E-mail Update - 2006-03-02

New Pictures, Update and The Next Trip

Hey Everyone,

Quite a bit has happened since getting back home on Nov 15, 2005. This might not be the excitement of a travel update, but hey at least it has information about new pictures :) I have been getting 3 main questions from people which I will answer below (#2 being the longest), here they are in order of frequency:

- #1: When are you putting more pictures online & other news from the trip?
- #2: What have you been doing since you got home?
- #3: What are your future plans & when are you going traveling again?

#1 - When are you putting more pictures online & other news from the trip?

For everyone who follows the pictures on the site know that I have added over 3700 new images in past month or so. All of the Australia 4WD trip pictures & stories are now online (that is almost 2 months of pictures & stories). Even the first few days from Bali are there - www.genextsoftware.com/travel/. Starting with Bali is a new format for how the pictures are displayed. I like this new design as it is cleaner & easier for people to look at. Within the next week I guarantee all the pictures from Bali to be on the site & at least a few pictures from Thailand. I will continue post new pictures after that as soon as I can.

Also new on the travel web site was an article written by Jean Berns Jones for the Dodgeville Chronicle, which has been reprinted in multiple local papers. The Chronicle contacted me after hearing about my trip & requested an interview. Before leaving I worked & lived in Dodgeville & I still go there weekly to play basketball. The Chronicle wanted to know how I was financing all of trip & where I had been. We talked for about 2 hours, but she was only able to include about 5% of what we talked about. There are some small errors, but I thought it was written very nicely. I have had so many people from home tell me they saw it. Back in the USA Midwest leaving to travel is not a normal thing to do. It is funny because I have had people recognize me who I have never met & be like, "You’re the international traveling guy". All of my foreign friends will probably get a good laugh from this article because there it is common to go traveling in their countries. The Chronicle also owns the Boscobel Dial, my hometown paper, which reprinted the story with a few different pictures. In addition to the interview, I had given them the travel web site, so they just picked the pictures they liked the most. Here is the direct link to the article including all the pictures from both printings: www.genextsoftware.com/travel/story_dodgeville_chronicle.

#2 - What have you been doing since you got home?

I have been getting a lot of questions from traveling friends especially about what I have been doing since I got home. Well, I will give a "quick" summary trying to spare the boring parts :) The night I got home was the first snow storm of the year & the drive home was very difficult. My cousin Crystal picked me up at the airport in Milwaukee. She helped me surprise my parents & brother, the looks on their faces were priceless. I had told them I would be home Dec 13, but actually came home 4 weeks earlier. I think they were more surprised about my full beard & dreadlocks than me being home! I had grown my hair longer while in Thailand, but still needed extensions for the dreadlocks. A few days before coming home, while in Bangkok, I got them added which took about 4 hours. They were cut out in January, so it is back to boring basic hair now even though it is a little longer than normal.

After getting home I really spent the first week just trying to adjust to the bitter cold & snow & idea of being home. I also got all my stuff moved into the downstairs of my parent's house because I am staying there while I am home. I have the entire basement to myself which is nice (it has a pool table, hot tub, TV, DVD player, Playstation 2, fireplace, plus my bed, couch & dresser).

The main reason I came home early was to go deer hunting with my brother. This meant my first weekend back was spent sitting outside in the cold with my brother. I got a deer the second day as did he the following weekend. When we are on stand we talk a lot which is cool because he was able to tell me about what had happened while I was gone & about his upcoming wedding. The past year while I was gone on the trip was the only year of hunting I had ever missed with my brother, so it was great to be able to make this one.

The next week was Thanksgiving. All you can eat buffet is the best way to describe my families Thanksgiving meals :) There is no question as why we are all so big, the food is just too good. As if that is not bad enough I go right from one lunch to the next. It was the first time I had seen most of the people from my extended family. I had only seen a few of my older relatives in the first few days I was back. I also had so many reunions with friends, not seen since I left. During the first few weeks back every day was a reunion of some kind. I even stopped in at work one day to see my old clients & another day to see my old co-workers. It was fun to see them all & interesting to see how things had changed.

It has not been all play, since being home I have a busy computer programmer. I split what was two integrated web sites into 4 separate sites. We already talked about the travel site & its new pictures & format. However, the one I am most excited about is the main business site - www.genextsoftware.com. It has a totally new look & is now rich in content. It really shows the four sections of the GeNext Software™ (1) Web hosting, (2) Web design, (3) Investing & (4) Consulting. I am also running a new promotion which is a referral bonus of up to $40, complete details are online at the referral page - www.genextsoftware.com-referral. Let me know if you like the site, see any errors or have any suggestions! The other 2 sites are my diving resume www.genextsoftware.com/dive & my e-garage sale www.genextsoftware.com/egaragesale.

I am not going into everything I did in the first few months back, but as you can imagine after being gone for 14 months, I was behind. Some of the tasks I needed to do were my 2004 & 2005 taxes, doctor checkups, bills, mail, college courses signup, laptop updates, picture copying for trip from CD & moving all e-mail to the laptop. I had to organize things I had got while away & what I had packed before leaving. My business was also a top priority as I spent so much time on my own web sites & getting new customers. This effort produced several new companies we are developing sites & web hosting for. I also did inquire at my old computer programming job, but they had done a big layoff in the past year & were not interested. When I found this out I set my plan for the time I would be home to divide it between my business & education. I decided to take 2 classes at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. A 4 credit Accounting 2 class & a 3 credit Finance class. I originally thought I might be able to get financial aid, but that fell though because of my business investments.

Christmas was the next big event, but it ended up being a tough time as my Grandma was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. She had a successful surgery in January & is going through treatments/recovery now. We will find out a lot about where things are in the next month. The great news that I just learned (about 30 minutes before sending this) is that the cancer has not spread & was only where they originally found it. Christmas itself was nice & relaxed. I was able to spend time with my family & we got back to the normal routine. It is hard to explain but that relaxed Christmas beats the exciting traveling one. Deer hunting & Christmas, even my birthday, are the times of the year when it is toughest to be gone because they are so deeply family intertwined. On December 30, I turned 27 so I am officially in my late 20's now...yeah more great news! The important thing is that I am still young at heart & as anyone who knows me would say I act way less mature than 27 ;)

In the middle of January I started my classes at SWTC which have been great to this point. I have been learning so much & it is about topics that I am really interested in. So far I am doing well in the classes & we will be at the halfway point of the semester in about 2 weeks.

Probably the biggest time & mental task has been my brother's trial. Thad, who is 33 now, was shot while turkey hunting on May 8, 2002. He was hit with 31 pellets & 13 still remain in him for the rest of his life. Specifically 4 of the ones in his head (right temple) have caused him to have migraine headaches quite often. The trial was so much work to prepare for, I never realized all the things that go into a trial. The insurance lawyer insulted my brother & tried every dirty trick in the book. My entire family testified on the effects it has had to Thad's life. It has been work since the day it happened. It specifically took the last 2 full weeks of February. In the end the jury saw through the other lawyer's lies & my brother won the case, receiving a decent settlement. Of course, it is worth noting the lawyer takes 33.3 percent off the total amount & still gets to charge his fees. By the time Thad pays back all his bills & everything else he owes he will probably end up with about 40% of the original settlement. He will have bills for the 4 medicines he is on to control the headaches & other future medical bills for the rest of his life. We are so relieved to have all of this done & that Thad was able to get something for a part of the pain & suffering he has had to endure.

#3: What are your future plans & when are you going traveling again?

First I will discuss the plans for the next 4 months. I will continue to live with my parent's during this time. I am also going to continue promoting my business. The great part about that is that my business is something I can manage from the road. I also have help from my mom because she handles communications & my consultant Josh who does the programming for the sites/software & web site server administration.

There are so many events I have planned for the near future. This Friday I am going to a Wisconsin Badger's hockey game with my brother which should be great. Also my brother's bachelor party is Saturday night, which will be at my parent's house (combined with bachelorette party). I will be getting my new Samsung YP-MT6Z 1 GB MP3 player next week & that has me really excited. It is the only thing I have bought for myself since I have been back & was only because my old MP3 player broke. Sayoko, my friend from Japan, gets here next Friday night. She will be staying at my parents house while in the US (which will probably be for 2-3 months). I stayed at her parent's house when I was in Japan as well, it is nice because travelers help each other out like that. She will be the first person from my trip to visit me. My brother will be married on April 8, which is the original reason I decide to stay in Wisconsin as long as I have. I will complete my college classes in May. I am also going to be an usher in my cousin Renee's June 3 wedding. I have numerous people who have expressed interest in me teaching several different levels of PADI Scuba Diving & EFR classes. I plan to do this in the spring, right now I am still waiting to get my instructor CD in the mail. If you are interested in this let me know, it would be great to do a little teaching, introduce you to a new world & make a little trip money :) I will probably spend most of June getting ready to leave...

My plan is to start my travels anew at the end of June or beginning of July. The current plan (which has already changed several times & will probably change again) is to travel to South America (SA). Right now I plan to spend the first 3 weeks there with my friend Nina from Germany. After that she will have to go home & I will be on my own. My plan is then to travel on my own for several months within South America & possible Central America (CA). I might also try to get work as a scuba diving instructor but I am not sure. After I have fully explored SA & CA, or am just tired, I plan to come home for a month to catch up on needed items before leaving again on the long trip. I would like to come home around Christmas time of this year, but it could be before or after that, I really don't know. As I said everything is subject to change. After the month at home I will leave again for the rest of 2007. I have no idea where this trip will go, but I plan to spend time working as a dive instructor & want to explore Asia in depth. I am tentatively thinking of trying to go to the Pacific to work & make some money for the first half the trip. Then I would go to Asia for the last half of the trip. The 2007 part of the trip especially is all speculation at this point. Basically it breaks down to this, I will be traveling for most of 2006 & 2007 & I can't say much more for sure.

To all my traveling friends out there I could use some help. First off I don't know much about SA or CA. I know not to go to Columbia, but is there any other place I must avoid especially in SA? Where have you been & what did you like? When did you go? What should I know? How is it different from the places I have been (Australia/Pacific/Thailand/Japan)? I am 99% sure I will not be taking my laptop as I would not need another reason to stick out (my ghost like white skin is reason enough!). I do not know Spanish, but am going to make an effort to learn some basics before I go. I will try to learn as I am traveling since it is always easiest to learn when you can practice it. Second I am wondering if anyone else I know is interested in traveling South America with me. South America will be the most dangerous place I have been & I know it is better to be with others. I am used to traveling alone & am sure I will meet new people. But I figured if anyone I have traveled with wanted to go with me for part of the trip I may be interested.

Well that is the "short" version of the past 4 months & the next 2 years. I hope you enjoyed it. As I generally write at the end of these messages I am behind in e-mail. Please realize that I love the messages everyone sends & I will be getting back to you. This time it was the trial that got me so behind.

If you are interested I am now on both MSN & AOL Instant Messenger. My AOL IM username is genextsoftware. My MSN e-mail address is genextsoftware@hotmail.com (do not send any e-mail there I will not see them).

Thanks & let me know how you all are doing!

Love & Tolerance ;)