In January of 2016 I was going through “my stuff” and saw a box of travel letters and a box full of miscellaneous photographs. There was also an album of selected travel photos that I had assembled several years ago. I decided to take all of it and put it online. I began transcribing the letters and scanning the photographs. This was a way to both preserve these memories and make them much easier to share as well. Another benefit was that I could discard/recycle most of the letter paper and pictures and thereby “lighten my load”. I have kept a few of the letters and memorabilia so that I have some visceral presence from that time of my life. I subscribe to the 'holographic' view of the universe whereby a small part can represent the whole. One doesn't need to have all of the actual paper.
From the wikipedia article on holography:
All of this may be of interest only to me. We cannot really share an experience however hard we try. The canonical boring evening is to be invited to see the slides of someone's trip. The travelers harangue you with many many overly detailed stories. You sit in the dark pummeled by a seemingly endless sequence of images. Sensory overload quickly sets in. Eventually you want to be elsewhere but are trapped.
Hopefully, this travelogue won't be the same. For one, you're not trapped. You can choose what you want to read or view. You can skim and skip and gist. You often spend evenings reading fiction written by a stranger, yes? Instead, you could read this travelogue - real life adventures penned by someone you know! If you want to read some of the 'best' letters they have been marked with a red asterisk * in the top level index.
The written language is patient. It will wait for you until you are ready for it. These notes and pictures may not be of interest today but maybe tomorrow or next year.
In almost every way 1984-1985 was a pivotal, confusing, and revolutionary time in my life. It was also a very well documented period.
On July 4th 1976 I had changed my diet to a whole foods lacto-vegetarian diet. This was a very significant change and eventually led to many other changes in my life.
From 1978 to 1981 I was employed as a computer programmer at Amdahl Corporation. In November of 1980 there was an event at the company to ask the employees for charitable donations to the United Way. I was disturbed by the serving of coffee and donuts at this event. I felt a “cognitive dissonance” in the serving of nutritionless “refreshments” at an event where they were asking for donations to help people. I wrote a letter to the company's human resources department suggesting that they serve more wholesome food at such events. They replied to me in this letter. I found their response to be quite inadequate.
(I found out today (2016-05-30) that the United Way is now (as of 2014) promoting “healthy eating” on their web site.)
In response to this letter I decided that it was time to go back to school to pursue a degree in Chemistry/Biology with an aim of going on to graduate school to study nutrition.
As part of the application process to UCSC (University of California at Santa Cruz - my alma mater 1967-71 where I got a B.A. in Mathematics) I wrote this explanation of my Career Goals. It explains why at this point in my life I wanted to change my career.
By 1984 I had finished a second B.A. in Biology - see the Senior Thesis that I wrote. I applied to graduate school at UC Berkeley and wrote this Statement of Purpose. I was not acccepted to graduate school at Berkeley. Here are the letters informing me.
In the summertime during the 3 years in school I worked as a well-paid computer programmer at Amdahl Corporation. This allowed me to accumulate some cash. I had perhaps $15,000 in savings. So I was between school and job and had some bucks. Also, I had never really traveled outside the U.S. For some reason I decided that now was time to broaden my views and take a long trip - to travel the world.
Mount Madonna Center and Baba Hari Dass were important influences at this time. To learn about this organization and this yoga teacher read this newspaper article.
At the end of the travelogue there are several photographic essays. They are largely from the 1984-85 trip but also include later trips to Alaska, Guatemala, Japan, India, and Thailand. You can click on the small pictures to enlarge them. You can click on the larger pictures to go on to the next. Like most travelers I took many photographs. I chose a small(ish) subset and have arranged them not chronologically or geographically but by category - children, paths, landscapes, etc. This organization was likely inspired by the famous book, The Family Of Man. For me, this way of arranging images creates a sense of unity and universality in the great diversity of peoples and cultures.
Within the letters commentary surrounded by [[ and ]] is from the current day (2016).
You can move from one letter to the next by links in gray. Links in blue are to external sites. External sites open in a new window so you can simply close it and return to the sequence of letters.
Here is the list of addresses that I took with me - family, neighbors, friends new and old, co-workers, and people to contact in Iceland and Norway.
NextTop* Prologue to the Travelogue