Back to the British Isles

If it seems like I only post when we’re planning a trip and I need a place to access my maps, that is, in fact, what’s going on here.

We took a month-long tour of the northern United States and dipped a toe into Canada as well, and I haven’t said “boo” about it since the trip. Now we’re going back to the British Isles in a couple of weeks, and I need to make a post so that I’ll have access to the maps.

Just for the sake of good form, how about I throw in a couple of videos about recent activities before I post the map.

Here’s a video documenting our journey from Pendleton, OR to Cape Cod:

It was a fun trip, although I haven’t finished the video of the return trip because upon getting home I immediately went on a four-day backpacking trip with my neighbor. He’s the video of that:

I know… Low production value, but it got the job done.

Now we’re headed off to Wales and Ireland, so I need to be thinking about where we’re staying, and what we’ll be visiting. In the map below, the yellow pushpins are the places we’re staying, and the dark red ones are places on our itinerary. Now we just need to figure out how to make it all happen. Maybe if I become a better person in the next six weeks or so I will post about the trip when we get home.

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Another Cross-Country Trip


Since picking up Bardd in February, we’ve already put nearly 10,000 miles on him, with trips to Minnesota and a two week swing through the southwest. It was a great way to get to know the rig, and to learn about the flexibility that traveling in a camper van provides.

We visited Arches National Park, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and the Los Angeles area, and spent only about $100 on places to stay over eleven nights.

In addition, I’ve made a lot of little modifications that have made Bardd better suit our particular set of needs. I’ve made a series of videos that you can find in this YouTube playlist.

However, this post is more about our next adventure, which will be a cross country trip in July and August. We will be visiting Sarah’s family in the Boston area, and the itinerary will be pretty flexible, but below is our preliminary plan for heading east. Once we hit the road, though, all bets are off.

I’ll probably do a follow-up post once we have some videos from the trip. It should be fun!

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New Rig


So we have had our new Winnebago Travato for about a month now. We’ve taken it out on a couple over-night trips and driven it regularly, and we’re pretty excited about it. No buyer’s remorse (yet… cross your fingers). We did have to take it in to the Dodge dealership due to an oil leak (yeah… the chassis came off the assembly line 12/2015, and sprung a leak 2/16… hope that’s not a sign of things to come). The problem was a torn gasket on the PCV valve, and was quickly taken care of.

Here’s a quick walk-through of the week the day after we picked it up:

We named the rig “Bardd” which is the Welsh word that “bard” is derived from. We figured it made sense due to the fact that a bard was a traveling story-teller and musician. We think of this rig as Sarah’s mobile office, where she can continue to write her novels while we’re on the road.

I’ll post more as we start taking it on longer trips.


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Because we don’t travel enough…

I know that I haven’t posted much on this blog over the years, but maybe that will change in the future (or maybe not… I’m not making any commitments). However, the lack of content doesn’t reflect a lack of activity in my life. As a matter of fact, this last fall we took an epic trip to Iceland, Isreal, and the UK. I’ve actually made a ton of videos and posted pictures… just nothing here.

Not only that, but we’re going to Mazatlan with Sarah’s mom in the end of January, and have trips planned to Ireland and Patagonia in the next eighteen months. However, I’m still itching to get out more. There are a bunch of places in the US that I still haven’t seen, and I’m also hoping to be doing a little gigging over the next couple of years.

So in late November, we took the plunge and ordered a Winnebago Travato. For those of you unfamiliar, it’s a class B RV, meaning an RV built into a van. We actually think of it as a big camper van.

The model that we ordered is a diesel 59G. In theory, it can seat and sleep four. In reality, three should be OK. Here’s the floor plan:


We originally ordered it in a color they call “Granite”, but I got an email about three weeks after we placed the order telling me that I couldn’t get a diesel in that color anymore, so now we are going with silver, which actually looks a little like a delivery van. It should look (more or less) like this:


Latest news is that we should have it by mid-February. I’ll post a walk-through video once we get it.

In the mean time, we already have a couple good trips planned. In late March and/or early April we’d like to go visit a good friend in Santa Fe. We’re thinking of taking a couple of weeks and hitting some national parks.

In addition, we’re thinking of driving back to Cape Cod again this summer. Sarah’s mom and sister already have a house lined up, and it would actually be cheaper to drive than fly and rent a car. So that would be 10k miles right there. I just need to setup some gigs along the way. 🙂

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The Arabic Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh

I’m still working out the kinks on making this music available. I’ve created a permanent page that will contain the most up-to-date information about how to find the musical settings for all of the Arabic hidden words. If you want to check that out… it’s here:

If you’re a musician and you’re interested in learning to perform these settings, I’ve put together a complete set of cheat sheets for all of the chords. You can check that out here:

Click to access arabic-hidden-words-chords.pdf

Over the lext several months, I’ll also be posting videos of many of these settings on youtube. You’ll be able to find them here:

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Umatilla National Forest

Here are some hikes in the Umatilla National Forest starting near the forks of the Umatilla River.

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Why Klinsmann is Wrong to Cut Donovan

A lot has been written about Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to cut Landon Donovan from the USMNT roster. Many have criticized the decision for a variety of reasons, and many have lauded it as a bold move. Klinsmann justified the move simply saying that Donovan is not good enough anymore. From a recent USA Today Article:

“We felt like other players, without naming guys, are a tiny little bit ahead of him,” Klinsmann said about Landon Donovan. At 32, Donovan isn’t the same player he was a few years ago, Klinsmann said, noting that Donovan’s ability to take on players in the box and finish aren’t what they once were. While Donovan’s passing skills and experience are a plus, the passage of time has eroded other key elements, “which is normal,” Klinsmann said.

I think there are a couple of interesting things to take into consideration when analyzing this rational. First and foremost, there is some fairly recent data from Donovan’s international performances.

Ten months ago, Donovan led the USMNT to a Gold Cup victory. It was an “off year” Gold Cup competition, so many teams were not at full strength, which has caused many to completely discount his performance in this tournament. However, in the six games over nineteen days, Donovan played 542 out of 560 minutes (being subbed off only after the semi-final match with Honduras was wrapped up). In those six matches, Donovan had five goals and seven assists (leading the tournament in both categories). In addition, there was a pre-tournament friendly played four days before the start of the tournament in which Donovan logged 73 minutes and two additional goals. That accounts for 14 goals (scored or assisted) over a 23-day period.

To put that in perspective, DaMarcus Beasley is the player going to the world cup with the highest number of career assists. He has a total of 13. Clint Dempsey has 12, and Michael Bradley weighs in with 8. No other midfielder on the roster has more career assists than Donovan logged in the Gold Cup last summer.

There is no other player in the history of US soccer that has had a senior tournament like that. Ever. Other top players have played in off-year tournaments, and no one else has managed to pull that off.

To wrap up his year, Donovan also had a hand in both goals in the September 10th World-Cup-Qualification-clinching victory over Mexico (with a goal and another assist), making him the 2013 leader in both goals scored (tied with Josey Altidore) and assists. This would have been a career year for any other player in the USMNT pool, and it was seen as a down year for Donovan because he had been excluded from most of the qualifying campaign due to his six week sabbatical at the beginning of the season.

The point of all of this is that no other player in the USMNT pool is capable of producing at Donovan’s level. This is not ancient history we are talking about. This is not 2010. This is less than a year ago.

Donovan has had a poor run of form to start this MLS season. There’s no question that he is not playing at that level right now. This brings me to my second point. As the old cliche goes: form is temporary, but class is permanent.

As an example, just look at Donovan’s old teammate, David Beckham, who went through a bad run of form at a similar age and got dropped from both the England squad and his club team. However, he worked himself back into form and went on to have several successful years for both club and country at the highest level.

With all that in mind, does it really make sense to leave behind a player of Donovan’s caliber from the 2014 World Cup? How can it be justified? Taking a chance on an unproven guy like Julian Green or bringing along a strong journeyman MLSer like Brad Davis seems ridiculous in that light. Heck, look at Mix Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya, Fabian Johnson, Graham Zusi, Chris Wondolowski and Aron Johannsson. None of these guys are capable of what Donovan pulled off last summer. A bunch of them were there with him, and the difference in class was unmistakable.

Let me be clear. I have no problem with leaving an out-of-form player off the roster. I have no problem dropping an older player to make room for a young guy who will benefit from the experience. I have no problem with including in-form players that are otherwise unremarkable. Those are the tough choices that a good coach has to make.

However, when the stakes are this high, and discrepancy in talent is this great, how can you possibly justify using all of those reasons to put a half-dozen clearly inferior players on the roster ahead of Donovan? It makes no sense at all.

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Returning to Wales

It’s funny that I haven’t posted on this blog since our last trip to Wales two years ago. I guess it’s not ironic or coincidental, but I am now posting about our upcoming return trip to Wales. I’ll try to post during the trip as well.

Sarah and I enjoyed our last trip so much that we are going back, and this time we’ll be taking our 4 kids and my parents as well. It will be a very different trip, but a good time none-the-less. Below is a rough preliminary itinerary.

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Videos of Wales

I just got home from a great trip to Wales with my beautiful and talented wife, Sarah Woodbury. We went to Wales because she has written 11 historical novels and novellas set in medeval Wales, and she had a grueling itinerary set for us. The map below shows most of the places that we visited in the twelve, or so, days that we were in the country (although the map also includes Chester and Shrewesbury, in England).

We shot video at all but one site, and my job was to cut together the video, and get it up on YouTube so that she could blog about it throughout the trip. The videos are embeded in the map markers if you want to check them all out, but one of my favorite places that we visitedis embedded below: an Iron Age hill fort called Tre’r Ceiri. If you have a decent internet connection, be sure to watch in HD. If you want to watch more than one video, the easiest way to get to them is probably through Sarah’s YouTube channel.

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Landon Donovan’s Assists with the USMNT

  Date Opponent Score Result
1 10/25/2000 Mexico 2–0 2-0
2 1/27/2001 China 1-0 2-1
3 1/27/2002 El
3-0 4-0
4 5/16/2002 Jamaica 3–0 5-0
5 1/18/2003 Canada 2-0 4-0
6 1/18/2003 Canada 4-0 4-0
7 6/19/2003 Turkey 1-0 1-2
8 7/26/2003 Costa
1-1 3-2
9 7/26/2003 Costa
3-2 3-2
10 6/13/2004 Grenada 2-0 3-0
11 6/20/2004 Grenada 2-1 3-2
12 7/11/2004 Poland 1-1 1-1
13 8/18/2004 Jamaica 1-1 1-1
14 10/9/2004 El
2-0 2-0
15 2/9/2005 Trinidad
& Tobago
2-0 2-1
16 3/27/2005 Mexico 1-2 1-2
17 3/30/2005 Guatemala 1-0 2-0
18 6/8/2005 Panama 1-0 3-0
19 7/16/2005 Jamaica 2-0 3-1
20 7/21/2005 Honduras 2-1 2-1
21 1/29/2006 Norway 5-0 5-0
22 2/10/2006 Japan 3–0 3-2
23 4/11/2006 Jamaica 1–1 1-1
24 7/2/2007 Mexico 1–0 2-0
25 6/9/2007 Trinidad
& Tobago
2–0 2-0
26 6/21/2007 Canada 1–0 2-1
27 9/9/2007 Brazil 1–0 2-4
28 2/6/2008 Mexico 1-0 2-2
29 3/26/2008 Poland 1–0 3-0
30 3/26/2008 Poland 2–0 3-0
31 9/10/2008 Trinidad
& Tobago
1–0 3-0
32 10/11/2008 Cuba 2–0 6-1
33 2/11/2009 Mexico 2–0 2-1
34 4/1/2009 Trinidad
& Tobago
1–0 3-0
35 4/1/2009 Trinidad
& Tobago
2–0 3-0
36 4/1/2009 Trinidad
& Tobago
3–0 3-0
37 6/21/2009 Egypt 2–0 3-0
38 8/12/2009 Mexico 1–0 1-2
40 9/5/2009 El
2–1 2-1
39 9/5/2009 El
1–1 2-1
41 9/9/2009 Trinidad
& Tobago
1–0 1-0
42 10/10/2009 Honduras 2–1 3-2
43 5/29/2010 Turkey 1–1 2-1
44 5/29/2010 Turkey 2–1 2-1
45 6/5/2010 Australia 3–1 3-1
46 6/7/2011 Canada 1-0 2-0
47 6/22/2011 Panama 1–0 1-0
48 5/26/2012 Scotland 5-1 5-1
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