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Amazing People: Keith and Mary
November 12th, 2010 | categorizilation: all categories, Flashbacks

Continuing this series of flashbacks, where I delve into my vivid memories of the trip, I re-introduce you to:

Keith and Mary

Keith and Mary live in Deming, New Mexico, USA. Deming is surrounded by beautiful desert.

I remember meeting Keith like it was yesterday. I was lurking around the carpark of one of the biggest employers in town (Walmart), half-heartedly thinking of setting up my tent in one of the green garden patches of the massive swathe of asphalt. I’m not entirely sure how we got talking, but I met Keith on my way out of the store, and after some conversation he eventually invited me back to stay at his place. Keith and Mary turned out to be “Trail Angels”, or those wonderful people who regularly host walkers on the Continental Divide Trail in the US.

I remember Keith mostly for his larger-than-life presence. A Vietnam veteran and now active community member, he was the kind of guy you just want to be around so that some of his greatness would perchance rub off on yourself. I could tell that there was a depth of life experience hidden behind his eyes that could fill volumes.

Keith talking about his rocks in Deming, New Mexico, USA

Where they lived was surrounded by quiet, stark desert land. The exposure was beautiful. Enough to harden a man but keep him honest and humble. Keith is well suited to be there; tough, honest, humble.

The day I left Deming was the day I surpassed the Guinness World Record; Deming and Keith and Mary will live on in my memory.

As you can see, I wore my pink shoes to match Mary…or perhaps Mary was trying to match me…

Keith with wife Mary in Deming, New Mexico, USA

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Amazing People: Kirk and Donna
November 11th, 2010 | categorizilation: all categories, Flashbacks

Every now and then I have flashbacks to this trip. It seems like an age ago that I completed this 2.5 year journey, but at the same time it is like it was only yesterday. Something that cements that feeling of timelessness is the memory of the people I met on the road and stayed with during the journey. Over the next few blog posts I will delve into those sweet memories and share with you some of the people that so often sneak their way back into my mind…

Kirk and Donna

Kirk and Donna live in Los Angeles. More or less on the beach in Los Angeles. They will forever occupy a special place in my heart for the awesome support they gave me at the end of my skate trip across the US. I met them through my blog, I think, right near the beginning of my trip when I was still in Japan in 2006….

The time I stayed with Kirk and Donna was a time for me that was transitional in so many ways. For the first time in a long time I was able to stop. Really just stop and not have anywhere I had to skate to the next day. I knew that I had a plane to catch at some point, but to be able to stop at their place and take at least a little bit of time out was very special.

With Kirk and Donna in Los Angeles Airport, California, USA

This short stop was special in another way too. It was where the “longboard trailer” was finally made into being. The idea of using a trailer attached to my longboard to carry my gear had been hatched long before staying at Kirk and Donna’s place. That was somewhere at the beginning of the US leg. It had been given a healthy dose of encouragement half way across the US during a surprise telephone call from Cory Poole (on this very day, I do believe), and it was there at Kirk and Donna’s that it finally came together.

Kirk was an absolute legend, and just the man to be staying with at this time; he had all the right tools to convert an ultra-high spec carbon fibre longboard into a trailer that would eventually survive an epic 5,000km across China.

The Rollsrolls deck becomes a trailer in Redondo Beach, California, USA

The Rollsrolls deck becomes a trailer in Redondo Beach, California, USA The super wide truck undergoes some modification by Kirk in Redondo Beach, California, USA

It is amazing how memories like this flow back to my mind like they were yesterday. I remember leaving Kirk and Donna’s place in an absolute mess as we hurried to get everthing packed for me to head to China. I remember eating amazing sushi near the beach. I remember talking faith at an icecream store. And I remember amazing watermelon smoothie…thank you Kirk and Donna for being amazing wonderful helpful generous people.

Below is the mayhem of packing for the flight to China…

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In the Book
October 28th, 2010 | categorizilation: all categories

Thanks to a tip-off from blog follower Kirk, I found out the other day that my world record has made a mention in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records! Very stoked. A short blurb plus the photo below is on page 107.


Arriving at the Shanghai District border at last, China

The book is Glenday, Craig. 2010. Guinness world records 2011. [London]: Guinness World Records, with ISBN 978-1-904994-58-9.

本は: Glenday, Craig. 2010. Guinness world records 2011. [London]: Guinness World Recordsで、ISBN(本のコード番号)は978-1-904994-58-9。興味のある方は以下のリンクで購入できます。

GWR 2011 You can order a copy from Amazon.com here|アマゾン米国から注文するにはこちら: http://www.amazon.com/Guinness-World-Records-2011/dp/190499458X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1288228903&sr=8-1

Or Amazon.co.jp (Japan) here|アマゾン日本から注文するにはこちらを使ってください: http://www.amazon.co.jp/Guinness-World-Records-2011/dp/190499458X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1288228832&sr=8-1

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Japan Road Laws
October 20th, 2010 | categorizilation: all categories

Just a wee post here for the archives, in case anyone needs info about the road laws in Japan regarding skateboarding (longboarding) on the roads or footpaths.

Section 76 of the Japanese Road and Traffic Law mentions “roller-skates” (ローラー・スケート, which is a noun that essentially encompasses all roller-based small-wheeled free-wheeling vehicles) in the following way:

Japan Road and Traffic Law, Section 76, Article 4, Comment 3

4. 何人も、次の各号に掲げる行為は、してはならない。

(3) 交通のひんぱんな道路において、球戯をし、ローラー・スケートをし、又はこれらに類する行為をすること。

4. Nobody is to partake in any of the following outlined activities.

(3) Activities such as playing with balls, skating, or anything similar to these activities, on highly-trafficked roads.

So basically, it is very similar to many cases of town bylaws prohibiting skating in highly congested areas (central shopping areas etc). It is up to the discretion of the officer as to whether one should be skating in any particular area or not. Most distance skaters, I am sure, would rather be on a nice quiet road somewhere away from traffic and people anyway, but there’s the law for you. Also note that there is no mention of outright prohibition of skating on the road or footpath.

The reason I write this up here, is because of an encounter I had today on my 12km commute to university:

It just so happened that today, that certain area which I was thinking was a little too congested for skating, was having a “Traffic Safety Awareness Day”. As I approached an intersection with a police box, I was waved down to stop. …”You’re not allowed to skate on the road,” I was told. So I got off the road and put my longboard down on the sidewalk, but was told “No, you’re not allowed to skate on the sidewalk either.” I asked where I was allowed to skate. “Because a skateboard is classed as a toy, you’re only allowed to use it in playgrounds and parks.” At that point, I asked to see the rule book.

After quite a few phone calls, and about 20 minutes later, the nice police officer and I had found the correct article in the Japanese Traffic and Roads Law book. Section 76, Article 4, Number 3 states: “道交法第76条4.1:何人も、次の各号に掲げる行為は、してはならない・・・4.交通のひんぱんな道路において、球戯をし、ローラー・スケートをし、又はこれらに類する行為をすること。” (No one is to partake in any of the following actions… 4. Playing with balls or roller-skating or any such activity on a high-trafficked road). You can check it out here: http://www.houko.com/00/01/S35/105.HTM#s5

Notice the mention of “high-trafficked road”. First of all, the officer, perhaps to try to cover his original assertion that I was not allowed to skate anywhere on public roads or footpaths, skimmed over the part that mentioned “high-trafficked roads”. Unfortunately, I can read Japanese, and brought this to his attention.

In other words, it is up to the judgment of the police officer concerned as to whether or not a longboader is allowed on the road. I conceded that where I was skating (inside the small shoulder of a fairly busy road), anyone with any ounce of common sense would, according the law, deem my actions unlawful. I disliked that part of my 12km commute anyway, and had, just yesterday, spent about 30 minutes out of my way to try to find an alternate route.

If I had, however, just taken the officer’s word that I was not allowed to skate anywhere on any public road or footpath, I would have had to essentially hung my board up and stopped skating all together. About 2km of my current 12km commute is on what I would call high-trafficked roads or footpaths. So basically I’ll just be looking for a better route…which I wanted to anyway…good to get the law sorted out :-)

Here is the current route: http://tiny.cc/commute_rob

Here is the problem part of the commute: http://tiny.cc/problem_area

Here is a possible fix, which would add another 1km to the route, but would probably be nice anyway: http://tiny.cc/rou…te_solution

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A Prayer
May 25th, 2010 | categorizilation: all categories

Lord, thank you for words. But even then, there is so much inequality in the world; even when it comes to words. Some have the privilege to be able to learn words. Learn grammar. Become literate. Some don’t.

Us fortunate ones, we are so complacent. So content. Heads in the sand. Not willing to give up what we have to help those in need.

Injustice. Grain to feed the cows to feed the over-nourished rich people.

Why are the rich so discontent? Because they know that things don’t line up. Their excess consumption eats away at their souls.

If everyone could just keep to themselves, be void of choice, perhaps everyone would live peacefully. No confusion about how to live life.

But things have changed. Now we have choice in abundance. Choice to choose not to choose. Choosing to choose choice over no choice. Deep discontent in souls.

How are we to connect with you? How do we all connect with you without blood shed from the soul. Am I right? Are they right? How do we interact without searing, scarring friction?

Beauty. Fear of beauty. Beauty betrayed. Avoidance of aesthetic expression, lest the Devil tear our eyes from the pulpit.

Where have we gone wrong?

Creator of the Universe, answers please.

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Akihabara and Micro Four Thirds cameras
May 3rd, 2010 | categorizilation: all categories, Technology

Could Micro Four Thirds cameras be the future of travel photography?

I was in Akihabara in Tokyo today, having a little browse through the massive array of electronics stores, when I came across these little beauties. Essentially SLR cameras which weigh half the weight of a full DSLR. About half the price too. And they even record HD video. How can these not be the absolute dead-pan favourite of cycle tourers and other human-powered travellers?

And with lenses like these being developed, the mind boggles as to the perfect suitability of these cameras for fast and light missions, when awesome depth of field, crisp optics, and versatility are called for. From video to stills, these look awesome.

So far it looks like Panasonic and Olympus are the only makers to forge the way ahead with these types of ‘Macro SLR’ camera, but you can be sure that I now have a new item to add to my wish-list!

Micro Four Thirds Camera body list: http://www.four-thirds.org/en/microft/body.html

Micro Four Thirds Lens list: http://www.four-thirds.org/en/microft/lense.html

Olympus E-P2 review: http://www.pocket-lint.com/review/4598/olympus-pen-e-p2-review

Panasonic Lumix GF-1 review: http://www.pocket-lint.com/review/4431/panasonic-lumix-gf1-camera-review

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An Explanation
March 21st, 2010 | categorizilation: all categories

Hi there.

It has been a while.

And as you can see, for the first time in many months, I have started blogging again.

I hope you don’t mind.

You see, on the 2nd of April (12 days away), I will be moving to Japan with the intention of living there for at least three years.


Big move.

I’m not going alone, and I’m not going with a lack of plans. I’m going there with my wife Haidee, and I’m going there to study at Nagoya University towards a Masters degree in international development (more info on how all that happened later).

Anway, I just wanted to say that I’m pretty sure that the 14degrees blog is going to continue less as an around-the-world-human-powered-adventure blog, and more of an experiencing-Japan-life-in-Japan-study-in-Japan experience blog. The idea will be to share:

  • Interesting news reports on what is happening in Japan and Japanese society (videos, article summaries etc).
  • Little knooks and crannies of Nagoya City, including food, sightseeing, and general life info.
  • Nagoya University happenings.
  • General travel in Japan, with me as your guide-person.

As always, there will be plenty of photos and videos to gorge on.

I imagine that there will be a fairly big shake up in the way the blog looks and is organised, as the part about the 14degrees journey becomes more of an archived part of the site (of course it will still be totally accessable in its entirety).

In the mean time, I will be writing up blogs from the honeymoon, before I hit Japan in less than two weeks time. I hope you enjoy.

Slope Point (southern-most point of the South Island), New Zealand

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HONEYMOON (Day 3): Oamaru to Kaka Point, New Zealand
February 10th, 2010 | categorizilation: all categories

Oamaru is one of the most intriguing places in New Zealand, in my opinion. It is often over-looked as just a place to shoot through on your way south. But the place is teeming with life; just make sure you get off the main drag as soon as you can. The real action is towards the southern end of the main central township, in the Harbour and Tyne Historic Precinct.

Dinky trinket shop in Old Town Oamaru, New Zealand

This morning we begrudgingly checked out of our comfy motel right on 10am, and made our way down to the historic precinct. Walking around this area is like stepping back in time. Shop-keepers are totally into the spirit of things, most wearing antique Victorian outfits and sporting massive long curly moustaches.

The area is somewhat of a melting pot for a number of different artists, but the upstairs artists’ collective definitely has a unique flavour; lots of slightly disconcerting human-face sculptures stare at you as you peruse the gallery.

Artists' collective, Old Town Oamaru, New Zealand

From Oamaru it was onwards to Kaka Point in the Catlins via Moeraki Boulders and Dunedin. I had stopped at Moeraki Boulders many times in the past. It never fails to entertain though…

Moeraki Boulders, near Oamaru, New Zealand Moeraki Boulders, near Oamaru, New Zealand

 Lunch at the not-too-overly-priced Moeraki Boulders Cafe was a delicious musroom filo pastry, chicken filo pastry, and green tea. Dunedin was just a service stop, topping up on the groceries we had bought in Christchurch before leaving a few days ago. We did drop into the Evandale cheese factory after Dunedin, and succumed to buying some blue brie cheese. A little disappointing though; we prefer a good knock-your-socks-off type of creamy blue cheese, but this was a not particularly sharp mouldy brie.

We checked into the Kaka Point Motel at around 5pm. An old converted house, essentially divided into two to make two motel ‘units’ (half a house each). We had beautiful sea views from the kitchen, and cooked up a storm for tea. This was to be our ritual for most of the trip; cafe lunches and home-made dinners.

After dinner was a mission up to Nugget Point. Checked out the Yellow-eyed penguins (and even saw a few waddle up the beach), walked to the light house and saw masses of Fur Seals playing in smal water holes around the point. In bed early for an early start tomorrow.

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February 5th, 2010 | categorizilation: all categories

On the 5th of February 2010, I was thrilled to be able to make a lifelong committment to my long-time friend Haidee Rich. In what was to be the biggest ritual - entirely centred around us - of my life, we got married and had a huge reception on a beautiful sunny Wellington summer’s day.

Two really really good friends married (Porirua, New Zealand) Two really really good friends married (Porirua, New Zealand)

Two really really good friends married (Porirua, New Zealand)

The whole experience was quite unlike anything I had ever experienced. Months of planning - planning for a huge party centered around ourselves - came to beautiful fruition as the day unfolded and unwravelled into such an awesome occassion. We were surrounded by friends and family, all looking absolutely stoked that us two 29-year olds had finally ‘tied the knot’.

What a day - Porirua, New Zealand

I was kind of expecting some sort of euphoric state of…well…something as we walked out of the church, but all I felt was a deep sense of ‘this feels entirely natural and obvious that I should now be married to Haidee’. Quite nice indeed.

A quick low-down on the stunning Haidee: Raised in the Wellington area of New Zealand, she somehow developed a desire to head over seas. This she did in grand fashion after graduating from university with a tourism and international business degree; she headed over to Kyrgyzstan on her own for 6 months, lecturing tourism development at a school there. From there she moved to Japan and proceeded to spend the next 4 years in various jobs there. While in Japan, we met up a few times, each time leaving to follow our own paths, until eventually, after both spending close to 5 years over seas, we both arrived back to New Zealand at the end of 2008. We met up again soon after in New Zealand, and now, just over a year later, we are married. Lovely.

What a day - Porirua, New Zealand What a day - Porirua, New Zealand

What a day - Porirua, New Zealand

 It was an honour to have my younger brother, Chris, as one of my groomsmen. He has always been somewhat of an inspiration to me…I just wish I could grow as impressive a moustache as him!

What a day - Porirua, New Zealand

What a day - Porirua, New Zealand What a day - Porirua, New Zealand


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Ripley’s Believe it or Not
November 2nd, 2009 | categorizilation: all categories

I haven’t seen the book myself yet, but apparently I am on page 235 of the 2010 Ripley’s Believe it or Not Annual.


I must find myself a copy…

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