With taut backs and tempered laughs,
ten km’s – no more.
Fate happed on a stranger’s path
from which we took our course.
Into gulch, and valley, mulch,
through river, into rain –
in search of inspiration,
and adventure – with a plan.

And crossing paths, we found (again)
a seeker in the night, drying by the fire
to his pure delight.
With a smile painted by the pyre –
his feet were bruised and wanting more.
In discretion – we talked upon
the aides and ails of the world.
Until he said, in the dark –
“May I hap upon you more?”

With the toss of a coin
he bummed a ride to town;
wasn’t the waterfall crossing nuff’
to straighten this nomad sound?
But laugh we did with eyes rolled,
our packs became light –
eating pasta, bellies full,
drinking into night.
So much so that he said again
“May I hap upon you more?”

And to the Sound we took at speed,
chasing, in the rain.
Again, talking quite a bit
about life and plans.
Greeted by waterfalls, giggling all the way:
we shared in gay occasion
as we took into the rain.
And soon the seeker seemed a bit
settled in his place.

Off the road and out of gas,
to the boonies, we ran a flat,
back to home – into the kitchen –
the lights fell to remission.

And as we drank, and ate, and drank –
questions came and went.
We delved a little deeper to
what many circumvent.
Crazy theories with wanting more,
origin stories aiding deep pours.
So much so the mood did shift;
how far we had come,
and better yet – how quick.
So much so, to the stranger, said –
“May we hap upon you more?”

And with cakes, we shared again
the last laughs that we’d take
with the kindly stranger that
bummed a ride to town,
and tossed a coin,
and cooked a meal,
and shared his crazy sounds.

And so is the tale of Routeburn,
how sad it must conclude –
wishing our newfound friend
well until we resume.

Perhaps wiser, certainly fuller,
on questions to contemplate,
as this nomad was a little crazy
but our meeting seemed like fate.


I’ve met some girls;
they seem nice –
their smiles glow;
it livens mine.
Perhaps I should
a little more about them.


It went well,
I learned a bit.
But I’ve said too much
and so I seek again.

– For Conny and Nora –

New Zealand – Chapter 2

It only took thirty minutes and two wet socks for me to realize the weight on my back and distance I had to travel. In the past, my resolve may have faltered but the pain only made me walk faster. I only stopped twice on my way up to the Routeburn Flats Hut – once to tighten my laces and once just to take it all in. The rain was dense, as was the forest. Ferns lined the well-appointed trail, bowing to the rain, beading sweat. Moss encrusted trees provided shelter between river gorges with narrow suspension bridges and glacial waterfalls. The rain made the forest come alive.


Two hours into my journey, I was greeted by a massive river valley and the Routeburn Flats hut. One second I was walking in an enchanted forest and the next I was greeted by the great plains and surrounded by towering glacial mountains. I quickly acquainted myself with the hut and fellow trekkers trying to dry off, made myself a quick meal – noticed the sun had finally decided to make an appearance and took off exploring the meadow.


Tall grass happily greeted my newly blistered feet, surely a result of my wet socks and heavy bag, as it couldn’t have been my total lack of training… I walked deep into the river valley with waterfalls on both sides, camera in hand. My electronics soon felt like a burden however, so I soon returned to camp to grab my journal and pack my devices.

The weather looked like it was going to hold so I returned back to the meadow, again, this time with no sandals or camera. I jumped over a river, paused for a second to feel the kiss of the wind, and took off running. I just ran. It was the first time I ran since knee surgery and breaking my leg. I felt free with the wind in my hair, my feet dancing between unkept grass and a narrow muddy unmapped tracks, and my lungs fresh and on fire. I ran.


Soon I stumbled; I tumbled. I laughed on my back looking at the sky, hidden in the tall grass. I sat up only to be pushed back down by a strong gust of wind – perhaps nature was trying to tell me something. I stretched a bit and decided to meditate in the wind – calming my mind and warming my soul. In that moment, freedom felt free and my mind flowed. It was time to journal.

I made my way back through the meadow with the biggest smile on my face – I must’ve seemed crazy to the other hut dwellers who were still trying to dry their socks and stay warm – emerging from the meadow barefoot covered in grass and mud stains. And then, I began to write. Words were easily founded and I felt relieved to acknowledge the past few days. Fate started to seem like reality – and the universe felt kind.


My artistic trance was soon interrupted by a kind voice asking “May we join you?” I looked up to greet the brightest smile and most piercing blue eyes I had ever seen. Their names were Conny and Nora – and contrasted with the backdrop of the mountains, I felt my heart jump. They asked me what I was writing. Nothing much, I suppose. I closed my journal to greet their smiles and aching backs.

We chatted for an hour about life and travel. We shared advice about trekking. We said goodbye hoping our paths would cross again. I felt mused by their presence and drew the landscape – anxiously awaiting our next interaction.


The next morning I awoke with the vigor of a dog in pursuit of a cat. I made breakfast, patched my blisters, pulled out my hiking poles, threw on fresh socks, and took the trail. My pace was fast but my steps felt light – even with an aching back. I had to catch these two German girls. Three hours and a brisk wet morning later, however, I realized I must’ve passed their hut before they even started walking. I laughed to myself on the ledge of a mountain peering into the clouded abyss that hid the Routeburn Valley. Out of breath and on top of the world, I felt at home. I resumed my brisk pace enlivened by the adventure of solitude.

14 kms later I found myself greeted by Lake McKenzie hut – a 60 bunk abode sitting on the front of a turquoise lake surrounded by rocky mountains and short-lived waterfalls from the day’s rain. I made lunch and posted up in the corner of the hut with my laptop to write, only to soon be interrupted.

Writing feels like a job when you’re travelling but it also feels right. It allows me to relive crucial moments and feel the wind in my hair, once again. It allows me to find lessons through reflection and acknowledge the insane and mundane in every day. It allows me to realize why I am living and helps me figure out how I want to live some more. Before this trip, I’d write because I wanted to – now I write because I need to. I write because life is a journey worthy of recognition and sharing, even if it’s just with oneself. I write because thirty years from now I want to look back, acknowledge my life, and have a basis to evaluate my growth. I write because I can. And so, I write.

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Gabby presented herself to be a humble traveler but soon appeared to be much more. A Chicago native that immigrated to Israel, she had the grit of soldier and the lust of an adventurer. We quickly became friends around the hearthstone, drying our socks and warming out feet. Soon, her very blistered and opinionated partner in crime, Lina, joined in our conversation. We shared our adventures (a theme among travelers) and aspirations for life while Lina complained about her feet. I felt for her though, mine weren’t in good shape either.

And then the German girls entered the hut, Nora and Conny. My conversation buddies all of a sudden became my captives as I just wanted to escape to say “Hi.” But I played it cool, I think; waving and continuing a conversation about travelling around Israel – a country I look forward to visiting in May. But the conversation stumbled on – so I started to plot my escape, at one point even venturing outside in the rain to jump in the freezing Lake McKenzie trying to take my leave. It didn’t work though, as I was followed.

That evening though Nora and Conny joined our communal table for dinner and not two seconds after they sat down did I start peppering them with questions; their joint laugh livened the tired and wet common area, and their smiles still glowed. Our conversation lasted deep into the evening – laughing, eating chocolate, and speaking on the world, jobs, life, and why we travel – until the lights finally clicked off. I asked if I could join them on their hike the next day and bid them goodnight.


In the morning my blisters were well worn and hurting, but I didn’t care – I had cool new hiking buddies. My initial plan was to turn around at Howden hut and hike back to Glenorchy but Nora and Conny offered me a ride to Te Anau and every step down the mountain felt like a step closer to their car. We passed and crossed dozens of waterfalls on the trek down the mountain, starting the day in our raingear only to strip down to our shorts an hour later. I shared the journey of Burning Man, breaking my leg, and my many encounters with mystics in the past months – knowing these girls must think I was crazy. But they listened with wanting ears, so I told my tale.


Eventually we hit Howden hut and I peeled off my socks, wet from walking directly under a 300 ft waterfall (pictured above). The blisters were bad and I had 40 kms to go on my journey back to Glenorchy. The girls looked at me again, compassionately, and offered a ride to Te Anau – so I did what any rational backpacker would do; I flipped a coin.

It came up heads and I gave the girls a look of disappointment, although I was smiling inside excited to enjoy their company a bit longer. They smiled, I smiled; we packed up lunch and began the trek back the carpark at the Divide chatting about art and culture. These girls felt like my people and it only validated my decision to continue my journey with them.


The manager at the Backpacker’s Lodge in Te Anau took pity on me in a fully booked city and provided me a tent site for the evening. Good thing I had my tent. And so, a day hike turned into an evening which turned into a few.


In those few days we ate pasta and drank wine and took pictures and cruised around the Milford Sound laughing all the way. Our last night, we made dinner, drank (maybe) too much wine, and talked about love and life. Conny and I spoke well into early hours of the morning – and she made me realize how much I still have to learn, discover, and accept about life. The final morning, I wrote them a poem; they made me German pancakes. We said goodbye. Bittersweet, but it was a needed step to continue my journey. At the time, I was upset that our adventure had to come to an end – but now I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to travel with these two wonderful women.


It’s difficult when you meet someone you know you will like to not act a little weird or quirky. Excitement and intrigue have a clever way of making us seem brash, brawning, and over-zealous. Rare it is to encounter a soul enticing enough to inspire excitement just by their sheer presence. Rarer yet it is to inspire wanting. It took me a few days to get over meeting Nora and Conny – Nora’s penetrating bold blue eyes and tempered disposition – Conny’s warm flowing smile and generous laugh. They both reminded me of loves lost and loves to come.  I could say more but, suffice to say, a smile says enough. Wherever you two are – I wish you well and much happiness.

So I bought a bus ticket, and a few conversations, a cup of coffee, and a beautiful bus ride later I was in Queenstown and in search of Melo.

New Zealand – Chapter 1

It’s hard to describe the feeling of freedom. I think it’s different for everyone. To me, freedom is the feeling of well-worn wet socks, glacial lake showers and windy mountain passes, the capacity to carry my house on my back – and put it down wherever feels like home. New Zealand, unlike many places, provides me such freedom. I am a traveler – a nomad seeking vision, a vagabond with purpose, a free spirit looking to connect.

I’ve never traveled by myself – and up until stepping off the plane in New Zealand, I kept asking what I was doing; better yet, why? The rain greeted my face outside the terminal like a breath of fresh air. I was captured by a compulsion to point my boots in one direction and walk until either my soles retired or resolve faltered. Luckily, Auckland isn’t a massive city and I was able to seek shelter before experiencing either. That didn’t stop me from walking in the rain all day though, much to my wanting chagrin.


Auckland is a charming city, especially in the rain. The city feels like San Francisco without a depraved and searching social life or a walkable Sydney, but it carries the charm of a mountain town. The downtown blends into charming suburbs with remnants of times past – and it only takes a ten minute wander out of the downtown to find quiet cottaged streets rich in history and lifestyle. A quick stroll down Queen street or to the pier serves as a rich reminded of tourist ridden city life, which might feel like too much – if it weren’t so closely juxtaposed by the congested charm of High Street which feels more like Potter’s Diagon alley than a busy retail corridor or Karanghape Rd, your local bohemian inspired center for debauchery. And then there’s Ponsonby – aka, where New Zealand keeps all of its yuppies – but where you’ll also find the best coffee and ice cream in the city. And when the City becomes too much, a five-minute jaunt will almost always land you in a quiet park where you can enjoy an espresso and contemplate life or the tabloids – your choice. Overall, it’s a charming city – busy, bustling, exciting, livable and visit-able.


Two days in the rain served as a needed dampener to send me in search of wifi enabled cafes so I could plan my next month and a half. I landed without a plan but I resolved to find my next step. After a rainy walk down to the DoC (Department of Conversation) office, I lucked into booking my first great walk: the infamous Routeburn, but I only had three days to get down to Queenstown and over to the track. Next thing I know, I’m booking my first hostel, a plane ticket, and off to the airport.  Not without enough time to enjoy my first, and last, sunny day in Auckland however. The city came alive in the sun and the quiet parks became vibrant. Sad to say goodbye, I left for the airport in search of a wild adventure.

I was reminded of the difference between a traveler and a tourist on the plane as I sat next to a Denver based CFP touring New Zealand with a group of 15 other companions in search of adventure through bus windows and isle seats. I give her credit though – travel is not for the feint of heart. She shouted to me as I departed from the plane “Does your mother know where you are?”

Landing in Queenstown felt like coming home. You’re greeted by towering mountains that seem to just drop off into crystal clear valley lakes. A 10 minute bus ride will land you smack dab in the center of the worst planned and most youthful city in New Zealand. I sprinted to Black Sheep hostel, wanting to fully explore the entire city, which didn’t take long. The downtown is young and fun – full of buskers, lakefront cafes, towering backpacks, distracted drivers, and kids with too much credit all surrounded by towering mountains. It’s just wonderful. After taking in the local fairs for a couple hours I retired back to my hostel with a bottle of wine and KFC chicken sandwich unsuspecting of the night.

As, what I’d consider to be, a typical American – I always attached a negative stigma to hostels. The congestion, the depraved youths, shared bathrooms, slow WiFi – how could they ever be charming and safe and cool, right? How wrong I was… Sure, sleeping in a dorm room with 5 other smelly backpackers takes a night or two of adjustment but it only takes a week in a tent to appreciate the luxury of a dry bed and warm shower. And then there are the social spaces – the number one reason to stay at a hostel. The tabled lawns and massive well equipped kitchens, the shared lounge and accompanying board games, the tight dorm rooms and communal bathrooms – all of these spaces force interaction and respect. Quality interactions people yearn for in life – interactions hotels seldom provide.

Posted up at one of the larger communal tables at Black Sheep Hostel, I began to drink, write, eat, and be merry. I was soon joined by one of my dorm mates – a 19 year old au-pair from France visiting New Zealand for a year to “find herself”. It didn’t take her long to realize she was in good company – although our interaction comprised more of hand gestures than dialogue. We were soon joined by a kind gentleman from Japan who was taking vacation in the South Island for two weeks before returning to work in Sydney. Finally, Melo joined us; a stout dark German with good English and a better wit. We all spoke on our adventures through New Zealand and the world – and our plans.

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So often in the US we become accustomed to asking people “What do you do?” – as our jobs seem to so narrowly define our lives. In New Zealand the custom is to ask “How long have you been here?” – as it’s a pretty good barometer for happiness, purpose, and passion. Travelers only a couple of months in usually are in transition; those three to nine months in are happy with drive; those over nine months in are usually crazy, broke, rich in life, and have the best stories.

While none of my new friends were over nine months into their journey, we all had ambition to realize such lifestyle and find such purpose and passion in our travels and selves. As the night drew on and wine bottle drained, broken English soon turned into hushed whispers and hearty laughs. I don’t think much was said, but it was said well. Eventually the four became three and three became two – and Melo began talking about his goals in New Zealand. Looking back it feels crazy but I trusted this guy the moment I met him – and soon his goals became mine and our goals became a plan to meet after my trek up Routeburn. My goal to travel with a total stranger would soon be realized – I had a goal and a plan and purpose. Soon after, the wine was gone and it was time for bed.

I greeted the warm morning swiftly packing up my backpack and wishing my dorm mates well. Queenstown felt groggy in the morning after a night of partying but that provided me needed time to buy food and prepare for my 10 plus days in the mountains. Melo and I soon met to finalize our plans – he pointed me in the direction of the best camp site near the city, and I was off to hitchhike, for the first time, in search of a place to crash for the evening.

Having never hitchhiked I felt weird standing right outside the city looking for a ride so I decided to walk along to lakefront path for a few kilometers to prove I wasn’t a lazy backpacker. Soon I found myself with a sore back from a backpack weighing way too much and no path to continue down the road, so I did what any rational person would do – I threw my thumb up, feeling like I was throwing caution to the wind. It was awesome – I was nervous and excited and on a mission. It only took thirty minutes for a cute French girl to save my stranded soul – and deliver me to Twelve Mile Delta campground.


After walking around the campground for thirty minutes and taking a quick dip in the lake I decided on a quiet embankment to make camp for the evening. Not long after pitching my tent, for the first time mind you, I was joined by another backpacker, Alex – an opinionated tramp from Birmingham with an affinity for death metal and being a vagabond. He had been backpacking for over 8 years working odd jobs here and there to fund his wanderlusting habit. We shared some beers and reminisced on our travels, festivals, life, and passions. We talked into the night only taking pause to enjoy a busker who decided give a free piano concert at the campsite for Valentine’s day right in front of our tents. The sun set, the ambient music danced with the wind, the mountain backdrop soon turned red; it was actually quite romantic – and peaceful. I slept well that night ready to take to the mountains with my backpack.


The next morning I woke up to four campervans surrounding my tent – and a wagon somehow parked in the eight feet between Alex and I. (So that’s what he ruckus was the night before…) I took it as a sign that I was ready to get off the roads and onto the trails. I packed my kit, said goodbye to my new friend, and hit the road in search of a hitch 60 kilometers north to the Routeburn trailhead. Not twenty minutes after throwing my thumb up did a kind couple from England take pity on the size of my backpack and offer me a lift to Glenorchy, the next town up the road. I soon learned about their sons who had also both taken vacation in New Zealand backpacking only to find it too lovely to leave. They were in the country for six weeks visiting their kids – and I think I reminded them of their oldest son.

As we approached Glenorchy we were greeted by rain. They looked at each other, then at me, and then back to each other. Next thing I know they’re driving me all the way to the trailhead – 30 kms past the city. “We were going to check it out today anyways.” Steve kept saying. I kept my mouth shut and smile wide as the rains drops grew bigger.

The landscape was beautiful, even in the rain. Blurred river valleys with massive rock beds bled into rolling farms dense with sheep, and then mountains shot up out of nowhere only to disappear into the clouds. Could this be heaven? We arrived at the car park too soon for me to answer that question.


I thanked the too-kind couple for saving me a wet hitch, grabbed my hefty backpack, and ventured to the rainy Routeburn trailhead ready to conquer the world. It was at that moment that I felt like my adventure had begun – and I was overjoyed. I took to the trail.

“It feels good to be lost in the right direction”


There’s not much more to say than I’m off – and knowingly unready for this big adventure, excitedly. I’ve toiled with the thought of meaning and intent the past few days, trying to build more into my trip – only to realize that meaning is not a manifestation of thought, but of action and interaction. That makes me excited; to think that I must stumble upon my trip as it stumbles upon me.

The night before departure was tough. I found myself tossing and turning in anticipation. I’m still not sure if it was nervousness or excitement, probably a healthy dose of both. All I knew was the dense knot in my stomach that wouldn’t go away. It subsided upon landing in LAX – the first point of inconvenient return.

The final hours prior to departure were a sprint – a byproduct of some healthy procrastination. I had to register my finicky GPS, get an international phone – which turned into buying a new mobile, purchase insurance, pack my home for the next seven months, color coordinate my many shades of grey, get some last-minute work done (yay), play around with the video editing software long enough to be considered a novice, and of course – say goodbye.

Luckily, I had some much needed help from the wisest woman I know. A woman who once told me that work extends into the amount of time available. How right she was… is, dammit. At least I can say I get by with a little help from my friends.

I was sad to say goodbye to my family. I know when I see them again they won’t be the same, nor will I. 2018 is promising to be a year of immense transition – and like ripping off a bandaide it will hurt initially even if in search of a better tomorrow. I look forward to growing on this trip but know I will return a little less childish and a lot less immature. A healthy transition but irreversible, and thus – slightly melancholic; however, exciting nonetheless. This is a much needed and wanted transition.

Shout-out to my grandma who turned 95 on February 8th! Love you Peggy.

Blisstramp: Inception

wandererWelcome to Blisstramp,

I’m not really sure how to introduce this blog or myself. All I know is that I needed an outlet. I like to write. And I want to share my perspective.

I haven’t taken the time to journal my thoughts consistently ever, I don’t think. Even now, as I sit writing my first post – I’m festered with doubt at the notion of sharing myself. But, run towards your fears they say – so I must share.

I lost myself in 2017. I blew up my life. I became quiet. I became reserved. I stopped trying – I quit trying. For a while, I just existed. It sucks to write that – but it’s true.

It’s incredible how easy it is to lose oneself in the face of significant adversity. I always though I was strong but I realize now that strength isn’t the ability to process tragedy – it’s managing everything else in between. And perhaps you can run, putting time in between you and your former self, dulling the pain – but at some point you have to confront your emotions. So, here I am – ready to confront. Ready to put my former self aside and stride into the next chapter of my life: Adventure.

Blisstramp is my creative alter-ego. My place to share ruthlessly for no other reason but the necessity to share. The necessity to solidify my voice in my own mind – and find a tone which I can own. The necessity to atone – and forgive myself – for my failures. The necessity to reflect and grow and reflect and grow…

Blisstramp is an adventure: 17 countries, hundreds of miles on foot, countless connections, weeks of silence, endless vistas, enduring isolation, spiritual conquests, artistic expression – all in search of myself and hopefully some meaning in this hectic world.

Blisstramp is my transformation and I’m very excited to share this journey.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”  – Ernest Hemingway