The Hairy Coo

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I arrived in Edinburgh at 1am and promptly got lost. The street signs live on the sides of the buildings and are not lit up at night. Live and learn. I finally checked into my hostel and crashed around 2am.

I got 3 hours of sleep then woke up bright and early for a day tour of the Highlands. I went with a company that offers a free trip based on tips at the end of the trip. The company is called the Hairy Coo, and we drove around in an obnoxiously orange little bus (designed, of course, to look like a hairy coo).

I met this girl on the tour who was also traveling alone around Europe. She had just come from Ireland and was on her way to Italy. We had some fun chit chatting between stops and taking pictures for each other at various places. We even had lunch, had a cup of coffee, and took a romantic walk around a loch together. It was romantic because the tour guide described it as such, not so much because there was romance between this girl and I.

We visited places like Stirling Castle, Wallace Monument, Loch Achrey (where we saw and fed some hairy coos), and the adorable little town of Aberfoyle. It was here that I sampled haggis from a local butcher and then had coffee in the attic above a candy store. This attic was decked out like a thrift store. While you were drinking your tea, you could also shop for used baby clothes or a new duvet. Fantastic!

It was also in this small town that I realized that one of the gentlemen on my flight from Reykjavik is a famous musician! At least, the lady who owned the stop had framed pictures with him and a tour poster decorating the walls.

We had to do a little bit of hiking to get up to Wallace Monument, but it was worth it. We also had an encounter with spiritual guru Siri Siri Ravi Sankar. Not to be confused with the well-known sitar player. There were 200 or so people following him around the last loch we stopped at, and then he drove off in a Porche. Because Porches are the most spiritual car, obviously.

The tour guide was awesome. He was really funny, but many of his jokes went over the heads of the fellow tourists, as many of them were not paying attention as diligently as I was. He also was kind enough to share a little bit of his story with us along the way, and Aberfoyle is his where he grew up!

He also shared so much information about the history of Scotland, the relationship with England, and even the geology of the country.

The highlands were beautiful, and the tour was so fun! We returned to Edinburgh around 6pm, at which point I promptly went back to bed.

Reykjavik: numbers and fun facts

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By the numbers
Total hours: 61
Total steps: 38,995
Total miles walked: 16.9

Fun facts
- Iceland's total population is around 330,000
- Icelanders pay upwards of 30% in income tax, and benefit from government subsidized healthcare and education up through college
- Elementary school students learn 3-4 different languages
- Iceland legalized same-sex marriage in 1996
- There is a penis museum and a painting of a vagina in City Hall
- Reykjavik is one of the safest cities in the world
- All heating is geothermal and very very cheap. They even heat the streets in the winter so there is no snow or ice to drive on
- Despite cheap heating, everything else is expensive
- I'm not sure I enjoyed the tolt of the Icelandic horse. I found it to be much less smooth than I am used to, but maybe I just didn't get the hang of it

A moment to breathe

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I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Reykjavik enjoying my last few hours in this city. I have seen many sights, met some fun people, gone back and forth between freezing and hot in a matter of moments, and slept...a lot. But I finally feel like I have a moment to sit and process that isn't filled with exhaustion.

Right before I left, a horrible event happened in Orlando. I know you all know of it. I was sick to my stomach all day Sunday, but for the most part have been entirely separate from the event since, as I have been distracted by travel details and lack of Internet access.

Today, as I scrolled through Facebook, I'm struck at just how separate I am. I see my friends in Seattle angry and grieving, discerning how to move forward together. And I am here. Halfway around the world in a country that is proud to admit it's progressive views toward Queer rights. They even have a statue in the city center that was decorated with lipstick one day, and the mayor loved it so much he left it there. It stands atop a hill as an effiminate icon in the city where same-sex marriage has been legal since 1996.

Some of you may not know yet, so I'm sorry you're hearing about it this way, but I recently came out as asexual. In case you aren't aware, the A in the LGBTQIA (or whatever version of the acronym you are familiar with) stands for asexual, among other things. Rest assured that it does not stand for ally.

Though I have always had a sense of comeraderie with the Queer community, I have developed a sense of identification, as I now consider myself a full fledged member of a marginalized group. There are many ways in which asexuals do not experience the same kind of discrimination as other members of the community, and yet there are other ways in which it is even more difficult to be asexual in a place like the USA. I don't pretend to know what it is like to be gay or transgender, but I do know what it is like to feel like an outsider, like you don't fit anywhere, like you need to be something you are not in order to be accepted by those around you.

The anger I feel about what happened in Orlando is not a new anger. It is the same anger that has led me to informally leave the church. It's an anger that motivates me to support and love the Queer community that I now call my own.

To those of you who consider yourselves allies, thank you. We need you. We need your love, your support, your hope. And I think most of all, we need your imagination and we need you to make space for us. You all have a seat at the table already. Instead of speaking for us at that table, invite us in. Imagine a bigger set of possibilities. Open your hearts and your minds and listen to our stories, then step back so that we may share them.

We are better together.

Tired body, calm spirit

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I arrived! It is now 4am in Reykjavik and I have been here almost 24 hours. Monday/Tuesday was quite a long day(s), having only slept a few hours on Sunday night in Seattle, and one hour Monday night on the plane.

I got off a shuttle in Reykjavik around 8am and had until 3pm to check into Airbnb. So I walked around for a bit. Decided against te or kaffi in the hopes that I would get some sleep in the afternoon. Around 10am, I did a walking tour of the city...with all my stuff. Blegh. I met up with a girl from school who happened to be here as well, and tried to take lots of pictures.

Resume: It is now 1pm, and I just got back from riding an Icelandic horse. Pretty sure I smell. Sorry I didn't get this post up sooner, but I started it and fell asleep again in the middle. Suffice it to say my body is still adjusting.

Despite pushing my physical limits, I feel like I have hit my stride. I feel pretty comfortable here already. I need another nap, but then I will be ready to go for the evening time!

The book

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The day is getting closer, less than a week left. I want to tell you about the project that I am intending to work on while I am gone!

Some of you know that while I'm gone I will be celebrating my 30th birthday. A big milestone! I'm actually approaching this birthday with excitement and eagerness, as the last year of my twenties was a shit show. I'm ready for "over the hill", "settling down", whatever it means to be 30 in this world now.

As such, and because I like to mark time, I will be writing a book. I had planned to blog my way through the trip, but in talking with a friend, I realized that this endeavor could be much bigger than just a blog.

In many ways it is a culmination of the last 30 years, it is a snapshot of me at this point in my life, it is a celebration of what has occurred and what is to come.

I'm not going to tell you much about the format or premise of the book. I promise I will try to post excerpts here to get you excited about it, but that's all you'll get. I'm taking this seriously, so I'm not going to spill too much too quickly. ;)

That said, I will still be posting updates from the road as it pertains to my adventures, so keep an eye out for those as well as for sneak peeks of the book!

I'm getting really excited.

Love you all!

preparation

Hello everyone.

If you haven't heard yet, I'm about to embark on a pretty big adventure. I'm heading out of the country for about 5 weeks.

Here's a quick overview:

  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Highlands (various places), Scotland
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Derry, Ireland
  • Galway, Ireland
  • Killarney, Ireland
  • Dingle, Ireland
  • London, England
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Malmo, Sweden
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Prague, Czechia
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Cardiff, Wales
  • Victoria, BC, Canada

I will be doing my best to post here with updates, as well as instagram with pictures. Feel free to comment and keep in touch as I go along!