Expenses: August 2013

Snow Lake, Seattle, WA

Snow Lake, outside of Seattle, WA

I have yet to see a more beautiful place in summer than the Pacific Northwest, particularly Seattle. With daily crystal clear skies, comfortable temperatures, and easy access to lakes and mountains, it is an outdoor lovers paradise.  Naturally we took advantage of this, camping, hiking, boating, and barbequing with friends, including a great birthday party for yours truly.  With all of the amazing times we’ve had, it is pleasantly surprising how little money we spent

As extra bonuses, we had a surprise visit from a friend of mine from high school and a visit from a friend we met in Guatemala.  We love visitors!  It’s a lot of fun to play tour guide and introduce friends to our favorite bars & restaurants.  Unsurprisingly, these activities were a little less budget friendly.

We finished out the month with a Labor Day pilgrimage to Burning Man, where we lived the hippie dream with 60,000 of our closest friends.  This pushed our overall spending for the month to record levels
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A Free Trip to Mexico

Let's Go Places! (photo from Wikimedia)

Let’s Go Places! (photo from Wikimedia)

There is an abundance of (seemingly) free crap in the world. Free latte! (just fill out this survey!) Free phone! (with two year contract.) Free whatchamacallit junk (just pay shipping and handling.) Free puppies! (take two!)

But sometimes, there are some real gems to be had. In our old apartment, most of our high end furniture was free. We’ve had several free nights in hotels and numerous free meals. And most recently, we will fly to Mexico for free

A free flight to Mexico?!  How?

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The Oregon Coast

Exploring the Beach

Exploring the Beach

The Pacific Coast of Oregon is incredibly varied, with an abundance of natural beauty.  During the years we lived in Seattle, we never made the trip.  Funny how you never visit the “tourist attractions” near the places you live.

A friend graciously lent us a Ford Escape while he was out of town, and it became our home for a 5 day / 4 night adventure.  With the back seats folded down, it is the perfect size for sleeping.

With a completely flexible schedule we skipped the weekend to avoid crowds.  As we were cruising through light traffic out of town on Sunday morning, the Northbound highway was already busy with people returning from their weekend getaways.

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Burning Man 2013

Sunset and a Sun God

A Sun God at Sunset

For as long as humans have roamed the Earth, we have yearned for and found meaning in something greater than ourselves.  It may be found in an almighty being, in nature, or in a community.  Philosophers and religions have attempted to define and explain what it means to feel connected or enlightened, but perhaps artists have  captured the ephemeral feelings the best, in their sculptures and paintings and music and dance.

Ironically, feeling connected is a deeply individual experience.  No two people express themselves the same when viewing a great piece or art, being overwhelmed by the urge to move to a beat, or feeling at home in the embrace of another.  Expressing our individuality brings us closer

In the modern world, in the real world, individuality is not often appreciated.  An employer may expect you to dress “appropriately.”  Decisions are often reached by consensus or by a single person with power.  Art and music may follow the puppet strings of a corporation with deep pockets.

At Burning Man, the real world gets left behind.  In the vacuum that exists when the  real world get tossed aside, individuality happens.  Connectedness happens.  Magic happens.  And it is a beautiful

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Retire Early.

Travel the World.

Let's do this.

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