Saturday, September 4, 2010

Off We Go!

Arian Brazenwood Joins the Quest

Every once in a while in life, you meet an amazing person who blows your mind and sends your heart soaring with inspiration. In my case I helped create one! His name is Arian Brazenwood, named after the mythic character from my first fantasy novel Brazenwood, which I am currently rewriting and revising. Arian arrived in Seattle August 29th, and my host, who I call my astro-mom, Kriss Shellman and I picked him up at the airport. Of course they lost his bag with Mercury retrograde and this really disheartened him because all of his adventure gear was in there. But I told him not to worry about it, that they'd find it. The next day, they delivered it to our door! Thanks United, for helping Arian unite with his adventure equipment.

Arian has been watching my adventures from afar and reading this blog while summering at his mother's place on the Gulf Coast and chomping at the bit to join me in this grand quest of locational independence and also escape the smell of oil. He says the beach on Dauphin Island smells like a mechanic shop! This kid has had a pretty amazing life. He's a lot different than his storybook parallel, but I love the heck out of him and his imagination. In fact you can check out a video I made (my first film!) called the Web of Life about him reciting poetry and talking about the philosophical meanings of each poem on Youtube!

So the night he arrived he was so excited to see his new bike, a Trek similar to mine but a few years older. I found it on Craigslist and went to vegan thai up in the University District where the guy from Craigslist delivered it to me. I tried to shake his hand and thank him, but he didn't have one! So I shook his other hand and paid him $180 bucks and took it back to Kriss's place in Burien. Can't wait to see what he names his bike. Then, the next day I took the bus into Seattle to visit the REI flagship store and hoped they would take my Osprey Argon backpack back for store credit with their 100% satisfaction Guaranteed return policy. I guess I was ready for a new trail name other than "Backpack". So there I was, down to my last $300 bucks standing in line at the service desk hoping they would give me my $333 bucks back so I could outfit my kid. They took it with no questions asked and gave me a receipt with a voucher for $333 bucks. Woo Frickin hoo!

I got a cart and went about shopping before they had a chance to change their mind. As my last wife can tell you, I can spend money quick, especially on cool gadgets and technology. I got him some bright yellow Ortlieb waterproof panniers ($165), a helmet (on sale from $100 down to $40), and a host of other essentials like a back rack to hang the panniers on, water bottles and water bottle mounts, a lock, a back light, etc. By the end of my shopping spree I ended up spending about $400! And I still didn't have any bike shorts, gloves, or extra tubes yet. But I figured we'd get some money from online orders or donations soon. And he told me that he had been mowing lawns all summer and had saved $160. So after $800, I pretty much had Arian an outfitted bike and got him out here to Seattle on a plane.

Much thanks and gratitude goes to our hosts Kriss and Jon Shellman. We had a wonderful time with them and ate extremely well. I think I gained at least ten pounds back from eating like a horse. Kriss just had this way of putting together these amazing stir fries with squash right out of the garden in addition to always having numerous healthy snacks on hand. I got off my wake up with the sun schedule as we sometimes stayed up till 2 Am talking about astrology, watching movies, or playing board games like Rumicube and Balderdash.

We loved playing Balderdash the best, and Arian actually won the last game we played the night before we left. Balderdash is this game where the players make up fake definitions about very obscure words and try to convince each other to vote for their crap. It was fascinating to realize how often Jon voted on Kriss's made up definitions. Kriss was very wise and she had a good BS meter so she usually picked the correct definition. If you wanted to score points you just had to vote for the same definition that Kriss did, LOL. Although Arian and I were able to get her and Jon to vote for some of our imaginary handiwork from time to time. We had an amazing time altogether, and Arian healed from his wounds fast.

Arian's Initiation

Oh did I forget to mention that the first full day of being in Seattle I took Arian for a bike ride that ended in disaster? Arian wrecked his bike badly. We were heading down a huge hill to see the Pugit Sound, and at the bottom of this massive decline, we encountered a large speed bump at high speed. I was in front of Arian and I just jumped right over it, but then I looked back and saw Arian brake hard and go flying straight over the handlebars. Turns out his brakes were wired backwards so that the right brake was connected to the front brake pads and when he hit it hard, he thought he was pressing the back brakes to slow up. It was a heart-sinking feeling to watch your kid get injured on a bike, especially after having such a great ride through the neighborhood. And this was our first ride together, hopefully not a sign of things to come. Arian has always been accident prone his whole life (South node in Aries). I used to call him my little headbanger, because he was always banging his head on something. It's surprising that he is so smart! Maybe all that head-banging knocked something loose or broke up the cobwebs in his mind and he became a genius!

So I pedaled back to see my child stunned and bleeding and trying to drag his bike over to the sidewalk. My heart just froze inside, like someone had thrown a cold razor-sharp icicle into it, ripping my innards apart. It is not fun to watch anyone suffer, especially your own child. He said he was okay, no major injuries, just a lot of scrapes: Two bloody knees, scraped up arms, bruised ribs, scraped hip, scraped shoulder, just terrible! I couldn't believe it, and I felt responsible for taking him down such an intense hill so fast. He was just trying to keep up with me. I wanted to test him going UP the hill, not down the hill! This was a cruel turn of fate indeed. I would have to be more careful with him and let him take his time getting used to his new ride and not push him so hard like I drive myself. He said his hands felt cold. We walked our bikes back up the hill and managed to ride back over to Kriss's place where she helped us doctor him up good. At least we got very acquainted with the first-aid kit!

I had carried the kit over 2000 miles and had not had to use it on myself yet. But there we were using everything in it combined with Kriss's arsenal of first aid gear. So Arian stayed in the guest room again although he was anxious to get out there and camp with dad. A few days passed and we just stayed around the house and kept changing the bandages and cleaning his wounds. He healed extremely fast, aided by reiki! The three gashes in his right knee (the worst and deepest injury) were completely sealed up with new skin coming in. Wow! By the third night he was ready to migrate from the couch (he gave up on the guest room) to the tent, and was excited to join me in our little portable abode. We had bought the tent together in January at REI in Charlotte NC. We never got to use it in Colorado because it was just too icy cold to trek up into the mountains. We went to sleep playing with our I-pads and we woke up and played a game called Othello on the I-pad. It was great, two guys bonding over technology in a tent set up in a beautiful garden. Then we played a game of Civilization and played as the Mongols using our horse archers to conquer the world!

By the fourth day, he was ready to ride again so I figured I'd take him on a light ride a couple of miles to the bustling center of the Seattle suburb of Burien. We had hot chais at Starbucks and I worked on my new astrology book (The Tao of Astrology) while he played with apps on his I-pad. I used to take him to coffee shops to do homeschooling while I wrote, but as he got older he got bored quicker and always wanted to go. But now that he had an I-pad and needed an internet connection, he craved time at the coffee shop too! This was an excellent turn of fortune, because we were going to be hanging at internet cafes a lot on our journey. He is heading into ninth grade and wants to start studying Geometry, so we found a cool book for high school geometry called Geometry Demystified. He will also be helping me play test our new Role-playing game, practicing his music with the clarinet, and reading lots and lots of books. This kid tears through 700 page novels in three days! Thank the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in the heavens for the invention of the I-pad. This device is changing the world! I read that some schools are doing away with text books entirely and buying the kids I-pads.

The next day we rode the 120 bus up to Seattle's vibrant downtown area and explored. We left our bikes at home and got a ride to the bus terminal from Kriss who offered to come and pick us up whenever we returned. She was so kind to us on all levels. Arian had never been in a metropolis before (if you don't count Charlotte NC) and was amazed by the sheer size and intensity of the city. We passed the Mariners stadium and the Seahawks stadium on the way into town. Then we got off the bus and went down to the Pike Place Market to witness the old tossing of the fish. We found a cool novelty game store on the lower levels of the market and felt at home there. We also took some pics in front of the first ever Starbucks store across the street and got to hear live acapella African-American singers working the "lean on me, when you need a friend" tune. Then we marched over to the Seattle Center and checked out the Space Needle from below (we decided it was to expensive at $18 per person to actually go up to the top). Instead we found this amazing fountain area where lots of locals like to hang. The fountain sprays many jets (powered in sync with music) of water all over a huge crater-like area from a central alien dome where the children frolic in the water and mists. We laid in the sun and enjoyed peaches that we bought at the market. Eventually we made our way back to town to catch the bus, but spent about three hours at a Starbucks being creative. In the end we made it back to Kriss's happy and ready to play some games with Jon and enjoy her delicious cooking!

The days went by in peace and Arian told me he was ready to ride. His Swiss Army knife with a hundred extensions came in the mail and he felt complete. So we decided to leave the day after the next full day, just so we were sure he was at full strength and so we could enjoy more time with our hosts. Eventually, Saturday September 4th rolled around and we woke up ready to ride! We decided we would avoid the chaos and danger of the Seattle traffic by putting our bikes on the front of the 120 bus, which dropped us off about three blocks from the Ferry terminal. Our goal was to just ride 20 miles the first day, to allow him time to get used to riding. In addition, my brother Marc was visiting his wife's parents in Silverdale Washington, just up the road from Bremerton, where the Ferry went to. So we took the ferry to Bremerton and rode up to Silverdale. On the Ferry we met a really cool and courageous 22-year old gypsy woman who had decided to backpack around the world by hitchhiking and camping. She shared jalapeno hummus and organic chips with us and I gave her a mini reading of her chart. She was an Aries with a Leo Moon and Virgo rising. Her name was Emily and I took a picture of her and uploaded it to Facebook. I had a feeling I would be encountering her again and teaching her about astrology.

When we got to Bremerton the people were in full swing celebration mode with live music and vendors lining the streets and everything. We later found out that it was called the Blackberry festival. I fondly remembered the blackberries at the Aquarius castle! Arian did a great job keeping up with me and riding his bike up and down hills with no accidents. I could tell he was being extra careful at times and told him a little fear was wise and healthy especially after wrecking once. He just needed to remember which brake was which. It would cost us $25 bucks to switch them back at a bike store so he decided to just rewire his brain. He was a little unnerved by the traffic while crossing a bridge, but did great! He's a little natural on a bike, pounding the pedals from a standing position when the hills got to steep. Unfortunately, the last hill we climbed was the steepest hill I had ever encountered in my 2000 miles. My legs are wired for it now, and without my backpack, I just cruised right up it. But I decided to stop every once in a while to make Arian drink water and eat a clif bar or a handful of cashews and coach him on the finer points of riding up hills. I told him the trick of picking a point in the distance and just try to get to that point instead of focusing on the distant impossible apex. I told him, "When you reach your target destination, just pretend the landmark that you chose goes wild with celebration and maybe even bends over toward you and smacks you on the butt!" He liked that and we spent the rest of the hill roleplaying out loud the obnoxious celebrations of our targets and pretending to be smacked on the butt! Suddenly we looked up and there was the house we were trying to get to, and we found my brother in the back yard restoring a deck with two other guys, one in the family and the other an army buddy.

It was great seeing Marc again. He spent 20 years in service to our country as a demolitions expert. He's a Capricorn with a Leo Ascendant and a Pisces Moon and he loves cycling and adventure sports. He has always taken time off every year to go climb mountains like Kilimanjaro, Ayers, McKinley, etc. He thrives on adrenal charged sports like snowboarding, cycling, etc. He once got blown up in a bomb suit while trying to defuse a bomb in Afghanistan and when they saw him fly through the air and land with a thud his fellow soldiers thought he was dead. Instead, he jumped up and was so excited that he wanted to do it again. This love of excitement kinda runs strong in our family. Even Arian can't seem to sit still without rubbing his feet together. This kid is always moving in some fashion. I'm the same way. Marc wanted to attempt to climb Mount Rainier while in Washington state.

The back yard had an immense flat grassy area, enough for about 25 tents, and I let Arian pick out a spot and I guided him through the stages of setting up the tent. It was easy for him because he helped me disassemble our portable home that morning. He decided to take all of our panniers and place them in a line down the middle of the tent making a wall, and then he set up both of our sleeping areas on each side of the Great Wall of Panniers, with our Thermarest sleeping matts rolled out on either side.

The great thing about Arian is that we laugh incessantly when we are together. We are always making up stupid and brilliant jokes and laughing our heads off till we are on the floor pounding until we cry. That's just how our life has always been. He wrote one poem in the dark scribbled onto paper during a laughing fit at age 7 called Laughter you can read on his site here. And he loves learning things with a passion. He learned every symbol in astrology and something intelligent about each on by the age of 13 months. He was doing reiki by age two and building skyscrapers on his Tonka Construction video game for the computer. I still remember his first words in Key West when he learned to say "button" and "Moon" although he pronounced them BA-OOM and BOON. I remember at 7 months of age before he could even walk at nine months, when we were laying out under the stars on a pier that extended about a football field into the Atlantic Ocean in Key West, when I looked up to the heavens and pointed and said to him, "Stars". My little Capricorn baby next to me on his back just lifted his fingers and pointed to them and repeated me saying "Stars" That was so cool! Just imagining a baby's consciousness in full realization of a sky full of bright little points of light called stars. When he started asking me all these brilliant questions it got even cooler being a dad. One night we were looking at a star map when he was 4 and he asked, "How come some stars are little and some are big Dad? Are some of them farther away?" Now we get to ride our bikes to San Francisco down the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the best cycling tours in the world, with the wind at our backs! Hopefully the brave readers of this blog will order some charts or make a donation to keep us going. The third leg of this mighty quest has begun!

Also, if you are into learning astrology with me through my video courses I offer the first three courses on Houses, Signs, and Planets free on the web, plus an extensive FREE Course manual! Just follow the link below. You can watch the first 3 classes (with over 8 hours of video instruction) free and then order subsequent classes for $20 each. You make your purchase online and then I'll email you a private link to the class. You can also elect to buy the FULL course and gain access to all the classes!

Tao of Astrology Video Course

In addition, I'm offering a special Astrology Chart Interpretation to readers of this blog!

Normally my services (backed by 25 years experience) cost $195 for an Explore Your Birth Vision chart Interpretation or Seasons of the Soul update chart. Readers of this blog can make a donation of at least $25 and I will do an inspiring chart interpretation for you! The length of the interpretation will be proportional to your donation, but I will guarantee at least 30 minutes no matter what and you'll probably get more time because once my archetypal oracular window opens, I just can't stop talking about a chart. There so much vital information! Why am I offering this to you? Some people can't afford my full professional fee, especially during these trying economic times and I need to generate funds to feed Arian and the occasional campground fee and bike repair. So it's a win win situation. You can get started now with the special donation button below.

Traveling Magi Chart Interpretation Special


  1. YEAHHHH!!!! Reunited!! I love your adventures!!!

  2. Have you tried dumplings and roast ducks? They are the famous and traditional Beijing dieshes. And also bird's nest soup? Its a delicacy in China.

    Enjoy your days~~~


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