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Cat Tales: August 2012

Posted on 31 August 2012 by brett

Seven Rila Lakes Trek Celebration

Seven Rila Lakes Trek Celebration

We’ve learned to live in the moment and to be prepared for anything to happen while on the road. A chance meeting in Chumphon, Thailand with Jeff & Neda led us to Bulgaria….. a hidden gem we would have never known.

It is now more than 100 years since Bulgaria declared its independence from Ottoman rule. And, 20 years since the fall of Communism. The average standard of living suffered a catastrophic decline in the early 1990’s in many former Communist states. Many began to rise with Capitalistic policies toward the end of the 21st century. Some countries like Ukraine, Moldova and Serbia are poorer today than they were in 1989. Others like Bulgaria & Romania have managed to bounce back considerably. The IMF ranks Bulgaria 67th in the world by per capita GDP (PPP). Romania is slightly behind in the 73rd position. Both are 15-20% above the world average. A list of European countries by monthly net average wage reveals both countries around $400. To put this in perspective, Turkey is at $634, the US around $2,197, and the UK at $2,556. Continue Reading

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Cat Tales: July 2012

Posted on 31 July 2012 by brett

Pearl Jam Prague Finale

Pearl Jam Prague Finale

The Pearl Jam show in Prague was so inspiring that we decided to spontaneously follow the 10 Club to Berlin for two more shows. It did help that our new PJ friends (Dave & Lauren) offered their hospitality in Istanbul if we joined the parade. And, just when things were getting exciting….. we met our favorite guitarist Mike McCready at the Prague rail station. What an amazing guy traveling like a normal dude with his friends and family.

Mike McCready at Praha Train Station

Mike McCready at Praha Train Station

In hindsight, I wish I had told Mike about my friend Kevin. I vividly remember our sophomore year at the University of Maryland listening to Mike’s side project “Mad Season”. Kevin loved the “Above” album and always wanted to play it along with Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains Unplugged. Mad Season is up there with some of my favorite albums of all time. The band consisted of Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), a friend of Staley’s from drug rehab and of course Mike on lead guitar. Like Kevin, Mike had alcohol abuse issues…. but fortunately was able to turn his life around. I wish I could say the same for Kevin and think about him everyday. We badly wanted Pearl Jam to play “Release” in Kevin’s memory. Continue Reading

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Cat Tales: June 2012

Posted on 30 June 2012 by brett

Reflecting on Life on the Road....Golan Heights, Israel

Reflecting on Life on the Road….Golan Heights, Israel

Jordan and Israel provided more religion than we’ve experienced our entire lives. Well, you get the drift. So, Turkey was postponed once again in an effort to rejuvenate the religious theme in August. Geographically, it worked better to visit Istanbul after spending time with Neda & Jeff in Bulgaria. The downside of this plan is that Turkey is super hot in August!

June turned into our most ambitious month in terms of the number of places visited. We toured most of Israel, the Baltic Region,Vienna, Austria and finally the countryside in Eastern Czech Republic. In the end, June yielded 14 cities in 30 days. Phew!! Continue Reading

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Cat Tales: May 2012

Posted on 31 May 2012 by brett

LIfe Back on the Road!

LIfe Back on the Road!

Ahhhhhhh…. back on the road! 

In the rear view, a much needed break was in order after 115 long hot days around Southeast Asia. Although Kevin’s death is hard to accept, it brought together several hundred people. We have a renewed appreciation for life, friends, family, and our world travel plan. 

We’ve read several books this year spanning fantasy, non-fiction, business and spirituality. One special book called A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
was recommended by our friends Jeff & Neda. The book is written by Eckhart Tolle, “the most popular spiritual author in the United States”. For me, his perspectives on the human thought process resonated like no other. The gist is to train yourself to an always conscious “ego-less” state of being.

Awakening our Minds!

Awakening our Minds!

I’ve found myself over-thinking stuff to where unconscious thoughts “hijack” my life. I’d worry about past conversations, interactions, missed opportunities, etc. Then, forge a personal profile (ego) and an unconscious vision of my future. I felt trapped in everything but the present moment. This isn’t to say I haven’t done a decent job enjoying life, because I definitely have! The point is, there is so much more to just experience “being” than one can imagine with the unconscious mind. Basically, the past is the past and the future is completely unconscious thinking. His suggestion for coping with unconscious or stressful moments is to say to yourself, “this too will pass”. Continue Reading

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Cat Tales: April 2012

Posted on 30 April 2012 by brett

Brett & Kevin 2008

Brett & Kevin (2008)

Where do we begin? Okay, deep breath. Here we go. April was to be our best travel month to date. We had toured the Villages of Northern Thailand where the local tribes still practice their long-neck traditions for tourists. We finally found children to give our writing books purchased in Luang Prabang, Laos during March. Spontaneously, we booked a flight to the Perhentian Islands at the Northeast Coast of Malaysia. Our idea was to rent a car and drive down the coast to Singapore for a bunch of business meetings. That quickly turned into a flight to Kuala Lumpur, then bus to Melaka, Malaysia for a few days before bussing to Singapore. The plan was super exciting with trips set for Bali, Lombok, Flores, Komodo and the treasured Maluccas “Spice Islands” in Indonesia.

And suddenly with one email on April 17th, life changed forever. Continue Reading

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