  Yes please!  Ben grilled up the fresh shrimp and snapper we purchased at the market with grilled pineapple for desert.  We drank Mexican beer and played “Pass the phone and pick a song.”  The water was great and the pups had a blast.  All in all it was a great success!  We headed back to Tucson tired but happy for the good times.

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We had a sendoff dinner at the Polish Cottage with amazing food!  When we left we felt like we were leaving home because we made such awesome friends and even though we were there a short time, for the first time ever, we felt like we belonged!  We were both humbled by how many people came out to send us off and will miss all the friends from Tucson!

Getting out of town was a circus and we were late again.  The damned check engine light came on in the truck and delayed us while we tried to figure that out.  It turns out that sometimes you just need to run the piss out of a diesel to open up the exhaust filter.  We drove eastbound through Albuquerque and Santa Fe, then through Amarillo TX, with the requisite George Strait soundtrack through town.  We stopped for a day in Little Rock to spend some time with our friend Corrine and played copious amounts of Mario Kart.  She even busted out the old school Nintendo 64 from the closet and made my day!

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En route to Mississippi we passed through Forrest city Arkansas, yep the same Forrest that Mr. Gump was named after.  Then we rolled into Mississippi and settled in for a few weeks with Lauren’s parents.

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Amory Mississippi is an old railroad town and a close knit community.  It’s still a dry town!  We had a great time with Lauren’s parents.  We went for evening walks, took an overnight camping trip and went fishing on the bass boat.  Lauren enjoyed cooking some healthy meals with her mom and discussing new wines over dinner with her dad.

 I swung through Columbus MS to visit a few Air Force buddies too.  Two weeks flew by and before we knew it we were on the road again, this time to Savannah, GA to visit Lauren’s sister Christa and her husband Kyle.

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We had a great time, went on a ton of walks around the neighborhood, and ate some fantastic food.  One night we went to the Chromatic Dragon and played Settlers of Catan and “Epic spell wars of the battle wizards” with a few Dragon’s Milk Stouts to spice things up.  They had tons of board games and video games in the bar and the menu was all named after games and other nerdful things!  It was a really cool place.  Most evenings were spent at home playing the ridiculously entertaining Drawful game on xbox which is a cross between pictionary and balderdash.  Before we knew it the week was over and we were headed North to Asheville.

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Our first stop in North Carolina was Lauren’s aunt and uncle’s house up in the mountains.  We ate delicious healthy food and talked a lot about our adventures.  We got up the next day and braved the rain for a mountain bike ride through some washed out trails that qualified as rivers in certain spots.  It was a fun ride and we got our butts kicked by Uncle Paul and Aunt Mel who are in fantastic shape!

We parted ways and headed to Asheville for a few nights.  We ate some great Nepali food and went for the compulsory trip to Wicked Weed to sample the sour beers.  The plan was to have three beers or so and call it a night, but then things took a very strange turn.  The guy next to us, George started chatting us up and bought us a bottle of fantastic sour called Medora.  He said there was some amazing concert next door at the Orange Peel.  Long story short, we ended up with free tickets to a band called “Run the Jewels” and although it wasn’t our typical style of music the show was a blast!  George kept buying rounds and our plans of riding the next morning slowly faded away.  Details are hazy but at some point we talked to some high school kids at the show and ended up in some intense philosophical debate at the end of the night with George.  What are those three things you’re not supposed to talk about at the bar again?!?!

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The next day was wasted spent recovering in the hotel room and lazily ordering food delivered to our door and watching bad TV.  Once recovered, the next day we made plans to meet our friend David who lives up in the mountains about an hour away.  We had a day to waste while he was working so we walked to West Asheville and checked out Archetype brewing.  Sitting on a couch in the corner and smelling the boiling wort made for a perfect afternoon.  We waited patiently for David to call us but later found out his phone was broken.  Oddly enough he randomly remembered my parents phone number from 20 years ago and was desperately trying to call my Mom to get my number.  Eventually he got a hold of us, we got directions and headed up into the mountains for an amazing weekend.

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We drank great beer, sat by a fire and listened to TOOL!  The conversations were great and we got along very well.  David has been an inspiration to us and is a big reason we are doing what we are doing.  There is something refreshing about someone who does what they want and makes decisions that lead to being happy!  We checked out his other cabin and future homestead sight, hiked around a bit and had another amazing night which included running around in the pitch dark barefoot screaming at the top of our lungs just for the hell of it.  We traded a few books and said our goodbyes.  It was liberating, refreshing and inspiring all at once and we can’t wait to go back!

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Next stop, Washington PA to visit my family where I’m writing this now.  It’s been a bit of a haze and our livers are in need of a break.   It’s been great to see my brother’s kids and spend time with some old friends and their kids.  When you move away from home, you naturally lose touch with people, but the friends who make an effort to stay in touch are a rarity and something to be celebrated… hence the sore livers.  Bonfires and barhopping abound and great conversations with great friends!  One Saturday we stopped at a bar where there happened to be a random wedding.  The bride walked down the aisle right behind us as we drank beer and sort of watched a football game no one cared about.  It was weird.

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Opinions about our trip are mixed and it’s taken a lot to try to convince people we are not crazy… actually I get the feeling they think we are more stupid than crazy.  You can’t spend your time worrying about what other people think though, or I mean I guess you can if you want.

I try to keep the ranting to a minimum here and I try really hard not to force my lifestyle or values on other people.  Everyone has to make their own choices in life and everyone is trying their best to make it in this world.  Our philosophy is “Being happy is the only thing that matters, and if you’re not happy it’s your own god damned fault!”  I’m not saying this kind of life is for everyone, or even for anyone, but we are going to give it a shot and see what happens.  I don’t think you need to sell all of your shit and go ride bikes in a foreign county to be happy, but taking some time to think about what you really want out of life and then making changes to make that a reality is all I would suggest… Or not…  Do whatever the hell you want!

 

 

 

ARISE

P8040543.JPGWe spontaneously bought tickets for the “Arise” music festival while having our amazing burgers and beers in Boulder when we first showed up.  It wasn’t exactly cheap, but it was worth it.  This was Lauren’s first ever festival and my first in probably 12 years or so.  We packed up camp late as usual and got off to a late start.  We stopped at a wal-mart which was not unintentionally about 100 yards across the county border for Boulder.  We “Rented” an EZ-Up shelter and a few camping chairs and got some supplies for the weekend.  After the festival, the shelter was a mess of twisted metal which we conveniently returned for full price with no questions asked.  I have no guilt taking advantage of wal-mart.

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The festival was a blast, we had great neighbors on both sides.  Chad, Brenda, Rachel and friends were a riot.  On the other side, we had Tom, Laura, Jay and Steph.  We had great times just sitting around talking at the campsites.  The music was initially a bit of a disappointment.  Maybe festivals have changed a lot, or maybe this was more of a hip-hop oriented show, but there was an awful lot of rap and rave music the first two days.  Sunday was outstanding though with The Travelling McCourys and Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band ultimately getting together for “The Grateful Ball” which was hours of bluegrass Dead covers…  Awesome!

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On Saturday afternoon, a huge storm came through the festival and a microburst basically levelled the campground.  There were coleman tents scattered all over the place and we were thankful to have the MSR and have staked it down well.  Our rented EZ-Up on the other hand did not fare so well.  We spent the storm trying to hold it down and lost.  The cheap aluminum bent and broke and it was all but destroyed.  During the storm, Chad was next to us holding his shelter in similar fashion… Laughing maniacally throughout the whole ordeal like Lt. Dan during the Hurricane!

Gorilla tape and ingenuity allowed us to use the shelter for the rest of the weekend and we were able to return it no questions asked.

Another highlight was spending the evening with Rachael who lost her shoes and we started about 50 people chanting for Rachael to put her shoes on.  (She was having a rough time that evening).

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We also met Roxy and Ben at a tent promoting Elevation Outdoors magazine.  We hung out and chatted for an hour about hiking, biking and life.  There was also Summer who was a Pre-K teacher making a little money on the side at the festival.

It continued to rain throughout the weekend, but we had an awesome time.  After packing out of Monday morning, the truck battery was dead and a good Samaritan gave us a jump.  We got back to civilization and spent a few days in a hotel to wait out some weather and get ready for the bikepacking trip.  We planned to leave Thursday but in true Orlosky fashion, we spent 4 hours packing the bikes in a parking garage to get out of the rain.  Then we decided instead of being miserable we’d just get another hotel and leave in the morning.  We decided to celebrate the selling of the kayaks with some steaks and wine/beer which was a good decision.  The next morning, the trip really started.

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